Bauman in Fiction

In Spain, every other novelist is reading Zygmunt Bauman, Richard Sennett, Byung-Chul Han, etc, trying to figure out what’s happening in the world, and bringing it into their books. Today I started reading Isaac Rosa’s novel Happy Ending, and it’s Bauman’s Liquid Love in the form of a novel (plus, great art, of course.) The author credits Bauman in the acknowledgements, so please don’t assume I’m inventing this out of an obsession with Bauman.

I’ll be damned if I ever found a writer in English who is doing anything of the kind. One! I only want one.

There are also great book-length essays in Spanish that don’t simply list the symptoms (khm, khm, Douglas Murray) but try to develop the insights of Bauman and Co.

I also heard Bauman mentioned by Ukrainian intellectuals. He’s an indispensable thinker everywhere, it seems. But not in the US. Even in academia nobody knows who he is.


I’m being inundated by email, phone, and text message offers to get me a great price for my house. Which I’m not selling. I haven’t seen a “for sale” sign on a house in months. If there were a better sign of an exploding inflation, I fail to see what it could be.

Don’t cc:

I read Cal Newport’s book on productivity titled Deep Work. It’s very good but I have one more suggestion to add to Newport’s list of productivity tricks.

I never participate in cc: email exchanges. If I’m in the cc: it means I’m not very central to the discussion. So the discussion can survive without my input. The added benefit of deleting the cc: emails is that people learn soon enough and dramatically reduce the number of times they feel the need to include me.

And please remember, I’m department chair. The initial knee-jerk instinct of everybody who works in my department was to cc: me on absolutely everything. By now, though, I have taught even the most dedicated cc:-ers to desist.

As a result, I’ve already had 3 very serious articles accepted this calendar year (since January 1st) and am hoping for at least two more by the year’s end. I’ve had zero problems arise from my stubborn deletion of the cc: The Dean’s Office adores me.

As Newport says, everybody adjusts to the quirks of your communication style very fast. For instance, it’s useless to try to contact me when I’m with my child. I go completely incommunicado. It’s almost easier to reach me when I’m asleep. And it’s ok, everybody is surviving this quirk.

I also never check the phone messages at my place of work. They have been accumulating somewhere in the depths of the university telecom system since August 16, 2009. I haven’t accessed them once. And guess what? Absolutely nothing. Nobody noticed. Or if they did, they must be expressing their unhappiness through phone messages. Which I never check.

The Interview

The book is a repackaged version of Reflection, so please don’t buy if you already have it. I don’t want anybody to buy anything at all. I’m sharing a tribute to my father, that’s all. I tried to say exactly what he’d say to these questions because it was supposed to be his interview.

And by the way, I never managed to get the publishers to correct the information about me. It’s not true that I graduated from the Kharkiv State University. I abandoned my degree to emigrate. So please, don’t lay this falsehood at my door. I hate claiming credentials that I don’t have.

Basic Similarity

All of the 21st-century US presidents are equally neoliberal. The only thing that differs among them is the flavor of the rhetoric they use to distract voters from this basic similarity.

“Build the wall” that never gets built is the equivalent of “cancel student debt” that never gets cancelled. While we fight over whether it makes sense to build or cancel, we forget to notice that the only thing that actually happens is that we get poorer and our lives get more uncomfortable.