Written assignments | A-Niveau | Eksempler | Why we need to slow down our lives (Non-fiction)¨
Pico Iyer (b. 1957) is a British-born travel writer, essayist and novelist, who lives in Japan. The essay is an excerpt from Iyer’s book The Art of Stillness, published in 2014.
Write an analytical essay (900-1200 words) in which you analyse and comment on Pico Iyer’s essay “Why we need to slow down our lives”.
Part of your essay must focus on the style of writing and on the themes explored in the text.
The essay Why we need to slow down our lives is written by Pico Iyer, a British- born travel writer, novelist and essayist, who currently lives in Japan. Why we need to slow down our lives is an excerpt from his book The Art of Stillness, which was published in 2014.
Iyer takes his starting point in a statement that is intended to awaken the attention of the receivers towards the subject of taking a break from their lives and be static without having to do or to go anywhere. Throughout the essay Iyer enlightens the receivers in personal stories as well as making references to people of great importance in order to shed light on the positive impact, the principle of the Sabbath, can have on our lives. Iyer’s style of writing is very personal as he expresses his own opinions and uses personal stories: “To me, the point of sitting still is that it helps you see through the very idea of pushing forward [...]” (Line 179-181). and “As I travel the world [...]” (Line 60). The fact that Iyer makes use of personal stories, as well as the personal pronoun “I” makes the distance between him, the sender, and the receivers shorter. Furthermore, the distance is shortened, when Iyer utilises the personal pronoun “we” and hereby creates a collective consciousness: “It’s easy to feel as if we’re standing two inches away [...]” (Line 43-44)., “We’re never caught up with our lives.” (Line 32-33). and (Line 43-44)., “But even for the rest of us, it’s like a retreat house that ensures we’ll have [...]” (Line 296-298). By creating a collective consciousness, Iyer will seem more trustworthy and genuine, as he makes references to situations that most individuals can relate to, including feeling as if one cannot reach perfection until no stones are left unturned. Additionally, the receivers will in all probability accept Iyer’s statements and message, because of the impression of community. Furthermore, a bond of trust between Iyer and the receivers are created by his use of personal stories and experiences: “One day I visited Google’s headquarters to give a talk on the Dalai Lama book I’d completed [...]” (Line 51-53). Here, Iyer creates an allusion to Dalai Lama, which appeals to the confidence and ethics within the receivers and therefore alludes that Iyer is trustworthy. This appeal to the receiver’s belief is called ethos and this form of appeal as well as allusions in relation to ethos are used throughout the essay. As another example, Iyer makes an allusion to Kevin Kelly and thereafter writes: “Kelly, one of the most passionate spokesmen for new technologies. [...] Kevin still takes off on [...]” (Line 111-118). Here, Iyer indicates that he knows Kevin Kelly, which makes Iyer appear more trustworthy. In addition to that, he makes it seem as if they know each other personally because he calls him by his first name. Moreover, Iyer makes use of the appeal form, logos, where he appeals to the logical sense of the receivers by incorporating statistics to support his arguments: “More than 30 percent of those enrolled in such a program at Aetna [...] saw their levels of stress dropping by a third after only an hour of yoga each week.” (Line 145-149).
Throughout the essay, Iyer alternates between both formal and colloquial language. The formal language is expressed in his use of long descriptive sentences as well as in the presentations of people and in the quotations. However, the language is primarily colloquial with the use of contractions and, sometimes, grotesque comparisons:“we’re”, “it’s” and “we’ll” (Line 32, 198 and 298) and “[...] which has bulldozed [...]” (Line 66). By using a language that is both formal and colloquial, Iyer ensures to broaden the number of receivers, as he makes himself understandable by using comparisons, which engages all of the receivers, who are at different taxonomic levels. In addition to the aforementioned, Iyer also makes distinctive use of interposed sentences, in which some have a humorous aspect to them and therefore creates a happier mood around the more serious topic: mood “[...] the Chief Evangelist for Google+, as his business card would have it, a [...]” (Line 74-76) and “Some people, if they can afford it, [...]” (Line 262).
Throughout the essay, Iyer makes allusions to different religious elements, for example: “Sabbath”, “the Torah”, “Dalai Lama” and “God” (Line 301, 213, 52 and 209). Additionally, Iyer enlightens the receivers in the religious aspect of the Sabbath. Moreover, different religions, in relation to the act of doing nothing, are commonly mentioned in the essay. Throughout the essay, Iyer sheds light on the importance of keeping the principle of the Sabbath and to disclaim one’s electronic devices, which is another main theme. Furthermore, he underlines that the ability to gather information once was of so crucial importance, where it now is of far less importance, because the capability to select between all the information that we have is attached greater importance nowadays. Moreover, Iyer does stress that having to distance himself from his electronic devices is something that is hard for him, too: “Doing nothing for a while – is one of the hardest things in life for me; I’d much rather give up meat or wine or sex than the ability to check my emails or get on with my work.” (Line 218-223). Furthermore, Iyer emphasises the positive impact that keeping the Sabbath, or taking some time off, can have: “[...] saving American corporations three hundred billion dollars a year; more important, they’re a form of preemptive medicine [...] the World Health Organization had been widely quoted as stating that “Stress will be the health epidemic [...].” (Line 165-170). Ultimately, Iyer concludes that we do not have to go far to get away from our habits, and the Sabbath recalls that all journeys have to eventually bring us home. “Some keep the Sabbath going to church. [...] I keep it staying at home.” (Line 309-312)
In Why we need to slow down our lives, Iyer sheds light on the positive impact, the principle of the Sabbath, can have on our lives. Iyer shortens the distance between him and the receivers by using personal stories as well as creating a collective consciousness. Furthermore, Iyer’s style of writing is very personal and he alternates between using both formal and colloquial language, which extends the number of receivers. The principle of the Sabbath, and to disclaim one’s electronic devices, as well as Religion are the main themes and are discussed several times throughout the essay. Furthermore, Iyer ultimately states that we do not have to go far away from our habits to fulfil the principle of the Sabbath. “Some keep the Sabbath going to church. [...] I keep it staying at home.” (Line 309-312).
Opgaven er skrevet til skriftlig eksamen på Morsø Gymnasium den 28. maj 2018, og gengives her i fuld længde med elevens accept.