Image from "Making Noise" by Hillel Schwartz
It appears that we live in an era of fast capitalism, of nanosecond stocktrading and picosecond quantum calculations, of accelerated risk and impatient emergency patients, of climate changes transforming this planet ever more quickly than predicted, of time-anxiety and the loss of leisure unattended by advertisement, of abbreviations further abbreviated, of images deformed by instantaneous forms of global exchange, of speed warped less by science fiction than by multinational corporate accounting.
Those who embrace this world celebrate its utter spontaneity, its immediacy, its unforeseeable synchronicities, its radical undertow, its disconcerting edginess, its revolutionary promise. Those who protest this world celebrate rather the savoring of slow foods grown according to their own rhythms, the sounds of long sentences read at the pace of deep breaths, the kinaesthetics of the amble and the meander, the quiet spaces of an unclocked siesta, the deliberateness of philosophy.
How might we better appreciate the current notion, nature, and experience of speed (and our responses to it) by comparing the medical and cultural history of one stimulant innate to our bodies, adrenaline, with another very widespread if synthetic stimulant, amphetamine, that overreaches in its attempts to imitate adrenaline?