work was the victim of an obsessive scrutiny for signs ofnheterodoxy, and the literary occupation became a depersonalizednand aseptic ritual in which spontaneity had beennsuppressed. This servitude left the creator no alternative butnto direct his imagination towards formal ostentation. Asnpersonal thinking was risky, even suicidal, the writer had toncomply in the world of ideas with all the topics andnstereotypes of dogma, and to invest his creative drive in whatnwas decorative and external. This explains the formalnextravagancies, often remarkable, of this conformist andnpredictable art.nFreedom of creation does not guarantee genius: it isnmerely the propitious ground in which it can germinate. Onnthe other hand, when freedom does not exist, it is unlikelynthat germination will take place, because in artistic creationnthe entire personality must intervene, consciousness andnunconsciousness, rational light and irrational tumult, searchingnfor the unknown. Only the artistic work that is born fromnhuman totality, and that implies moral audacity as well asnskill, transcends time and place. This rarely happens innrepressive cultures, be they religious or ideological, in whichndue to censorship or self-censorship the creator must exert ansystematic rational vigilance over what he writes so as not tontransgress the limits of tolerance.nNow, the fact that freedom has been the motor of socialnand material as well as intellectual progress must not makenus forget the tribute of misfortunes that it has also imposednon man, for we must bear in mind the high cost we have tonpay in order to preserve it. For only in situations dealing withnliberty is the essential complexity of human actions sonflagrant — never wholly positive or negative, good or bad,nbut relatively one or the other, in doses often very difficult tonweigh.nIn the economic field, the same liberty that has impellednprogress is also the source of inequalities, and can open upnhuge chasms between those who have a lot and those whondo not. The curiosity and inventiveness that it fuels hasnallowed man to tame illness, explore the abysses of the sea,nof matter and the body, and, transgressing the law of gravity,nto sail the skies. But it has also allowed him to devisenweapons that make any modern state a potential trigger ofnthe kind of devastations and holocaust that make the effortsnof Nero, Genghis Khan, or Tamerlane seem like playgroundnamusements.nThis somber paradox should make us consider thendifferent ways in which science and literature have evolved.nIt is only in the former that the notion of “progress” has andistinct and chronological sense: the progressive discovery ofnknowledge that made previous discoveries obsolete andnwhich brought better living conditions for man and increasednhis domination of nature. The advance of science,nhowever, while it was pushing away illness, ignorance, andnscarcity, accentuated the vulnerability of existence throughnthe perfection of weaponry.nThere is a law here that admits of no exceptions. Eachnperiod of scientific apogee has been preceded by thendevelopment of military technology and has seen wars innwhich the slaughter also progressed according to the numbernof victims and efficiency of destruction. From the skullnsmashed by the primitive anthropoid to the annihilation ofnHiroshima and Nagasaki, there is a long history in whichnscientific development seems unable to achieve an equivalentnprogress in moral behavior. Civilization appears as anbicephalic animal. One of the heads stretches out to thensky — idealistic, generous, the eyes fixed on a pacific goal, anhealthier, happier, and more compassionate life. The othernhead skims the ground, ruminating projects of power at anynprice, including that of the most atrocious destruction. Innthe nuclear era this process has reached its limit.nEvery notion of “progress” is questionable in literature.nThe Divine Comedy may be better or worse than thenOdyssey, and a reader may prefer Joyce’s Ulysses to DonnQuixote. But no great literary work erases or impoverishesnone which appeared ten centuries ago. That, though, isnexactly what happens in the field of science, where chemistrynabolished alchemy (or turned it into literature). The spiritnof destruction, seemingly inherent in the creative ability ofnhuman beings, is not absent in literature. On the contrary,nphysical and moral violence are a permanent presence innpoems, plays, and novels of all ages. The blood and corpsesnof the victims in literature are perhaps as numerous as thosenthat would result from a nuclear apocalypse.nOnly the artistic work that is born fromnhuman totahty, and that imphes moralnaudacity as well as skill, transcendsntime and place.nThere is a difference, of course. If there is a nuclear war,nthe human game as we know it is over. On the other hand,nliterary devastations and bloody orgies have produced onlynshakes, thrills, and a few orgasms among readers.nWhat I am trying to say is that since there is no way ofneradicating man’s destructive drive, which is the price henpays for the faculty of invention, we should try to direct itntowards books instead of gadgets. Literature can mitigate thisndrive without much risk. Maybe we should reconsider thenimpulse that turned science into the exclusive tool ofnprogress, relegating poetry, stories, drama, and the novel tonthe secondary role of mere entertainment. Of course,nliterature is also a beautiful spell that provides us with somenof that nourishment our desires long for in vain because wenare condemned to want more than we have.nBut literature is more than this. It is a reality where manncan happily empty the obscure recesses of his spirit, givingnfree rein to his worst appetites, dreams, and obsessions, tonthose demons that go hand in hand with the angels insidenhim and which, if they were ever materialized, would makenlife impossible. In the ambiguous mist of literature, the spiritnof destruction can operate with impunity, allow itself all thenwords, and at the same time it can be innocuous and evennbenign, thanks to the cathartic effect the meeting of secretndevils has on a reader. Unlike scientific civilization, throughnwhich we have become more fragile than our ancestors werenbefore they discovered fire and learned to fight the tiger,nliterary civilization produces men who are more impractical,npassive, and dreamy. But such men would certainly be lessndangerous to their fellowman than we have grown to bensince our vote for the gadgets and vote against the book. <^nnnAPRIL 1992/17n