I saw this quote a few years back:
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.
In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportion to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.
Milan Kundera, Slowness: A Novel
As I looked at it again recently I had two thoughts:
2. I need to read this book of Kundera's, Slowness: A Novel.
I think this quote speaks directly to what Jha wrote in the article I linked to yesterday, 'The Science of Taming the Wandering Mind.' Jha notes, "Mindfulness is not just a concept, (sic) it's more like a practice."
It reminds me of living in China. The Chinese had this expression: man, man de. It means to go slowly. They'd say it when you left their home, for example. They'd say, "Go slowly on your way home."
They'd say it at a restaurant, to eat slowly or drink slowly.
My Chinese mother once said it to me in reference to living in China as a foreigner. She told me, when I felt discouraged about feeling so foreign, "Xuexi Zhongguo de wenhua...man, man de"
In studying the Chinese culture...go slowly.
As an American, I wanted everything at warped speed. I wanted to learn the language and find friends and travel throughout all of Asia, and I wanted it fast.
But the truth is that slowness yields the best results.
It's true in cooking.
It's true in building friendships.
It's true in raising kids, strengthening marriages and getting to know one's neighbors.
It's true in writing, painting, music or any other art form. Life itself is an art form, no?
In this world of hype and speed and crazy talk of things like 1-minute workouts, I think we forget the wisdom of Kundera's words: there is a secret bond between slowness and memory.
As I get older, my memories become as valuable to me as my in-the-moment experiences. I think sometimes of being old, sitting in a chair on a porch, and I think that when my body begins to fade and everyone else is rushing about to make a living, I'll have my memories.
Finally, can anyone think of anything less appealing to study than existential mathematics?