Cosmin Popan

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'Soft pedal!' Slowing down societies by bike

I very much liked this part. References? Cook ie...

[pain has been] institutionalised and turned into a domain of expertise belonging almost exclusively to medicine, says Cook (2000), who notices a cultural fear of pain. An alternative perspective, one that reframes the meaning of pain, may be proposed instead: living with pain as part of one's becoming, learning its rules and warnings, even indulging in it are possible and they require an utopian exercise which questions both the nature and the culture of pain.

Is a category of affect working in what follows? Non-hedonic gratification! Nice! Eudaimonic well-being ...

Slowing down becomes then an effort, an accomplishment, as argues Vannini, for whom slow-as-affect becomes visible 'in the form of mobility practices and experiences that directly show the physical work, the struggle, and the fatigue of the movement' (2013:122). Enduring the pain as one cycles, as well as recovering from the sometimes mild, sometimes severe, pain of cycling involves a particular form of slowing down, one which rejects notions of instant gratification. A distinctive form of well-being is produced, one which is not likely to be hedonic. Because hedonic well-being presupposes that immediate preference satisfaction is achieved and pain, sweat or constant seek of equilibrium are bracketed. Instead, the well-being for cyclists is rather eudaimonic, rejecting happiness as a principal criterion of well-being and insisting satisfaction lays in doing what is worth doing, in what is perceived as 'meaningful' or 'purposeful', as it is argued by Nordbakke and Schwanen (2014), and Ryan and Deci (2001).

The next section very much resonates with a text by Bruno Latour, 2004, "How to talk about the body: The normative dimension of science studies". A newer version on the matter is Antoine Hennion's 2007 "Those Things That Hold Us Together: Taste and Sociology". Does Bossy on slow movement go in a similar direction? Interesting.

I have fought a resisting body, slowly and gradually building its sensory tolerance. [As Richard Sennett notices] the body is roused to take note of the world in which it lives ... The body comes to life when coping with difficulty' (1994:310).

Good ending with A new 'structure of feeling':

In conclusion, I argue in my thesis that cycling as slow mobility can be understood as an indication of a broader shift in our societies, towards de-growth. De-growth is a movement initiated by activists and scientists as an alternative to capitalist socio-economical relations, marking 'a rebirth of a radical environmentalism against the apolitical consensus of sustainable development' (Kallis and March 2015:360). The articulation of a utopian bicycle system , of which the project of building sensory tolerances is an essential part, affects a deeper change in the 'structure of feeling' (Williams 1977) in contemporary societies by contributing to discourses and practices of de-growth.

De-growth and slow mobility seem very promising ideas that I could very well work with. Of course many authors have been using them but "slow mobility" still seems defined in relation to the car-system. When in fact seeing a cyclist's autoethnography one can't avoid feeling a good deal of vertigo. Hence the mobility of the bike, or running, is not that very slow per se. Rather speed is defined by different scales of technology: bikes and running would be more of a organic machines hybridized with "simpler" technologies instead of the bigger scale of solely mechanical cars that depend on exterior fuels: gas, oil, etc.

On the side of "de-growth" something alike happens. If a life style is measured comparing the use of gas, or lack of it, of course living without them feels like a decrease. But on the other hand, when everyday life is related to a more green life style a different sense of growth can appear, that of life which entails another time frame: like worms that eat slower than humans, of bacterias in fermentation who serve humans to deliver pre-digested food. Finally the active, non-sedentary, human body awakens, gets a more active, quicker, metabolism and flourishes.