ponder: Slow the clocks of bone

Following the finishing of my Masters in Research course back in September, although I was quite keen to get on with some arty bits and reading of things that I didn't get round to looking at during the year, my head/mind (and body) just refused point blank.  For Sept/Oct, the message was loud and clear 'just give us a break', to the point where I couldn't even look at my own work, watch tv/films; see art-shows or barely read anything besides this David Mitchell novel  - The Bone Clocks, even that was rationed to a few pages per evening and which I am still reading 3 months on. Nearly finished!





All in all, I couldn't deal with anything that involved a slight increase in electricity transmission between my limited number of brain cells. But at the same time I found it pretty hard just to do 'nothing' though my bone clocks really needed it. I almost felt like I 'should' be doing something to justify my time. It was also perhaps the school/course treadmill which for 12mths was on hi mode and though the treadmill has stopped once the course finishes, you are still going but stumbling about everywhere in the process.

Taking 'time off' is an extremely hard thing to do - the modern pace of life warrants a kind of speed which in turn ingrains this notion of constant production - the neoliberal way. Produce, do, produce, do produce do....keep going, sweat it out, keep going....it reminded me of a piece by the artist David Shrigley which I have on my wall - see right.

Intense large cities speed this process even more with this feeling that you need to keep up, because if you don't you're going to fall way way behind. Main messages being: be here, do this, see this, go there, attend that, meet them, network here and so forth. The feeling that you're going to miss out becomes key. That coupled with the 'speed' of social media can tire the fittest out in no time or maybe the sheer adrenalin just keeps the wee hamster going till their feet fall off.

These ideas of speed and production, are touched upon in this article which I came across recently by Les Back (academic at Goldsmiths College/London) but within the context of academia. Back reflects on the current situation within the university - which he terms as 'university in ruins' (which in turn forms part of the article title) and how the university was almost easy prey for the the clutches of neo-liberalistic ideals. As a result words like professionalisation, specialisation and individualism are the name of the game. In light of this, he questions if and how academics/researchers can overturn/subvert these forces.  (As he also points out in the article, it is ridiculous to have gotten to the point where you to reconsider and discuss the obvious).

One thing he proposes which was related to reflections on my own work:
The first of these is to slow thinking down – be it theoretical or practical – and to value the time it takes. It entails the cultivation of the capacity for judicious speech and crafted attentiveness.
It is the notion of 'value of time it takes' that is particularly hard to embed because of conditioning and surrounding frameworks. You often question yourself for being 'idle' and this in itself being a waste of time. My methods for supporting 'slow thinking' have been things like yoga/meditation but not necessarily in a conscious way to 'slow thinking', They just facilitate a more holistic approach to my day-to-day where one thing weaves into another seamlessly so each of the bricks support the other.  Going back to The novel 'The Bone Clocks' - a book which complexly organised across different time scales like a time labyrinth, one could wonder how to embody different time scales simultaneously - the slow amongst the speed. More ponderings on this to come.
[...] and what's this prodding certainty that I'm in a labyrinth not only of turnings and doors but decisions and priorities [...] (p264)


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