A provocative critique of modern frivolity and a guide to being
serious in an unserious age
We used to live in a world run by serious people: politicians
and religious leaders, writers and artists, journalists and
academics, lawyers and business executives, who approached their
work with maturity and mindfulness. Today it seems as if most of
these figures have all but disappeared, leaving our country and our
culture in the hands of amateurs, buffoons, and professional
Yet, according to Lee Siegel, seriousness has been elusive in
every age, and every age has its own particular obstacles to living
seriously. In a unique combination of fiction, memoir, history,
social criticism, satire, and spiritual reflection, Siegel
illuminates our contemporary distractions of profit, popularity,
and instant pleasure as we search for ways to be serious in
culture, in politics, and in everyday life.
"Are You Serious?" is a thoughtful and enlightening exploration
of seriousness in all its incarnations, from the heights of
intellectual endeavor to the depths of political conflict to how
the word itself is used in ordinary situations, from romance to
business. Siegel lays bare the forces in modern life that create
the silliness all around us, and he describes how seriousness may
be attained through the qualities of attention, purpose, and
continuity, in satisfying lives forged in bonds of work and
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