from recording anything that the SecretnPolice might be able to trace to a specificnperson.” But how can it be? Doesn’t thenSoviet-bloc reflect the dictatorship ofnthe proletariat? Isn’t it a socialist Utopia?nWe were taught that the only problemsnin communist countries consisted ofnminor material shortages caused by subversivenelements. How can we understandna world turned upside-down,nwhere visiting grandmas must registernat a city office, where the mother ofnpreschool children must have an officialnpermit to work at home, where productionnquotas mean maximum rather thannminimum?nIt sounds like Orwell’s 1984, or ancheap paperback—unreal, unbelievable.nThe state invades human lives. It’s asnsimple as that. The state decides thatngirls must wear white headbands; thenstate decides who goes to high school orncollege (good grades and intelligencendo not necessarily qualify); the statendecides where one works and where onensleeps and with whom one shares anbathroom.nWith such constraints, life turns inward.nFlickers of humanness somehownsurvive even the most banal evil. Thosenof “unhealthy social origin” cannot celebratethefeastofthePassover—buttheyndo. If its meaning must be concealedneven from one’s own children, still it isnobserved. Small scraps of happinessnare carefully saved and sewn into anpatchwork of memories—a new doll, anride on a brand-new bicycle, ice creamnfrom grandfather, a trip to the mountains.nSometimes a trace of bitternessncreeps in like a stain; one must be carefulnlest it spread and spoil the wholenfabric.nSuch calm acceptance of inevitability,nthe conscious rejection of bitterness,ncalls to mind Anne Frank. The sensitivitynwith which a young Jewish girl,nfleeing the holocaust, wrote of her violatednexistence, finds its reflection innanother young Jewish girl in the nextngeneration. Anne Frank had to copenwith open, officially sanctioned anniihi-nlation. Juliana Pilon struggled to surviventhe monstrous deceptions and distortionsnof reality, presented as truth, thatntotalitarianism enthrones, indeed, dependsnon for its very existence. Whatnseemed merely incomprehensible to thenchild is seen by the adult as a virtualnrape of truth. Orwellian doublethink isnrequired to comprehend the fact of an”childlessness tax” which is so highnthat it prevents a couple from being ablento save enough money to have a child.nFaced with an all-pervading atmospherenof lies, some simply shelve rationalitynand become virtuosos of the acceptednnewspeak and doublethink. Others developna means of maintaining a measurenof personal and intellectual integrity,neven sacrificing material benefits,nmerely giving lip service to the intrudingnbureaucracy. “Send us books,” implorenDr. Pilon’s friends. She looks at thenshabby apartment and wonders—books?n”Send us books about Mexico in thenMiddle Ages, about beads and porcelain,nabout ancient religions, about mountains,nand ancient languages, maybensome novels too, and poetry.” AnnenFrank, too, mourned for all the thingsnshe did not, and would never, know.nSuch hunger, no, need for informationns^ems almost desperate where the primarynmental diet of men and womennconsists of “spoon-fed nonfacts,” wherenchildren repeat slogans in lieu of facts,nThe Way It WasnTim O’Brien: Going after Cacciato;nDelacorte Press; Nevr York.nby Edward J. WalshnStephen Crane, Dos Passes, Hemingway,nMailer, and Irwin Shaw wantednmostly to bring the battlefields to life;nthus, their pages were full of whistlingnshells, gouged-out eyes, and wagonloadsnMr. Walsh, now with the USIC, is anformer officer in the U.S. Marine Corps,nnnwhere one learns early how to reconcilenwhat he can see with what he is told—nand after a while ceases to be surprisednat the contradictions.nOut Notes is even more than annaccount of life behind the Iron Curtain.nIt is the story of what happens when evilnis officialized, trivialized, to the pointnwhere it is accepted as normal. It’s anlight flashing Danger-Danger to thosenof us who have forgotten that Westernnfreedom is special and different,nthat it was once earned; men diednso we could take it for granted,napologize for it, abuse it—and use it tonglorify those who have created thenRomanian reality. It’s a brave book,nwritten and published with courage—nfor who will believe it? ChristophernLasch maintains that truth has becomenless important than image: if it seemsnincredible there’s no point in printingnit because no one will believe it anyway.nMrs. Pilon has gently removed the rosecolorednglasses of the innocents. Shenknows, she’s been there—and back.nWhile we were doing the Twist, shenwas trying to sleep on a wooden benchnon a train carrying her family out ofnRomania. Then, we may have had thenfeeble excuse of ignorance: now wenmust listen and—what’s harder—comprehend.nDnof rotting dead. Usually the blood-redngod of war, as Crane called it, amountsnto little more in the fiction of the realistsnthan the stuff of melodramatic motionnpictures that still run on late-nightntelevision.-With craftsmen such asnCrane, it lingers longer.n• Once the tell-it-as-it-was reports havensplashed and faded, the more reflective,nor at least better-timed books appear,nusually second-guessing the politiciansnand generals, often pacifist, often ideological.nThe obvious example isnil9nIVovembcr/Deccmber 1979n