Zygmunt Bauman is known for his writing on late modernity, which he’s termed ‘Liquid Modernity.’ His book, 44 Letters from the Liquid Modern World, offers a concise, thought provoking introduction to many of the themes he’s explored in prior work, grounded in anecdotes and vignettes that will be easy to engage with even if you haven’t read much of the literature.
“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 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.”