sentatives of all progressive mankind, andrnfriends of the Soviet Union, and the NewrnYork Times still calls writers.rnEmbracing the totalitarian temptation,rnwith its sweet chaos of hopes andrnlongings centered on human sacrifice,rnmay have been the fashionable thing, thernprudent thing, the “done” thing in America,rnbut it never used to mean big bucks.rnWith the advent of Hannibal Lecter, it isrnfor the first time a commercial phenomenon,rna seductive invitation to ever- citizenrnto take the law, decrepit and morallyrncorrupt, into his own hands (or teeth ifrnmore convenient) and kill, or at least torturernand maim, anyone he dislikes forrnwhatever reason. Anarchic subjectivity,rnit turns out, is the stuff of popular dreams,rnand Brecht’s pirate song is democracy’srnmillennial anthem.rnThe phenomenon itself, then, is brandrnnew. But the means employed in its creationrnare as worn as the grooves of ourrngrandparents’ gramophone records, andrntherein lies the book’s weakness, if not actualh’rnsome hope for the countr)’. For thernmeans are, once again, “European culture”rnas revealed to a bimibling andrnpompous nerd, an American provincialrnwho appears to know no language savernEnglish and thinks decadence and refinementrnis eating white truffles and usingrnscented soap, li Hannibal had beenrnairbrushed free of these hilariously obviousrndefects, I wager that its publicationrnwould have created a scandal a thousandrntimes more vicious than that of The SatanicrnVerses of Salman Rushdie. Equal-rnIv, it is onlv a matter of time before somernnew Harris—his ear keen enough not tornturn to Qrove when writing about music,rnhis perfumer’s nose as sure as his Latin,rnhis eye on his Marx, and his feet squarelyrnplairted irr the heritage of Schopenhauer,rnNietzsche, Spengler, Huysmans, Brecht,rnMayakovsky, and the rest of the great Europeanrnegomaniacs—really gives Americarnwhat it seems to be longing for.rnAs it is, what we get is some Freud inrnpaperback, Florence cribbed from arntourist guide, soap from the Farmacia dirnSanta Maria Novella, white truffles,rnBach’s Goldberg Variations, StephenrnHawking on chaos theory, and a ferociousrnaquarimu eel, along with ethnographicrnimpossibilities such as the Italianrnconversation in which a pickpocket feelsrninsulted when a police officer refers tornher infant son as “it.” As any first-year studentrnwill confirm, this political!}’ correctrnpiece of psychological nonsense cannotrnwork in Italian for reasons of grammar.rnConsider this Florentine dialogue, withrnspecial attention to its Hollvwood cadence:rn”Could you find Gnocco?” Pazzirnsnorted air through his nose. “Senti,rnget your things together, you canrnpick up your fake arm at the propertyrnroom in three months, orrnsonretime next year. The baby willrnhave to go to the foundling hospital.rnThe old woman can call on itrnthere.”rn”IT? Call on IT, Commendatore?rnHis name is—” She shook herrnhead, not vsanting to say the child’srnname to this man.rnAnd if Harris were to argue that this is arnmeaningless nuance, that I am nit-picking,rnI would reply that on such nuancesrnthe future of democracy in America hasrncome to depend. Listen, I would say, getrnyour things together, and let me tell yournwhat Stalin used to do with moral subjectivistsrnlike you. crnFrom the Valley of Sayingrnby Paul LakernFor poetry makes nothing happen: it suriivesrnIn the valley of its saying where executivesrnWould never want to tamper…rn-W.H. Audenrn”In Memory of W.B. Yeats”rnA dagger and a poem: sword and penrnProverbially paired beneath his head,rnCreat Alexander slept, the fever-dreamrnOf Homer’s epic peopling his sleeprnWith Greek and Trojan action-figures fill.rnArising from his bed, he left the deeprnValley of mere saying with his menrnAnd landed on the plains of IliumrnTo blaze new chapters of an IliadrnAcross their length in Greek and Asian blood.rnAnd when his battle-weary army balkedrnOn India’s plains, the all-conquering king,rnTo quell their mufinous mutterings, turned backrnTo plot new marches in a fresh campaignrnTo mix all men as in a loving-cup —rnthough not before life imitated artrnAnd like the hero of his bedtime bookrnThe boy-king stormed off to his tent and sulkedrnOver spoils lost and curbs on his domain.rnInflamed bv Homer’s words and images,rnThree continents were fired in the kihirnOf one imagination fill they heldrnNeither Greek nor Jew, Persian nor Scythian,rnAs, learning Greek or taking Eastern wives,rnM] men were married in one brotherhoodrnBeneath the kingship of one lord and Cod.rnThe logos walked with Christian, Stoic, JewrnDown valleys where effete executivesrnMaintained their little stretch of Roman road.rnCollected taxes, and in off hours readrnSt. Paul or Plutarch, Homer or HesiodrnTo salt the tasteless tedium of their lives.rn28/CHRONiCLESrnrnrn