1

Byung-Chul Han, Müdigkeitsgesellschaft (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2010).

2

M. (Maurizio) Lazzarato and Joshua David Jordan, The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition, Semiotext(e) intervention series 13 (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2012).

3

Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (London, Flamingo, 2000).

4

Remedios Zafra, El entusiasmo: precariedad y trabajo creativo en la era digital, Colección Argumentos 514 (Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2017).

Slow Down. Resisting Invasion by Materialist Time.

The swing towards neoliberalism which started in the West in the 1980s – and which still continues – has permanently changed our concept of time and its relationship with the productive and reproductive domains.

In all areas, time is now more compressed. We can see it all around us: in the speed with which we demand and are required to provide answers in situations that aren’t always urgent; in hurried lives where haste is no longer anecdotal but constant, in an all-pervasive breakneck continuum.

In parallel with this precipitation, productive time has expanded to invade and suffuse reproductive time, penetrating domains which up until now were alien to its rules and criteria.

Architects, for example, often find it impossible to stop “doing things”, or, worse still, and as Byung-Chul Han1 and Maurizio Lazaratto2 would describe it, they don’t want to stop because their vital, reproductive time has become so inseparable from their productive time, of which it’s considered to be an incompatible negation, that it simply disappears.

This encroachment of ultramaterialist urgency is most dangerous in the fields of education and research because it evaluates results exclusively from a productive perspective, tending to prioritise quantity over quality, immediacy over the long term. In other words, the only things that count are those that can produce rapid, immediate benefits: slower, more restrained time scales, that allow for mistakes and facilitate deeper research with greater freedom, are rejected.

The extreme neoliberal approach to educational processes and research (something Naomi Klein warned us of in “No Logo”3) can thus be said  to have inherited the materialistic particularities of productive time.  Much importance is attached to the immediacy of search engine indexing for an article that prioritises the correct spelling of a university’s name in the author profile (accents included) over the actual content of the text, which really demonstrates the author’s research skills.

Similarly, the indexing systems of some scientific journals (already discussed in this blog by Beatriz Villanueva and Francisco Casas) and the constant obligation for university teachers and researchers to publish – the fulfilment of which is mainly measured in terms of quantity – produce a hurried lifestyle and hurried processes where the objective is no longer to further knowledge but to continuously deliver immediate results (see Enthusiasm by Remedios Zafra)4.

At one end of this process, individuals like Jair Bolsonaro use “immediate benefits to the taxpayer” as an excuse to question the future of university degrees in subjects like sociology and philosophy.  Those benefits thus become an exclusively economic criterium, leading to the measurement of research and education in parameters and timescales that are totally inappropriate, precipitous, immediate and materialistic. Despite appearances, Spain is not too far off that situation: only recently the so-called “Wert Plan” eliminated the teaching of philosophy from pre-university level studies.

At the other extreme, far removed from this reductionist vision of knowledge, we have the Slow Science Movement, a group of scientists who, while not rejecting indexing or denying the usefulness of a constant flow of information, remind us that science is not always immediate,  that research is complex and that researchers should be allowed to make mistakes, prioritise quality and break free from the excessive predominance of quantity.

In short, we need to heed this movement’s motto: “Be patient with us while we’re thinking”.

Because it’s important to think, and perhaps also to think slowly.

And to live life.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Byung-Chul Han, Müdigkeitsgesellschaft (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2010).

2

M. (Maurizio) Lazzarato and Joshua David Jordan, The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition, Semiotext(e) intervention series 13 (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2012).

3

Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (London, Flamingo, 2000).

4

Remedios Zafra, El entusiasmo: precariedad y trabajo creativo en la era digital, Colección Argumentos 514 (Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2017).

Autor:
(Almería, 1973) Arquitecto por la ETSAM (2000) y como tal ha trabajado en su propio estudio en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en obras publicas y en la administración. Desde 2008 es coeditor junto a María Granados y Juan Pablo Yakubiuk del blog n+1.

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