10-second review: To communicate the human condition at this time.
Title: “Perspectives: Writing in the Post- ‘Man of Letters’ Modern World.” Geoffrey Sirc. College composition and Communication (June 2009), 829-830. A college publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary: To answer the question about writing literature in the modern age, the author quotes poet Alan Tate’s 1952 essay, a Phi Beta Kappa address given at the University of Minnesota:
“To the question, what should the man of letters be in our time, we should have to find the answer in what we need him to do. He might do first what he has always done: he must recreate for his age the image of man…. But at our own critical moment…he must distinguish the difference between mere communication…and the rediscovery of the human condition in the living arts…in a society of means without ends, in the age of technology….” pp. 829-830.
Comment: Why create literature today? To distinguish between “mere communication” (e-mail, tweeting, texting, cell phones, etc.) and rediscovery of the human condition in a “society of means [technology] without ends” or technology and talk for its own practically-meaningless sake. RayS.