Notebook

Grandeur of Time

A quarter-century ago I heard Olivier Clément speak unforgettably of the virtue of slowness. The world has speeded up a lot since then. We need to hear voices that remind us of the craziness of constant acceleration. Like that of Marie Noël, who in 1946 noted: ‘Here, each evening, there comes a splendid moment: the homecoming of the oxen with the great cartloads of sheaves towering over them […], they appear, slow and majestic, to come straight out of eternity. Maybe Boaz saw their like. And maybe that is the true rhythm of work, the one God devised for man, that noble gait, that powerful, unhasting tread. Perhaps our Cathedrals were conceived and built without hurry or fret, and with the steady calm of mind and hands and only the vigorous effort measured to the day’s need. Perhaps all human labour, be it of soul or body, requires for its beauty something of the grandeur of time.’ From a precious Essay in Meaning translated by Pauline Matarasso, p. 239.