DescriptionThis 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 overwhelm us.
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 wide readership.
1 On writing letters – from a liquid modern world 1
2 Crowded solitude 6
3 Parents and children conversing 10
4 Offline, online 14
5 As the birds do 18
6 Virtual sex 22
7 Strange adventures of privacy (1) 26
8 Strange adventures of privacy (2) 30
9 Strange adventures of privacy (3) 34
10 Parents and children 38
11 Teenager spending 42
12 Stalking the Y generation 46
13 Freedom's false dawn 50
14 The arrival of child-women 54
15 It is the eyelash's turn 58
16 Fashion, or being on the move 62
17 Consumerism is not just about consumption 67
18 Whatever happened to the cultural elite 71
19 Drugs and diseases 75
20 Swine flu and other reasons to panic 79
21 Health and inequality 83
22 Be warned 87
23 The world inhospitable to education? (part one) 91
24 The world inhospitable to education? (part two) 95
25 The world inhospitable to education? (part three) 99
26 Ghosts of New Years past and New Years to come 102
27 Predicting the unpredictable 106
28 Calculating the incalculable 111
29 Phobia’s twisted trajectories 115
30 Interregnum 119
31 Whence the superhuman force – and what for? 123
32 Back home, you men? 128
33 Escape from crisis 132
34 Is there an end to depression? 136
35 Who says you have to live by the rules? 141
36 The phenomenon of Barack Obama 146
37 Culture in a globalized city 149
38 The voice of Lorna’s silence 153
39 Strangers are dangers . . . Are they, indeed? 157
40 Tribes and skies 163
41 Drawing boundaries 167
42 How good people turn evil 172
43 Fate and character 178
44 Albert Camus, or: I rebel, therefore we exist . . . 182
Steven Poole, The Guardian
• Bauman discusses topical issues such as Twitter, swine flu and the influence of Barack Obama.
• These letters are interesting and insightful on their own and always connected in some way to Bauman's general argument about liquid modernity.
• This selection should appeal to students of sociology as well as a wide general readership.