Culture Flash

Giles Harvey urges modern man to slow down:

These days, the shorter a book is, the more likely I am to read it. The prospect of being finished with something, soon, is enticing. I am always eager to be moving on to what’s next—the next book, the next film, the next performance. I feel "the dread of not getting out / Before having seen the whole collection." The thought of spending a month, or several months, with a single work—a "The Magic Mountain" or an "In Search of Lost Time"—is somehow enervating.

Of course, there is a pernicious logic at work here. Why read a long novel when you can read a short one? Why read a short novel when you can watch a movie? Why watch a movie when you can watch a TV show? Why watch a TV when you catch a minute-long video of a kitten and a puppy cuddling on YouTube? As soon as we start to think of art simply as something to be consumed, discarded, and replaced, we rob it of one of its greatest powers: its capacity to free us from the grip of easier but shallower pleasures.