Cultural Amnesia: America's Future and the Crisis of Memory
Sixty percent of adult Americans don't know the name of the president who ordered the dropping of the first atomic bomb, 42% of college seniors can't place the Civil War in the right half-century, and 24% think Columbus discovered America in the 1500s. Meanwhile, more American teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of the federal government.
Applying the metaphor of Alzheimer's disease to our national state of mind, Bertman offers a chilling prognosis for our country's future unless radical steps for recovery are taken. He offers psychological insights into the nature of memory with perspectives on the meaning and future of democracy. With compelling evidence, the book demonstrates that cultural amnesia, like Alzheimer's disease, is an insidiously progressive and debilitating illness that is eating away at America's soul. Rather than superficially blaming memory loss on a failed educational system, Bertman looks beyond the classroom to the larger social forces that conspire to alienate Americans from their past: a materialistic creed that celebrates transience and disposability, and an electronic faith that worships the present to the exclusion of all other dimensions of time.
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Though the biological type may persist , the individual organism perishes , ashes
to ashes , dust to dust . In like manner , the works of humanity crumble into ruin .
In the spiritual geography of ancient Greece , the land of the dead was called the
Ancient societies cultivated the art of memory as they reverently looked back to
the past for precedent and direction . When the Greeks struggled through periods
of chaos and change , they turned for inspiration to their legendary heroes .
In that city , the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire , a knowledge of Greek and
of ancient Greek literature had flourished for a thousand years after the fall of
Rome . These refugee scholars brought with them ancient works never before
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Prologue The Land of the Lotuseaters
Memory and Personal Identity
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