ing. After nil, it is realh a small comfort to know that tlie witchrntring to kill you has no supernatural powers and has to rely onrnh pnosis, psvchotropic drugs, mental intimidation, and—if allrnelse fails—poison. The mere knowledge that your neighborsrnarc sticking pins in dolls and poisoning your cow, as they invokernthe aid of the Prince of Darkness, should be enough to scare thernpants off the editors of the Skeptical Enquirer, and for severalrncenturies civilized Christians have been living check by jowlrnwith would-be witches and necromancers, repeating their sillyrnspells and practicing their dirty perersities in the hope of workingrnus harm. It is enough to make one want to attributernprophetic insight to H.P. Loveeraft for his mythology of thernOld Ones, the ancient race of demons who keep on trying tornbreak in and destroy our world.rnIt is best not to get carried away. Our civilization in its longrnhistory has had its slumps and periods of rcvial, and it is notrnal\as clear whose side someone is fighting on. The best humanistsrnand Reformers fought for the truth and sought tornrestore the lost glories of ancient literature and the primitivernchurch. In the process, the’ damaged the fabric of civilization,rnwhile at the same time making possible the creation of manvrnuniquely beautiful things: Luther’s hymns and the music ofrnBach, the epics of Ariosto, Tasso, and Milton, the sonnets ofrnPetrarch and Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Baudelaire. ThernRomantics, of course, were attracted by mysticism and horror,rnbut thev also led many of their followers back into the church.rnE’cn Baudelaire, his powerful imagination fascinated by evil,rnconfessed in the end.rnA writer’s true significance may be revealed only to a laterrngeneration. These things take time, and when a prematurerngenius like Sade came along, it was 200 years before a literaryrnaudience could be sufficiently enlightened to treat him seriouslyrn—as he is today. Sade’s studied perversity is, in fact, a clue tornone part of the labyrinth: the cult of depravity.rnMilitant homosexuals, particularly those who have receivedrnthe anti-grace of AIDS, have become the heroes and martyrs ofrnour culture, celebrated even by heterosexual intellectuals. Thernwhole point of the AIDS propaganda blitz has nothing to dornwith the disease itself and rather little to do with homosexualityrnper se. The object is to break down the moral barriersrnerected against perversity, not for the sake of the perverse, butrnto destroy the civilization those barriers protect. To revert tornthe symbolic and religious terms used by Blondct, they arcrnbreaking down the walls of Rome to let in the army ofrnAntichrist.rnThe attack on the classics, then, is one front in a long-standingrnwar against Rome and against Christendom (which includesrnthe Rabbis who fought to suppress the false messiahs,rnsuch as Sabatai Zevi, Jacob Frank and, I would add, Karl Marxrnand Sigmund Freud). Attempts to defend the more modernrnparts of the curriculum, whether Huckleberry Finn or For Whomrnthe Bell Tolls, are not only doomed to fail: they are acts of collaboration.rnWe are what and who we are, largely because of thernstories we tell, the songs we sing, the Scriptures we recite. In deprivingrnour children of Homer, Shakespeare, and the Bible, thernmultieulturalists hope to smother the last rays of light given offrnfrom the embers of an almost extinct eiilization.rnOn the Precolumbian Zerornby Frederick TurnerrnFor Rosa Maria, Sergio, Alejandro, Vivianne, and Marisarn(The zero of the Mayans, Olmees, and Aztecs was devised 600 years before it first appears inrnthe Old Wodd among the Hindus. It is represented by a shell, caracol in Spanish; in the vigesimalrnsystem of counting, it is denoted by the suffix -alii for multiples of the base 20. Carved on stelaernit became a flower, or flor in Spanish, xochitl in the Nahuatl language.)rnCloaca of the sea, its salt perfumernIs all the money in Time’s purse.rnThe zero is no cipher, but a womb.rnIts fruit is nothing but the unicrse.rnThe zero’s not an absence, but a glyphrnThat’s always pregnant to be said.rnThe splay-head moguls grasp the rods of if.rnWherewith they join the living and the dead.rnThe only thing that nothing cannot spawnrnIs nothing. You would need a godrnGreater than master Tlaloc, to undawnrnThat first day as it bursts forth from its pod.rnHut still the naught’s as silent as a clam;rnThe dark canals of XoehimileornDreanr in the rain behind their mountain-dam.rnCloudy volcanoes ocr Tubehualeo,rnWhere floating gardens swamped with azure flowers.rnShut fast as caracols or shells,rnWait for the morning light through the small hours.rnAnd Sunday’s tv’enty centuries of bells.rnSEPTEMBER 1996/11rnrnrn