Featured image: A dramatic sky slowly passes over a field in LaGrange County last Saturday.
Cogitation 2/180 Saturday 12 January 2019 “Make haste slowly,” said Suetonius of old.
Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, born AD 69, died after 122, was a Roman biographer and antiquarian, a member of the equestrian or knightly class.
If Suetonius were around for a cup of of tea or coffee on this wintry Saturday, what would we talk about? The books he wrote on literary figures? The book he wrote on Julius Caesar and 10 other emperors? Horses? Food, customs, clothes, scandals? His friend Pliny the Younger? I’ll have to see what the library has on Suetonius. In the meantime, I’m pausing to fetch a cup of coffee.
What slow brings to mind
“Slow” brings to mind food, pace, reserve, caution, also being surefooted, as in “Make haste slowly,” antiquity, scripture, movement of clouds or moon,
More on Suetonius
From the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Suetonius is free from the bias of the senatorial class that distorts much Roman historical writing. His sketches of the habits and appearance of the emperors are invaluable, but like Plutarch, he used ‘characteristic anecdote’ without exhaustive inquiry into its authenticity. . . . Suetonius wrote with firmness and brevity. He loved the mot juste, and his use of vocabulary enhanced his pictorial vividness. Above all, he was unrhetorical, unpretentious, and capable of molding complex events into lucid expression.”
Still more on ‘make haste slowly’
The slow food movement includes the growing and preparation of food in keeping with local culinary traditions, as in high-quality locally-sourced grains, legumes and meat.
Slow travel includes taking an off-the-beaten-path route or taking time to visit places along the way.
Slow etiquette includes withholding quick judgement or instant criticism.
I just started reading the book, The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity, by Louise DeSalvo (St Martin’s Griffin, 2014).
In the Preface, DeSalvo said her reflections are “an invitation for us to think about the specific techniques we can use to enter the slow writing life; find ways to deal with the emotional pitfalls–fear, anxiety, judgement, self-doubt–that inevitably accompany our work; delve into what it means to live a healthy and productive creative life; and celebrate our tenacity and our accomplishments.”
Reading DeSalvo put me on the search for more on what’s slow.
Indulge me a few more quotes.
Thomas Shadwell (d. 1658): “The haste of a fool is the slowest thing in the world.”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797): “The march of the human mind is slow.”
Proverbs 16:32: “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.”
These various reflections on slow shake up the busy-busy, rush-rush, important-important, pressing-pressing character of our doings. So be it.
A slow visual trip through the week
A word on slow from the Apostle James
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” The Letter of James 1:19
One more slow note: There’s a snake in the UK known as a slow-worm. That’s a misnomer. Sometimes called a Blindworm, it’s neither slow nor a worm. It’s harmless. We’ve seen a few on various footpaths in Cornwall.
Make haste slowly.