Are You Serious?: How to Be True and Get Real in the Age of Silly (Google eBook)

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Harper Collins, Jun 28, 2011 - Social Science - 224 pages
3 Reviews

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 clowns.

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 love.


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This is an excellent and eloquent guide to the serious and the silly in public discourse. It is refreshingly free of the dogma and takes no sides in the left/right debate. It is an easy read, yet still packed with great quotes, anecdotes, and historical references. I highly recommend it!

Review: Are You Serious?: How to Be True and Get Real in the Age of Silly

User Review  - Charles - Goodreads

As Siegel mentions, many times over, too often we take the artifice or the performance of seriousness for the real thing, though it is silliness wearing a deceptive mask. Siegel attempts to both ... Read full review


The Urge to Be chapter
chapter three
chapter four
The Three chapter five

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About the author (2011)

Lee Siegel writes about culture and politics for a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and is a recipient of the National Magazine Award. He is the author of three books: Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination; Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television; and Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

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