The essay “Why we need to slow down our lives” is filled with direct references to people, events, or literature because Pico Iyer uses the power of example to show the benefits of stillness and explore trends regarding relaxation practices.
For example, in the beginning of the essay, he makes direct references to French philosopher Blaise Pascal and to American explorer Richard E. Byrd: “ ‘All the unhappiness of men,’ the seventeenth-century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal famously noted…” (ll. 4-7); “After Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent nearly five months alone in a shack in the Antarctic…”(ll. 9-11). Their cases are used as examples that emphasize the importance and challenges of stillness. Similarity, Iyer makes a direct reference to common sayings in Kyoto, Japan: “ ‘Don’t just do something. Sit there.’ ” (ll. 16-17). The references can also be interpreted as an ironical allusion (indirect reference) to the English saying advising the opposite: ‘Don’t just sit there. Do something’.
To highlight the high rate at which we produce information, he makes references to his book and the Library of the US Congress and compares them with new collected information: “The amount of data humanity will collect while you’re reading The Art of Stillness is five times greater than the amount that exists in the entire Library of Congress.” (ll. 20-24).
In the essay, you will also find numerous references to companies and their stress-reduction programs for employees. These references help suggest the idea of a growing trend that promotes relaxation and living offline as a way to boost productivity and creativity. These references include: Google and its programs “Yogler” and “Search Inside Yourself” (ll. 75-85), General Mills and their relaxation rooms (ll. 125-127), “Aetna, the giant health-care company” (l. 146) and their yoga program, or Intel and their Quiet Period program (ll. 149-150).
Additionally, Iyer also give examples from Silicon Valley or Congress which support a growing trend encouraging people to spend time offline, relaxing: “Many in Silicon Valley observe an ‘Internet Sabbath’ every week” (ll. 104-105); “Congressman Tim...