Synopses & Reviews
A follow up to Pico Iyerand#8217;s essay and#8220;The Joy of Quiet,and#8221; andlt;Iandgt;The Art of Stillnessandlt;/Iandgt; considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Why would a man who seems able to go everywhere and do anythingand#8212;like the international heartthrob and Rock and#8216;nand#8217; Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohenand#8212;choose to spend years sitting still and going nowhere? What can Nowhere offer that no Anywhere can match? And why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room and getting to know the seasons and landscapes of Nowhere might be the ultimate adventure?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;In andlt;iandgt;The Art of Stillness, andlt;/iandgt;Iyer draws on the lives of well-known wanderer-monks like Cohenand#8212;as well as from his own experiences as a travel writer who chooses to spend most of his time in rural Japanand#8212;to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. Iyer reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many peopleand#8212;even those with no religious commitmentand#8212;seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi. These arenand#8217;t New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. There is even a growing trend toward observing an and#8220;Internet sabbathand#8221; every week, turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning and reviving those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;In this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before. andlt;iandgt;The Art of Stillnessandlt;/iandgt; paints a picture of why so many have found richness in stillness and whatand#8212;from Marcel Proust to Blaise Pascal to Phillipe Starckand#8212;theyand#8217;ve gained there.
"This book isn't a meditation guide or a New-Age tract but rather a celebration of the age-old practice of sitting with no goal in mind and no destination in sight.... Rather than reading it quickly and filing it, readers will likely slow down to meet its pace and might continue carrying it around as a reminder."
and#8220;[A] cool drink of water, in book formand#8221;
and#8220;[A] wonderful read in its entirety.and#8221;
"A bustling paean to the stationary life . . . Iyerand#8217;s argument is an engaging amalgam of memoir, reportage, and literary essay . . . Iyer uses a fluid blend of argument and anecdote to make a persuasive and eloquent case that contemplating internal landscapes can be just as rich an experience as traveling through external ones. The fact that he has traveled to some of the worldand#8217;s most obscure corners only strengthens his credibility as a defender of stillness.and#8221;
and#8220;A heartfelt manifesto to the benefits of ditching the cellphone and snipping up the frequent flier card, The Art of Stillness is anything but a self-help book or how-to guide for achieving inner peace.and#8221;
and#8220;In lesser hands this tiny volume might be a throwaway of glib, and#8220;new ageand#8221; comfort-speak, but like Henry David Thoreauand#8217;s equally brief classic on another seemingly mundane exercise and#8212; walking and#8212; Iyerand#8217;s thoughtful nature leads him to peel back layer upon layer, nodding toward the infiniteand#8230;. Plunging effortlessly beneath platitudes, this wafer-thin volume reminds us of what might just be the greatest paradox of travel and#8212; after all our road running, after all our flights of fancy to the farthest corners of the globe, after all our touring, our seeking and questing, perhaps, just perhaps, fellow travelers, there really is no place like home.and#8221;
and#8220;[A] beautiful little book. . . fills an important niche. . . Iyer wants to make the conscious practice of stillness palatable to everyone.and#8221;
A follow up to Pico Iyer s essay The Joy of Quiet, The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In The Art of Stillness a TED Books release Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people even those with no religious commitment seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an Internet Sabbath turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.
The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many from Marcel Proust to Mahatma Gandhi to Emily Dickinson have found richness in stillness. Ultimately, Iyer shows that, in this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before.
In 2013, Pico Iyer gave a blockbuster TED Talk. This lyrical and inspiring book expands on a new idea, offering a way forward for all those feeling affected by the frenetic pace of our modern world."
About the Author
Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist long based in both California and Japan. He is the author of numerous books about crossing cultures, among them andlt;i andgt;Video Night in Kathmanduandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;i andgt;The Lady and the Monk, andlt;/iandgt;and andlt;i andgt;The Global Soulandlt;/iandgt;. An essayist for andlt;i andgt;Timeandlt;/iandgt; since 1986, he also publishes regularly in andlt;i andgt;Harperand#8217;sandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;i andgt;The New York Review of Booksandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;i andgt;The New York Timesandlt;/iandgt;, and many other publications across the globe.