An absolutely amazing work. In the introduction, Becker sets out to answer the question "Why do people do what they do?" What follows, across 200 pageAn absolutely amazing work. In the introduction, Becker sets out to answer the question "Why do people do what they do?" What follows, across 200 pages, is a remarkably well-constructed and well-written study on the development of selfhood and culture. Becker's work is truly interdisciplinary and draws on evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, anthropology, philosophy and literature. The book reveals the link between the organization of human societies and the vital, personal need for self-esteem: the feeling that one is valued, loved, and has a chance to be a hero in their narrative. The role of culture is to set up a system of rules for achieving this self-esteem and heroism. However, as Becker explores in the later chapters, problems arise these systems of self-esteem are frustrated, denied or no longer able to function. Overall, a very compelling study that should perhaps be read before "The Denial of Death."...more
A short and powerful overview of Bauman's contemporary sociology. Bauman has previously coined the term "liquid modernity" to describe the shift fromA short and powerful overview of Bauman's contemporary sociology. Bauman has previously coined the term "liquid modernity" to describe the shift from traditionally stable socio-economic forms to increasingly ephemeral, fluid forms. Hence, men and women attempting to enter the global economy must be prepared to change locations, change careers, change social configurations and so on. The rapid instability has produced what Bauman calls "the Age of Uncertainty." Each chapter reads like its own essay on one particular aspect of this condition, but each aspect also contributes to all of the others.
Chapter 1 deals with the omnipresence of fear and the subsequent drive to security (more guns, surveillance cameras, gated communities, etc.) which, paradoxically, produces greater fear.
Chapter 2 considers the new global migrations initiated by instability. Bauman notes, quite correctly, that a globalized economy has rendered more and more people effectively useless--without a place in the shrinking labor force. These people are forced into a global exile which, unlike previous exiles, seems to have no endpoint.
Chapter 3 examines the way in which omnipresent fear has overtaken democracy. Today, fear remains the only way to engage public policy. Hence, the constant agitation and victimization of migrants who, as we saw in chapter 2, have been produced been made redundant by globalization. Here, Bauman is very close to Paul Virilio (another great critic of modernity) especially regarding Virilio's The Administration of Fear.
Chapter 4 considers urban space. Bauman notes that while the elites are increasingly tethered from any particular space, and set free into a global stratosphere. When the elites do descend into urban spaces, they increasingly focus on security and separation (Bauman notes Naomi Klein's concept of an increased division between Green Zones and Red Zones as a result of disaster capitalism). Here, he introduces two terms: "mixophilia" and "mixophobia." These are the tendencies of different ethnic groups in urban space to interact and segregate, respectively. Bauaman notes that while cities are great mixing pots, particular sections of the city become more and more homogeneous.
Chapter 5 investigates the idea of utopia, which Bauman says, only came about with the advent of modernity. Increasingly, we stand on the ruins of failed utopias, and yet utopia may be the only aim capable of propelling us past the problems mentioned in the other sections.
Overall, Bauman's analysis is stark and uncompromising, perhaps even a bit frightening. He makes no false idol of "progress" and admits in the introduction that he has no answers to the problems of modernity today. But Bauman has always done an excellent job of honestly and frankly laying out the world as it is, and that's what we need. ...more
An incredibly important and well-researched investigation of Israeli architecture and urban planning. The book demonstrates the materiality of dominatAn incredibly important and well-researched investigation of Israeli architecture and urban planning. The book demonstrates the materiality of domination and resistance--built into, below, and above the geography. Perhaps the most unexpected insights involve the Israeli army's use of concepts from Deleuze and Gauttari as military tactics....more
It's my conviction that Paul Virilio is the most important theorist writing today. His work is full of clear insights on subjects that are both exigenIt's my conviction that Paul Virilio is the most important theorist writing today. His work is full of clear insights on subjects that are both exigent and morally vital. This 1983 interview (presented in an updated 2007 edition) presents virtually all of the major concepts in Virilio's work: speed, acceleration, violence, globalization, colonization, Total War, and the disappearance of reality. This text is absolutely crucial for anyone interested in understanding the contemporary global situation. ...more
Worth reading for its succinct summaries of Kant, Hegel and Steiner but spends only a fraction (of the necessarily short PhD dissertation) on Steiner'Worth reading for its succinct summaries of Kant, Hegel and Steiner but spends only a fraction (of the necessarily short PhD dissertation) on Steiner's Christology....more