Using the book Death of Literature as a reference point he points out that the value and respect that used to be given to literature has disappeared.
Literature has suffered over the years in direct competition with the sciences and he asks where are the thinkers in society let alone the authors?
Arguments about Marxism undermined literature then along came TV and gave it a real kick in the teeth. Books and literature have lost their authority and position in the knowledge tree.
Kerman is merely interested in literature in academia and not the general population.
There are also problems with the pressure of time.
“Who among us can generate regularly the stillness and concentration and will to read Henry James, or Joseph Conrad, or James Joyce, or Virginia Woolf as they were meant to be read?” page 191
One slight problem is that it refers a lot to the American reader and as someone from the UK you do tend to start feeling a bit isolated.
“My nightmare scenario is not one of neotroglodytes grunting and wielding clubs, but of efficient and prosperous information managers living in the shallows of what it means to be human and not knowing the difference. I fear a world become sanitised and superficial, in which people have forgotten the primal terms of existence - the terrors and agons – and in which the existential unknown is banished outside the pulsing circulation system of data.” Page 194
We are approaching a crisis of meaning.
The book has lost its prestige and threatened by video games and MTV etc but society is bless about isolated individuals as we all rush to get online and live inside a network consciousness.
“Fifty years ago the human environment was still more or less the natural environment. We had central heating and labour-saving devices and high-speed travel, but these were still only partial modifications of the natural given. It is the natural given that is now gone. Now, for better or worse, we move almost entirely within a regulated and mediated environment. Our primary relation to the world has been altered.” Page 205