for representing reality or that realityncan be represented at all, while levelingncharges of the most grievous crueltynand barbarism. The lure of purennarrative lies behind this cheating.nThe contemporary writer, defensivelynrecoiling from the oppression, exploitation,nand violence in modern life,nseeks to escape complicity by repudiatingnrationality and representation andnperhaps even meaning itself But mennand women being what they are.nThe Professor atnthe End of the WorldnNeither communist authorities nornAmerican intellectuals ever knewnquite what to do with Pitirim Sorokin.nBorn in 1889 in a village innnorthern Russia, Sorokin had barelynescaped execution in 1918 for hisnopposition to the Bolsheviks whennhe was immediately in troublenagain for studying the effects ofnmass starvation in the Russianncountryside in 1921 and for illegallynpublishing his doctoral dissertation.nSystem of Sociology, the followingnyear. Perhaps it was a rare fitnof mercy that prompted Soviet leadersnto expel Sorokin to the West.nBut it may have been more in thenspirit of revenge that they inflictednupon Western academics the embarrassmentnof having to deal with anbrilliant nonconformist.nDuring his career at the Universitynof Minnesota and at Harvard,nSorokin won many defenders andnadmirers. But he also violated sonmany of the ideological shibbolethsnof 20th-century social science thatnmany of his colleagues must havenwondered if there wasn’t some waynto send this troublemaker back tonthe steppes. Sorokin’s magnumnopus, Social and Cultural Dynamics:nA Study of Change in MajornSystems of Art, Truth, Ethics, Law,nand Social Relationship, first publishednin four volumes betweenn1937 and 1942, has just been reissuednin its one-volume 1957 abridgmentn(Transaction; New Brunswick,nNJ; $19.95), with ann”pure” narrahve remains ultimately annillusion, and its pursuit serves only tonwiden the division between art andnsociety and gives impetus to the spiralnof artistic impotence and alienation.nMaybe the ineluctable and enduringnappeal of narrative is a reasonablenarticle of faith, but only if we understandnthat that appeal is conditionednand not absolute. Narrative’s powernover us diminishes with exaggeratednimplausibility. Artifice or fantasynREVISIONSnexcellent new introduction bynMichel P. Richard. To read thenDynamics again is to marvel at thenprescience of Sorokin’s insights andnto understand only too well whynSorokin so often sharply disagreednwith other prominent socialnscientists.nAs a distinctively modern discipline,nsociology has attracted manynwho wholly embrace the values ofnmodernism and who regard the pastnas a lamentable legacy of prejudice,nsuperstitution, and horror, onlynnow giving way before the advancenof enlightened thinkers like themselves.nSorokin defiantiy challengednthis perspective. In his ambitiousnsurvey in Dynamics of the worlds ofnlaw, philosophy, literature, and socialnnorms—from Thales and Praxitelesnto Trotsky and Monetn— Sorokin detected a “superrhythm”nin human history, ann”eternal return,” with Ideationalneras based upon faith in transcendentnabsolutes alternating with Sensatencultures emphasizing the empiricalnand this-worldly. He heapednridicule upon the strictly linearnview of history espoused by then”progress cult” of the “throng ofnintellectuals, humanitarians, pacifisticnand progressive parlor socialists,nliberal ministers, professors,npoliticians.” Modern man’s dreamnof Utopia, Sorokin dismissed as an”fascinating soap bubble,” the illusionnof “a disintegrated mind, ofndemoralized man.”nSuch candor alienated more thanna few academics. Sorokin also brokenthe rules for modern intellectualsnnnplayed off against the real can delightnand illuminate, but used programmaticallynto undermine confidence in thenreal may only confuse and unsettle.nVargas Llosa’s novel demonstrates thenpower and charm of narrative, evennpursued primarily as an end in itself,nwhen it remains within mimeticnbounds, Donoso’s novel demonstratesnthe emphness and confusion that resultnfrom an aggressive and politicallyncentered anti-realism. COnby attacking the “externalism” ofnphilosophies which locate then”roots of evil” in the “environmentnor factors external to the personn. . . under consideration.” Similarly,nSorokin’s insistance that realnknowledge comes through “mysticnintuition” and “super-rationalnreligions”—well, this was simplynbeyond the pale of polite discussion.nAnd what forward-thinkingnsocial engineer, radiant with hopenfor the dawning era, would not benexasperated with Sorokin’s blacknpredictions for the future: “Rudenforce and cynical fraud wih becomenthe only arbiters of all values. . . .nBellum omnium contra omnesn—man against man, class, nation,ncreed and race against man, class,nnation, creed and race. . . .nSuicide, mental disease, and crimenwill grow. Weariness will spreadnover larger and larger numbers ofnthe population.”nSorokin’s sole hope lay in thenpattern of “crisis-catharsis-charisma-resurrection”nhe found in ancientnhistory: “By tragedy, suffering,nand crucifixion, [the modernnworld] will be purified and broughtnback to reason, and to eternal, lasting,nuniversal, and absolute values.n. , , [Western leaders] will increasinglynbecome again new SaintnPauls, Saint Augustines, and greatnreligious and ethical leaders.” Itnmay be a while before we see thennew Saint Pauls and Saint Augustinesnthat Sorokin anticipated. Fornnow, perhaps the most we can hopenfor is the occasional Jeremiahnamong the social sciences. (BC) ccnMARCH 198S /15n