HOPErnAs the century ends, the marginaht}’ of poetry grows. Today it isrneither a ceremony in the catacombs, a ritual in the urban desert,rna fiesta in the basement, or a revelation in the supermarket. It’srntrue that poets are still persecuted in totalitarian countries andrnin old-fashioned military tyrannies; in democratic nations theyrnare allowed to live and are even protected—except that they arernlocked within four walls not of stone but of silence. In the affluentrnsocieties of the West, dedicated to business and entertainmentrn— or to passing the time, as the indicative phrasernsays—there is no time for poetry. Nevertheless, the poetic tiaditionrnhas not been broken, nor will it be. If it were interrupted,rnthe words would wither on our lips and our discourses wouldrnonce again be the howling of monkeys. The continuity of poetryrnis the continuity of the human word, the continuity of civilization.rnWhich is why the other name for poetry, in times likernours, is perseverance. And perseverance is the promise of resurrection.rn—from Octavio Paz, “Ceremonies in the Catacombs,”rnApril 1988rnHUMAN FREEDOMrnModern biology appears to have banished nihilism. But in sorndoing it has not led to a narrow form of genetic determinism.rn. . . I have never met a genetic determinist by this definition.rnMost or all biologists who study behavior, especially social behavior,rnare interactionists —they view final thought and responsernas the product of a complex interplay of genes and environment.rnSocial behavior in human beings is the result ofrnbiologically based predispositions filtered and hammered intornfinal shape by the particular cultures in which individuals arernreared. On the other hand, I have met many cultural determinists,rnespecially among the reigning social theorists. Theyrndeny or at least wholly ignore the influence of biology. The evidencern—fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how yournview it—has proved them wrong. I would say fortunately, becausernany species wholly dominated by culture and free of geneticrnconstraint woidd run a grave risk of moral nihilism.rn—from Edward O. Wilson, “On Genetic Determinismrnand Morality,” August 1986rnFrom left: John Howard, T.S. Eliot Award winner GeorgernGarrett, Richard M. Weaver Award winner E.O.Wilson, andrnThomas Fleming.rnLACKEYS OF THE REGIMErnIf there ever was a time when real debate on fundamental ideologicalrnquestions was fostered and stimulated by the mass mediarnin our country, it ended with the advent of the Cold War. Thernexigencies of the nuclear age, the perils of America’s confrontationrnwith Soviet communism, made it imperative, we were told,rnthat “politics stop at the water’s edge.” This put foreign and militaryrnpolicy-literally matters of life and death—beyond thernpale. Critical media scrutiny was verhoten, and public debate,rnwhen it existed at all, was inevitably uninformed and invariablyrnunwelcome. And the media, which often engage in lofty flightsrnof rhetoric about their devotion to the First Amendment, eagerlyrnembraced this drastic limitation not only on their freedomrnbut on tiieir essential function. They became devoted and obedientrnservants of the official line—as obedient as their counterpartsrnin the communist camp, who at least made no pretense ofrnindependence.rn—from Erwin Knoll, “Mass Media, Mass Conformity,”rnOctober 1994rn. .. [T]he audiovisual culture is more easily controlled, manipulated,rnand degraded by power than the written word. Becausernof the solitude in which it is born, the speed at which it can bernreproduced and circulated, the secrecy with which it conveys itsrnmessage, and the lasting mark on people’s conscience of literaryrnimages, the written word has revealed a stubborn resistance tornenslavement. In all totalitarian and authoritarian societies, ifrnthere is dissidenee, it is through the written word that it manifestsrnand keeps itself alive. In a good number of places, writingrnis the last bastion of freedom. With its demise, the submissionrnof minds to political power could be total. In the kingdom ofrnaudiovisual, the master of technology and budget is the king ofrncultural production. And in a closed society, this always means,rndirectly or indirectly, the state. It would decide what menrnshould and should not learn, say, hear, and (in the end) dream.rnThere would be no underground culture, no counterculture,rnno samizdat. This society, once personal choice and initiativernin cultural activities are removed, would easily slip into mentalrnslavery. .. .rnJULY 2001/57rnrnrn