Arguing persuasively that the earth, thus the environment, isnneither fragile in any way nor even greatly threatened, henwas entirely convincing that we would solve many besettingnenvironinental problems much sooner than anyone, most ofnall so-called environmentalists, can imagine. Remembernhow they all said, in their received wisdom, it would take ancentury or more to “save” Lake Erie?nAnd there were others besides Dubos, some of themndarker and deeper voices like Solzhenitsyn.nI would have to say the fortunate surprises of these latentimes in the century were not at all unanticipated. But Inwould also have to say that not many of us had thenimagination or good sense to listen to the voices of truthnthen, especially with the systematic, often grotesque distortionnand reduction even of the simplest information thatnappear to be inherently a part of all our futile efforts atncommunicating with each other.nWe could have taken heart long ago had anyone encouragednus to seek and find the truth.nThe bad news is that nothing much has changed in ournways and means of speaking to each other.nThe good news, as I see it, is that some prophets,nspeaking and thinking against the grain, have been rightnwhen official sages and flacks have been dead wrong. And Inam willing to bet everything there is that there are voicesnworth listening to even now, speaking to all of us and likelynto be heard by a few, the precious few, who are willing tonlisten and to learn. <^nGeorge Garrett is Henry Hoyns Professor of English atnthe University of Virginia. His latest novel, Entered Fromnthe Sun, is reviewed in this issue.nWORSHIPING THE CLOUDSnby E. Christian KopfFnWhy shouldndance?” the chonrus of Sophocles’ Oedipusnasks at the heart of that greatntragedy. Queen Jocasta hasnproclaimed the futility of divinenprophecy. Apollo, or hisnhuman servants, said that hernhusband would die at theirnson’s hands, but he met nonsuch fate. The chorus is bothered.nIf the oracles are notntrue, what order is left in life?n”Why should I dance?” Thenplay will end in horror andnshame, but in the midst ofnthat horror, it affirms a divine order, in which humans play anmuch smaller role than their desires suggest.nThe good news for the people of the United States andntheir children is that reality — economic, political, andnmoral — exists. We have allowed foreigners to buy out ornundersell our economy and to flood into our nation andndrive Americans out of job after job. We have allowed ournchildren to grow up monoglot ignoramuses, incapable ofnplanning for the future or competing in the present. Ournleadership is the most corrupt and immoral in history:nembezzlers, murderers, and rapists. We appoint and hirenbased on race, sex, and unproven incompetence, but not onnthe basis of objective accomplishment. We owe more thannwe can repay, and we have no intention of trying to repaynwhat we owe. In fact, we plan to keep on borrowing.nLike Oedipus, we will soon learn that we are human,nsubject to the laws of nature and of nature’s God. We will gonbankrupt. Our businesses and universities will close. Ournchildren will be unable to compete. The wealth and powernof the world will go, has gone elsewhere, to Japan and tonEurope. In the short run, this will not seem good news.nThat our children will be poor and never see the inside of anuniversity, that they will not know the wealth and glamournthat some of us have glimpsed, that the American centurynwill end not in a long bright sunset, but with a pop, like anpoorly cooked souffle, may seem depressing at first.nThere are the obvious superficial benefits. The parasitesnwill stop governing and judging us and move on to othernprey. The misfits of other societies will leave ours and gonelsewhere. (Not back where they came from — no onenwants them there—but elsewhere.) Our children will be nonmore ignorant than they are now. Spared the easy A’snshowered on them by the Great Teachers to whom theynaward A’s in their teaching evaluations, the educable amongnthem may start to study and learn again, when they discovernthat blear-eyed wisdom is born out of midnight oil.nMore than that, we will live again in the real world ofnlimits and boundaries, where tragedy and creativity willnagain be possible. We will come to know the will of thenCreator who made the world in a certain fashion and not innanother. We have lived too long worshiping the clouds ofnAristophanes’ great play, the divinities who assume whatevernshape you want. They do not create us, these goddesses ofnthe art of persuasion, call it rhetoric as advertising. They arenmade in our image. Female created we them. Theyn”empower” children by giving A’s to students who havenlearned nothing. They console those limited in life bynintelligence or hormones or sloth with the siren song thatnthey are “victims” of an unjust world. Like Strepsiades innClouds, we thought we would not have to pay our debts andnthat our sons could prosper without the religion and moresnof our nation.nBankruptcy, when it comes, will leave us poor, but alsonsecure in the knowledge that there is a God and He is just.nThe sight of Oedipus when he has learned who he really isnmay frighten us, as we gaze on his bloody mask, but it alsontells us that the oracles are true. The justice of Zeus is notnthe good life we promised ourselves, but it rules a world thatnmakes moral sense, which we cannot twist into a pleasingnshape out of selfishness and sentimentality. As we slowlynbegin to put our lives and those of our children and ournnation back together again, we may hear music. It is thenchorus, beginning its dance. nE. Christian Kopff teaches Greek and Latin at thenUniversity of Colorado in Boulder.nnnDECEMBER 1990/21n