Curiosity can be a means to an end. But couldn’t it also be … the end? A reward in itself?
As an analogy, the slow food movement was a reaction to the use of food as a “means”—the widespread habit of quick-serve, on-the-go, calories-down-the-gullet-style cooking and eating. But—as food gurus taught us—when we slow things down, a source of stress could become a source of enjoyment.
Maybe we need a slow curiosity movement.Dan Heath, “Finding Out ‘What It’s Like to Be…’ Through Slow Curiosity“, Behavioural Scientist, 18 October 2023
Once upon a time I was at a workshop at the London V&A where we did an activity in fast and slow looking. Fast looking was walking through a room quickly and then making a note of three things that caught your eye, repeating several times. (If you’ve been to the V&A London you’ll know it’s a warren of connected spaces.)
Slow looking was sitting in front of an object for a while, drawing and making notes. I can’t remember if it were 15 or 30 minutes but it felt like forever. Not least because there were all those other things to see. It’s impossible to look at even a fraction of what’s on display in the museum before your brain is overloaded, but there’s the compulsion to keep going because it’s there, waiting.
I learnt that I can keep myself actively looking at the one thing, the more I notice, the more curious I become about whatever it is. I also learnt it’s easier if I first use up some restlessness and impatience through fast looking and/or drawing. Also at familiar locations where I start to notice things between those I recognise.