tional bodies, and it exists in ritualnactions as well as in chronicles. Thenpoint is ingenious and persuasive. Coronationsnand inaugurations, in thatnview, are a species of historiography,nand to watch them is to be reminded ofna national past as surely as to read thenhistory of a nation. In that case thendignity of institutions is an essentialnattribute of freedom; and in his firstnmajor pamphlet, Thoughts on thenCause of the Present Discontentsn(1770), he charged George III and hisnsupporters, as a young member ofnParliament, with a concerted attemptnto degrade the dignity of Padiament bynseeking to efface its traditional ceremonies.nMembers, he complained, weren”to be hardened into an insensibility tonpride as well as to duty,” and forced bynstages to abandon “those high andnhaughty sentiments which are the greatnsupport of independence.” It is unusualnto hear a moralist speak up for highnand haughty sentiments — pride isncommonly supposed to be a sin — andnBurke, when he wrote that, had been anmember of the Commons for less thannfive years. But if it is the business ofntyrants to erase the past, as he believed,nthen it is equally the business of freenmen to cherish and restore it. So theynhave a public duty as well as a right tonstand on ancestral dignities and insistnon what he calls “points of honour.”nThe modern instances would haveninterested him. Bolsheviks, like Jacobins,nhave tried to defame history andnto blacken all ages before their own. Itnis established tyrants, then, and notnradicals, who hate the past, and havengood reason to distrust tradition.nThe point, which is central tonGeorge Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Fournas much as to Burke, is still not universallynaccepted, and there are still thosenwho see a reverence for tradition as anconservative attribute and contempt asnnatural to the radical. They are mistaken.nA recent political broadside, fornexample — Conservatism (1990) bynTed Honderich, a professor of philosophynat London University — has revilednBurke in familiar terms; and in andefiant letter to the London Timesn(July 26, 1990), the author has returnednthe attack, calling him “thenexemplar of the tradition of Conservatism”nand “a partisan of a party ofnself-interest lacking a moral rationale.”nBurke, as it happens, never called him­nself a Conservative or a Tory, andnnever was one; and since he ardentlynsupported the English Revolution ofn1688 and believed in prudent concessionsnto the American colonists in then1770’s, it is hard even to see him asnconsistenriy anti-revolutionary. But henworshiped ceremonial and tradition,nand the association of tradition withnconservatives, of conservatives with tradition,nis by now so automatic in Westernnpolitical thought that it can misleadneven a professor of philosophy.nSo the East may have something tonteach the West, and the light thatncomes from the East may illumine angreat truth. For in Warsaw, Budapest,nand Prague, tradition is not seen asnconservative.nIn fact, it has just made a revolution,nor rather a series of revolutions; and asncivil society is rediscovered in lands laidnwaste by decades of socialist inertia, it isnthe past that looks subversive and exciting,nand socialism, for decades, that hasnproved the supremely conservativenforce in Eastern Europe. It has promotednand defended the interests of anruling caste, it has suppressed deviationnand pornography, it has distrusted asndecadent any modern spirit in the arts,nbuilt architectural facsimiles of ancientnmonuments, and banned the criticismnof a free press. Its conservative credentialsnare unimpeachable. Now that it isndead, the past suddenly looks potent,nand the end of Marxism is not the endnof history but a new beginning. Thensecret toast of Orwell’s hero in NineteennEighty-Four was not “To thenfuture” but “To the past,” since, tonanyone of radical sentiment, “the pastnis more important.” It is by interpretingnand reinterpreting the past that presentnand future are radically reshaped; by ansense of the past that change looksnpossible, practical, and desirable. Thatnis the opportunity of the age. Therenwill now be a brief pause in whichnhistorians, and above all historians eastnof what was once an armed fortificationnof tyranny known as the IronnCurtain, ponder what to do with thenfreedom that is suddenly theirs.nGeorge Watson, who is a fellow ofnSt. John’s College, Cambridge, isnthe author of Writing a Thesisn(Longman), The Idea of Liberalismn(St. Martin’s), and British LiteraturenSince 1945 (also St. Martin’s).nLETTERSnnnPoetry andnMadnessnby Richard MoorenSome months ago a psychiatrist inncontrol of a well-funded foundation,nwho was, as he supposed, investigatingnthe subject, wrote me, solicitingnmy opinions about the relationship betweenn”creativity” and “mental illness.”nI felt nettled and helpless. I avoid usingnsuch terms, whenever possible. Likenmost writers, I suspect, when I composena poem, a story, or an essay, I think ofnmyself, insofar as I think of myself at all,nas an imitator, a renderer of actions, anjuxtaposer of images, thoughts, andntones, a relater of ideas. All such itemsnto be dealt with — actions, images,netc. — I take to exist independently ofnme, since I seem more provisional andnless interesting than they. What, then,nam I creating?nBut doesn’t the artist, one might ask,ncreate the imitations, the juxtapositions,nthe relationships? Don’t the ideas, thenorganization of the materials, comenfrom him and him only? I hope not. If Increate them, what interest would theynhave? What general applicability?nWould it please a scientist to think thatnNewton created the law of gravitationalnattraction? No, the artist had best saynevery prayer to every unknown forcenand perform every ritual in the hopenthat he or she will create nothing, onlynfind for all who are interested what isnthere to find. He must not create, butndiscover.nMAY 1991/57n