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
He also chronicles the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent monastic tradition of copying texts to show how another culture ended and what the response was. Berman provides insight into how to live a monastic life and the value of living in this way for the preservation of culture. In the end, he outlines possible 22nd centuries based on alternative visions and social theories.
Really, it is all pretty bleak but not out of touch with reality. Most of what he says makes perfect sense and has the possibility of utter rage at what we have become. For me, the main message is to keep doing what I have been doing - learning, creating, teaching, discovering. These things may soon be more important for cultural preservation than ever. Living the life of a new monastic individual may have unforeseen, positive impact when culture hits its ultimate lowest. If we can't stop a bleak future, at least we can help shape it.