Still working away at Parkins and Craig’s Slow Living… They also write:
“Slow living is not synonomous with ‘cocooning’ which we understand as a withdrawal from engagement with a hostile world to the shelter of personal space and private life. Since the mid-1990s – and exacerbated by responses to 9/11 – there have been observable sociocultural trends involving a ‘turn towards the interior’ or ‘defended inwardness’ (Cullens 1999: 219). We will argue that there is no necessary or inevitable connection between placing a value on ‘the simple pleasures of moment-by-moment experience’ (Cullens 1999: 219) and political disengagement or gated communities, but rather that slow living may articulate – and be articulated with – global concerns and political affiliations with social justice and environmental campaigns. There is, however, one important aspect of withdrawal in slow living: an emphasis on contemplation and attention requires a kind of withdrawal – of body, of consciousness – from certain kinds of spaces or places (figured as fast or noisy, the two often conflated so that a slow space is also a quiet one) at least for a period of time, for rest or refreshment. Such withdrawal, as a form of bodily practice, can be seen in disciplines like the Alexander Technique, meditation or other body therapies which ‘constitute and value the present moment’ (Thrift 2000: 41). Such practices, Nigel Thrift has argued, produce ‘a set [-p.5] of resources which enable us to separate out and value a present-oriented stillness, thus promoting a ‘politics’ based in intensified attention to the present and unqualified affectivity’ (2000: 42).
In another context, Alberto Melucci (1998) has also argued that the cultivation of attention to the present has positive potential beyond the individual subject to mobilize new forms of political investment and revivify everyday life. In a contemporary context marked by speed and globalization, Melucci argues, subjects are faced with an imbalance between what he calls the ‘inner time’ of the subject and ‘social time’. Such temporal disparities, in a context where identities are not fixed, require subjects to negotiate ‘community through change’ or ‘metamorphosis’….” (pp.4-5)
Parkins and Craig continue by quoting Melucci: “The unity and continuity of individual experience cannot be found in a fixed identification with a definite model, group or culture. It must instead be based on an inner capacity to ‘change form’, to redefine itself repeatedly in the present, to reverse decisions and choice. But it also means cherishing the present as a unique, unrepeatable experience within which I realize myself.
We can only preserve our unity by being able to ‘open and close’, to participate in and withdraw from the flow of messages. … Yet in this alternation between noise and silence we need an inner wholeness that must survive through change. To live the discontinuity and variability of time and space we must find a way to unity experience other than by our ‘rational’ self. Fragmentation and discontinuity … demand the wisdom of more immediate perception, intuitive awareness and imagination.” (Melucci, quoted p5 of Parkins and Craig)
Parkins and Craig pick up this thread of thought, continuing: “What this requires is learning a ‘new consciousness practice, involving the body and emotions as well as perception and thought (1998: 186), through which subjects can both fully inhabit the present and their own presence within it: ‘The capacity to be present is not a spontaneous capacity of human experience but a paradoxical quality: it is an immediate experience that needs a deep reflexive attitude, something to be built, learned and adjusted through one’s life processes, evens and relations‘ (Melucci 1998: 182). In short, Melucci argues it is important to find ways in which ‘presence can become a resource’ not only for the psychic health of subjects but for the resolution of social conflicts ‘where deep individual experience transforms itself into a social energy for change’ (1998: 180).” (p.5)
Wonderful stuff! Really relevant to working with children – and perhaps especially with infants?
Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Wendy Parkins and Geoffrey Craig (2006) Slow Living. Berg: Oxford, New York.
The Melucci quote above comes from: p185, Alberto Melucci (1998) ‘Inner time and social time in a world of uncertainty’, Time and Society, 7(2): 179-191