|Introduction: The American Crisis||1|
|1.||Collapse, or Transformation?||14|
|2.||The Monastic Option||71|
|Intermezzo: The Testimony of Literature||91|
|3.||The Dialectic of Englightenment||103|
|4.||The Monastic Option in the Twenty-first Century||132|
The Twilight of American Cultureby Morris Berman
Pub. Date: 06/17/2001
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
A prophetic examination of Western decline, The Twilight of American Culture provides one of the most caustic and surprising portraits of American society to date. Whether examining the corruption at the heart of modern politics, the "Rambification" of popular entertainment,
An emerging cult classic about America's cultural meltdownand a surprising solution.
A prophetic examination of Western decline, The Twilight of American Culture provides one of the most caustic and surprising portraits of American society to date. Whether examining the corruption at the heart of modern politics, the "Rambification" of popular entertainment, or the collapse of our school systems, Morris Berman suspects that there is little we can do as a society to arrest the onset of corporate Mass Mind culture. Citing writers as diverse as de Toqueville and DeLillo, he cogently argues that cultural preservation is a matter of individual conscience, and discusses how classical learning might triumph over political correctness with the rise of a "a new monastic individual"a person who, much like the medieval monk, is willing to retreat from conventional society in order to preserve its literary and historical treasures. "Brilliantly observant, deeply thoughtful ....lucidly argued."Christian Science Monitor
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It is curious how, if you turn to the comments for _Dumbing Down_, you will see a few critics dismissing that book as a rant by cranky conservative pundits; and other critics put down _Twilight of American Culture_ as a typical emanation of an egg-headed, ivory-tower liberal; when both books essentially make the same points. This ideological short-circuit is not just a matter of peoples' reactions to two books, but perhaps symptomatic of the very loss of bearings that both describe. If you call yourself a liberal, can't we assume that you cherish a life of freedom rather than bondage, not only for yourself but for the rest of the human race now and in the future? Whereas, if you call yourself a conservative, I take it that you seek to conserve something for posterity-- probably many things-- valuable in our heritage. Seen in the light of the plain, honest sense of these two words, there is no inherent reason why the values they represent should be incompatible. In fact (though without dwelling on these two catchall labels or any others), Morris Berman eloquently argues that the _only_ way an American can be an authentic liberal anymore is to be an authentic conservative, and vice versa! If you read this book and agree with absolutely everything Berman says, then you will probably disappoint him, because he expects his readers to think. But I would expect both true liberals and true conservatives to find themsleves frequently agreeing, and sometimes becoming inspired. On the other hand, if you dislike the book as a 'liberal', then what is your definition of human freedom? If you want to pan it as a 'conservative', pray-tell, what do you consider worth conserving?
A sad, but accurate assessment of the cultural climate in America today. This book is even more relevant post-9/11.
'Twilight' was a wonderful book. Although much of what was in the book wasn't new to me, it was nevertheless well written. Berman's style and subtle wit work well in this context and make this book very enjoyable and engaging.