I remember reading Milan Kundera’s Slowness on a bus from Tibet to a city in the middle of China called Golmud. The bus broke down while I was reading a scene where a Czech writer embarasses himself at a cocktail party. That bus ride was an example of slowness, far away from any cocktail parties.
“Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man. As opposed to a motorcyclist, the runner is always present in his body, forever required to think about his blisters, his exhaustion; when he runs he feels his weight, his age, more conscious than ever of himself and of his time of life. This all changes when man delegates the faculty of speed to a machine. From then on, his own body is outside the process, and he gives over to a speed that is non-corporeal, non-material, pure speed, speed itself, ecstasy speed.”
Kundera goes on, wondering what has happened to the appreciation of slowness. “Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars?” Today, everybody is preoccupied with avoiding indolence. “In our world, indolence has turnded into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored.”
I would like to have a slower rhythm with what I do. Have time to smell the roses, or as a Czech proverb according to Kundera goes: “gaze at god’s windows”. I liked the rhythm of travelling on that slow bus through the plateau of Tibet. Steady pace, stops for cigarette breaks. (So many Chinese men smoke!) Occasional break for maintenance. Here in my normal life, I do not have this steady rhythm. I either have a million things to do or am bored and frustrated. (The boredom and frustration reach a top at cocktail parties.) Luckily enough, I have discovered blogging. Writing posts about the world is a bit like smelling the roses.
From the bus window I could see the railway across the plateau being built. I guess nowadays it’s possible to take the fast, exhilarating train speed experience from Tibet to mainland China. I’m happy I got my travels in the region done during the bus era. 🙂
ps. Apparently, hanba means “disgrace” in Czech. Here’s a link to hanba’s post about J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. (Milan Kundera is mentioned, too.)
Upcoming: The next post will be about The Plane Crash that the news won’t stop covering. Stay tuned on hanbablog! 🙂