Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
The poet Melvin B. Tolson once said, ‘A civilization is judged only in its decline.’ That made sense to me. I would imagine the same is true for poets and tennis players.
But it is obvious that our fathers, whose efforts have planted these great and prosperous cities along the once lonely trails of our own broad land, received all the fundamentals of civilization as a heritage from their European ancestors.
The worth of a civilization or a culture is not valued in the terms of its material wealth or military power, but by the quality and achievements of its representative individuals – its philosophers, its poets and its artists.
With the emergence of civilization, the rate of change shifted from hundreds of thousands of years to millennia. With the emergence of science as a way of knowing the universe, the rate of change shifted to centuries.
Responsibility has become the fundamental imperative in modern civilization, and it should be an unavoidable criterion to assess and evaluate human actions, including, in a special way, development activities.
It will take a long time, and certainly the West will remain the dominant civilization well into the next century, but the decline is occurring.
Civilization is a progress from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity toward a definite, coherent heterogeneity.
As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines.
By 3000 B.C. the art of Egypt was so ripe and so far advanced that it is surprising to find any student of early culture proposing that the crude contemporary art of the early Babylonians is the product of a civilization earlier than that of the Nile.