This liquid modern world of ours, like all liquids, cannot stand
still and keep its shape for long. Everything keeps changing - the
fashions we follow, the events that intermittently catch our
attention, the things we dream of and things we fear. And we, the
inhabitants of this world in flux, feel the need to adjust to its
tempo by being 'flexible' and constantly ready to change.
We want to know what is going on and what is likely to happen, but
what we get is an avalanche of information that threatens to
How are we to sift the information that really matters from the
heaps of useless and irrelevant rubbish? How are we to derive
meaningful messages from senseless noise?
We face the daunting task of trying to distinguish the important
from the insubstantial, distil the things that matter from false
alarms and flashes in the pan.
Nothing escapes scrutiny so stubbornly as the ordinary things of
everyday life, hiding in the light of deceptive and misleading
familiarity. To turn them into objects of attention and scrutiny,
they must first be torn out from that daily routine: the apparently
familiar must be made strange. This is precisely what Zygmunt
Bauman seeks to do in these 44 letters: each tells a story drawn
from ordinary lives, but tells it in order to reveal an
extraordinariness that we might otherwise overlook.
Arresting, revealing, disconcerting, these snapshots of life by the
most brilliant analyst of our liquid modern world will appeal to a
"Bauman is geniunely interested in changing attitudes between generations (about parenting, privacy, shopping, risk and the like), and the evolution of mores in fashion, culture, and education, never resorting to the boo-hurrah dichotomies employed by true professionals of this genre. Sympathy for the young is ever-present: there is much about the ambiguous goods of texting, Facebook and the like, and Bauman already saw modern existence as 'a life of continuous emergency' even before the financial crisis struck. Overall: magnificently untweetable." Steven Poole, The Guardian
Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds.
1. On writing letters. 2. Crowded solitude. 3. Parents and children conversing. 4. Offline, online. 5. As the birds do. 6. Virtual sex. 7. Strange adventures of privacy (1). 8. Strange adventures of privacy (2). 9. Strange adventures of privacy (3). 10. Parents and children. 11. Teenager spending. 12. Stalking the Y Generation. 13. Freedom's false dawn. 14. The arrival of child-women. 15. It is the eyelash's turn. 16. Fashion, or being on the move. 17. Consumerism is not just about consumption. 18. Whatever happened to the cultural elite? 19. Drugs and diseases. 20. Swine flu and other reasons to panic. 21. Health and inequality. 22. Be warned. 23. The world inhospitable to education? (part one). 24. The world inhospitable to education? (part three). 25. The world inhospitable to education? (part two). 26. Ghosts of New Years past and New Years to come. 27. Predicting the unpredictable. 28. Calculating the incalculable. 29. Phobia's twisted trajectories. 30. Interregnum. 31. Whence the superhuman force - and what for? 32. Back home, you men? 33. Escape from crisis. 34. Is there an end to depression? 35. Who says you have to live by the rules? 36. The phenomenon of Barack Obama. 37. Culture in a globalized city. 38. The voice of Lorna's silence. 39. Strangers are dangers -- Are they, indeed? 40. Tribes and skies. 41. Drawing boundaries. 42. How good people turn evil. 43. Fate and character. 44. Albert Camus, or: I rebel , therefore we exist.