LOVE, FEAR & THE NETWORK（一） / 爱、恐惧&网络 透过89岁社会学家的镜子观照这一代人
鲍曼创造了 “流动的现代性” 这个词描述我们的社会现状：生活的各个层面正以一种史无前例的速度发生转变——爱，工作，社会，政治和权利。他的研究覆盖的范围之大，从亲密关系到全球化，真人秀节目到大屠杀，从消费观到社区，也延及他自己专业研究领域的哲学和心理学。
关于自我认知，按法国社会学家Francois de Singly的说法，身份认定不再有任何根基。因此他用了抛锚的暗喻，与其永久地割断你的社会根基，相比较一个可升吊的锚，却有更多的自由度。对于自我，什么困扰了你？
To be continued... ...
TECHONOLOGY, UTOPIA, HUMAN WASTE
ORIGINAL English Script
Zygmunt Bauman is without question one of Europe’s most influential sociologists. His oeuvre, read on all continents, encompasses some sixty books, which he has continued to publish at a daunting pace since his 1990 retirement from the University of Leeds in England.
Bauman coined the term “liquid modernity,” which refers to the present state of our society and its transformation of all aspects of life at an unprecedented rate – love, work, society, politics, and power. He has covered a wide spectrum of topics from intimacy to globalization, reality television to the Holocaust, and consumerism to community, extending far beyond his core area of expertise into the fields of philosophy and psychology.
Bauman was born in 1925 into a poor Jewish family in Poznan, Poland, who managed to catch the last train to Soviet Russia and thus saved themselves from a terrible fate. He became a Marxist and fought in the Red Army. After his return to Poland, he served as a political officer in the security corps, fighting against opponents of the regime, and then as an employee in the military’s secret service until 1953. Disillusioned with Soviet communism, he left the Communist Party of Poland. Following a vicious anti-Semitic campaign, he lost his position at the University of Warsaw in 1968 and moved to Israel, where he taught at the University of Tel Aviv for two years before migrating to England.
“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing,” the Greek poet Archilochus once said. In this famous categorization of writers and thinkers elaborated by Isaiah Berlin, Bauman is both a “hedgehog” and “fox.” He is not a man of details, statistics, surveys, facts, and extrapolations. He paints with a broad brush on a large canvas, provoking debates and injecting discussions with new hypotheses. Yet there is very little in the humanities and social sciences that would leave him with nothing to say. “My life is spent recycling information,” Bauman once said.
At the age of 89, the sociologist has lost none of his trademark passion for criticism and righteous fury toward the prevailing state of affairs. He still astonishes visitors with a mischievous humor that is not found in the bleak vision of the future in his books. Eastern European to the core, he insists that his guests help themselves to the strawberry tarts, cookies, and grapes laid out before him on the coffee table, surrounded by towering stacks of books. Seated on a worn-out wingback chair with pipe in hand, Bauman takes plenty of time to answer our questions. And this is very much needed, because we want to know: What is life?
Peter Haffner: Professor Bauman, let’s start with the most important thing: love. You say that we are forgetting how to love. What brings you to that conclusion?
Zygmunt Bauman: The trend of finding a partner on the Internet goes hand in hand with the trend of online shopping. I personally don’t like going to shops and buy most things online – books, films, clothing. If you want a new jacket, the virtual store’s website will show you a catalog. If you want a partner, the dating website will also present you with a catalog. The pattern of relationships between customers and commodities defines the patterns of relationships between individuals.
How does it differ from earlier times when future partners met at village fairs or town balls?
Online dating involves an attempt to define the features of a potential partner that best reflect one’s own longings and desires. Candidates are chosen based on hair or skin color, height, figure, bust size, age, interests and hobbies, preferences and dislikes. The underlying idea is that an object of love can be assembled from a number of measurable physical and social characteristics. In the process, the most decisive factor gets forgotten: the human person.
But even when such an ideal profile is defined, everything changes once you get to know the person. They are much more than the sum of all these external attributes.
The danger is that the pattern of relationships is coming to resemble the way we relate to mundane objects of utility. We would never pledge our devotion to a chair. Why would I vow to remain on this chair until my dying day? If I no longer like it, I’ll simply buy a new one. It’s not a conscious process but it’s the way we learn to see the world and other human beings.
You mean that couples separate prematurely.
We enter relationships because they promise satisfaction. When we get the feeling that a different partner would be more satisfying, we break off the old relationship to begin a new one. Starting a relationship takes the consent of two people. Ending it only takes one. As a result, both partners live in constant fear of being abandoned by the other, of being tossed aside like a jacket that’s gone out of fashion.
And that’s a misconception, as you write in Liquid Love, your book on friendship and relationships.
It’s the problem of “liquid love.” In turbulent times, we need friends and partners who won’t let us down, who are there for us when we need them. The desire for stability is important in life. The 16 billion dollar valuation of Facebook is based on this need to not be alone. On the other hand, we dread the commitment of becoming involved with someone and getting tied down. We are afraid of missing out. We long for a safe haven yet we still want to keep our hands free.
You were married to one woman for 60 years, Janina Lewinson, who died in 2009. What makes for true love?
This elusive but overwhelming joy of the “you and I,” being there for each other, becoming one. The pleasure from the fact that you make a difference in something that is not only important to yourself. To be needed, or even irreplaceable, is an exhilarating feeling. It’s hard to achieve, and unattainable when we persist in the solitude of the egoist who acts solely out of self-interest.
The consumer society, you say, makes it difficult to be happy because it depends on us being unhappy.
“Unhappy” is too big of a word in this context. But all marketing managers would insist that they create satisfaction with the products they offer. If that were correct, we would not have a consumer economy. If needs were fully satisfied, there would be no reason to replace one product with the next.
Consumers are also part of the market. Today, as you claim, they too are becoming commodities.
The culture of consumerism is marked by the pressure to be someone else, the attempt to acquire characteristics for which there is market demand. You have to concern yourself with marketing, to promote yourself as a commodity that can attract a clientele. The paradox is that the compulsion is to imitate whatever lifestyle is currently being offered and touted by paid market criers, and hence revising one’s own identity is perceived not as outside pressure but as a manifestation of personal freedom.
That raises the question of identity. According to the French sociologist François de Singly, identity no longer has any roots. Instead, he uses the metaphor of the anchor. Rather than severing your social and paternal roots, which is permanent, the hoisting of an anchor isn’t irreversible or final. What disturbs you about this?
We can only become someone else if we stop being who we were before. We have to perpetually discard our previous self. In view of the continual supply of new options, we soon come to see our old self as outmoded, constrictive, and unsatisfying.
Isn’t there something liberating about the ability to transform who we are?
It’s certainly not a new strategy to turn tail and run when the going gets tough. People have tried this throughout the ages. What’s new is the desire to flee from ourselves by adopting a new self out of a catalog. What might have started out as a self-confident step toward new horizons quickly turns into an obsessive routine. The liberating “you can become someone else” becomes the compulsive “you must become someone else.” This “must-do” sense of obligation has very little to do with the longed-for state of freedom, and many people rebel against it for this very reason.
What does it mean to be free?
Being free means being able to pursue one’s own desires and goals. The consumer-oriented art of living in the age of liquid modernity promises this freedom, but fails to deliver on its promise.
The concept of “generation,” articulated by the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, is barely a century old. What does it mean today?
Its emergence goes back to the harrowing experience of the First World War, which split one generation from another. The resulting rupture in the European identity made the term “generation” one of the most important tools in the investigation of social and political dividing lines. As an objective scientific category, it is based on subjective and highly diverse life experiences. Today, for other reasons, the experiences that define a generation play a minor role, or none at all, for the next generation.
What does that mean in terms of community?
The idea of community has been replaced by the idea of the network. A community is characterized by the fact that it is difficult to enter. For example, not everyone can become Swiss. There are lengthy procedures in place. Withdrawing from a community is similarly difficult, breaking these social bonds takes considerable ingenuity. You have to come up with reasons. You have to negotiate. And even if you succeed, you never know if and when there could be a backlash. On social networks – on Facebook – it’s a different story. It’s very easy to join in and participate. And it’s just as easy to leave.
By Peter H BeginWithScent
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