Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading
With the emergence of the Slow Food movement, as well as Slow Money, Slow Cities, and a host of other counterculturally Slow ventures over the last three decades, one might be tempted to assume that such opposition to a culture of speed is a relatively new historical development. The industrial age, however, has since its origins been marked by individuals and groups who have adamantly voiced their opposition to the overweening rise of speed and technology. Journalist Nicols Cox has traced this history in her 2004 book, Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives. One important figure who receives only brief mention in Cox’s book is Mohandas Gandhi. In Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading, Isabel Hofmeyr recounts a little-known aspect of Gandhi’s story that will undoubtedly serve to raise his historical profile as an opponent of fast, industrial culture. Gandhi’s Printing Press is, among other things, a monograph in the history and culture of the book, and there are parts of it that do get a bit technical, but a deeper narrative flowing through the work particularly caught my interest, one centered around questions about the practices through which a faith community can resist, or be liberated from, the powers of speed.