Great books need not be written here. They would be useless now. Literature is dead in America, killed by generations of children not trained to enjoy the written word and language for its own sake, killed by "journalism" that reduced argument and description to "sound bites," and given the coup de grace by the reduction of the American population to cretins who think that the glories and pain of life can be expressed by telegraphic messaging sent and received in tortured little snippets.
No more will we see the likes of Melville, Hawthorne, Faulkner and all the rest of the storied writers' "gang" of old. Why? Simply put, there is no reading market for such beautifully polished expressions of the human spirit. Margaret Mitchell today would not be able to find a publisher. Remember her?
Books are still published, but they are not real literature. The books that sell well today are; utilitarian "manuals" on things like cooking, gardening, and computer science. Then, there are "wonk books," (fodder for the hyper-ambitious so that they know what to agree with at meetings), celebrity biography, social theorizing and labored exposition for journalists' "insights" on history.
The human soul has been "growed" as a collective organic network in which the collected experience of humanity was recorded and expressed in the form of literary fiction by such masters as Hemingway and Conrad. In their works the human experience found both narrative and emotional expression as truth deeper than any textbook could hope to achieve. This kind of teaching is nearly gone in America. What is left is to be found in screen plays. Let us hope that works such as "Inception," "Game of Thrones" or the "Zen" series will carry forward such shreds of human culture as may be needed. Many universities and colleges that were once centers of learning are changing the emphasis in their English Departments to rhetoric rather than literature. They believe that reading, writing and learning to do power point are more important than Mark Twain.
As a result of such starvation, the collective American mind is dying. It is now reduced to subsistence on a diet of supposedly objective volumes of scholarly self admiration thinly disguised as "scientific" works. Ask anyone you know who is under thirty to recount the history of the United States in broad terms. Ask the same sort of person to describe in general terms what rough course (direction) an Israeli strike on Natanz would fly and what the appoximate distance might be. Ask if there are US air bases in Iraq. Ask. Ask who were the first five presidents of the United States. Ask who Dante Alleghieri might have been. Ask.
The US Army is now trying to prepare itself for some other war in which understanding the locals might be important. Their major thought on the subject revolves around neurology and psychology.
Foreigners! Save yourselves. It's over here. pl