Author(s): Laurence Scott
It is short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It is the winner of the Jerwood Prize. It is a constellation of everyday digital phenomena is rewiring our inner lives. We are increasingly coaxed from the three-dimensional containment of our pre-digital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information and global connection. Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with these recoded private lives? Tackling ideas of time, space, friendship, commerce, pursuit and escape, and moving from Hamlet to the ghosts of social media, from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, from Facebook politics to Oedipus, The Four-Dimensional Human is a highly original and pioneering portrait of life in a digital landscape.
A revelatory exploration of life in the digital age
Shortlisted for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015.
"A real flirt of a book. It's full of impish gaiety, elegant and lithe in its language, providing intellectual ambushes and startling connections. It examines our evolving notions of publicity, privacy, time-wasting, frivolity, friendship, allegiances, denial, escapism and squalor in the internet age. The teasing, wary optimism is bewitching as well as informative." -- Richard Davenport Spectator, Christmas Books "Scott's references are admirably broad, spanning high and low culture in a layered and complex (and Samuel Johnson shortlisted) account." Financial Times, Books of the Year "In this sequence of almost Montaigne-like essays, blending observation, philosophical inquiry and a highly literary sort of layering, Scott exquisitely articulates not what the digital world can do but how it feels to engage with it. He resists the usual polarisation of debate, capturing instead our "breathless" mix of excitement and unease. Scott's writing is exceptionally fine, and his cultural range extravagant. Describing YouTube's "enveloping of the past", he moves from Ian McEwan to Katie Price. Pondering the phenomenon of digital detox, he recalls EM?Forster's yearning for the greenwood. He flits from Google's Desert View to early Christian hermits, from Airbnb to late-Victorian science fiction - and it is always insightful, never pretentious. An astounding debut." Sunday Times, Thought Book of the Year "Scott is an ideal person to tackle this subject... Moreover, he is both a creative writer and a perceptive literary critic, who leavens his text with some mercurially brilliant turns of phrase and poetic coinages, while at the same time stiffening it up with huge dollops of literary explication and quotation... with his joyful phrase-making and sharp eye for the follies and absurdities of wired life, Scott would be the perfect investigator to report back on what it feels like to be... uploaded." -- Will Self Guardian "A book that delivers a nourishing counterpoint to the ephemerality of the digital age. Scott offers layered and complex thought in a style that is elegant and artful. He has worked long and hard, you imagine, at these thoughts and words - and to prove that it can still be done, despite the glow of distraction emanating from a smartphone inevitably sitting on a table nearby, is worth celebrating in itself." -- Sophie Elmhirst Financial Times
Laurence Scott is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing. His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, the Financial Times and the London Review of Books, among other publications. In 2011 he was named a 'New Generation Thinker' by the Arts and Humanities Council and the BBC. In 2014 he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in London.