Thursday, February 19, 2015

Taking Time

What is meant as a valiant stand against the decline of reading is actually a symptom of it, and then a cause. The fear of dumbing down leads to thinning out. We conspire in an unspoken agreement that our carefully considered choices are more a measure of students’ inadequacy than our hopes for them, so they increasingly stay home as the weeks, and the novels, fly by. Like a high-speed train through gorgeous countryside, a novel a week turns the lovely hinterland of literature into a meaningless blur. Slow down, and the landscape changes: tempting byways appear; curiosity is given a chance to supplant urgent strategy.
A novel idea: slow reading | General | Times Higher Education

After my last race I had to see an orthopedist for my injuries. The experience was a travesty. No less than ten television sets mounted on the various walls accosted me during the time of my appointment. My time with the M.D. was barely ten minutes, despite the fact that I spent approximately 45 minutes at the office surrounded by televisions screaming over one another. In the examining room, I quickly turned the tv off as soon as the nurse left.

I was struck how medical hermeneutics is one of speed and capital. The M.D. barely spends time with the "text"–the one who literally must be patient while being "read." While the Ph.D. invests time in her/his text, goes over it again, spends time reading supplemental sources, learns yet another language in order to get closer to the text. Time is everything in that it is nothing compared to the quality of the interpretation. To the M.D., however, the faster s/he sees the patient, the more money is to be "earned." The quicker the diagnosis, the quicker the payout. My diagnosis: the medical profession is sick.

No one is expected to read in the waiting room. In fact, the waiting room itself de-quantifies waiting, extending its domain, contaminating the patience of those who wait (the patients). All in the accelerated domain of medicine. Nietzsche's critique of modernity's profanation of time is still valid. Modernity qua time continually dissipating itself in order to sap one's very time, to sap one's very present/presence, while infecting the past and future with the disease of speed. This disease now serves as the basis of what passes itself off as education. In the same way that industrial time eclipsed agricultural time, we witness today the onslaught of corporate time, the time of simulation and of the hyperreal–that is, not the very real but that which does not even have the real as its analogue. There is no time for proper hermeneutics, for proper care for the text.

On my second "visit" to this nonplace, the orthopedist mentioned the matrix of intensity, duration, and frequency. Since I was already at the limit of the frequency parameter by working out five to six times per week, I didn't have enough wiggle room to ramp up the other factors. If I wanted to run faster, I had to work out fewer times. Let's call this the Quality/Quantity Spectrum. Also, let's politely ask the M.D. to understand his own profession in these terms. Dear doctor: diagnose thyself!

1 comment:

  1. Nothing like getting to the core of the matter(s). Keep speaking it loud and proud!