From Coming Apart by Charles Murray:
IN 1825, FRANCIS Grund wrote...The American Constitution is remarkable for its simplicity; but it can only suffice a people habitually correct in their actions, and would be utterly inadequate to the wants of a different nation. Change the domestic habits of the Americans, their religious devotion, and their high respect for morality, and it will not be necessary to change a single letter of the Constitution in order to vary the whole form of their government.*
Near the end of Democracy in America, [de Tocqueville] summarized his position with a remarkable passage. “If I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply—to the superiority of their women.”
From the novel The Map and the Territory:
...you might think that the need to express yourself, to leave a trace in the world, is a powerful force, yet in general that’s not enough. What works best, what pushes people most violently to surpass themselves, is still the pure and simple need for money.
Geneviève was Malagasy, and had explained to him the curious exhumation customs practiced in her country. One week after the death, the corpse was dug up, the shroud was undone, and a meal was eaten in its presence, in the family’s dining room; then it was buried again. This was repeated after a month, then after three;...
This system of accepting death, and the physical reality of the corpse, went precisely against the modern Western sensibility.
Art should perhaps be like that, he occasionally told himself, an innocent and joyful, almost animalistic pastime; there had been opinions like that, “stupid like a painter” or “he paints like the bird sings,” and so on; perhaps that’s how art would be once man had got beyond the question of death, or maybe it had already been that way, in certain periods—for example, in the work of Fra Angelico, so close to paradise, so full of the idea that one’s time on earth was just a temporary and obscure preparation for eternal life by the side of Jesus the Lord. And now I am with you, every day, until the end of the world.