The average time art museum visitors spend looking at a painting is 15 seconds.
What would happen if a person spent, instead, 15 minutes with one of the great works of art? What would be seen now?
In the great books world – inside the academy and outside – the average number of conversational reading seminars on a single great book is 2-4 seminars (give or take a few).
This, for a book that takes a lifetime to appreciate, and sometimes even to write.
What would happen if we took 24 seminars instead for a single work of this sort? What would we have otherwise missed, had we not take our time?
As it turns out, a lot.
Can it be done? You bet.
Art historian Justine Andrews at the University of New Mexico calls the practice of looking at artworks for longer durations than is typical, “Slow Seeing”.
Along the same lines, we call our practice Slow Reading.
Going Slow is an active resistance against the turbulent, fast moving current of the age.
It means seeing for ourselves, and taking the time we need in our lives to meet the great thoughts of the great writer.
No summary explanation can substitute for the experience we can build by direct encounters with the book in conversation with others.
Everyone wants to speed up.
But we want to slow it down. Why? Because there’s no other way.
If you really want to find out what these great artists and writers are up to, there’s no other way to go about it than to slow down and take your time and see for yourself.
There’s no shortcut or fast track to the truth, to developing a full and rich understanding of these works and the questions they are attempting to raise and answer. No terminal degree program can deliver this understanding to you. The fructification of the great books in your understanding is a gradual lifetime development.
Three crucial things you need to know about Slow Reading.
- The readings are shorter than you might expect.
- The weekly session duration is shorter as well – running on average 1.25 hours per session, instead of 2 hours.
- The average completion time is about 24 weeks.
Paradoxically, Slowing Down means that these seminars fit in with a busy life, because the reading lengths are more manageable. The conversation is given time to develop. The quality of the learning experienced is only increased: slowing down means a deep dive to the pearl beds of the great books.