This is not a diary: while these observations were recorded in autumn 2010 and spring 2011 in the form of dated entries, they are not a personal reflection but an attempt to capture signs of our times in their movement - possibly at birth, at a stage when they are still barely perceptible, and in any case before they have matured into common, all too familiar forms, escaping our attention due to their banality. Some will perhaps settle in our daily life for a long time to come, others will fade and vanish before they would otherwise have a chance to be noted, recorded and explored in depth: in our fast-moving, protean and kaleidoscopic world, it is hardly possible to predict their future course and to decide in advance which of them will grow in volume and significance and which will prove to have been still-born. Whatever their fate, the author tried to take a leaf from William Blake's precept of seeing the universe in a grain of sand - and, having done so, alert us to what is or may be happening to our individual lives, forms of togetherness, shared prospects; to the ways we perceive and relate to each other, the forces that shape our life chances and itineraries; and to the ways we try to control, or at least influence, and sometimes even reform for the better, some or all those dimensions of our existence.
These timely meditations by one of the most perceptive social thinkers of our time will appeal to a wide range of readers.
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