In Praise of Slow Time
In today's world, the culture of "always faster" is omnipresent. It starts with our consumption patterns: the new instantly replaces the previous, then becomes obsolete in a few minutes. Here's an examination in defense of slowing down.
From TV to the internet, from fashion to gastronomy, from social networks to human relations, we 'browse,' we 'like,' we move on to something else. Wouldn’t it be great to take a bit more time? Wouldn’t slowness be a vector of more profound meaning?
To read slowly…
I love cooking, and it’s a relaxing moment for me. Get my ingredients out, prepare them, peel, cut, stir, blend and mix, all this takes time and focuses my feet on the ground, on the essential of life. My mind unwinds, calms down, relaxes. The setbacks of the day fly away with the smells of garlic, chives, and bacon. Then I mix it all, stir-fry or sear. I stir, I taste, I season. Then I let my creation simmer. I love that word “simmer.” There is something soft, comfortable, caring about it. And I know that the longer it goes, the more delicious my dish will be. The flavors delivered entirely and melted together. And at the end, when we share this meal with my better-half or my friends, we will revel and spend a real moment of exchange, of pleasure. Compare the delicate pleasure of a lamb leg cooked for seven hours to a dinner in the microwave!
Of course, cooking and coitus are closely related in this sense. These are two areas where the slow pace is the only thing allowing full access to tenderness, exchange, communion, love. The pleasure becomes total only when one devotes the necessary time.
A spirited defense of time
The latter improves, intensifies everything, provided that the raw material is of quality. For example, take old spirits. A very old rum, a single malt of 30 years or older, or even a hundred-year-old cognac. They are tasted with respect, slowly, with love. Their aromas captivate your nostrils, invade your taste buds and mark your memories. I will never forget that old rum, of the personal reserve of the master of the house, tasted at the end of an evening in a castle in Friuli; or a 50 year old Macallan drank with the master distiller in their Scottish cellars; or a dram of Cognac aged over 100 years and tasted on a barrel in a dark and cold cellar. It’s the time that allowed this magnitude to form, this power to draw, the pleasure to multiply itself. We are far from a Cuba Libre in a plastic cup.
Everything is better with age
The same can be said for wine. The emotion provided by an excellent wine that has been lovingly aged in a cellar for many years before tasting is much more intense than a fresh Rosé by the sea - even if there is also a real pleasure there, I admit. That bottle we bought way back when, but we have not forgotten. On which, we look at each time we go to the cellar and say "soon."
Then one day, we decide that it is time. We think with whom we’re going to share, with what we will associate it, how we’re going to pour it, and how long we will let it breathe before serving. All this is mental preparation, this patient wait, and the projection of that moment to come contributes to creating a memorable experience. The French term “caudalie”* - another unit of time - do the rest. I remember precisely all the great wines that I've tasted. And all my senses participate in that memory.
A 1959 Château d'Yquem, golden and thick like an old cognac, which lasted for more than 4 minutes after swallowing. A Krug 1971, so finely beading that it was soft as silk, before enchanting by its depth and length in the mouth. And then there’s the 1966 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny, cloudy like stagnant water, but which exploded in our noses like vegetation after the rain and delighted our senses. I recall the place, the guests, the atmosphere, all the tastes and smells. Only time allowed this. That of waiting, that of preparing, that of tasting, that of engraving memories.
Time fascinates man. Undoubtedly because he cannot control it. Man has always wanted to measure it, thus thinking of taming it. Watchmaking is the most beautiful proof with its constant quest for precision. To the minute, to the second, to the tenth, to the hundredth. Today clocks measure the second femto (the trillionth of a second, the millionth of a billionth!). It’s a prodigy! But in our terrestrial, everyday life what for? An approach more in line with the concept of taking one's time is that of the Meistersinger single-needle watch with indexes every 5 minutes. I like the idea of answering the recurring question of “What time is it?” – “between 1.25 and 1.30.” Is it a step back? Or a leap forward?
Plato once said: “Time is the moving image of immobile eternity.” There is then only a step towards the idea that taking time amplifies the moment to make it eternal. This time taken, dedicated consciously to a task, to a fleeting moment, to a profound feeling is time won. Won on futility, on the frenzy, on the madness and even sometimes on the will to do everything faster at the risk of missing the essentials of Life. Taking time is the only way to appropriate it. To live every moment to the fullest, and with a bit of luck, “to make each day, an eternity of love” as Serge Reggiani sang.
* a ‘’caudalie’’ is the unit of time used to measure the remanence of the wine taste after you have swallowed it. One caudal equals one second… Try it!