Another world, another rhythm

The philosopher Paul Virilio argues that the faster information is, the more fragmented and incomplete it is. Entering the world of slowness means saying no to the demands that mass culture and consumerism make on people today. Do we have time to stop and listen to the rain? Usually we run and seek protection. Whereas people once stood in an entryway or folded up their umbrella and quietly watched the rain, they now flee into a shopping mall or department store. Every time it rains in the summer, the beaches empty and mall parking lots fill up with caravans and other vehicles. People seek consolation and protection among the wares. Consumption keeps us happy and dry. Inside the mall, no one hears the gentle pitter patter of the falling rain or the steady drumming on the ground and roof.

For the Trappist monk Thomas Merton (1915–1968), rain was a measure of values like tranquillity, slowness and contemplation. Instead of trying to drive the rain out of one’s consc...

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