Private Death/Public D

Barry Sanders, Author Beacon Press (MA) $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0434-0
Sanders's bold thesis in this erudite jeremiad is that private, literate, interior life is essential to meaningful public discourse, which has all but disappeared as television, movies, video and computers have pushed aside serious reading and writing. The electronic screen has replaced the printed word as the internalized metaphor for organizing our private lives, he argues. One result is that the expansive, democratic self celebrated by Walt Whitman, embracing every race, class, gender and sexual leaning, has given way to a society of narrow, frustrated individualists. Sanders sees signs of mean-spiritedness everywhere--in harsher treatment of prisoners, gangsta rap, the demise of civility, America's savage overkill in the Persian Gulf War. Expanding the arguments of A Is for Ox (1994), Sanders offers a damning and daring indictment of PC culture, which he views as symptomatic of society's failure to nurture decent, face-to-face relationships. Although his odyssey covers a wide terrain, his high-minded discourse will preach mainly to the converted and is weakened by such preposterous overstatements as ""Reflection and critical analysis have all but disappeared."" (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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