Saturday, 30 June 2007

The Twilight of American Culture

The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman. (2000)

Reviews of Berman's books, including this one, have not been unconditionally favourable. But it got me thinking and I'll follow by reading its sequel, published in 2006, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire.
Quote: ' ‘One of the things I hope to demonstrate in the pages that follow is that our much-vaunted American energy is …..shadow rather than substance. It is not merely that the swirl of activity masks a core of emptiness, but that we are playing out a new version of cultural decline as described by Oswald Spengler in his 1918-22 The Decline of the West. Every civilization has its twilight period, says Spengler, during which it hardens into a classical phase, preserving the form of its central Idea, but losing the content, the essential spirit. Hence, Egypticism, Byzanticism, Mandarinism. In the American case, this phase has been aptly labelled (by political scientist Benjamin Barber) “McWorld” – commercial corporate consumerism for its own sake.’

Berman is, of course, writing specifically about America, but his argument has universal relevance.
If you're interested in knowing more, I recommend looking at this Blog for Morris Berman:

1 comment:

billo said...

thanks, looks interesting.
Spengler's insights are fascinating.

But..I wonder if there isn't a silent thrill in imagining the end? It seems to me that "the west" has been telling the story of its end (politically, artistically) for some time now. Even the end of stories is a story (Beckett)!

But yes, overall agree: this is the kali yuga. Have you heard that Leonard Cohen song about the storm turning over the order of the soul?