Is the USA hospitable to the slow movement? The land of fast food, get-rich-quick schemes, and 24/7 news feeds? In Slow Culture and the American Dream: A Slow and Curvy Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century, Mary Caputi argues that the slow movement has much to teach the United States at this moment in time. Although slow philosophy is in many ways opposite to the prevalent American Dream, the current cultural setting demands that we heed its teachings. The climate crisis should make us rethink our fast-paced, ever-accelerating lifestyle so that we can lighten our carbon footprint and decelerate--if not reverse-- the damage done to the planet. Equally important, however, is the movement’s mandate that we slow down and savor life, focusing on quality, beauty, and calm rather than quantity and speed. Slow Food, Cittaslow (slow cities), slow fashion, slow travel, and slow parenting are examples of a philosophy that seeks to shift our focus away from “progress” as currently understood and revalue quality-of-life issues. Drawing deeply on her involvement with Slow Food and Cittaslow, the author advocates mainstreaming the philosophy of slow and thus reprioritizing the American Dream in ways that sustain the planet and teach Americans to develop a more refined aesthetic principle.
Mary Caputi is professor of political theory at California State University, Long Beach.
Introduction: Slow Food: Gastronomic Politics for the 21st Century
Chapter 1: What Is “Slow Food”? What Are “Slow Cities”?
Chapter 2: What’s So Great About Slow?
Chapter 3: Prometheus versus Noah: A New Humanism for the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 4: Imagined Communities, USA: Crosses, Flags, Arches
Chapter 5: The Rescuing Ark: The Art, the Music, the Place
Chapter 6: Conversations with Snailblazers and the Charge of Elitism
Conclusion: A New Humanism: Forging a Revolution at a Snail’s Pace
Speed kills. Facing our modern world’s addictions to capitalist efficiencies, speedy technologies, and fast food, Caputi here offers an alternative. Arguing for a slow and curvy politics, she draws on the slow food movement to diagnose and remedy our common predicament. How do we attend to one another, to our bodies, and to the health of the world around us? By taking time – time to taste, time to savor, time to learn. Engaging such diverse sources as Shakespeare, the antiwork movement, urban design, and Native American traditions, Caputi’s philosophy encourages a slower, greener, and more embedded life.
Is the American Dream still able to respond to the needs of present day society and also to the dreamsof future generations? Or perhaps we have to pursue a new form of humanism that takes care of nature and human relationships, and that doesn't only link progress to technological innovations? These are all questions that Mary Caputi tries to answer in her book. She does that by recalling important characters from mythology, literature, and religion. And by asking the help of a special red snail, and that movement that it represents.