A need for rhythm, detachment, slowness.

mo read to children OF“I am quite convinced that the fundamental error of the contemporary man is his belief that thanks to technology –(telephone, Xerox, etc.)– he can squeeze into a given time much more than before, whereas it’s really impossible. Man becomes the slave of his always growing work. There is a need for rhythm, detachment, slowness. Why can’t students grasp all they’re taught? Because they do not have time to become conscious of, to come back to, what they heard, to let it really enter their minds. A contemporary student registers knowledge, but does not assimilate it; therefore that knowledge does not “produce” anything. A downpour of rain is immeasurably less useful for a drought than a thin, constant drizzle! But we are all the time under a thunderous downpour –of information, reports, knowledge, discussions, etc. And all of these flow around us, never sticking to us, immediately pushed away by the next deluge.”

-Alexander Schmemann, 1977, from Journals

14 thoughts on “A need for rhythm, detachment, slowness.

  1. The deluge vs. drizzle metaphor is so good. And the points he makes are, well, on point. To extend it just a bit, there’s a sense in which we’re being firehosed with information. Firehoses are good when there’s a fire. When there’s not, they can become instruments of crowd control and terror.

    Think of the damage that can be done in a garden with a too-strong flow from a hose. There are times when an old-fashioned watering can is called for.

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  2. Too true! I have a tendency to turn on the firehose, so to speak, by searching for more and more information instead of being content with enough. This is a good reminder to absorb, skim less.

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  3. As a teacher, I struggle between giving the students a lot of vocabulary (I teach Spanish and French), or giving them smaller amounts that they will retain longer. Boredom, curricular demands, and a program that recycles vocabulary over the years all contribute to choosing what to do.

    A drizzle versus a torrent is a good metaphor.

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  4. I read this post the other day on my phone early in the morning. I changed my plans for the day and cocooned in my writing room, not opening up my laptop or turning on the television. I just took a notepad and sharpened pencils and wrote, then read a book, wrote some more, got up every hour to reboot the laundry, unload the dishwasher, take the dogs outside, etc. It was a good day.

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  5. Amazing that he said this back in 1977 when technology was so much less intrusive than it is now, and yet the weight of his words are just as heavy, heavier even.

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    1. Not an aphid, I’m sure of that – I have seen so many aphids in the last few years that I think I’d know them anywhere. Shoreacres has suggested a katydid nymph, and after I looked at some photos online I think it likely is. 🙂

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