Slow Language Movement?

Fascinating interview on NPR this morning with author Nick Laird. While the bulk of the interview was about Laird’s novel Glover’s Mistake (which sounds fascinating, PR people take note and send me a copy!) I was particularly intrigued by Laird’s suggestion that there should be a slow language movement just like there’s a slow food movement. He was talking about – as many of us are – how the internet and new technology is changing the way we think, read, consume, etc. And he proposed a Slow Language Movement that would work on cultivating attention, deep reading, advocate for poetry. His thought was that the language of the internet is terse, tends towards the shallow and cynical just by nature of its limitations. It doesn’t really provide for reflection, introspection, depth or emotional nuance. So what can we do to cultivate these things?

What do you think? What would a Slow Language Movement look like?

2 Responses to “Slow Language Movement?”
  1. jeff L says:

    I loved that point too! Twitter and email syntax are very dangerous little shortcuts.
    We should write less and mean more. He was saying that he has spent a year on a four line poem about the life of a leaf. Maybe he’s a bit of a purist, but we should take our time with every line.


  2. David says:

    A friend directed my attention to that interview for precisely that comment, and I’ve listened to it a couple times, having some familarity with the philosophy of Slow Food. It obviously sparks many questions, any one of which could consume a lot of time and space. One which occurred to me was the general problem of education, and how it really leaves students lacking an ability to settle down with the time of reading material Laird is talking about. To cite an example — perhaps extreme, but illustrative nonetheless — I’ll throw out “Ulysses.” Deep reading, definitely. But a person’s ability to read it and genuinely appreciate it (I won’t go so far as to say “understand” it) hinges to a large degree on an educational background that students simply aren’t provided with anymore. One can certainly sit down and drag one’s eyes across each page of Joyce’s text, but unless you have steeped yourself in Greek mythology and the Bible (and that’s just for starters) how can one possibly get anything from it? You can’t. Perhaps it’s expanding on the problem Laird alluded to, but it’s what occurred to me as I listened to him. He’s not the first writer to discuss this. The American columnist Leonard Pitts wrote about it in 2008, if memory serves. In other words: It’s not simply a matter of taking back our attention spans; it’s more complicated than that.

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