“We have been accustomed to reduce the other to ours or ourselves. On the level of consciousness as on the level of feelings, we have been educated to make our own what we approach or what approaches us. Our manner of reasoning, our manner of loving is often an appropriation, either through lack of differentiation, a fusion, or through transformation into an object, an object of knowledge or of love, that we integrate into our world. We act in this way especially towards others who are closest to us, forgetting that the are other, different from us, but also towards the foreigner who is welcomed on the condition that he, or she, agrees to being assimilated to our way of living, our habits, our world.”
—Luce Irigaray, Key Writings
“I believe that one can only begin to advance along the path of discovery, the discovery of writing or anything else, from mourning and in the reparation of mourning. In the beginning the gesture of writing is linked to the experience of disappearance, to the feeling of having lost the key to the world, of having been thrown outside. Of having suddenly acquired the precious sense of the rare, of the mortal. Of having urgently to regain the entrance, the breath, to keep the trace.”
—Hélène Cixous, From the Scene of the Unconscious to the Scene of History: Pathway of Writing from The Hélène Cixous Reader.
“Let us proclaim it, as if among ourselves, in so low a tone that all the world fails to hear it and us! Above all, however, let us say it slowly…. This preface comes late, but not too late: what, after all, do five or six years matter? Such a book, and such a problem, are in no hurry; besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. I have not been a philologist in vain—perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste—a perverted taste, maybe—to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all—to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow—the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. For this very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of “work”: that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is intent upon “getting things done” at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not “get things done” so hurriedly: it teaches how to read well: i.e. slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn of Day. (trans. John McFarland Kennedy)
“Philosophy has lost (or repressed) it’s transformative urge. It has become, instead, a forensic practice of searching out flaws in arguments, rather than a slow engagement with the ‘strangeness’ or otherness of the world—an engagement that transforms and moves us beyond ourselves.”
— Michelle Boulous Walker, Slow Philosophy
Much that is glorious in Walker’s book. The central argument that “it is timely for the love of wisdom, the instituting moment of Western philosophy, to retrieve its pre-eminent place in philosophical work” also draws me back to Pierre Hadot’s work.
“I suppose, Sirs, that you are so glutted with this banquet of various literary dishes that the food you eat continues to rise. Indeed ye sit crammed with dainties, for many served up to you a mixed feast of precious and varied discourse and persuade you to look with contempt on ordinary fare. What shall I do now? Shall I allow what I had prepared to lie uneaten and spoil, or shall I expose it in the middle of the market for sale to retail dealers at any price it will fetch? Who in that case will want any part of my wares or who would give twopence for my writings, unless his ears were stopped up?”
—Agathias, 6th century C.E.
“Nobody means by a word precisely and exactly what his neighbour does, and the difference, be it ever so small, vibrates, like a ripple in water, throughout the entire language. Thus all understanding is always t the same time a not-understanding, all concurrence in thought and feeling at the same time a divergence.”
—Wilhelm Von Humboldt, Humboldt: ‘On Language’. (trans. Peter Heath)