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World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down

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Slowness can open doors to sustained creativity, claims poet and teacher Christian McEwen. Over the course of ten years training teachers to write their own poems in order to pass the craft along to students, McEwen realized that nothing comes easily when life is conducted at a high rate of speed. She draws not only on personal experience, but on readings ranging from lite Slowness can open doors to sustained creativity, claims poet and teacher Christian McEwen. Over the course of ten years training teachers to write their own poems in order to pass the craft along to students, McEwen realized that nothing comes easily when life is conducted at a high rate of speed. She draws not only on personal experience, but on readings ranging from literary anecdote and poetry to Buddhism, anthropology, current news, and social history, all supplemented by interviews with contemporary writers and artists. This is a real reader’s book, one that stands up as both sustained narrative and occasional inspiration. McEwen espouses the pleasure to be found in slowing down, both for the ease and comfort of the thing itself (taking time to go for a walk, to write down one’s dreams, to read, to talk, to pray), and for its impact on creativity. There are chapters on walking, talking, drawing, dreaming, on “making space,” on pausing/praying, on telling stories. World Enough & Time is aimed at the educated general reader, could be used as a creative primer, and will be of interest to creative writing students and artists in every genre.


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Slowness can open doors to sustained creativity, claims poet and teacher Christian McEwen. Over the course of ten years training teachers to write their own poems in order to pass the craft along to students, McEwen realized that nothing comes easily when life is conducted at a high rate of speed. She draws not only on personal experience, but on readings ranging from lite Slowness can open doors to sustained creativity, claims poet and teacher Christian McEwen. Over the course of ten years training teachers to write their own poems in order to pass the craft along to students, McEwen realized that nothing comes easily when life is conducted at a high rate of speed. She draws not only on personal experience, but on readings ranging from literary anecdote and poetry to Buddhism, anthropology, current news, and social history, all supplemented by interviews with contemporary writers and artists. This is a real reader’s book, one that stands up as both sustained narrative and occasional inspiration. McEwen espouses the pleasure to be found in slowing down, both for the ease and comfort of the thing itself (taking time to go for a walk, to write down one’s dreams, to read, to talk, to pray), and for its impact on creativity. There are chapters on walking, talking, drawing, dreaming, on “making space,” on pausing/praying, on telling stories. World Enough & Time is aimed at the educated general reader, could be used as a creative primer, and will be of interest to creative writing students and artists in every genre.

30 review for World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephany Wilkes

    A life changing book, and one I could have used much sooner. Nearly one year ago, my husband and I made the harder-than-it-sounds choice to step off the treadmill, exit the rat race, and end a combined 40 years in tech work by quitting our Bay Area/Silicon Valley tech jobs -- at the peak of our careers. It sounds great in theory, and indeed it was: one year later, I feel genuine horror at the fact that we might *not* have chosen this path. But getting to this place was not easy. There was no euph A life changing book, and one I could have used much sooner. Nearly one year ago, my husband and I made the harder-than-it-sounds choice to step off the treadmill, exit the rat race, and end a combined 40 years in tech work by quitting our Bay Area/Silicon Valley tech jobs -- at the peak of our careers. It sounds great in theory, and indeed it was: one year later, I feel genuine horror at the fact that we might *not* have chosen this path. But getting to this place was not easy. There was no euphoria, aside from the days on which we had our last days at work. We knew *what* we wanted to do: slow down. Work less. Think more. Spend a lot more time outside, and almost none in front of a screen. But as basic as those things sound, they were easier said than done. We had no idea *how* to transition from anxious, overworked sorts with mobile tethers and meeting times in more than half the world's time zones to people who could *think* again, who could take the time to just notice things and not always feel compelled to "accomplish" something. I expect to read this book at least two more times. It's an enjoyable read, full of examples and fables, but it's also a critical guide to getting from crazy to calm.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Philippe

    This was an enjoyable bedside read. A warmly and intelligently written breviary that makes a persuasive case for slowing down and taking our time to engage in mundane but potentially transformative activities: reading, playing, observing, journaling, reminiscing. The book is a necessary antidote to the contemporary regime of hyperactivity and hyperstimulation that is eroding our agency, creativity and humanity. One of the sections I highlighted is this account of the good life, given by Confuciu This was an enjoyable bedside read. A warmly and intelligently written breviary that makes a persuasive case for slowing down and taking our time to engage in mundane but potentially transformative activities: reading, playing, observing, journaling, reminiscing. The book is a necessary antidote to the contemporary regime of hyperactivity and hyperstimulation that is eroding our agency, creativity and humanity. One of the sections I highlighted is this account of the good life, given by Confucius's grandson Tsesse: "He imagines someone whose life is neither celebrated nor obscure, neither indolent nor hectically active. This person reads, but not too much, is informed and capable, but neither a scholar nor a specialist. Each night, he sleeps long and well, and wakes up rested, blessed with a revivifying dream. Slowly, he makes his way towards his study, settling himself down before a bright window and a clean desk. At that moment, he finds himself inspired, free as all of us would like to be, to write good essays, good poems and good letters, free to paint good paintings, and to write good inscriptions on them. The world opens itself to him, in all its myriad beauties, and he responds with a full heart."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kasey Jueds

    It took me over a year to read this book... appropriately, because it is a book about slowing down, and a book to be savored. Full of quotes from a huge range of sources, and the bibliography/suggested reading list is enormous and compelling and made me want to read everything on it. And Christian McEwen's voice, the stories she tells and the thoughtful, non-preachy advice she imparts--all of these are inspiring, centering, nourishing. A book I'll return to, absolutely. Here's one of the zillion It took me over a year to read this book... appropriately, because it is a book about slowing down, and a book to be savored. Full of quotes from a huge range of sources, and the bibliography/suggested reading list is enormous and compelling and made me want to read everything on it. And Christian McEwen's voice, the stories she tells and the thoughtful, non-preachy advice she imparts--all of these are inspiring, centering, nourishing. A book I'll return to, absolutely. Here's one of the zillions of quotations tucked into World Enough & Time... one of my favorites: Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life. (Wu-Men)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Graham

    This book offers far more depth and enjoyment than I had expected - in fact, reading it was a true joy - beautifully, thoughtfully written, not preachy or prescriptive, more like a conversation with an interesting friend. It doesn't repeat the same theme in endless variation, but offers the reader fresh insights and perspectives with every chapter. Highly recommended. This book offers far more depth and enjoyment than I had expected - in fact, reading it was a true joy - beautifully, thoughtfully written, not preachy or prescriptive, more like a conversation with an interesting friend. It doesn't repeat the same theme in endless variation, but offers the reader fresh insights and perspectives with every chapter. Highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Howard Mansfield

    Christian McEwen has written a good-hearted, generous book. She never thunders at the reader, even when she is rightfully angry. Nor does she show off, but she does show the way to a quieter, more thoughtful life. The book really sparks when she brings in her Scottish upbringing and her travels in this country. This book is written by a pilgrim offering many maps for each reader to begin their own journey to a richer life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire O'Sullivan

    ‘Only one hour of the normal day is more pleasurable than the hour spent in bed with a book before going to sleep and that is the hour spent in bed with a book after being called in the morning’ Rose Macauley This was my holiday read book choice and I loved it . The art of slowing down, not fitting more in, simply doing the things I love slowly and mindfully - conversation, walking, looking, practising joy and happiness. Read in Kikudbright, Scotland an artists town. A perfect combination of book ‘Only one hour of the normal day is more pleasurable than the hour spent in bed with a book before going to sleep and that is the hour spent in bed with a book after being called in the morning’ Rose Macauley This was my holiday read book choice and I loved it . The art of slowing down, not fitting more in, simply doing the things I love slowly and mindfully - conversation, walking, looking, practising joy and happiness. Read in Kikudbright, Scotland an artists town. A perfect combination of book, place and time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    I picked this up in anticipation of Christian McEwen's visit to my university campus. Sadly, I was unable to attend the events surrounding her visit. All month I've savored the book along with my breakfast; today I finished it, and I feel bereft--I will re-read it soon, I'm certain. Her voice is comforting as she urges the reader to slow down to enrich creativity. She uses excellent examples from literature, interviews, painters...all sorts of creative people to support her thesis. At the end of I picked this up in anticipation of Christian McEwen's visit to my university campus. Sadly, I was unable to attend the events surrounding her visit. All month I've savored the book along with my breakfast; today I finished it, and I feel bereft--I will re-read it soon, I'm certain. Her voice is comforting as she urges the reader to slow down to enrich creativity. She uses excellent examples from literature, interviews, painters...all sorts of creative people to support her thesis. At the end of each chapter, she includes activities and meditations, which the reader can use to deepen understanding and practice slowing down. Having recently felt anxious about the pressures of my busy life, this book entered my world at a perfect time. McEwen, I suspect, would not be surprised by this! I plan to use this as a spring board for new creative writing exercises for myself and my students. I urge everyone who longs for an opportunity to persuade themselves to slow down to read this. It is beautiful for its writing and content.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Norman

    This book changed my view of life in profound ways. It tells us a lot of things we know, but repositions it in a manner that inspired me to deeply contemplate the manner in which I live with others, myself and the technologies that are aimed at making life easier (and sometimes do the very opposite). The book is part reflection, part treatise, part call to contemplative arms to slow down and re-imagine time. It's not preachy either. Using the author's experiences, case studies and drawing on poe This book changed my view of life in profound ways. It tells us a lot of things we know, but repositions it in a manner that inspired me to deeply contemplate the manner in which I live with others, myself and the technologies that are aimed at making life easier (and sometimes do the very opposite). The book is part reflection, part treatise, part call to contemplative arms to slow down and re-imagine time. It's not preachy either. Using the author's experiences, case studies and drawing on poetry, literature and academic research, McEwen paints the picture of a changing world that is too often seen as not enough or too much and, like the title suggests, might be neither and both. I cannot recommend this book enough for those seeking to engage in the hard work of asking big questions and preparing to re-assess one's priorities. This won't tell you what to do, but will give you a sense of what might be worth contemplating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    One of my deepest pleasures recently was the month in winter I spent with this book. Reading it slowly. Rereading portions. Sharing favorite passages with friends over dinner, and with students in my creative writing classes, and with my clients who—like the author—are beginning to recognize that there's something essential and humane and necessary about slowing down, taking time, doing creative work, and finding the means of incorporating all of these things into daily life. I can't recommend t One of my deepest pleasures recently was the month in winter I spent with this book. Reading it slowly. Rereading portions. Sharing favorite passages with friends over dinner, and with students in my creative writing classes, and with my clients who—like the author—are beginning to recognize that there's something essential and humane and necessary about slowing down, taking time, doing creative work, and finding the means of incorporating all of these things into daily life. I can't recommend this book more enthusiastically—even to those who believe they have a balanced life that includes enough time and sufficient creative activity. McEwan brings her gentle eye, compassionate attention, and history of reading to bear on the topic. It's well written, deft in its conclusions, and absolutely encouraging. I adored this book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sigrun Hodne

    This book is a compendium, an amalgam of thoughts and ideas collected from different cultural traditions and historical eras. Ideas from great thinkers: religious figures, writers and philosophers are combined in new ways to underscore the importance of slowing down if one if to enjoy the richness of life. Being structured around quotes and ideas collected from great thinkers & writes, it is difficult to call McEwen’s work truly original, if you are acquainted with Buddhism and/or theories on cre This book is a compendium, an amalgam of thoughts and ideas collected from different cultural traditions and historical eras. Ideas from great thinkers: religious figures, writers and philosophers are combined in new ways to underscore the importance of slowing down if one if to enjoy the richness of life. Being structured around quotes and ideas collected from great thinkers & writes, it is difficult to call McEwen’s work truly original, if you are acquainted with Buddhism and/or theories on creativity, you will recognize most of the ideas presented in this book. But McEwen is a shrewd narrator; combining well-worn stories with personal comments and small exercises for the reader, she manages to make even old truths fresh & rejuvenating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    This was a wonderful book. The author explores the idea of slowing down,giving ourselves the time to enjoy the world around us. For example, how many times have you seen people out walking while plugged into some electronic device? How about taking a walk and allowing all of your senses to appreciate the experience? We spend entirely too much time in front of computers. The author says it's time to slow down. Let the quietness lead to inspiration. This was a wonderful book. The author explores the idea of slowing down,giving ourselves the time to enjoy the world around us. For example, how many times have you seen people out walking while plugged into some electronic device? How about taking a walk and allowing all of your senses to appreciate the experience? We spend entirely too much time in front of computers. The author says it's time to slow down. Let the quietness lead to inspiration.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marina Sofia

    This is a book that I will never 'finish' reading, but just keep on re-reading. It's not that the ideas are startlingly new - they confirm things I had already half-known or guessed. It's just nicely put together, with plenty of lovely literary and artistic allusions and quotes. A real inspiration. One that I need badly, with my 'hurry up', ever-busy personality. This is a book that I will never 'finish' reading, but just keep on re-reading. It's not that the ideas are startlingly new - they confirm things I had already half-known or guessed. It's just nicely put together, with plenty of lovely literary and artistic allusions and quotes. A real inspiration. One that I need badly, with my 'hurry up', ever-busy personality.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Richard

    Perfect for reminding writers that we need to slow down and observe the world to really make lasting contributions to the field. I underlined several passages in this book, and I return to it often for inspiration.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A delicious read! Read it slowly, savor it. Enjoy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    After reaching a point of creative burnout recently, I picked up this book and gave myself necessary time to slow down. The writing is beautiful and poetic, and written in such a way that naturally slows down the reader. I took my time to savor and contemplate the words, and enjoyed the inclusion of poetry to illustrate the concepts presented throughout the chapters. The principles suggested in the book are simple, but so easily forgotten in our fast-paced world. And they really do work. The more After reaching a point of creative burnout recently, I picked up this book and gave myself necessary time to slow down. The writing is beautiful and poetic, and written in such a way that naturally slows down the reader. I took my time to savor and contemplate the words, and enjoyed the inclusion of poetry to illustrate the concepts presented throughout the chapters. The principles suggested in the book are simple, but so easily forgotten in our fast-paced world. And they really do work. The more I create, explore who I am, and stumble and succeed while I figure out my career, the more I'm realizing that I just like to go slow. I don't create well when I'm in a hurry or stretched too thin, or when my calendar is packed with back to back events, or when I sacrifice time with my loved ones (or time with myself) for things that just don't matter in the grand scheme of my life. Taking a time out every once in a while or adopting a slower pace of life isn't for everyone, but if you give it a try and it resonates....why deny yourself the simple luxury of slowing down to actually enjoy your life? I look forward to returning to this book at various times throughout life. I think it's also worth mentioning that while the book includes creativity in the title, this book is worth reading whether or not you consider yourself a creative person.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Stoeckel

    (n.b This book was my #firstbook2021) "For fast acting relief from stress, try slowing down"~ Lily Tomlin This is the opening quote of this book. I had been introduced to this author's work from her little book of daily wisdom:"The Tortoise Diaries", which contains quotes and snippets from this larger work, now in it's 7th printing. With wry humor, McEwen reflects her friends' response to the idea of a book on slowing down:hurry up with that book. Instead, she presents a book chock full of wisdom, (n.b This book was my #firstbook2021) "For fast acting relief from stress, try slowing down"~ Lily Tomlin This is the opening quote of this book. I had been introduced to this author's work from her little book of daily wisdom:"The Tortoise Diaries", which contains quotes and snippets from this larger work, now in it's 7th printing. With wry humor, McEwen reflects her friends' response to the idea of a book on slowing down:hurry up with that book. Instead, she presents a book chock full of wisdom, examples, quotes and reflections that challenge a reader to savor each moment as it comes instead of leaning into a societal norm that says faster is better. With slowing down comes creativity, rumination and remembering how things of the past and our responses might teach us to be more present in the now. This book, by its very presence is a joy. Bauhan Publishing has given it a lovely visage and a weight that goes beyond it's title. It will have pride of place in my home library. Highly Recommended 5/5 [disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher and voluntarily read and reviewed it]

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dora

    In this book, Christian McEwen examines the relationship between slowing down and creativity. She has drawn from a large body of literature that supports slowing down as a way of increasing one's creativity. Taking time to slow down and observe one's environment and taking time to talk with friends instead of texting them. She has provided a large bibliography of the sources that she used while writing the book. I enjoyed reading this book. I did take my time reading it. I think that if you are w In this book, Christian McEwen examines the relationship between slowing down and creativity. She has drawn from a large body of literature that supports slowing down as a way of increasing one's creativity. Taking time to slow down and observe one's environment and taking time to talk with friends instead of texting them. She has provided a large bibliography of the sources that she used while writing the book. I enjoyed reading this book. I did take my time reading it. I think that if you are willing to spend some time with the book you will be rewarded but if you are someone who skim reads, I'm afraid that you will miss the point.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dina London

    So, it took me almost a year and a half to listen to this whole book. But, it wasn't because I didn't like it. In fact, it is a lovely book and I absolutely recommend it. It is read by the author and she reads very slowly and soothingly. The experience is almost meditative. Her stories are beautiful, heart warming, spiritual, and profound. It is the perfect book to read/listen to right before bed or when you need to feel a sense of calm. So, it took me almost a year and a half to listen to this whole book. But, it wasn't because I didn't like it. In fact, it is a lovely book and I absolutely recommend it. It is read by the author and she reads very slowly and soothingly. The experience is almost meditative. Her stories are beautiful, heart warming, spiritual, and profound. It is the perfect book to read/listen to right before bed or when you need to feel a sense of calm.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    If you’re interested in art, creativity, and slowing down, this is a good resource. Good but not great. Too much of the book was dedicated to obscure examples that didn’t add much for me. Also, McEwen sometimes hit things so on the nose that I was underlining and copying quote after quote, then the next pages fell flat. There was an unevenness to this overall, but I’d still recommend it and plan to revisit it in the future.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Darci

    I enjoyed listening to this book. I liked the way it completed each section by giving tasks to help you put the topic into practice. I have yet to attend to completing those tasks, but I do intend to try many of them. The sprinkling of stories supported the topics in entertaining ways and it was relaxing in its presentation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Fredrickson

    I really enjoyed many sections of this book, but felt that it was over-long. It is a feast of personal stories as well as stories related from others about the benefits of slowing down to enjoy life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    tonia peckover

    A beautiful, thoughtful exploration of the many ways we can open space in our interior lives for peace, mindful engagement, and creativity. My copy is full of notes. As soon as I finished it, I turned to the front and started again. Marvelous book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    I took a long time to read this book in print format, savoring it. I found it genuinely illuminating. I hope I absorbed some of its lessons.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Valorie Hallinan

    World Enough & Time is a great book, totally unique, one you'll keep for the ages. More on my blog, Books Can Save a Life, at https://wp.me/p28JYl-5gV World Enough & Time is a great book, totally unique, one you'll keep for the ages. More on my blog, Books Can Save a Life, at https://wp.me/p28JYl-5gV

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Tarahumara

    Such a tranquil and contemplative book. The author steers you here and there, as if in a gently rocking rowboat and takes you to many gems that are often overlooked when you move too fast. A book asking us to ebb in order to silence ourselves and deeply look and analyze our surroundings. So often we hurry through not ratifying the magic and medicine that is all around us. It's written with such ease, it takes some restraint to not gulp it down too fast so as to satiate as quickly as possible. Such a tranquil and contemplative book. The author steers you here and there, as if in a gently rocking rowboat and takes you to many gems that are often overlooked when you move too fast. A book asking us to ebb in order to silence ourselves and deeply look and analyze our surroundings. So often we hurry through not ratifying the magic and medicine that is all around us. It's written with such ease, it takes some restraint to not gulp it down too fast so as to satiate as quickly as possible.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecka

    What a disappointment. I thought it would be a positive book (I bought it on audiobook) about working a slower pace into your life (something I've already become quite good at)...and instead it's a diatribe of frantic raving about the problems of the world - all of which are blamed on pace. Not uplifting, not enjoyable, not relaxing, not slowing, not...anything useful, unless you like to immerse yourself in 'everything is wrong' thinking. A real disappointment. When you feel you could write more What a disappointment. I thought it would be a positive book (I bought it on audiobook) about working a slower pace into your life (something I've already become quite good at)...and instead it's a diatribe of frantic raving about the problems of the world - all of which are blamed on pace. Not uplifting, not enjoyable, not relaxing, not slowing, not...anything useful, unless you like to immerse yourself in 'everything is wrong' thinking. A real disappointment. When you feel you could write more usefully about a topic than an author with your own limited scope, something is wrong. I'm going to see if I can get a refund for this, I couldn't even finish it. More alarmist and negative-focals than the evening news! Which I've chosen not to watch for 22 years. So opted out in this one after sticking with it as a long as I could. PS It's extremely USA-centric too, which I find fairly inexcusable in this age of the global village.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Why do we rush? What do we miss out on by doing so? What could we discover (about ourselves, the world, our place in the universe) if we stopped? These are the questions McEwen is considering here. She does so through looking at the thoughts and writings of a wide variety of people, including the Transcendentalists, Buddhist teachers, and numerous people of her acquaintance. It took me a long time to read this book because I found much to stop and consider, much to savor about it as I went along Why do we rush? What do we miss out on by doing so? What could we discover (about ourselves, the world, our place in the universe) if we stopped? These are the questions McEwen is considering here. She does so through looking at the thoughts and writings of a wide variety of people, including the Transcendentalists, Buddhist teachers, and numerous people of her acquaintance. It took me a long time to read this book because I found much to stop and consider, much to savor about it as I went along. It does follow a linear narrative structure, but also lends itself to browsing through and re-reading bits that appeal in the moment. An extensive bibliography provides a path to further consideration of how and why we shouldn't be in such a hurry.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This is an important book to read in learning how to take back valuable time that slips through our fingers. It is time that is so important to creativity. The author has a simple solution: just say no to the endless demands on our time that are really meaningless: "Refuse to race in the mad race of time." The author's mantra: refuse and choose. Refuse things that waste time, and choose time for creative practice. Slowing down, according to the author, is a "tremendous source of joy." By slowing This is an important book to read in learning how to take back valuable time that slips through our fingers. It is time that is so important to creativity. The author has a simple solution: just say no to the endless demands on our time that are really meaningless: "Refuse to race in the mad race of time." The author's mantra: refuse and choose. Refuse things that waste time, and choose time for creative practice. Slowing down, according to the author, is a "tremendous source of joy." By slowing down we can find our creativity that lies within us. Don't miss reading this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This book seems to be full of encouragement if you are struggling with time and are a newbie at wrestling with coming to terms with what is important in your life. I'm giving it two stars for personal reasons--I think I've already done the soul searching for what is important to me therefore my time issues just need to be continued to be 'managed.' I probably would have gotten more from this book 15-20 years ago. This book seems to be full of encouragement if you are struggling with time and are a newbie at wrestling with coming to terms with what is important in your life. I'm giving it two stars for personal reasons--I think I've already done the soul searching for what is important to me therefore my time issues just need to be continued to be 'managed.' I probably would have gotten more from this book 15-20 years ago.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This book served as a reinforcement of my own belief that our lives are richer if spent outdoors in nature and in pursuit of a simpler life...I guess it makes sense that someone drawn to this belief would be attracted to reading this book. I did learn something new. Christian McEwen mentions the japanese practice of naikan. Without going into detail, this could have a profound impact on how you view your life and relationships. Interesting!

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