Jedediah Purdy calls For Common Things his "letter of love for the world's possibilities." Indeed, these pages--which have already garnered a flurry of attention among readers and in the media--constitute a passionate and persuasive testament to the value of political, social, and community reengagement. Drawing on a wide range of literary and cultural influences--from the writings of Montaigne and Thoreau to the recent popularity of empty entertainment and breathless chroniclers of the technological age--Purdy raises potent questions about our stewardship of civic values.
Most important, Purdy offers us an engaging, honest, and bracing reminder of what is crucial to the healing and betterment of society, and impels us to consider all that we hold in common.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Family & Relationships eBook: For Common Things|
|Release Date: 11-24-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||For Common Things|
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For Common Things
Chapter OneThis book is a response to an ironic time. Irony has become our marker of worldliness and maturity. The ironic individual practices a style of speech and behavior that avoids all appearance of naivete-of naive devotion, belief, or hope. He subtly protests the inadequacy of the things he says, the gestures he makes, the acts he performs. By the inflection of his voice, the expression of his face, and the motion of his body, he signals that he is aware of all the ways he may be thought silly or jejune, and that he might even think so himself. His wariness becomes a mistrust of language itself. He disowns his own words.
In answer to all that, this book is a plea for the value of declaring hopes that we know to be fragile. It is an argument that those hopes are no less necessary for their fragility, and that permitting ourselves to neglect them is both reckless and impoverishing. My purpose in writing is to take our inhibition seriously, and to ask what would be required to overcome it, to speak earnestly of uncertain hopes.
To do so requires understanding today's ironic manner. There is something fearful in this irony. It is a fear of betrayal, disappointment, and humiliation, and a suspicion that believing, hoping, or caring too much will open us to these. Irony is a way of refusing to rely on such treacherous things. However, there is also something perceptive about irony, and sometimes we must wonder whether the ironist is right. The ironist expresses a perception that the world has grown old, flat, and sterile, and that we are rightly weary of it. There is nothing to delight, move, inspire, or horrify us. Nothing will ever surpris...