vented a lightning rod: eroticism.”rnIn distinguishing eroticism and lo’e,rnPaz begins with the story of Eros andrnPsyche from Apuleius’s The Golden Assrn(or Metamorphoses). Eros, a cruel divinity,rnfalls in love with a mortal. Psyche,rnwho returns his love. The figure of Psychernis a Platonic echo, but as Paz observes,rn”an unexpected transformationrnof Platonism.” No mere object of contemplationrnon some ladder that leads tornthe idea of love or beauty, love here becomesrna love story: Eros falls in loxe notrnonly with a sensual mortal, but with herrnsoul. This story, Paz believes, anticipatesrnthe distinction between love and eroticismrn1,000 years later in Provence, and itrnis this vision that leads to our modernrnview of love. He makes numerous distinctions,rnfor example, between love asrnPlato understood it (“a solitary adventure”),rnlove as the East understands itrnwithin the context of its religions, andrnlove as it is experienced among thernmoderns.rnFor the West, at least since the adentrnof courtly love in Provence, the image ofrnloe can be reduced to three elements:rnexclusivity, or love for only one person;rnattraction, or one’s fate freely accepted;rnthe person, who is a soul and a body.rnThese elements are interrelated, interdependent,rnand not infrequently warrnamong themselves. In an erotic relationship,rnthe partner may appropriately berncalled an object, and the object or partnerrnis simply interchangeable with another.rnLove is for one person, and thisrnpersonhood is complex. In order for thernattraction to be freely accepted, thernloved one must be free to reciprocate. Arnthousand years after The Golden Ass thernstatus of women had changed, and twornof the circumstances that influenced thisrnchange were Christianity (which endowedrnwomen with a dignity unknownrnin paganism) and the Germanic heritagern(wherein women were freer than in thernRoman one).rnBut personhood was profoundh’ dependentrnupon the proposition that humanrnbeings have souls. When one lovedrna body one loved a soul, but a soul incarnatedrnwithin a body. This notion of personhoodrnderives from Greek philosophy,rnand from Christianity. Paz claims thatrnour era’s rejection of the soul “has beenrnthe principal reason for the politicalrndisasters of the 20th century and of therngeneral debasement of our civilization.”rnAs recent science has virtually beenrnforced to become philosophical, it hasrntaken up the old problem of the relationrnof the mind to the body. Paz is optimisticrnabout the possibilities—espccialhforrnthe new science of the mind—sincernmany of the current models are notrnmerely mechanistic ones. But he believesrnthat we are urgenth’ in need of arnKant to perform a critique of scientificrnreason, which would allow “the dialoguernbetween science, philosophy, and poetryrn[to] be the prelude to the reconstitutionrnof the unity of culture. The prelude, asrnwell, of the resurrection of the humanrnperson, who has been the cornerstonernand wellspring of our civilization.”rnWilliam Mills is a novelist and poetrnwhose latest work of fiction is Propertiesrnof Blood.rnHard Lives,rnHard Timesrnby Gregory McNameernThe Last Ranch: A ColoradornCommunity and the Coming Desertrnby Sam BinghamrnNew York: Pantheon;rn384pp., $27.50rnThe life of country people, the Kentuckyrnpoet-farmer Wendell Berryrnhas observed, is marked bv a surprisingrncomplexity. To be successful it requiresrndeep knowledge of the land, of the seasonsrnin their time, of plants and animalsrn—to say nothing of markets, freightrncosts, and federal regulations. Plant early,rnand risk late frost; plant late, and ri.skrnsummer flooding. Cah’e early, and riskrnthe high mortality rate winter brings;rncalve late, and risk the infectious diseasesrnthe warm air carries. Make the wrongrnguesses and face foreclosure, battle thernelements and hope for the best: each dayrnbrings a new challenge to the farmer, thernrancher, the orchardkeeper.rnFor the countrv people who populaternSam Bingham’s The Last Ranch, therncomplexities are constant, even in thernquiet times. “The learning,” he writes,rn”all seems so simple in the middle ofrnwinter. You get good stock. Train arnsheepdog. Lay off the coyotes. Lay thernhay in this new way. Your land improves.rnYour margin improves. A few new techniquesrnand you gain a stride or two. . . .rnYou learn to beat the svstem. But ofrncourse, this is only Februar’, agriculturalrndreamtime, when everything seems possible,rnpredictable, and even mechanical.rnInevitably the season will turn.” Turn itrnwill, to summers of beleaguered herds,rnunpredictable rains, the occasionalrntwister, and always the vagaries of thernbeef market; one complicated matterrnunfolding into another.rnBingham’s ranchers dwell in the highrndesert off the Gun Sight Road in the SanrnLuis Valley of southern Colorado, gypsumrnand snow countrv. Theirs is notrngood land. The soil in the northern sectionrnof the valley is coarse, sandy, hostilernto cultivation; hcaviU ranched since thern1840’s, it is now all but denuded of nativernvegetation. “The rich mix of grassrnspecies that had flourished in SaguachernCountv at the turn of the century hadrnchanged,” Bingham writes. “Artesianrnwells that once shot 20 feet in the airrnnow required pumping. Chico brushrngrew where old-timers once grew hay,rnand here and there bare alkali groundrnoutcropped as hard as cement.” Thernsouthern section of the valley is no better,rnbut there industrialized agriculturernhas made a stand against the everencroachingrndesert; the area is the site ofrnone of the world’s heaviest concentrationsrnof center-pivot sprinklers, irrigatingrnthousands of quarter-mile circles ofrnpotatoes, carrots, lettuce, alfalfa, andrnmalting barley, pumping fossilized waterrnmillions of years old to bring profit forrnyet another season.rnBut overgrazing and exotic agriculturernhae ruined the land; land that isrnmarginal to begin with, and that will notrneasilv recover from the hard use humansrnhave put it to. In Bingham’s account therncondition of the San Luis Valley isrnscarcely different from that of droughtstrickenrnAfrica. The African drylands,rnnow a theater of famine, make newsrnwhere ours do not because, he suggests,rnAmerican media co’erage of purely agriculturalrnissues is so poor and becausernother sources of income—the occasionalrnoil royalties, light industry, various kindsrnof federal welfare, and always the beckoningrncities just over the horizon—keeprnthe people of San Luis from starving.rn”EcologicalK’ speaking,” Binghamrnwrites, “the semi-arid region along thernRio Grande in the United States hasrncome strongly to resemble the Sahel, inrnspite of a small rural population, relativelyrnlittle livestock, priate ownership, andrn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn