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February 27, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Stillness

Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh

Technology was designed to make our lives simpler. But there is a side-effect…. Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness left us wanting to find Nowhere

The Read The Art of Stillness – Adventures In Going Nowhere
Author Pico Iyer
Publisher TED Books

The back story Iyer’s father called him a “pseudoretiree” when he left his Manhattan job for the backstreets of Kyoto. And it was. according to him, the best move he ever made. Says Iyer in the book: ‘I couldn’t blame him; all the institutions of higher skepticism to which he’d so generously sent me had insisted that the point of life was to get somewhere in the world, not to go nowhere. But the nowhere I was interested in had more corners and dimensions than I could possibly express to him (or myself), and somehow seemed larger and more unfathomable than the endlessly diverting life I had known in the city….’

Iyer’s book is a way to snap into the reality of the world you are inevitably sucked into, and a simple solution to finding your peace while living in it, without having to move geographically: ‘Sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it….’ 

What we loved It hits the pulse of what’s missing for people swamped with technology today. It resonates deeply and it’s evocative and moving words in their sheer simplicity ring true long after you have put it away. So you can’t actually put it away. As TED books likes to put it, these are “small books, big ideas,” and as a quick read with reverberating depth, it really works. 

What else? You want more of Iyer’s writing. 

More take-aways

‘More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.’

‘…not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury, nowadays it is often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize.’

‘Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.’

‘Our (writers) job is to turn through stillness, a life of movement into art. Sitting still is our workplace, sometimes our battlefield.’

‘As with any love affair, the early days of a romance with stillness give little sign of the hard work to come.’

‘You don’t get over shadows inside you simply by walking away from them.’

‘The one thing that technology doesn’t provide us with is a sense of how to make the best use of technology.’

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