Soviet show trials appear morallynand intellectually superior to ArthurnKoestler’s. She also gratui­ntously apologizes for the disparagingnremarks Hughes madenabout the Soviet Union when henDerailed ThinkingnMichael Coney: The CelestialnSteam Locomotive: Volume Inof The Song of Earth; HougitonnMifflin; Boston.nOne of the primary comfortsnof the mass audience is the series.nWhether this is manifest in radionshows like Fibber McGee andnMolly or movies like/atts ^-Dnor virtually any TV show, the effectnis always the same. The listenernor viewer knows what cannbe expected: Fibber will evokensome laughs, the big fish willncrunch bones. In a world wherenfamilies are constandy on thenmove and so without roots—andnin which stable femily units arenbecoming precious—the continuitynof the series is somethingnthat can be depended upon, anvirtual security blanket. Andnwhen the gendy flowing streamnis thwarted—such as when ThenMary Tyler Moore Show broadcastnits last—^many feel deserted,nempty, longing for reruns. Centerlessnlives cling to marginal impedimenta.nThis rage for thenseries is also ubiquitous in thenarea of science-fiction/fentasynwriting. In certain cases, continuitynis necessary: Tolkiennneeded more space to createn43;nChronicles of Cultarenappeared before the McCarthynCommittee—^as if a regime thatnmurders and imprisons tens ofnmillions of its citizens deservesnbetter.nThe reason Hughes wrotenparty-line do^erel was that hen^eed, according to Miss Berry,nwith communist Michael Gold’snstatement that “poetry must becomendangerous again.” In ThenGulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsynnrelates the case of a critic imprisonedn15 years for unfavorablyncomparing a communist poetnto Pushkin: he had discoverednhow communism makes poetryndangerous. (BC) DnMiddle Earth than a conventionallynsized text would aUow; thenuniverse of Asimov’s originalnFoundation is a big place and sonfilled three novels.nNow, however, writers in thisngenre seem to be pandering tontheir audience’s needs and arenskewing the form of their productionsnto fit the demand. Thenresult is something that has morenin common with promotionalnstrategy than with anything resemblingnliterature. One of thenlatest in this series of preformednfemily-and-firiend substitutes fornthe lonely is The Celestial SteamnLocomotive, a hodgepodge thatnproudly announces itself as Volumelnof TheSongofEarth. Anyonenwho w^ants to figure outnmerely the, time in which thenbook is set needs a pocket cal­nculator with flresh batteries. Ifnthat person wants to unravel thenstory (assuming that there is one),nthen he’d better equip himselfnwith a home computer and powerfialnperipherals. But that’s thensort of thing that’s now a minornrage, as crossword puzzles oncenwere. Mr. Coney does have annoccasional thought-provokingnconcept—such as what would anworld be like when the retnainingnJorge Luis Borgesncontinued from page 7, column 2nnnhumans needed to do nothingnbut sit around and think (presumablynnot about books likenthis)—but it is never workednout. Indeed, the significance ofnthe tide locomotive left us at thenstation. The promise is, of course,nthat all will become clear in anlater volume. HopefiaUy, thosenvolumes will be published on recyclednpapa, with the lira volumenused as the pulp. Dncruel paradoxes and ironies of the human condition withoutnfear or remorse.nThere can be no doubt about Borges’s political conservatism.nIndeed, Borges su^ested in an interview with SeldennRodman some 10 years ago that “the only hope for SouthnAmerica as a whole” would be for the U.S. to “conquer it.”nWhile speaking to a group of U.S. college students Borgesnstated, “I am a conservative, 1 hate the Communists, I hate thenNazis, I hate the anti-Semites.” Borges added, “But 1 don’t allownthese opinions to find their way into my writing,” which substantiatesnpart of Professor Monegal’s observation. But howncan he be considered a non-avant-garde writer? A niunber ofnhis observations about writing can be cited: “in the long run,nto break the rules, you must know about the rules”; “If you arenwriting in English, you are following a tradition”; “I find it verynstrange to ignore form.” Borges’s stories are finely crafted,nmeticulously executed. He has never written a novel. Onenreason why is that he feels that even “great novels like DonnQuixote znd Huckleberry Finn are virtually shapeless” and hisntaste is for “economy and a clearly stated begitming, middle,nand end.” While many modem poets drift aimlessly in print,nBorges writes soimets and other definable forms. He neverndoes something new for the sake of newness; he finds the pastnserviceable. With regard to form, there can be litde doubtnabout his conservatism. However, Prof Monegal seems to indicatenthat Borges could be philosophically aligned with Derrida.nCertainly Borges doubts. And he intimately understandsnthe cruelty of man’s existence: blindness overtook him whennhe was elevated to the directorship of the national library innArgentina. Yet, he is aflBrmative, he thinks and feels that therenis purpose in life, thougji that it may be beyond the understandingnof man. He will not stride into the abyss that manynmodem writers find so appealing; he stands four-squarenagainst it while recognizing its existence and probing its parameters.nAs such, he finds himself among great and tmencreators of literature who timelessly rediscover the infinity ofnspiritual and existential confines. Dn