This book aims to reveal the cultural processes that are born of the importance of death in our existential condition and based on it the different forms of social organization of human life. Mortality and immortality, past through the sieve of the culture, they become life strategies endorsed and practiced by human societies, either to minimize or to stress the importance of avoiding the death.
If sociology were a plot detective, the protagonist no doubt it would be Zygmunt Bauman, and the scene of the crime on the european continent. Polish by origin, living in perpetual exile in Britain where he taught at the university of Leeds -in a tribute he chose the anthem of Europe as a musical genealogy-. Resolved cases tired of complicated debate between modernity and postmodernity, hermeneutics, holocaust, globalization, identity, culture, poverty, fruit of the urban society and individualistic, Europe, … Its method of analysis is misleading. Their texts affordable even for the reader profane, can’t hide the complication of their research. An apparent simplicity that enables us to repeat a “elementary, dear reader”. Stewards of the social sciences, tremble.-
Mortality, immortality and other life strategies
[The book of Zygmunt Bauman] is not an exercise in the sociology of death and dying; it is not a book about the ways in which we treat those who are about to leave or remind to those who were, or how we grieve loved ones, or overcome the pain of their loss, nor on the rites to prevent the dead from falling too soon in the forgetfulness, or that help us cope with the grief. […] The sociology of death and dying is already a branch of the full right of the social sciences, with the required academic discipline to ensure its survival -a bibliographic archive, a university network, magazine, and conferences-. This book draws from these achievements, and does not intend to increase them. Your theme however, is not the death or the “deal with death” in the specific field, though not least, of social life and together, equally vast, of patterns of behavior.
Nor is this book different visions, which throughout the history has been attracting the death: it is not an analysis of the ideas surrounding transit, the ‘beyond’ or empty after the death, or a study of mentalité collective, with which the human being has been changing his attitude to his own mortality […]
This book also focuses on those aspects of the mentalities and of the human practices that directly relate to the facts and concepts surrounding death and mortality. Their purpose consists, on the contrary, nothing less than to reveal and to analyze the presence of death (that is to say, the living consciousness or subsurface of mortality) in all those institutions, rites, and beliefs that, at first glance, openly and intentionally, perform functions that nothing have to do with all the things that tend to analyze the studies devoted to the ‘history of death’.
All ‘we know’ very well what death is; at least as long as we don’t have to define it with accuracy, because then this, that ‘we understand’ death is clouded in doubt. We sense that, ultimately, it will be impossible to define it, but not decided to do so, this is, to dominate it (even if only intellectually), to delimit your place and confining it there. It is impossible to define it because death is the void final, non-existence, which, paradoxically, emerges the existence of every being. Death is, for the being, the other absolute, another unimaginable, that fleet beyond our verbalization; every time that the be-speaking of that other, just referring to metaphors of negation, in the same way. The sentences of this paragraph are, in short, all of them, metaphors: death is not like other “others”, is not like those others that we can confer meaning and senses and, in doing so, separate them and master them.
This book aims to reveal these processes of the culture. You have, in your set, aires adventure detective (And, like all research, depends on the conjectures as much as the indisputable power of deduction and, perhaps, also something of the forcefulness of the induction). Not without the required nuances, one might describe the method as applied in this book as a sort of “psychoanalysis” of the “collective unconscious” that is hidden, but can be detected analytically, in the life created and nurtured by culture. The analysis rests on the assumption -the premise heuristic– that social institutions and the solutions “cultural” are sediment of processes triggered by the awareness of our own mortality and motivated by the need to deal with the problems that this poses,… as well as by the need to repress the consciousness of the true motives behind these institutions and solutions. This book is an attempt to determine the extent to which we can delve jan knowledge of our socio-cultural institutions on the basis of the above-mentioned hypotheses and exploring their consequences.
This book is an exercise in sociology hermeneutics. Seeks to apprehend the meaning of social institutions and patterns of collective comportameiento considering them as elements of the different livelihood strategies chosen and made plausible (feasible) by the different social settings. In this case, the sociology hermeneutics requires looking at both the origin of the aspects of permanent and changing of strategies of life within the social configurations they serve (in a dialectical process of determination reciprocal) as the projection of those aspects in the patterns of daily life through which they are manifested.
The Preface [pp. 9-23]
Culture and the death
Vicente Verdú (20-December-2014) | Source: cultura.elpais.com
This article by Vicente Verdú review, in large part, some of the budget from the book of Zygmunt Bauman:
The culture is the greatest conquest of mortality. Or said in a way edifying: “The death makes us worship”. What comforted, then, with this? Of course not. So are funeral things to human culture or not. Without death there would be no culture, but… what would we be immortal coming to be radically uneducated? Either. We die anyway, knowing more or less, praying less or more. The only thing interesting about this dance cultur/tanático is the change of music that has historically presided over this intimate relationship.
Following, above, an old book of Zygmunt Bauman (Mortality, immortality and other life strategies, 1992), recently translated by Sequitur (Madrid, 2014), Mankind would have lived his death in very different ways. During the pre-modern times to the death, as stated by Philippe Aries, was “domesticated”, we naturally enrolled among the household goods (Verdú. Anagram, 2014).
Died in the company of family, died with the tribe of the neighborhood, was dying to bulk with plague, cholera or any brutality that will take an entire village to the graveyard as a great event city more. Lose this community way of dying, and confront death alone was a trance very tough with the arrival of modernity.
What happened then? That full domination of the world and its nature, thanks to the triumph of the Enlightenment, nothing seemed to resist the reason, except —of course— the senselessness of dying stubbornly. Against this, however, was devised a stratagem that still persists in our present day. Bauman calls it a “deconstruction of mortality,” and their motto would be: “Since we can’t swallow the tremendous event of the death, troceémoslo”. An illness, a traffic accident, a suicide, a medical error, a bad leg, would be their portions.
Would not, therefore, be but not to be careful, by drinking, smoking, or driving while distracted. “What is dead?”, has been the key question until the recent post-modernity. It did not die simply by being, but by any thing that occurred.
Still today, we share this “deconstruction of mortality,” but what we now do with the new formula that involves the “deconstruction of immortality.” With this last treatment is sought, that each time not to seem derivative of the earlier; that has not, in the end, history but also presenteeism, nor process, but instantaneity. Each interval will be exchangeable for another and, as in fashion, everything that today seems old will be cool a few seasons after.
There is a life partner with whom embolicarse until the end but many deaths loving that, by force of repeating, lose transcendent value and promote the belief of the immortality romantic. Equally, in the media, a news arrambla with the above, a startle startle another, and always, day-to-day, it is still a first page.
Likewise, all the works are already so first as reproducible. The originals are born to the time that the copies and the objects change their fast obsolescence by the fast innovation. The terrible thorn in the end (end prickly pear) is not to be swallowed but in its place is an elegant, immediacy, fame, or the best-seller that overrides the previous, the couple opening that dissolves into the other, the work or the residence changing which makes us believe in a life lubricated and indefinite, without anything to put the final tripping to fall, flat on his face, curtly, in the grave, fatal.
About Zygmunt Bauman
Zygmunt Bauman (Poznań, Poland, 1925) is a sociologist, philosopher and essayist Polish. Is known for coining the term, and to develop the concept of “liquid modernity”.
He was born in Poznan (Poland) in a humble jewish family. Fleeing the nazis he moved to the Soviet Union to return later to Poland, where he was an active member of the Communist Party and was a professor of philosophy and sociology at the University of Warsaw before being forced to leave Poland in 1968 because of the anti-semitic policy developed by the communist government after the march events of 1968. Subsequent to the purge of the Warsaw university, he has taught sociology in countries such as Israel, the united States and Canada.
Since 1971, resides in England. He is a professor at the University of Leeds of that country. And, since 1990, is professor emeritus. His work begins in the 50’s and deals with, among other things, issues such as social classes, socialism, the holocaust, hermeneutics, modernity and postmodernity, consumerism, globalization and the new poverty.