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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In everyone's life there is pain , but to remember all the painful experiences in our
lives would make existence itself intolerable . Feeding on guilt or dwelling on hurt
can only keep us from discovering the joys that may still await us . Indeed ...
Nevertheless , a record of these times does exist , not in words but in scattered
spear points and abandoned campfires . These remains testify to the harsh
realities of primitive life and to the fact that a knowledge of tradition made survival
14 By compelling us to adjust and readjust to new circumstances and demands ,
change can destabilize our existence . When things move too fast , we lose
perspective on our priorities as we frantically strive just to keep up . Should an
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Prologue The Land of the Lotuseaters
Memory and Personal Identity
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