Sing the body unelectric

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Sing the body unelectric

Photo by Werner Bischof/Magnum

Electricity is a tyranny of buzzing and chirping demands. Here's to wrinkled clothes, typewriters and life off-grid

Lucy Ellmann is a novelist. Her first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. Mimi, her sixth, will be published by Bloomsbury in February.

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Once there was a world without power. No power stations, power surges, or power suits. A world in which, okay, people ruined their eyesight sewing stuff in the dark, and had the occasional accident on the stairs. Indoor plumbing still had a way to go, too. But at least our genes and gonads weren’t permanently damaged by manmade radiation leaks, and nobody ever found themselves in a multi-vehicle pile-up. They were spared so much, our ancestors — mowing the lawn, struggling with the twin tub, driving children to piano lessons... They had it all — freedom, individuality, culture. They even had some spare time, in which to think. And then electricity was tapped, Henry Ford discovered the source of the vile, and Steve Jobs handed Eve her Apple.

Some shreds of civilisation survived into the 19th century.  Recently I went to see an exhibition of Japanese silk embroideries at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. They were probably not the best embroideries ever. Instead, they seemed to represent an odd cul-de-sac in the history of decorative arts; painstakingly composed of millions of brightly coloured stitches against black backgrounds of silk or velvet, they were mostly made for immediate export, to please Victorians in England, America and elsewhere. Many of them were frightful, pictorially, using excesses of silk and gold thread to produce dead, touristy records of a hillside temple or a tiger. One triptych screen of a life-size embroidered peacock offered the closest approximation of peacock feathers that I’ve ever seen. But it’s still not a peacock, and it was hard to see the point.

Maybe you have to sew a hundred vulgar panels to come up with one good one: padded silk is an art form I’d never fully recognised before, and one folding screen showed tiny labourers, village characters and fancy ladies, meticulously rendered in relief, every detail of their garments made hyper-real. It was stupendous. But even when grotesque, these textile efforts have a dignity and verve that most printed images and photography lack. They exist, they co-exist with us, they age, they breathe. They were very cleverly, sometimes beautifully, put together by hand, many hands (mostly male hands, in this case) a century ago. Part of what’s compelling about such handicrafts is the thought of how much life had to be lived just to get the thing done. Time was invested in these peculiar products. It begins to seem quite tolerable, silk embroidery — and no electricity was involved.

With technology, industrialisation, and their bedmate, alienation, we’re not just losing sight of what art is, but of what the human hand can do. It’s capable of a lot more than just gliding a mouse around or struggling with Velcro. As James Joyce said about the hand that wrote Ulysses: ‘It did lots of other things too.’ Hands are great. We wouldn’t last a minute without them. Nobody would catch you when you’re born, or affix you to the nipple, or change your nappy. No matter how much we like computers, consumerism, and sitting motionless in front of the TV, the human hand is our biggest love. Not to see anything made by hand, on a human scale, is a kind of death — like the prospect of never being touched again.

I am tired of electricity, gas, petrol, and nuclear power. I’m just sick of any energy other than the kind plants and animals naturally expend going about their daily business. I’ve begun to search the world for anything that doesn’t require electricity: wrinkles in clothing for instance, because they imply an iron lying fallow; dust bunnies under beds — no Hoover about to hove into view. I’ve come to see electricity as a kind of ethereal rapist, that can’t stop interfering with everyone: gas and electricity insinuate themselves into the house, and the money drains out of the bank. It’s a form of abuse.

We’re not given any choice in the matter. Having no electricity has long been regarded as an embarrassment, a sign of poverty or incompetence, and the stigma has cajoled most of us into believing we must have it. Hydro-electric companies are always throwing people out of their homes to build dams, so as to provide the same uprooted people with electricity in houses they don’t like very much, but where they can now read their electricity bills by lamplight. And we seem convinced we must use up as much electricity as possible, before developing countries get their mitts on it.

Just thinking about anything unelectric fills me with a warm, private, low-tech, halogen-free glow

It’s grown on me gradually, like a tortoise shell, that I hate electricity. The more I see and hear of it, the less I like it. This only recently solidified into An Opinion. It’s not really a moral position, nor a political one, though there are ways of defending it with moral and political arguments. It’s not exactly melancholic either, derived from news on the state of the environment — though I am melancholy about the environment.

No, my aversion to electricity began, as far as I can trace it, in reaction to finding out, when I was 12, that Lake Erie was officially dead, flooded with toxins from factories on its shore, and that not a fish could live in it anymore. This was the late 1960s, so my solution took the form of a vague lifelong hippy notion of getting back to nature, manifested in a disdain for fashion, gadgets, new buildings, the space programme, men with short hair, pharmaceutical companies, witch-burning and the Industrial Revolution.

But I’ve recently started observing in myself a disgust with all things buzzing, humming and zapping, and a definite increase in my allegiance to simple stuff that doesn’t move without help, stuff that just sits there, stuff that doesn’t require the aid of power stations to validate its existence. It might have originated in factories, or through various uses of fossil fuel, but it has since rebelled against this parentage and claimed its own quiet, independent life. These things include: toilets, bicycles, butter, jam, keys, buttons (NB buttons and zips are actually a kind of key: they open and shut your clothes for you), belts, plasters, blankets, books, pens, pencils, paper, shoes, sheds, sleds, skis, skates, bells, wind-up clocks, musical instruments, typewriters, wooden tools and hand-powered gardening implements, cutlery, clothing, Kleenex, needles and cotton, corkscrews, cigarettes, doors, door knobs, candles, see-saws, tennis rackets, tulips in a glass of water, (non-electric) toothbrushes, Japanese padded silk panels, cupboards, tables and chairs. Just thinking about anything unelectric, ungaseous and non-nuclear fills me with a warm, private, low-tech, halogen-free glow.

The shutters in my bedroom, which keep out the light and the cold, were probably created without the use of power tools, and are now manually operated. A human being has to effect any change in their position. No other force, no artificial, doomed or dwindling power source, is involved. And they work! The duvet works too, without electricity, as do the cupboards, shelves, floorboards and rug. So too the pictures I love on the wall, and my husband, who runs on his own steam, especially when steamed about something. It’s a simple pleasure, but I like the fact that you can open and close our bedroom door without having to enlist the services of the National Grid.

But there are lamps in the room, too — though not as many as a friend of mine would advise (she always says I have too few lamps, while I think she has too many: she makes no allowance for my aversion to electricity). There’s also a laptop, and an electric heater. These things jar.

I haven’t yet reached so extreme an aversion that I have to retreat to the desert or up a tree. There are fluctuating levels of electricity-tolerance, I find. On a plane, for instance, you (resentfully) surrender to everything: the suck-you-uppo toilets, the microwaved meals, the little reading light, the fake fan that pretends to offer you a gust of actual air, the seven hours straight of staring at the screen in the seat in front of you in search of ‘inflight entertainment’. But at home I flee from these things towards the stable, non-buzzing, non-blasting, non-depleting properties of the unelectric: endearing entities like husband, table, scissors, paper, stone. I’d give anything not to have to hear an extractor fan ever again.

Why do we find shiny computer screens so compelling? We can’t help looking at them. I think they’re like windows. We instinctively keep an eye on them, as if by doing so we’ll be able to fend off marauders or make better weather predictions. Glittering glowing colours have always enchanted people, no doubt reminding us of fire — another ancient love. But computer screens aren’t actually all that warming. You can’t cook anything on them, they don’t keep enemies at bay, and they’re not even as much like stained glass as we might romantically hope. They’re prison bars. For each computer screen, its prisoner. There are now a billion personal computers worldwide; according to, in another two years there will be two billion.

I have fantasies of electricitylessness. To live in a steading somewhere, equipped with a reliable well, vegetable patch, fireplace, maybe a wood-fired Aga. Cold white wine would somehow emanate from its own spring just outside the door. Inside, it would be all porridge and patchwork quilts, padded silk hangings in progress, a chicken or two, and musical instruments, which we’d play to warm ourselves up. Yes, I would miss the ready supply of the finest music, now provided instantly by free music streaming. And washing clothes by hand would be a chore. And it’s easier to fill a hot water bottle if you’ve got an electric kettle. Many household machines, I admit, are useful — cookers, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, toasters. But they take up so much space! If only they could be merged into one do-it-all mechanical slave that charges around your house vacuuming, toasting, and broadcasting non-stop. Cooks up a stew too, once it gets hot enough. Dutifully obeying the modern principle of agglomeration, it would be called an iPlod.

The noise generated by these machines of ours! A typewriter isn’t silent, I know, but it sure beats a washing machine on spin cycle. Noise is a new fetish with us. Why rake leaves quietly, allowing neighbours to sleep late, when you can frazzle everybody’s nerves with a leaf-blower? Why sweep the streets manually with brooms when you can send out an ineffectual (but expensive) little mechanical pavement sweeper with a cutesy name, that offers not only the delightful sounds of twirling brushes and suds squirters, but a vexing electronic voice that repeats the command ‘Attention. Take care, pavement cleaning in progress’ all the way down the street? (Though from afar it sounds like ‘Buzz off buster, buzz off buster, buzz off buster…’)

I recognise that I’m fighting a losing battle, since everything is becoming more and more electric. Even I am: I started writing this on my typewriter, yes, that grand old invention that prints automatically, never needs updating, and costs almost nothing to run. Mine is second-generation. It belonged to my father, weighs about 40lbs, and has very small type, which I particularly like. But here I am now, like everybody else, tapping out a Word Document on a laptop, with Pieter Wispelwey playing Bach suites for solo cello to me on the same machine. What will happen when every good, plain manually operated mechanism is replaced with an electronic one? We’re already being offered electric toilets, and key cards are standard in hotels and universities. Maps have been outmoded by SatNav, books by Kindle, Nook and Kobo, while playing cards, Scrabble, crossword puzzles, shopping, and gambling are usurped and exploited by online enterprises.

We revel, we wallow, in our dependence on electricity. But what about power cuts? After the Halloween hurricane of 2012, people in New York couldn’t use the lifts, had no water supply, the food in the fridges rotted, and dialysis had to be rationed. We’re completely at the mercy of energy-providers. We (not those of us on dialysis naturally) have given up our freedom and any remnant of self-sufficiency to become mere consumer units that purchase electricity. We exist only to establish more and more outlets for electricity, and to make more requirements of it.

It would be wonderfully calm and quiet in our steading, and so private. Every time I use a computer I feel like the advertisers and the FBI are staring over my shoulder.

Electronics are high-anxiety, high-maintenance luxuries. The cost alone! Computer companies have had a bonanza on built-in obsolescence. We all have to invest thousands of pounds updating our IT equipment every few years, just to get our emails. Real enthusiasts exult in these updates, but letters barely exist anymore, edged out in favour of internet communication. Our entire culture is fly-by-night — all in the service of electricity. It doesn’t serve us, we serve it.

Everywhere, the physical and the manual are being obliterated in favour of the virtual, which is far less cherishable or charitable. Reading an ebook might be convenient, but you’re submitting to a kind of sensory deprivation: you don’t visually remember the page the same way with a Kindle, you don’t get the smell of the paper, and you don’t know by feel how much you’ve read (the machine has to inform you coldly that it’s three per cent).

We think of ourselves as bathed in light, artificial light. We worry vaguely about ‘light pollution’ from office blocks and street lamps, and whether it can be seen from space. But we’re really back in the Dark Ages. No trace will be left of our culture soon but climate change, Nigella Lawson mixing bowls, the Gutenberg project (which still doesn’t have any of the books I want), and radioactive waste. There’s still no sensible, responsible or bearable plan for dealing with the by-products of nuclear power stations, much less with nuclear disasters, or terrorist plots against power stations, and nearby earthquakes. I’d rather walk to London than take a train fuelled by nuclear energy, our government’s latest thrill-seeking plan. But we are like kids with their toys: we want cars and computers and every type of gadget that uses up power, and we want them now. It’s all a big game to us. Entranced by every form of unreality we can find, we’ve lost contact with the earth itself. We’re collectively, impetuously, unthinkingly, mesmerically, floating off into cyberspace. The insects will be pleased.

And just a few hundred years ago the world was so verdant! It was there to be loved. Before the Industrial Revolution, despite religion, war, despotism, colonisation, anaesthetic-free surgery and terrible pasties, there was still some humanity, even humility. Look at Tobias Smollett, writing in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771):
Glasgow… is one of the prettiest towns in Europe; and… one of the most flourishing in Great Britain… From Glasgow we travelled along the Clyde, which is a delightful stream… Here is no want of groves, and meadows, and cornfields…

Things were still beautiful, before the hatred of anything natural took us over. Okay, so there was no whooping cough vaccine. But there was a lot more clarity, not just in the air and the water, but in people’s minds.

This world is too expensive, too ugly, too heartless, too handless. Where’s art, where’s humanity, where’s comfort?

Now we go to war over oil! Is it really worth killing for? People still regard car travel, if not as a pleasure, then as an unavoidable obligation. They only complain about fatal motorway crashes when they cause traffic jams. Driving seems like hell to me, and such a waste of time. The furious and anxious hours spent tediously negotiating your own individual vehicle round all the other ones, the honking, the servicing, the insuring, the parking, the taxing, the vandalism, car theft and car-jacking, calling the AA, getting petrol, buying the car in the first place, and reading about car makes. The noise of motorways has by now ruined almost every rural idyll. The zooming and blinking and the buzzing, the buzzing!

What’s wrong with skis, which are essentially a sort of self-powered train that comes with its own tracks? And there’s the bicycle. You don’t need the Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins to tell you that moving along, suspended on a little seat with the wind in your hair (or helmet), is a pleasant sensation. You can park it anywhere. It moves at a manageable, human pace. In Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Poppy is totally contented on her bicycle — until it’s stolen. This leads to her learning to drive, a decision full of unforeseen hassles: not only are her high-heeled boots not really up to the job, but her driving instructor is insane. Trundling through London with him in her metal polluting box, she loses touch with the world.

Maybe we need to use all the remaining electricity to manufacture bikes, and then turn it off.

You know what works without electricity? Nighttime. We survive hours and hours of electricitylessness at night (unless you’re dependent on an electric blanket or iron lung). You can sleep right through these low-tech periods of darkness, or go for a walk. You might fall occasionally, but with any luck you’ll see some stars. And other people. They’re not electric yet either — but they’ll probably soon be replaced with robots out on ethnic cleansing missions, so enjoy real people while you can.

This world is too expensive, too ugly, too heartless, too handless. Where’s art, where’s humanity, where’s comfort? Where are the simple, amiable, graspable products of our labour? All I’m saying is that when the primordial shit hits the electric fan and all current sources of energy are kaput, I will still have my books, pencils, paper, needles and thread, socks, slippers, long johns, a loo, a toothbrush, a typewriter, some candles, and a wind-up torch. I hope. What about you?

Read more essays on general technology, progress & modernity and technology and the self


  • Ben Curthoys
  • Jackie

    I've seen similar embroidered silks to the one you describe. The women who produced them went blind for lack of proper light.

    This essay could only have been written by an able-bodied person who has never had to live without modern amenities. I recommend that you check your privilege. In the meantime, go and see how easy it is to live off the grid, somewhere in the wilderness. See if you actually enjoy it, when you have so little time for art, because you're spending every waking moment surviving (remember, the further north you go, the shorter day lengths is). Perhaps you will enjoy it, I can't really say. But until you've done it, I don't think you've earned the right to be pedantically prescriptive.

    I'm sorry you have such a narrow definition of beauty. It must make the world very difficult to live in, indeed.

    • Melissa

      I'm pretty sure the original article is satire. "What’s wrong with skis, which are essentially a sort of self-powered train that comes with its own tracks? " there is no way this could be serious. It reminds me of a Portlandia sketch.

  • Piku

    If you find modern living too stressful and you "hate" electricity, I suggest you join some 3rd world aid programme where you get sent off into the middle of nowhere to help the locals dig a well. I'm quite sure their days are just crammed full of romantic starlit walks, embroidery and totally lack any stress.

    Or if that's too far to travel (it will take you a while to walk and swim I guess), volunteer in an inner-city school or community centre in the most deprived area you have.

    A dose of reality will do wonders if you think modern high tech living where we earn enough for the latest iPhone and car is all that exists.

  • Nugroho

    I live in the third-world country, and electricity, modern medical equipment and medicine, computers, cars, telephones, do wonders to improve our lives, and not only that, it saves lives! I would suggest you come here to underdeveloped regions in Indonesia and spend a good time to understand how living off the grid really feels. It's not as romantic as you think.

  • aeolus13

    Not sure if satire... what the hell, I'll bite.

    Lucy, let me give you a little bit of my philosophy on technology. When you get down to it, the only thing of any value we have is time. With luck and care, we each get the precious gift of eighty-odd spins around our little star before the stage lights go out and it's all over.

    We live longer and better than any humans in the history of our species, and it's all thanks to technology. Technology is more life, and not just in the medical sense. Take the humble washing machine you deride in your article - for the price of about twenty hours of labor, you get a machine that saves you fifteen hours of labor EVERY WEEK. You've purchased precious time to read, garden, or spend with your family. You complain about how no one sends letters anymore. That's because, instead of waiting four days for a letter carrying a tiny bit of information to reach my sister in California and another four days for her tiny response to come back, I have Skype. I can see her smile, hear her voice, and watch the funny thing her new puppy does in real time.

    My problem is not just that your article is based almost entirely on aesthetic considerations - it's that these aesthetic considerations are more a project of imagination than anything else. I encourage you to actually visit out the non-electrified places of the world - they're anything but the harmonious havens you imagine - squalor, poverty, drudgery, danger, and frequent death from preventable causes abound.

    If nothing else, look at statistics for life expectancy, population, infant mortality, malnutrition - really any health metric you'd care to name, and you'll find that humanity is living longer and better than we ever, ever have - all thanks to our technology and ingenuity.

    • Dismayed

      "I encourage you to actually visit out the non-electrified places of the world - they're anything but the harmonious havens you imagine - squalor, poverty, drudgery, danger, and frequent death from preventable causes abound."

      I wonder if you have visited any non-electrified places. I have -- and although people I have met in such villages are indeed poor and do not generally have the life span we enjoy in the U.S., your portrait of non-stop drudgery, squalor and danger is as deeply inaccurate as calling such places harmonious havens. Beauty and joy are found in abundance in many different kinds of human communities. Technology is neither a prerequisite for it nor an obstacle to it. Let's not over sell it.

  • Lucy Ellmann

    This piece was meant as a riff, not a serious article on electricity. Don't you get it? Irony? Still, I do think people should reconsider the pro-nuclear policy of using electricity to look at puppies 6,000 miles away.


      Irony? Nice try, but you didn't quite make it there. I lived without electricity for ten years in Alaska and I remember it fondly. You never managed to capture the essence of the non-electric life.

  • Alexander Wesperlinck

    This article reminds me of Ivan Illich! Although overtly sentimental, nostalgic and romantic, this piece has some truth to it. Cars are barbaric, time-consuming, utterly expensive killing machines. Private washing machines foment loneliness, enable us to put on new clothes everyday (this makes for more washing, of which the machine takes care, but then more ironing as well, which we have to do ourselves) and vibrate as if they were exotic male strippers performing weekly shows on our apartment floors — not very civilised. And all of our electronic appliances steal more time from us (time that often goes to work or utterly stupid entertainment) than they save us. We are addicted to technology, enslaved by it even, but as long as power magically emanates from little holes in our walls, we don't seem to care.

    (You say that, having recently read angry articles on some cokehead's movie, enslavement is an exaggeration. I say: if I decide at this moment to ditch my laptop, drown my tablet, chew on my smartphone until my teeth are broken, my body's poisoned and my iPhone 3GS's turned into a not only ancient but also defunct apparatus, and if on top of that I refuse to venture outside the offline realm, well, I can't even imagine what will happen then, as the best slaves and employees can't see a way out, even when salvation could be possible, but it just isn't.)

    Now, I don't want to argue that we should abolish all forms of electricity. That would be foolish. And I also don't want to argue that all of our old stuff, like the author's beloved socks and torches, are worth more than laptops and smartphones. But I do believe that development comes at a price. And I do believe that while some individuals can control their electrified urges, most of us will continue to evolve to some kind of cybernetic state. Maybe this is better than the alienated lives in which we are currently engaged -- you know, with this reliance on faxing machines, airplanes, cars, the internet of things, games and other means to private utopias -- because in the end, when we are truly digitalised and electrified ourselves, this dichotomy between a human life and a technological world will cease to exist. When? From the moment we shed our humanity like dried up skin.

    (This is no sci-fi, this is a blazingly rapid adaptation to what we carelessly embrace, this is an evolution of nurture, far quicker than an evolution of nature, this is what's happening right now: think of office workers procrastinating boring shit while reading slightly less boring but no less depressing shit on Facebook; think of mimetic desires amplified and exponentially increased by interaction and self-indoctrination as opposed to good old one-way advertising; think of laughing at your TV when your TV should be laughing at you for wasting your time when, tragically, there's not really anything better to do -- innovations in AI and the advent of integrated cameras in everything including cameras should enable your TV to laugh at you soon enough, so smile!)

    The good news is: our vision of the earth will no longer consist of the boring trees and not-so-green grass and random ugly flowers we pass when walking our dog, but of the stunning images of unspoilt forests, Caribbean beaches and landings on Mars we've put up as 3D-wallpapers on our Nexus 17 contact lenses. What a glorious day it will be. Nowadays you can resort to porn when your wife looks as attractive as an obsolete Symbian phone, but sometime in the future this won't even be necessary. Virtual reality won't be an escape route for when reality stinks like a big Chinese city buzzing with development and covered by the resulting smog, but a route from which there is no escaping. And why would you, as long as the power is on?

  • Jason C

    This really shows a lot of ignorance about how the modern world is put together. Without electricity, all the things that you cling to for comfort, namely your "books, pencils, paper, needles and thread, socks, slippers, long johns, a loo, a toothbrush, a typewriter, some candles, and a wind-up torch." Where made in some factory that ran on electricity, delivered by a truck that ran with a battery and diesel fuel to a store that ran on electricity, lights and computers. Your socks and slippers - made by machines with electricity. Your books, the paper - raw materials harvested with oil and processed with electricity. Even the content was written with a word processor. Anything metal that you own was dug out of the ground with large machinery and processed using megawatts of electricity and then sold to manufactures as preprocessed metal product. Even your loo was created in a ceramic furnace using enormous amounts of energy. Seriously, where do you think all these wonderful simple things made with high precision quality and consistency come from? Out of thin air?

    If you want a nice handcrafted item, fine, go buy some artwork.

    But seriously, stop being a romantic sap and get a grip on how the world works.

  • Quaker Gregory in Australia

    Dear Lucy, I value electricity but we are surely profligate in its use in the western world. It may cost us but it is very costly to our planet and we should use it sparingly as societies and as individuals realizing our interdependence and considering how we might bless others around the world with enough power to improve lives. Your piece is from the heart crying out for a simpler life and a quest for simplicity might lead us to action.

  • anonymous

    This isn't a satire. This is a person, trying to articulate something that is very difficult to articulate. That is that we live through screens, and as layers and layers of technological abstraction are set like thick windows between us and the means of production, that we end up becoming very... well, unhuman. Perhaps even... uncivilized? 

  • ellen dayton

    We text, we respond like this on the electronic devices, and read it as well. And yes, irony or sarcasm aside, my students cannot read my simple, clear (not calligraphic) penmanship cursive hand written instructions. In this way, I, too, feel the loss of craft. Mayhap, we will discover that the electronic age will also be considered a form of craft, long after i am gone.

  • thinkagainagain


  • Chip Daniels

    Lucy touches on an important point, and she isn't alone . It isn't merely romantic nostalgia or privilege to be disconcerted about the cost of modernity.

    The advances of modernity- electricty, mass production, all have consequences that we are now only beginning to see.

    Yes, we live longer, and in better health. However, almost every single advance has come with the cost of an ever-increasing squandering of resources. Almost every single benefit of mass production has as its single goal, the ability to consume more, and more, and even more besides. More coal, more steel, more water, more food, more agriculture.

    The secondary goal has been to insulate us- disconnect us- from the natural world. We have light and air and heat and coolness exactly when we want it, regardless of the climate, weather, or season.

    There is an alienating effect of this that is recognizable, and exacts a cost in psychic and emotional stress. How many people have become wage slaves, frantically scrambling faster and ever faster on a treadmill to stay abreast of the planned obsolescence?

    Technology has its benefits, and can be a part of ahealthful and rich life; but it does need to be carefully questioned and controlled, rather than uncritically embraced.

  • jonmonroe

    Gotta agree with Jackie. Life was never scenic and slow. Everyone has always found it too fast. It is change that gives us anxiety, not technology (or electricity if H prefers). But it gives us other things as well. The few successful attempts at stopping time include the Egyptian and Chinese empires. I am thankful I lived in neither.