reached those points or why he advancesnthem.nU nfortunately, such consistency andnclarity are both among the burnt offeringsnthat Diane Johnson has offered upnto the wandering goddess George Sand,nwhose capricious infidelity seems aboutnthe only principle governing the reviewsncollected in Terrorists 8c Novelists. In hernpiece on Sand’s autobiography, Johnsonnprostrates herself before the faithlessnauthor of fife ^/X»/apparently for threenarmy officers with an endorsement ofnAmerican military officers as “finenmen,” but can herself conclude a reviewnoi Executioner’s Song (which shows,nalbeit tentatively, that Mailer is a despicablenvampire) with a Milquetoast complaintnthat in such “a powerful and absorbingnstory, one can only wish to knownhow it really was.” Looking at the Jonestownntragedy, she can shrilly demandnthat the Federal government forcibly intervenenin families in which the parentsnjoin “cults” (reserving for the bureau-n”The intelligence at work in [Terrorists & Novelists] … is uncommonly flexible.”n—New York Times Book Reviewnreasons: because, supremely, Sand’sngenitals were of the right kind, becausenher commitment to “self-fulfillment”nand career obliterated all obligations tonothers—especially men—and becausenSand “considered herself a free andnresponsible moral agent, accountablenand capable of theorizing.” The way innwhich Sand’s “free and responsible”nmoral theorizing operated is best seen innher life of wildly erratic sexual liaisons.nThe moral theorizing of her devotee, Ms.nJohnson, is less salacious but just as restlessnand incontinent. Ms. Johnson seemsndetermined to get in bed with as manynideas as possible, without entering into anvow of fidelity with any of them. Thenresult, predictably, is a series of abortions.nThus we find Ms. Johnson defendingnSand’s sexual behavior by arguingnthat Sand was “too sincere to be chaste”nbut indignantly denouncing rapists forntheir lack of restraint. (Who ever accusedna rapist of insincerity?) Or we find herncomplaining that everything womennnovelists write “gets read in the light ofnwomanhood whether or not womanhoodnhas anything to do with what theynare writing about,” yet herself interpretingn”Little Red Riding Hood” as a cautionaryntale used by men to keep womennin line. (“Obey me by not going into thenwoods or you wUlget raped.”) Chameleonlike,nMs. Johnson indicts C.D.B.nBryan for unexpectedly concluding anbook which alleges moral wrongdoing byncrats the right to define “cult”); yet whennreading Bainbridge’s Young Adolf, shencan shudder at “the real horror” of angovernment which permits “authoritiesnto come in the night to take some childrennfrom poor people living in squalor.”nMost inexplicable of all is Ms.nJohnson’s praise for Doris Lessing’snresistance to “moral determinism,”nwhile she herself speaks of Gary Gilmorenas a “poor convict” and a “somehowndoomed man” and of Jim Jones as an”demented” leader who was thereforennot fully responsible for his actions.nWhat does Ms. Johnson’s book finallynadd up to? She says it best herself whennwriting about Bainbridge’s YoungnAdolf: “No moment of realization contradictsnthe sheer muddle.”nA.bout the only way to make anynsense whatever out of the mess Johnsonnand Sand have created is to invite Barzunnand James in to do some straightening.n(Rad-feminists were never much fornkeeping house.) Confronted by Johnson’snhodgepodge of self-contradictorynmodernist preoccupations, Barzunnwould likely reiterate that “the perpetualnreminder of diversity and change scattersnthe wits and diminishes the power to attend,ndecide, and conclude.” WhennJohnson confesses in her preface that hernreviews reveal “a preoccupation withnviolent events,” the reader need onlynturn to Barzun to learn that whenn”moralized by the Liberal dogma,” thenmodern consciousness “resorts to one ornanother form of violence as the commonnmedium of expression.” When Johnsonnsuspends judgment on Didion’s fictionnof “surfaces” without interior because ofnambivalence concerning the “unresolvednquestion” ofmeaningvs. “pureform” innliterature, Barzun glosses: “A writer whonalways knows what he means will assumenother writers carry meaning too.” WhennJohnson can note the thoroughly modishncharacter of Doctorow’s fiction and yetnunironically style him a “prophet,” thennBarzun will elucidate: “We dare not callnthings by their right names, not so muchnbecause we are kindly as because we wantntc$ obtain kindness for ourselves.” Indeed,nbecause all of the workjohnson hasncollected originally appeared in the NewnYork Review of Books and New YorknTimes Book Review, one suspects thatnMs. Johnson’s unwarranted tendernessnin handling the likes of Doctorow,nMailer, and Didion derives not so muchnfrom her devotion to George Sand asnfrom her regard for another femininendeity named years ago by William James:n”the bitch goddess success.” DnSend for your complimentaryncopy of The Rockford Institute’snAnnual Report featuringnthe work of the eminentnartist and designer WarrennChappell.nMail this coupon to:nThe Rockford Instituten934 North Main StreetnRockford, 11 61103nNamenAddressnnnCity State ZipnApril 1983n