How the Ordinary Became Extraordinary
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Amato examines the common facts and occurrences in lives from all spheres, whether of a pauper or a noble, a criminal or state official, or a lunatic or a philosopher. Such facts include basic aspects of human existence, such as play, work, conflict, and healing, as well the logistics of survival, such as housing, clothing, cleaning, cooking, animals, plants, and machines. Tracing core historical developments like efficiency of production and greater mobility, Amato shows how we became modern in everyday ways. He explores how, paradoxically, commerce, technology, design, industrialization, nationalism, and democratization—which have so undercut traditional culture and have homogenized, centralized, and secularized masses of people—have also profoundly transformed daily life, affording citizens with materially improved lives, individual rights, and productive and rewarding expectations.
A wide-ranging account of lives throughout history, this book gives us new insights into our own condition, showing us how extraordinary the ordinary can be.
1 Bodies and Things
2 In a Place at a Time, with Changing Orders and Rising Spires
3 Many Times Makes Many Minds
4 Of Things and Selves I Sing
5 The Mechanizing of Work and Thought, and the Acceleration of Life and Individuality
6 Inventing Our Ways and Designing our Days
7 Compounding Minds
Conclusion: The Poet’s Field