Reading Bauman’s Liquid Modernity:

Bauman uses liquidity as a metaphor to “grasp the nature of the present,” by drawing attention to how liquids and solids behave:

“While solids have clear spatial dimensions but neutralize the impact, and thus downgrade the significance, of time (effectively resist its flow or render it irrelevant), fluids do not keep to any shape for long and are constantly ready (and prone) to change it; and so for them it is the flow of time that counts, more than the space they happen to occupy: that space, afterall, they fill but ‘for a moment'” (2).

This is a clear precedent to Bourriaud’s idea of the radicant and a widespread changing conception of our relationship to place.

I was in Vancouver during the 2010 winter olympics and the absurdity of nationalism was laid bare in so many ways. Hockey teams composed of people born in a country they no longer live in, or the other side of the equation, where residents did not compete for their home country because of the weight of birth citizenship. The place where we begin life undoubtedly contributes to a sense of identity. But as Bauman points out here, our modern world has our identities unfixed, seeping, picking up residue along the way. What would the olympics look like without all the national flags? But alas, even Bauman admits that, “the overall order of things is not open to options; it is far from clear what such options could be, and even less clear how an ostensibly viable option could be made real in the unlikely case of social life being able to conceive it and gestate” (5). I mean, who would pay for the olympic spectacle if there were not miniature flags on all the athletes’ backs?

I can’t help but feel that national identity is a “‘zombie category…dead and still alive'” (6).


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