Man and Mechanism:
reflections on money, reason and collapse in our time

-by Ernesto R. Sábato-

translated by D. Ohmans
© copyright 2013

Text imprint Buenos Aires, Emecé Editores, 1951

To the memory of my father
It would be very difficult for me to say how my convictions have changed, even more so because they, probably, are not very interesting.   DOSTOEVSKY, The Diary of a Writer The history of the transformation of beliefs! Does there exist, perhaps, in literature's entire domain, any history of more palpable interest?   CHESTOV, The Philosophy of Tragedy JUSTIFICATION ONE embarks toward distant lands, investigates nature, yearns to know man, invents fictional beings, searches for God. Later one understands that the ghost that he pursued was Oneself. I have long reflected upon the title and qualifications that these pages should bear. I do not believe that it would be too mistaken to see them as a spiritual autobiography, as a diary of a crisis, at once personal and universal, as a simple reflection of the collapse of western civilization in a man of our time. This collapse which the communists imagine is a mere collapse of the capitalist system, without noticing that it is the crisis of the whole civilization based upon reason and the machine, civilization of which they themselves and their system form a part. These reflections do not comprise a systematic body nor do they pretend to satisfy the requirements of literary form: I am not a philosopher and God relieves my being a writer; they are the irregular expression of a man in our time who has felt obliged to reflect on the chaos that surrounds him. And if the refutations of theories and persons are often violent and abrasive, keep in mind that that violence is exercised equally against ancient illusions of mine, which survive in dead letters, in some book, their demise in my own spirit; occasionally, their lamented demise. Because we can also lament our equivocations. In 1934, when I was a student, I was sent to a communist congress in Brussels. I went to Europe imagining that the ills of the movement could be exclusively Argentinian; I still retained much innocence, still resisted accepting the Stalinist movement as a system of symbiotic components. The bourgeois universe had made me sick, like so many adolescents, and I felt impelled towards the revolution. Yet suddenly, that revolutionary movement was drowning beneath our feet, finding me abruptly in a vast chaos of beings and things. Existence, as with the character in Nausea, appeared to me like an insensate, gigantic and gelatinous labyrinth; and like him, I felt anxiety of a pure order, of a structure of polished steel, sharp and strong. I had already felt it like that in my adolescence, when I hurried towards mathematics, and now the phenomenon repeated itself, although with more force and desperation. In this way, I returned to that incorporeal universe, to the sort of refuge of a tall mountain where the noise of men did not reach, nor its confused contents. During various years I studied, frenzied, almost with furor, abstract things, giving me injections of translucent opium, living in the artificial paradise of ideal objects. But when I lifted my head from logarithms and sinusoids, I encountered the faces of men. In 1938 I worked at the Curie Laboratory, in Paris. It still makes me laugh with self-disgust when I remember myself among electrometers, still supporting the spiritual narrowness and the vanity of those scientists, vanity that much more contemptible because it always dressed in phrases about Humanity, Progress and other abstract stylistic fetishes; while the war approached, in which that Science, which according to those gentlemen had come to liberate humans from all their physical and metaphysical maladies, would be the instrument of mechanized slaughter. There, in 1938, I knew that my fleeting pass through science had ended. How I then understood the moral value of surrealism, its destructive force against the myths of an exhausted civilization, its purifying power, even despite all the charlatans who appropriated its name! From France I proceeded to the United States, where I could see Mechanical Capitalism in its most vast perfection. I returned to my country and began to write a first summation, that I published in 1945 beneath the title, One and the Universe. In the prologue, I wrote: "Science had been a fellow traveler, for a time, but now has fallen behind. When I still nostalgically turn my head, I can see some of the high towers that I discerned during my adolescence and which attracted me by their beauty removed from the carnal vices. Soon they will disappear from my horizon and only the memory will remain. Many may think that this is a betrayal of a friendship, yet it is fidelity to my human condition. In any event, I claim the merit of abandoning that clear city of the towers--where security and order reign--in search of a continent full of dangers, where conjecture dominates." For five years I have moved within this conjectural continent. I know much less than before, but at least now I know that I do not know and I smile melancholically to re-read some chapters of that first output, still inhabited by so many phantasms, still innocently believing in certain cadavers of the world which was. Not to commit the new ingenuousness of imagining that now I have released myself from cadavers and phantasms. Yet I do have the conviction of now glimpsing with greater cruelty the contours of the One-Self amidst the confusion of the Universe. Santos Lugares, March 1951. Introduction Martin Buber says that the human problematic is redefined every time the original pact between the world and the human being is annulled, in times when the human being seems to find herself in the world as a solitary and helpless stranger. They are times when an image of the Universe has been erased, disappearing with it the sensation of security one has before the familiar: man feels the intemperance, the homelessness. Then, one asks anew about oneself. Our time is like that. The world creaks and threatens to topple, that world which, for greater irony, is the product of our will, of our Promethean attempt at domination. It is a total break. Two world wars, the totalitarian dictatorships and the concentration camps at last have opened our eyes, to crudely reveal to us the sort of monster that we had engendered and proudly raised. The moment has arrived to say good-bye to the 19th century, to that marvelous 19th century, with Stephenson and his steam engine, its electricity, its mighty capitalist economy, its cosmic optimism. That century in which all the ills of humanity were to be resolved through Science and the Progress of Ideas; in which children were given names such as Light and Liberty, and in which neighborhood libraries were formed named Muscle and Brain. I do not laugh at something so inseparably united to my infancy and adolescence: indeed I smile with that tender irony with which we view the old photographs of our grandparents. I still remember the days of my youth in an Argentine town, with its socialists of flowing ties and big black hats. And those libraries where there accumulated books with white covers, having the portrait of the author in an oval: Reclus, Spencer, Zola, or Darwin, since even the theory of evolution seemed subversive and a strange link united the history of fish and marsupials with the Triumph of the New Ideals. Not lacking either was Energetica, by Ostwald, a sort of thermodynamic bible, in which God had been replaced by a lay yet also enigmatic entity, named Energy that, like its predecessor, explained and enabled everything, with the advantage of being related to the Locomotive. The 20th century waited crouching like a nocturnal assailant against a slightly affected pair of lovers. It awaited with its mechanized butchery, the mass assassination of Jews, the breakdown of the parliamentary system, the end of economic liberalism, desperation, and fear. Regarding Science, which was going to solve all the problems of heaven and earth, it had served to facilitate state concentration and while on one side the epistemological crisis attenuated its arrogance, on the other it was dedicated to the service of destruction and deaths. And thus we brutally learn a truth that we should have foreseen, given the immoral essence of scientific knowledge: that science is not in itself a guarantee of anything, because its accomplishments are foreign to ethical preoccupations. As against capitalist chaos, the socialist movement emerged, but it soon acquired the attributes of the century that it wanted to combat: Science and the Machine became its guardian gods, and after the "utopian" socialism of Owen, Fourier and Saint-Simon followed the "scientific" socialism of Marx. And in this manner, the concentration of state power through science and the economy led to the superstates based on the machine and on totalization. This crisis is not simply the crisis of the capitalist process: it is the end of the entire conception of existence and of man that emerged in the West with the Renaissance. Such that it is impossible to understand this collapse without examining the essence of that renewed civilization. Just as Berdiaeff warned, the Renaissance occurred through three paradoxes: 1: It was an individualist movement which terminated in massification. 2: It was a naturalistic movement that terminated in the machine. 3: It was a humanist movement that ended with dehumanization. Which are nothing but aspects of a single and gigantic paradox: the dehumanization of humanity. This paradox, whose last and most tragic consequences we now suffer, was the result of two dynamic and amoral forces: money and reason. Through them, one conquers secular power. But--and there lies the root of the paradox--that conquest is achieved through abstraction: from the gold ingot to clearing, from the lever to the logarithm, the history of humanity's growing dominion over the universe has also been the history of successive abstractions. Modern capitalism and positive science are two faces of the same reality dispossessed of concrete attributes, of an abstract phantasmagoria of that which also forms part of humanity, yet now not the concrete person and individual but the mass-man, that strange being still of a human aspect, with eyes and tears, voice and emotions, but in truth a gear in some giant anonymous machinery. This is the contradictory destiny of that renewed demigod who demanded his individuality, proclaiming his will towards domination and transformation of things. He ignored that he too would become transformed into a thing. Persons such as Pascal, William Blake, Dostoevsky, Baudelaire, Lautréamont, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche intuited that something tragic was gestating in the midst of optimism. Yet the Great Machinery continued forward. Desolated, man felt in the end to be in an incomprehensible universe, whose objectives were unknown and whose Masters, invisible and cruel, filled him with terror. Better than anyone, Franz Kafka expressed the abandonment of man in our time. And although human solitude is perennial, not sociological but metaphysical, only a society like this one could reveal that in all its magnitude. Just as certain monsters can only be encountered in nocturnal darkness, so the solitude of the human creature had to be revealed in its full terrifying image in this twilight of the machine civilization. I The essence of the Renaissance THE AWAKENING OF SECULAR MAN WHEN I studied world history for the first time, in secondary school, I was surprised by the strange virtues of the Turkish army, which was presented more or less as follows: in 1453 Constantinople was taken, putting an end in this way to the Middle Ages; immediately, a number of gentlemen proceeded to refute Aristotle with weights that fell from a tower and inclined planes, or peering through the tube of a telescope. This doctrine concerning the qualities of the Turkish army is quite popular and, although perhaps not with such sharpness figures in many school texts. And it dominates teaching to such a degree that when one rounds the cape of the year 1453, she passes to another volume and another year of studies. When now as an adult I became interested in the history of science, I found that in that gloomy age which preceded the fall of Constantinople the Europeans had invented or reinvented gunpowder, printing, firearms, the compass, oil painting, the cathedrals, the windmill, the water mill, glasses, the rudder, the floodgate, the bellows forge, medicine, surgery, the mechanical clock, the fundamentals of experimental science, stained glass, enamels, mathematical maps, celestial navigation, the fabrics and glass industries. Who had elaborated all this? In general, it is dangerous to cut history into pieces. But, if we must seek the change that originated our civilization, it must be sought in the epoch of the Crusades. It is there, in the bourgeois settlements, where Modern Times truly begin, with a new conception of man and his destiny. Between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the awakening of the 12th century the western world is summed up in what properly should be called the "middle ages." The person is submerged in spiritual values and lives only for God: money and reason migrate towards better territories, taking refuge in Byzantium, in the Muslim empire, among the Jews. Under the double pressure of Christian ethics and of military isolation, over six centuries Western man renounced the two forces that best seemed to represent praise of matter and of thought, the temptation of the mundane spirit. It is difficult to determine why the West awakened. What occurs is the result of an infinity of factors, from an ethic to the beauty of a woman, from an economic structure to the power of conviction of a fanatic on horseback. It is very difficult, and frequently very byzantine, to establish the ultimate causes of an historical occurrence; it seems better to take the episode in its totality, as a closed structure. Towards the epoch of the Crusades the awakening of the West begins, thanks to a set of concomitant factors: the weakening of Muslim power, the relative tranquility of the cities after so many centuries of conflict and destruction, the loss of hope in the coming of the reign of God over the earth, the re-opening of Mediterranean commerce. Which of all those is the ultimate factor? It is not easy to tell. Yet it is easy, however, to notice that beneath all of them act two fundamental forces: reason and money. The elevation of reason begins in the bosom of theology around the 11th century, with Berengario de Tours. San Pedro Damián combats this initiative, expressing his lack of confidence in science and philosophy, placing in doubt the validity of the laws of thought and, in particular, the absolute validity of the principle of contradiction, which although it rules in the world of the finite--he affirms--does not apply to the divine being. The polemic is sharpened with Abelard, who maintains that one should not believe without proofs: only reason should decide whether pro or contra. He is silenced by Saint Bernardo, who represents, in the middle of the 12th century, the herald of the new times, in which intelligence, now unchained, will not recognize any other sovereignty than that of reason. "O Jesus," a theologian in a state of rationalist inebriation will exclaim, "How I have supported and exalted Your doctrine! Truly, if I were Your enemy, I could invalidate and refute it with still more powerful arguments." Yet so that this sovereignty of reason might be established, the financing of its allies with money was necessary. Then, the giant structure of the Church and of Feudalism would come down. Money had silently increased its influence in the Italian communities since the Crusades. The First Crusade, the Crusade par excellence, was the work of Christian faith and of the adventurous spirit of the knightly world, something grand and romantic, foreign to the idea of profit. But history is tortuous and it was the destiny of that seignioral army to serve almost exclusively the mercantile resurgence in Europe: neither the Holy Sepulchre nor Constantinople were preserved, but the commercial routes to the Orient were re-opened. The Crusades promoted luxury and riches and, along with them, leisure promoted profane meditation, humanism, the admiration of the cities of antiquity. Thus began the influence of the Italian communities and of the bourgeois class. During the 12th and 13th centuries, this class triumphs in every direction. Its struggles and its ascent provoked transformations of such a great extent that today we feel its ultimate consequences. Given that our crisis is the reductio ad absurdem of that eruption of the mercantile class. FROM NATURALISM TO THE MACHINE Upon awakening from the long daydream of the Medieval, man rediscovers the natural world and the natural person, landscape and their own bodies. Their reality now will be secular and profane, or will tend ever more to be so, for a vision of the world does not change instantaneously. Yet what is important is to see the lines of force that secretly begin to direct the orientation of a society, the uneasiness of its people, the direction of its glances; only thus can one know that which is going to visibly occur several centuries later. The profanity of Raphael cannot be explained without that occult tension in the lines of force that already begin to act in the 12th century. Between a Giotto and a Raphael--beginning and end of a process--there is the entire distance that falls between a small profoundly Christian burgher, still submerged to the waist in the Middle Ages, and a worldly artist, emancipated from all religiosity. The return to nature is an essential trait of Renaissance beginnings and is manifested as much in popular language and is the plastic arts, in satirical literature as in experimental science. The painters and sculptors discover landscape and the nude. And in the rediscovery of the nude they not only influence the general tendency towards nature but also the upturn in anatomical studies and the egalitarian spirit in the petty bourgeoisie: because the nude, like mortality, is democratic. The first attitude of man towards nature was of innocent love, as in Saint Francis. But Max Scheler says, to love and to dominate are two complementary attitudes and to that disinterested and pantheistic love followed the desire for domination, which was to characterize modern man. From that desire positive science is born, which is not mere contemplative consciousness but instead the instrument for domination of the universe. An arrogant attitude that terminates the theological hegemony, liberates philosophy and confronts the sacred book with science. The secularized person--animal instrumentificum--finally launches the machine against nature, to conquer her. But dialectically it will conclude by dominating its creator. THE DEVIL REPLACE METAPHYSICS The basis of the feudal world was the earth; in consequence, this society is static, conservative and spatial. However, the basis of the modern world is the city; the resultant society is dynamic, liberal and temporal. In this new order time prevails over space, because the city is dominated by money and reason, motive forces par excellence. Dynamics is a modern branch of physics, contemporaneous with the industry and the ballistics of the Renaissance; the ancients had only developed statics. The characteristic of the new society is quantity. The feudal world was a qualitative world: time was not measured, it was lived in terms of eternity and time was the natural one of the shepherds, of awaking and resting, of hunger and of eating, of love and the raising of children, the pulse of eternity; it was qualitative time, which corresponds to a society that does not know money. Nor was space measured, and the dimensions of the figures in an illustration corresponded neither to the distances or to perspective: they were expression of hierarchy. But when the utilitarian mentality erupts, everything is quantified. In a society in which the simple passage of time multiplied the dukedoms, in which "time if gold," it is natural that it be measured, and that it be measured minutely. From the 15th century on mechanical clocks invade Europe and time is converted into an abstract and objective entity, numerically divisible. One would have to wait for the present-day novel for the old intuitive time to be recaptured by man. Space is also quantified. The business that runs a ship loaded with valuable merchandise is not going to rely on those pictures of an ecumene full of griffins and sirens: it needs cartographers, not poets. The gunner who would attack a strong fort requires mathematics to calculate the shooting angle. The civil engineer who constructs canals and dikes, sewing and weaving machines, bombs for mines; the ship builder, the exchange broker, the military engineer, all of them have urgent need for mathematics and space on a grid. The artist of that time emerges from the artisan--in fact is the same person--and it is logical that she brings to art her technical preoccupations. Piero della Francesca, the creator of descriptive geometry, introduces perspective into the painting. Enthused by the novelty, the Italian painters begin to employ an abundant and very visible perspective, as the nouveau riche of this geometric art. The old Ucello is so ecstatic about the invention that his woman has to call him repeatedly to dinner. Leonardo writes in his Tratado: "Then dispose of the figures of clothed or unclothed individuals in the manner proposed to make them effective, submitting the magnitudes and measures to perspective, so that no detail of your work seems contrary to the counsel of reason and natural effect." And in another aphorism he adds: "Perspective, therefore, should occupy the leading position among all, the human discourses and disciplines. In its power, the luminous line combines with the varieties of demonstration and is gloriously adorned with the flowers of mathematics and even more with those of physics. According to Alberti, the artist is above all a mathematician, a technician, an investigator of nature. And thus, also, proportion erupts. The commercial interchange between the Italian cities with the Orient facilitated the return of the Pythagorean ideas, that had been current in Roman architecture. Yet it is with the emigration of the erudite Greeks of Constantinople when Italy begins the true revival of Plato and, through him, of Pythagoras. Cosimo retrieves the wise men and he himself continues their teachings in the Academy of Florence. In this way, the numerological mysticism of Pythagoras celebrates a curious marriage with that of the Florentines, now that arithmetic reigned equally in the world of polyhedrons and that of business. Simmel maintains with reason that business introduced in the West the concept of numerical exactitude, which will be the condition for scientific development. The old tyranny left off multiple preoccupations to join, spellbound, in the the academic discussions; and, by a complicated mechanism, Socrates was relieved of his final poisoning. Similarly, later on, his descendant Lorenzo: "Without Plato, I would feel incapable of being a good citizen and good Christian," a paradoxical aphorism that did not impede him from beheading or hanging his political enemies. Nothing better demonstrates the spirit of the times than the works of Luca Pacioli, a sort of bazaar in which all is found from the inevitable and servile eulogies to the Duke to the proportions of the human body, from double entry bookkeeping to the transcendental metaphysics of Divine Proportion: "This our proportion, o sublime Duke, is as worthy of prerogative and excellence as anything, with respect to its infinite potential, given that without knowledge of it many things worthy of admiration, whether in philosophy or in any other science, could not come to light." He successively qualifies it as divine, exquisite, ineffable, sublime, supreme, most excellent, incomprehensible, and most honorable. It seems as if he refers to his own Duke of Milan. This Pythagorean concept exerted influence upon almost all the artists of the Italian Renaissance, such as with Dürer. But it also extended to the fields of science, as can be observed in the works of Cardano, Tartaglia and Stevin. Finally, it reappears in the mystique of the Keplerian harmony and in the aesthetic-metaphysical hypotheses that served as the basis of Galileo's research. Thus those who think that the men of science investigate without aesthetic-metaphysical prejudices have quite a singular idea of what scientific research is. This is the modern man. He knows the forces that govern the world, has them at his service, is the god of the earth: he is the devil. His motto is: anything is possible. His arms are gold and the intelligence. His process is the calculus. Jacobo Loredano affirms in his Libro Mayor: "To Duke Foscari, for the demise of my son and of my uncle." After having eliminated Foscari and his son, he adds: "Paid." Gianozzo Manetti sees in God something resembling a "master of all traffic." Villani considers donations and alms to be a contractual form of ensuring divine help. Innocent the 8th starts a bank for indulgences, in which absolutions for assassinations are sold. This calculating mentality of the merchants extends in all directions. It begins by dominating navigation, architecture and industry. With firearms, it invades the art of war, through ballistics and fortification. The lance and shield of the knight are devalued, while the individual bravery of the mounted man is succeeded by the efficacy of the mercenary army. These engineers are not interested in the First Cause, and await nothing from God. Technical knowledge takes the place of metaphysical concerns, efficiency and precision replacing religious anguish. To judge toward what point this is the essence of the bourgeois spirit, see the critique that Valéry makes of metaphysics in Leonardo and the Philosophers: although fallacious, it is the same which Leonardo makes, the same as made by the pragmatists and positivists, those engineers of philosophy. The calculating mentality finally invades politics: Machiavelli is the engineer of state power. He imposes a dynamic and unscrupulous conception, that does not recognize honor, nor blood rights, nor tradition. How far we are from that Christianity united in its faith against the infidels! Pope Alexander VI attempts an alliance with the Turks against the Venetians. Dynasties are raised and are liquidated through the blows of hired assassins, at so many ducats a head. Power is the maximum idol and there are no forces that can impede the development of human plans. Leonardo, in his laborious nights in the Santa María hospital, bent over the open chests of the cadavers, seeks the secret of living and dying, wishes to see how God creates living beings, yearns to supplant it, exclaims: "Voglio far miracoli!" COMPLEXITY AND DRAMA OF THE RENAISSANCE MAN We are speaking of the dominant forces, yet it is necessary for us now to consider the counterforces. The Renaissance, like any era, can only be profoundly judged if it is considered as a vast dialectical process, as a struggle and the synthesis of the given forces. The claim (provisional and partial) that the Renaissance is a process of secularization does not imply negating the mysticism of Savonarola, or of Michelangelo. It is enough to feel for an instant, in the Palace of Bargello, the tender and trembling attitude of San Giovannino, of Donatello, to understand how much the belief about the mere profanity of the Renaissance is trivial. A doctrine never univocally translates into an epoch, but it forms instead in a complex manner: partly through the autonomous and purely intellectual development of previous ideas--for or against those ideas--and partly as a manifestation of the spirit of its time. And this also occurs polemically: the religious spirit of the Middle Ages is followed by the profane spirit of the bourgeoisie; but, upon this assuming its grossest forms, the mystical reaction of men like Savonarola is revived. Artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli were intensely moved in this reaction which not only does not contradict the profanity of the Renaissance but instead is its consequence. Therefore it is false to claim that "the Renaissance is a return to antiquity." History never returns. What there is is a return of certain characteristics of the Greco-Latin spirit, insofar as there also had been a civic spirit, that is, a civilization. Furthermore the Renaissance cities were very different cities from the ancients: the sole existence of Christianity suffices to radically differentiate this new civilization from the ancient. How could it be possible to compare the realism of a profoundly Christian spirit like Donatello with the realism of a Greek sculptor. The importance of Christianity becomes visible even in that activity of the spirit which, by appearances, seems most distant: positive science. The anti-clerics of the neighborhood would be very surprised if they were to be told that western science was born thanks to the Church, and that this is so. During the Middle Ages, the Church is characterized by two themes: dogma and abstraction. The bourgeois seems to be characterized by two counterpoised themes: liberty and realism. Between the clerics and the bourgeoisie are the humanists. The natural, concrete, live feeling of humanism, as against scholastic aridity, becomes an ally of the bourgeoisie: with its paganism, it disturbs the fundamentals of the Church, is revolutionary, aids the ascent of the new class; the two themes of the bourgeoisie--liberty and realism--are its own; and it is not strange, consequently, that the greatest number of humanists come from the mercantile class. To award the writers of antiquity the same value as the Bible, Christianity became unrecognizable in those men; the juxtaposition of both schools had to lead to indifference and finally to the attack on Christian morality and the ecclesiastical institutions, a step taken by Lorenzo Valla, a sort of Protestant to the letter. Yet in the moment of ecstasy for humanism with antiquity, at the moment when its cult becomes an exquisite courtesan game, it reverts to being conservative and reactionary: technicians like Leonardo, the men who best represent the spirit of modernity, will view as charlatans those gentlemen who passed their time arguing in the Academy, those pedants who had turned their backs on popular language in favor of the vain resurrection of Latin, those usurpers called Fortiguerra or Wolfgang Schenk who became, with grandiosity, Carteromachus and Lupambulus Ganimedes. In this manner, humanism moves from the theme of liberty to the theme of dogma, the dogma of antiquity. And from revolution it moves to reaction. As for the bourgeois, he had emerged as the realist, worrying about only what was before his nose, not confiding in any abstraction. Yet modern science is not a matter of levers and wheels: it is necessary to unite the facts in a rational and abstract scheme. Therefore, paradoxically, positive science cannot emerge without the help of the Church, while meanwhile its technical and utilitarian side derives from the bourgeoisie, its theoretical side, the idea of a rationality of the Universe (without which no science is possible) derives from the scholastics. In this way, the bourgeoisie have scarcely arrived at the level of science, making the theme of abstraction their own, which characterized the scholastics, but channeling it to their purposes, uniting it with concrete and useful knowledge, lashing it to the temporal powers of the machine and capitalism and, through use of number, to the theme of beauty in proportion, typical of humanism. And thus, in this brief Pythagorean reign, we hear the last part of a complex sectional, wherein all the initial themes appear complicated and interwoven in such a way that one can barely distinguish Plato from Aristotle, the practical concerns of metaphysics and the scholastic aridity of concrete intuition. But this is still not all. In addition to Christianity, there are two forces that complicate even more the renascent process: the Dionysian and the Gothic. As Jung says, the cultural process consists in a progressive domination of the animal in the person, a process of domestication that cannot be fulfilled without rebellion on the part of the natural animal, anxious for liberty. From time to time, a sort of drunkenness accrues to humanity, that has found entrance by way of the culture. Antiquity experienced that drunkenness in the Dionysian orgies, overflowing the Orient, which comprised an essential and characteristic element of classical culture. According to the law of inantiodromia or counter-current, once established by Heraclitus, everything proceeds towards its opposite, so Dionysian orgy had to be followed, fatally, by the stoic ideal and later the asceticism of Mitra and of Christ; until with the Renaissance, a new tumultuous and adolescent enthusiasm assumes rule of the human spirit. This Dionysian spirit explains the duplicity of many great men of the Renaissance, which in certain cases is almost a neurosis. We have a simple example in science: neither Leonardo, nor any of his precursors, had a systematic idea of rationality. Throughout the Renaissance there is a struggle between magic and science, between the desire to violate the natural order--and how sexual is even the expression!--and the conviction that power can only be acquired by respecting that order. In one of his aphorisms, Leonardo says: "Nature never breaks its own laws"; yet in one of his demiurgical outbursts, arrogantly exclaims: "I want to perform miracles!" It is probable that your consciousness would think at that instant of "scientific" miracles, but it is certain that his unconscious dreamt of genuine miracles. The Renaissance is saturated in witchcraft. The work of the alchemists and astrologers is eminently of the Renaissance, and not a little of the chemistry and the astrology of our time has its origin in those wild researches. The Renaissance is demoniacal, for the same reason it seeks dominion of the earth. Roger Bacon, the doctor mirabilis, father of our experimental science, made mention of a powerful magician: condensing the air, he had constructed a thirty-mile bridge between England and the continent, and had passed over it with his whole entourage, evaporating it behind him. In art similar things happen: the doubleness of the Renaissance spirit explains that sort of neurotic dissatisfaction we can seem to intuit in the work of so many Renaissance artists, and perhaps in the greatest - in Michelangelo's anguished and romantic sculpture, as in Botticelli's ineffable and melancholy painting. As Berdiaeff has profoundly indicated, western man cannot now return naively to nature, in the state of will of the Greek, because in between has come Christianity; and thus, while the ancients achieved perfection in art, the Renaissance always suffered the effects of that radical doubling of the spirit: profane impetus, Christian inheritance. In the men of 1400 one senses the yearning for classical perfection, never more to be attainable: the dissociation that the Christian conscience has established between the divine and the terrestrial life, between the eternal and the perishable, will never again be overcome over the course of our history. This dissociation is more intense in the Germanic countries than in Italy, because it was an ancient nation, and it is not surprising that in it even the popes themselves would have succumbed to the profane attitude. The Gothic eruption is the other and powerful force of modernity, a force that now hidden, now exposed, will cause the basic conflict of our civilization to be more dramatic, until ending first with the Protestant Reformation and later with the romantic and existential rebellion. In Gothic architecture, anxiously reaching upwards, incapable of Greco-Latin measure and perfection, Berdiaeff sees the materialization of that conflict in the European soul, having that aspect of impossibility which is the characteristic mark of all Christian culture. In sum, if by Renaissance we consider not the mere, narrow and false concept of the humanists but the beginning of modern times, we must see it as the awakening of profane man but in a world profoundly transformed by the Gothic and the Christian. As a civilization that simultaneously produces palaces in the ancient style and Gothic cathedrals, petty bourgeois anticlericals like Valla and religious spirits like Michelangelo, realistic and satirical literature like Boccaccio and a vast Christian drama like the Divine Comedy. Let us forget once and for all the old formulae of the humanists, for whom the Renaissance was nothing but a return to antiquity, as if a similar miracle had ever been produced; let us forget their theories about the aberration of Gothic art and consider that the Gothic cathedrals were really the heart of many bourgeois communities which develop at the beginning of the first Crusade. We shall only understand the complexity of the Renaissance and the dramatic dualism of our time if we admit that our time was born from the interaction of two peoples of distinct race and traditions. Italy never completely lost the notion of being an ancient people, nor ever forgot the Greco-Latin splendor, which endured in the ruins of her forums, in her aqueducts and semi-ruined statues; and just as many of us dream of the unrecoverable instants of infancy, so the Italians imagined that from that melancholy universe of ruins the portentous past could really re-emerge. Given that in the Scandinavian cities, formed in turn from the feudal fortresses, the emergence of the new civilization was being realized with more barbaric and modern features, with the most typical characteristics of modern capitalism. Yet at the same time, apparently paradoxically, they would be the womb of the most violent reactions against the new civilization: romanticism and existentialism. II The abstract universe THE GIGANTIC VORTEX BEGINNING with the discovery of America, the combined action of capitalism and of science begins to embrace the entire world. With growing speed, after four centuries they will become a giant vortex that will flatten human beings like leaves in a storm. Gold rules over the discovery: "The sea ripples on a continent and 29 golden islands, upon a blue background five gold anchors, the tip of the shield coated in gold." These are the arms which the Admiral had made and they seem to leave no doubt as to his central preoccupation. But, if any remains, he affirms thereabout that with the gold "one can even escort souls to Paradise." His contemporary Leonardo writes: "O human misery, to how much do you submit for money!" And in his somber prophecies, adds: "There will come, from obscure and sinister caverns, something that will bring all humanity great wishes and dangers and even its demise. To its henchmen, after many trials, it will bring contentment; but one who is not its partisan will die overcome by the calamity... It will cause infinite treasons; it will settle on men, persuading them that they should commit assassination, larceny and perfidy; this will finally be doubted even by its partisans; it will enslave the free cities; it will deprive many of life; it will afflict men with its deceits, tricks and treasons." The affluence of the riches of the Indies accelerated the capitalist process in Europe and the centralization of the monarchies. During the Hundred Years War, the feudal fortresses had become nests for thieves and adventurers, ultimately reduced to knightly anachronism but of the impoverished and rabid variety. The feudal aristocracy succumbed before the monarchic-capitalist power. The great central powers needed great sums of money to their bureaucracies and armies, and those sums could only be given them by the great leaders of finance; the centralization of political power thus resulted in the counterpart figure of the centralized financier. There is Jacques Coeur--lovely name for a usurer!--an individual without a dime who aligns with a ruined merchant to mint coins destined for Charles VII, in exchange for mineral concessions. He exports silver to the Orient, imports gold, accumulates fantastic benefits, takes over leases on the mines of the crown, makes small loans at fifty percent, finances wars and profits from them in his particular situation. There is Jacob Fuccar, a businessman of Augsburg. The gentlemen need money. What can they give in guarantee? Their lands, all that they possess. But those lands possess valuable metals, completely useless for those persons who do not control the capital to exploit them. Fuccar takes charge of it, will finance the princes of Hapsburg and when Maximilian I assumes the imperial crown, the Fuccar family will remain indissolubly united to the ascendant power of his family. Such that in 1519, Fuccar pays more than anyone for electors and decides the election against Francisco I and in favor of Charles V. Not out of sympathy: in the interest of his mines. The discovery of America and the Reformation accelerated the rhythm: greater riches, huge markets and sources of primary materials, and the Calvinist ethic: wealth is nothing suspect but instead is the sign of divine favor. Italy has been left behind: it is Catholic and has no iron and coal mines. And civilization, from now on, is going to be the civilization of steel and of steam. To the development of capitalism there corresponded a parallel development of industry. And the advance of scientific knowledge was a counterpoint in this process, in a complex reciprocal movement: technical necessities forced the advances in pure science and those brought new possibilities to technology. TOWARDS POWER THROUGH ABSTRACTION Money and reason endow man with secular power not despite abstraction but because of it. The idea that power is united to physical force and to matter is the belief of persons without imagination. For them, a bludgeon is more effective than a logarithm, a gold ingot is more valuable than a certificate of exchange. But the truth is that the human empire multiplied from the moment when logarithms began to replace bludgeons, and letters of exchange the gold ingots. A scientific law augments its domain by including more facts, by generalizing. But it generalizing it becomes more abstract, because the concrete is lost along with the particular. Einstein's theory is more powerful than that of Newton, because it rules over a wider territory, yet for that reason is more abstract. Concerning the accomplishments of Newton one can still refer to anecdotes with apples, even if apocryphal; with those of Einstein the people can say nothing, for its tensors and geodesics are already too far from their concrete intuitions: they can only worry about its author's violin, or his mane. The same with the economy: to the degree that capitalism develops is instruments they become more powerful, but more abstract: the power of a stockbroker who speculates with a grain she had never seen is infinitely greater than that of the peasant who grew it. It should not surprise us that capitalism should be linked to abstraction, because it is engendered not by industry but from commerce; not from the artisan, routine, realistic and static but instead from the merchant adventurer, who is imaginative and dynamic. Industry produces concrete things, but commerce interchanges those things, and the interchange always has the germ of abstraction, given that it is a sort of metaphorical exercise which depends on the identification of distinct entities through the stripping of their concrete attributes. The person who trades a sheep for a sack of flour performs a wholly abstract exercise; it does not matter that the physical needs that drive them to exercise that interchange be concrete - like hunger, thirst or the need to procreate; what is decisive is that this interchange is only possible thanks to an act of abstraction, to a sort of mathematical equalization of a sheep with a sack of flour; and both objects are traded not despite their differences but instead because of them. Interchange always leads to identification and this to abstraction, as much in the economy as in science, as much in poetry as in philosophy. Think of metaphor, and of that type of great metaphor of the entire Universe such as the Apeiron. It occurs to me that the facility of the Jewish people to move in the world of abstractions--they have more mathematicians than painters--could have originated in their forced mobility and in their required urban and commercial tendencies. The logarithms, finally, end being imposed over the bludgeons, the abstract concludes by dominating the concrete. It was not the machines which unleashed the capitalist power, but instead financial capitalism that subjected industry to its influence. THE MATHEMATICAL GHOST Before the infinite riches of the material world, the founders of positive science selected the quantifiable attributes: mass, weight, geometric form, position, velocity. And they arrived at the belief that "nature is written in mathematical characters" when what was written in mathematical characters was not nature but instead...the mathematical structure of nature. A platitude so ingenious as that of affirming the skeletons of animals always have skeletal features. It was not, then, infinitely rich nature that those scientists expressed with mathematical language, but merely their Pythagorean ghost. What we knew of reality that way was more or less like that which an inhabitant of Paris can come to know of Buenos Aires by examining her guide, her map and her telephone book; or more exactly, what one deaf from birth can intuit of a sonata by examining its score. The root of this fallacy lies in that our civilization is dominated by quantity which has ended in it seeming to us that the only real is the quantifiable, everything else being a pure and deceitful illusion of our senses. A typical example of this mental process constitutes the Principle of Inertia, intuited by Leonardo and discovered--or invented?--by Galileo. If you push a ball bearing upon a horizontal table, with a certain force, the ball moves for a certain time, until stopping because of friction. Galileo concludes: on an infinitely extensive and smooth surface, free from friction, the movement would persist throughout all eternity. This is a demonstration of how scientists are capable of delivering themselves to the most unchecked imagination, instead of being constrained, as they pretend, by the facts. The facts indicate, conservatively, that the movement of the sphere ceases, sooner or later. But the scientist is not daunted and declares that this cessation is due to the disagreeable tendency of nature to not be Platonic. Yet just as mathematical law confers power and as the man tends to confound the truth with power, so everyone believed that the mathematicians had the key to reality. And they adored them. Even more the less they understood them. The Poet tells us: The air smells of the garden and sends 1,000 scents to the senses; the trees bow down with a gentle rustle that causes forgetting of gold and scepter. But Scientific Analysis is depressing: like men enrolling in a penitentiary, the sensations are converted to numbers: the green of the trees occupies a band in the luminous spectrum around 5,000 Angstrom units; the gentle rustle is captured by microphones and decomposed into a set of waves characterized by a number; regarding forgetting gold and the scepter, they remain outside the jurisdiction of science, being not fully reducible to numbers. The world of science ignores values. A geometry that rejected the Pythagorean theorem for being perverse would have more chances of being admitted to an insane asylum than a congress of mathematicians. Nor does a phrase like, "I believe in the principle of conservation of energy" make scientific sense. Many scientists make affirmations of this variety, but that is due to them construing science simply as persons, with their feelings and passions, not as pure scientists. In the elaboration of science man operates with that intricate mix of pure ideas, feelings and prejudices that characterizes his condition; researches aroused by manias of grandeur, by ethical or aesthetic preconceptions, by obstinacy or by that vain self-love that likes to call itself Love of Humanity. Yet although feelings or value judgments intervene in the elaboration of the science, that has nothing to do with existing science. Giordano Bruno was burned for uttering exalted phrases in favor of the infinitude of the Universe, and it is explicable that he may have suffered the ordeal in his role as poet; but it is difficult to think that he may have suffered it in his role as man of science, for in such a case he would have died for a phrase out of context. The demise of Bruno belongs to the History of Persecutions and even to the History of Science; yet never to science itself. In this manner the world of the trees, the beasts and the flowers, men and their passions, was becoming a mix comprised of sinusoids, logarithms, Greek letters, triangles, and probability waves. And, what is worse: in nothing more than that. Any consequential scientist would refuse to take into consideration that which could be beyond the mere mathematical structure: if she does so, she ceases being a person of science at the same instant, so as to become religious, metaphysical, a poet. Strict science--mathematizable science--is foreign to all that is most valuable to the human being: their emotions, their feelings, their experiences of art or of justice, their metaphysical anxieties. If the mathematizable world were the only true one, not only would a dreamt castle be illusory, with its ladies and minstrels: so also would be the stages of the cross, the beauty of a Schubert lied, love. Or at least that in them which moves us would be illusory. THE HUMAN PUPPET The actual universe, stripped of its "secondary" attributes, was left reduced to matter and movement. And all movement was the resultant of a previous configuration of the Universal Particles which, eternally and blindly, move in an endless process. It was causality without eyes, absolute determinism. The Marquis of Laplace expressed this idea in its classic form: "Should we, then, consider the present state of the Universe as the effect of its preceding state, and as the cause of the state that will follow it. An intelligence which at a given instant might know all the forces that animate nature and the different positions of the entities comprising it--if furthermore its intellect were vast enough to subject all this data to (mathematical) analysis--could include in the same formula the movements of the largest bodies in the Universe and those of the tiniest atoms. Nothing would be uncertain for it. Before its vision the future would be present no less than the past. This doctrine does not imply abandonment of the idea of God, although many mechanists--more enthusiasts than logicians--became atheists. I think it was also Laplace who, interrogated by Napoleon about the place of God in his system, responded: --Excellency: that hypothesis is unnecessary for me. Yet neither Kepler, nor Galileo, nor Newton, nor Maupertuis stopped believing in that Hypothesis. Before, on the contrary, they considered that that admirable mathematical order implied the existence of a Supreme Being who had imposed it, a Sublime Engineer who had organized it and placed the formidable Machine in gear. The success of the mechanical-mathematical conception of nature led inexorably to its generalization. Leonardo already wanted to replace living beings with mechanisms. Later came the attempts of Descartes, the fad for robots and the project of locating the soul in a gland. For Descartes, the soul was in the pineal gland and the nerves pulled on it like a rope on a bell: the soul handled the external stimuli like the owner of a house upon the arrival of visitors. Descartes' entire philosophy is the expression of a physico-mathematical mentality. For him, knowledge consists of converting the obscure and confused into the clear and distinct. But, what is the clear and distinct for this philosopher? The quantitative, the measurable. It is not strange, then, that on confronting the problem of life he renders it clear and distinct mechanizing it, placing the soul in a belltower. Regarding the sentiments and passions, and all that is not rational thought, he eliminates them, calling them obscure and confused ideas: analyzing them, the truly thoughtful man shall live calmly, free from emotion, beneath the sole control of the intellect. A lovely project for future man! In one way or another, mechanical determinism extended itself from its proper domain into the territory of the human soul, discarding free will: liberty and the will were nothing more than simply illusions, due to our ignorance of the infinite causes that rule the movement of the Universal Clock. And as a thinker has said, not only my bones and my flesh, my growth and my physical demise, but the whole set of my desires, hopes, fears, and emotions will be the ultimate result of a certain arrangement of the universal particulars: blind, eternal and fatal. All the work of the ages, all the devotion and inspiration, all the brilliance of human genius, are destined for extinction in the vast demise of the physical universe. And the entire temple of human creation will inevitably be buried next to the remains of the Universe in Ruins. The Persian poem had already expressed it: With the first clay of the earth the flesh of the last mortal was made, and later, for the final harvest the seed was cast: yes, that written in the first aurora of life will be read the last night of expiation. THE NEW FETISHISM Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries there was propagated, finally, a true superstition towards science, which is quite singular because it is like saying that the superstition was unleashed that one should not be superstitious. Yet it was inevitable: science had become a new magic and the man on the street believed in it more the less he understood it. The reduction of the Universe to Matter-in-Movement gave rise to the oddest doctrines. First was the intent to localize the soul in a gland. Later, the investigation of the soul with protractors and compasses; while some tried with such apparatuses to measure the intelligence and sensibility; others, like Fechner, organized parades of men past different rectangles, to statistically decide the essence of beauty; and others, lastly, briefly exposed a film to the glance of a subject, noting the reaction time taken with a chronometer. At the same time, Gall and Lavater perpetrated their phrenology and their physiognomy - O, spirit of Balzac! And upon reaching the 20th century, Pavlov measured a dog's salivation before a slab of meat, with and without torture. What one wants to demonstrate here is how it came to dominate the mentality of science and how it fell into the most grotesque extremes when applied in areas distant from the actual material. And the curious, yet explicable paradox that its most fanatical defenders would be those who know it least. In the final analysis, the first who in the 20th century began to doubt science were the mathematicians and physicists: such that when the world began to have a blind faith in scientific knowledge, its most advanced pioneers began to doubt it. Compare the caution of certain physicists like Eddington with the certainty of a doctor, who uses all sorts of waves and rays with the impassive tranquility provided by his total ignorance. Behind such apparatuses, whose functioning is for him a profound mystery, are the potions of the poor devil who continues healing according to old superstitions; without noticing that the greater part of contemporary therapy consists in superstitions that have received Greek names. If in 1900 a healer cured through suggestion, the doctors would laugh, because in that time they believed only in material things, like a muscle or a bone; today the same superstition is practiced under the name of "psychosomatic medicine." But at bottom there subsists in them the fetishism of the machine, of reason and matter, and they pride themselves in the great triumphs of their science, for the sole deed of having replaced the scourge of smallpox with that of cancer. The central fallacy in existing medicine derives from that false philosophical basis of the three past centuries, from the naive separation between soul and body, from the candid materialism which led to seeking all disease in the somatic. The man is not a simple physical object, deprived of a soul; nor even a simple animal: he is an animal who not only has a soul but a spirit, and is the first of the animals to have modified his own medium through the work of the culture. As such, it is an equilibrium--unstable-- between one's own body and their physical and cultural medium. A disease is perhaps the rupture of that equilibrium, which at times can be provoked by a somatic impulse and at others by a mental, spiritual or social impulse. It is not improbable that modern illnesses like cancer are due essentially to the imbalance produced by technology and modern society between the man and his environment. Geologic changes provoked the disappearance of entire species; and just as the great reptiles could not survive the transformations that occurred at the end of the mesozoic period, it could happen that the human species might be incapable of enduring the catastrophic changes of the contemporary world. For those changes are so terrible, so profound and above all so vertiginous, that those which caused the disappearance of the reptiles seem comparatively insignificant. Man has not had time to adapt to the brusque and potent transformations that technology and society have produced around him and it is not risky to claim that a good part of modern diseases are the ways by which the cosmos are fighting back to eliminate this prideful human species. Man is the first animal who has created his own environment. Yet --ironically--he is the first animal who in this fashion is destroying himself. Seen in this way, the mechanization of the West is the most vast, spectacular and sinister initiative to exterminate the human race. With the addition that this initiative is the work of those same human beings. THE GREAT ILLUSION OF PROGRESS The advance of technology caused the birth of the dogma of General and Unlimited Progress, the doctrine of Better and Bigger. Everything that had been obscurity, from fear to pestilence, would be illuminated by Science. It did not matter that some zones of reality, like the social, still presented disagreeable aspects: now Reason and Inventions would find the form of resolving those difficulties, and would dominate the forces of the society like they had dominated those of nature. In the 19th century the enthusiasm reached a climax: on one side electricity and the steam engine manifested man's unlimited power; on the other, Darwin's doctrine arrived to confirm the general idea of progress. Were we not superior to the monkey? The Man of the Future awaited, then, an even more brilliant unfolding. The theory seemed to be a decisive attack on Christian orthodoxy and on the fable of the creation in six days, until someone pointed out that to God it cost the same to create the world with fossils as without fossils. Would she not have wanted to test the faith of men by distributing Megatherium skeletons here and there? The height of the doctrine was so violent that it threatened the hegemony of its big brother, mechanism: now even history and philosophy suffered the impact of biologism. Peoples were born, developed and died. Languages had filial or fraternal relations. Words struggled for life and the fittest survived. For a long time the linguists, perplexed and anxious, alternated between the recordings and the monkeys. The final effect of this doctrine in people's mentality was the racism of Hitler. Yet this implication was not foreseen by those liberals. The dogma of Progress was the final phase of the long process of secularization begun in the West at the beginning of the Crusades: the secularization of religious feeling itself. Because this was a sort of lay religion, built on the basis of bourgeois morality, the cult of Reason and of Fraternity, of belief in a Better Humanity. From that era derives that type of scientist who believes in the unification of humanity through Science, though until now it may not have served for more than their mutual destruction. That type of scientists who, horrified before the effects of the atomic bomb--which in the final analysis they invented--extol the union of the peoples on a basis of tolerance and collective well-being. But these candid geniuses are more effective in the fabrication of the bomb than in the realization of that utopia where seemingly the wolf would be alongside the lamb taking a class in Electronics. These learned ones are the ultimate examples of that paradoxical mundane religion, which also has had its Pharisaism and its clericalism. Yet most surprising is that over such a long time they have been unable to believe in that religion. It is easy, in effect, to prove the superiority of the airplane over the cart, but how to demonstrate moral or political progress? Comte and Spencer expressed the doctrine in quite an abstract form but, at root, as Aldous Huxley observes, it reduces to supposing that the persons in top hat who ride in trains are incapable of perpetrating the things that the Turks did to the Armenians in the obscure times which preceded the discovery of the Steam Engine. Comte was the inventor of the word altruism, and imagined that wars would become more rare with the advance of science and that industry would ensure the peace and universal happiness. With regard to the engineer Spencer, he was the philosopher of evolution and of liberalism: his system starts with the nebulous primitive and culminates in the most perfected social institutions. THE MECHANIZED PARADISE The United States are the direct and pure result of the European capitalist expansion, which could be realized without spatial or traditional hindrances in the vast virgin territory of America to the north. There there emerged from nothing capitalist cities, which from their very origin carried to seal of quantity and of functionalism, to the point of numbering their streets. Thus it became the country of serial manufacture, serial diversions, serial assassinations: because even the romantic bands of fugitive Sicilians there become capitalist syndicates. Men who inhabit "machines for living," constructed in cities dominated by electronic tubes, have invented that strange science called cybernetics that rules the physiology of the "electronic brains" and which, in days to come, will serve to control the armies of robots. In that nation it has come to not only measuring colors and odors but also the feelings and emotions. And those measures, conveniently tabulated, have been placed in the service of the mercantile enterprises. In a book titled How to Advertise to Sell by W. B. Dygert, appears a table in which are classified between 0 and 10 the power of attraction of advertisements, according to the feelings they utilize: Hunger: 9.2 Love of children: 9.1 Sexual attraction: 8.9 Affection for parents: 8.9 Respect for God: 7.1 Warmth: 6.5 Fear: 6.2 The means become the ends. The watch, which arose to help man, has been converted today into an instrument to torture them. Before, when one felt hungry, they glanced at their watch to see what time it was; now they consult it to know whether we are hungry. The speed of our communications has valorized even fractions of a minute and has transformed man into a crazed puppet who depends on the advance of the second hand. The theorists of mechanism maintained that the machine, by liberating man from manual tasks, would leave more free time for the activities of the spirit. That was the theory. In practice things turned out the reverse: every day we are more hurried and dispose of less time. The bosses, or the Bosses' State, sought a way to increase the yield through the densification of human labor: every second, every movement of the operator, was utilized to the maximum and the man was finally transformed into one more gear in the great capitalist or state machinery. We do not fool ourselves concerning the possibility of escaping this destiny, while the mechanistic mentality persists. If many regions have not yet reached these extremes it is, simply, because there was not sufficient time. This is the case for India, China and some countries in South America, in which time kept running "naturally," because capitalism or communism have not yet achieved total domination. Even here in our campaign, in some Andean or sierra provinces, this feudal sense of time and of leisure still rules, where people are ruled by the natural rhythm of the stars and seasons: and we are listless Creoles in the mirror and the shared "máte" marks the idle hours, says Borges. I myself still recall what the pampas of my youth were, the difference between ourselves the Europeans and the "sons of the nation," for whom time did not exist except to "kill" it, so as to live quietly and unworried, and to curse us gringos who had come with our factories and watches. But all these are fading memories of a condemned age. Borges' verses are more the expression of his romantic yearning than of his reality, because he himself lives in crazed Buenos Aires and drinks tea. In our great cities the sensation of cosmic time has already disappeared: our tall buildings impede us from following the waxing and the waning of the moon, the march of the constellations, the rising and setting of the sun. TOWARDS IGNORANCE THROUGH SCIENCE The dogmatists of Progress had imagined that humanity would advance out of Obscurity toward the Light, out of Ignorance towards Knowledge. Yet the reality has been much more complicated, and if that forecast has turned out true for humanity as a whole, it has been diametrically mistaken for the individual man. To the degree that science has advanced towards universality, and thereby toward abstraction, it has distanced itself from the average man, from his intuitions, from his capacity for comprehension. To a moderately cultured man one could give a comprehensible explanation of Newton's theory. But every time that that same man begins to read an explanation covering the theory of Einstein, he stops understanding at the precise instant that one commences to say something important; while one speaks to him of trains, whistles and station chiefs, while we are still in the domain of everyday things, the man still thinks he understands something; but now he understands nothing when one begins with the ideas which properly comprise the new theory. And one need not fool themself with the belief that at last they have understood Einstein's doctrine because newspaper X has explained it in the Sunday supplement in simple terms: be assured that, in this case, what has been understood is something else. The same warning applies to quantum theory, which when it is correct is not understood by any living man and it is apocryphal when at last it shall be within reach. A good part of the misunderstandings that have affected these theories even in the field of philosophy are due to that unfortunate condition. Our everyday language has been formed under the pressure of the everyday world: human beings, furniture, transportation vehicles, emotions, books, illnesses. But when science advanced toward the infinitely large and towards the infinitely small, none of these words was now apt for designating the new entities. And the insistence on wanting to express the content of Einstein's theory solely with use of words like "train" and "station master" is as grotesque as the insistence on wanting to repair a radio apparatus with the sole use of a hammer and pliers. And when we say that the theory of relativity is no longer within grasp of the average man, by "average man" we do not refer to the vulgar citizen of the streets but to one who has not had a specialized education in theoretical physics after her secondary studies. From the doctors to the historians are in this situation, from the humanists who can read Plato in Greek to the regular philosophers. In other times, a cultivated man was he who knew the cosmogony of the pre-Socratics. Today, the educated man is generally one who continues to know the cosmogony of the pre-Socratics yet ignores that of Einstein. This is the cruel and paradoxical conclusion of the scientific advance. To the men of universal spirit only remains the melancholy longing for those times when l'uomo universale was still possible. The present knowledge is in the hands of the specialists, who constitute the new magic. Reason--the motor of science--has unleashed a new irrational faith, for the average man, incapable of comprehending the mute and imposing parade of abstract symbols, having supplanted comprehension with admiration and the fetishism of the new magic. Because its initiates also have the Power and a power that is more fearsome the less it is understood: from the esoteric equations, the specialist descends to the most terrible arms of modern war - ultrasonic waves to localize submarines, telemeters for the artillery, ultra- short waves to guide missiles, infrared waves to see in the dark, rockets with jet propulsion, bombers and tanks and, finally, the atomic explosives. In this manner, the common man lives subjugated to the dominion of science and in adoration of the new rites. In this manner ignorance has returned, after a brief transit through the century of lights. But to an infinitely richer and more vast ignorance, because it is not the negative of the science of an Aristotle, but instead of the combined science of Einstein, Pavlov, Freud, Russell, Carnap, Poincaré, Husserl, Heidegger, and Whitehead. And the more imposing is the tower of knowledge and the more dreadful the power encased there, the more insignificant is the man on the street, the more insecure their loneliness. THE SUPERSTATE In the 20th century, the world was reaching the ultimate consequences of a technolatrous civilization. Capitalism tends to create emerging capital, which stimulates industrial concentration, which in turn is the cause of a monstrous expansion of the cities. The final steps--already taken in various countries--will be the nationalization of the bank, of industry, of transport, of communications, and of information. The state will have become, ultimately, a gigantic boss who administers the sum of the public power and all the media of coercion and of persuasion. We already saw that the unification is abstracting. And just as science led to a mathematical ghost of reality, capitalism led to a phantasm society, composed of man-things, stripped of their concrete elements, of all the individual attributes that could prejudice the functioning of the Great Machinery. This unification is accomplished through thick and thin, generally by virtue of a combination of both methods, with an adequate mix of prizes, legal sanctions, hunger, prison, concentration camps, faith, sports, radio, movies, and newspapers. Science provides the state with enormous resources for the task: from the lacrimogenic gases to radiotelegraphy. James Mill, in better olden days, imagined that when everyone would know how to read and write the reign of Reason and of Democracy would be assured forever. Poor James Mill! Open schools, "educate for sovereignty," et cetera, et cetera. But, to teach what? It suffices to recall that the most learned people of the world were the Germans. It is strange that there still are people who continue believing in that myth. It is strange as well that one keeps having faith in Public Opinion, as if this fetish cannot be created at will through Propaganda. Public opinion continues to be who imposes governments...but it turns out that these governments are those who create Public Opinion. I believe this truth has never been confessed with more cynical candor than in the Moskowsky Bolchevik (number 4, year 1947): "The Soviet state determines the conduct and the activity of the Soviet citizens in various ways. It educates the Russian people in the spirit of communist morality, in accord with a system that establishes a series of legal norms which regulate the life of the population, imposing prohibitions, dispensing rewards and punishments. The Soviet state, with all its power, oversees the fulfillment of these norms. The conduct and the activity of the Soviet people is also determined by the force that emanates from public opinion, created by the activity of numerous public organizations. The Communist Party and the Soviet state carry out the principal role in the formation of this public opinion through diverse media, with which formation of the environment and education of the workers in a spirit consistent with socialist consciousness are attained. This is what is called dialectic. The demagogue Anito had no other resource for diffusion than his own voice, and nevertheless convinced the masses that Socrates should drink the hemlock. And the masses, which some think the source of all reason and justice, caused the greatest man of Greece to drink hemlock. Imagine what contemporary demagogues can do with radio and the press in their hands. Thus, through the totalizing resources of science, the desideratum of modern society is obtained, which is something like Taylorism applied to the entire society. In Russia they call it Stajanovism and consider it excellent, because they say it is in the service of socialism; yet in practice it is as difficult to see the differences existing between Taylor and Stajánov as that which exists between the Soviet press and that of any totalized capitalist nation. In the same manner that science ends by considering "secondary" qualities as mere illusions, in the totalitarian society individual traits are reduced to disdained superficialities. This attitude favored the slavery of classes and entire races, mass torture, scientific killing. In antiquity they took out the prisoners' eyes or quartered them alive; but that was human, because it was done in the midst of a savage and personal struggle. In Germany, the horrors were committed in true deathcamps, mechanized and impersonal. The Prussian state received its grounding from the Hegelian system and when the policy beat the workers it was done with the tranquility of conscience that a German has when they knows that it is guaranteed by a Professor. Marx admired Hegel as a master but recriminated him for his ideological support for the Prussian state. Notwithstanding, Hegel's Russian disciples found that own state on the philosophy of Marx. The state is, in general, a bad thing; but if it is to found itself upon a Philosophical System, may God and the history of philosophy save us! TOMB OF THE MAN/THING Massification suppresses individual desires, because the Superstate needs interchangeable person-things, as replacements for the machinery. And in the best of cases, it will enable the collective desires, in massification of the instincts: it shall construct gigantic stadiums and, at the same time as it thus creates vast capitalist enterprises, weekly channeling the instincts of the masses into a single voice, with synchronic regularity. Through journalism, radio, film, and collective sports, the people enervated by routine can give way to a sort of illusion, to the collective realization of a Great Dream. Such that on fleeing the factories where they are slaves to the machine, they will enter into the illusory domain created by other machines: radios and projectors. We have here the sad end of Renaissance man. The machine and the science that had been proudly launched against the exterior world, in order to dominate and conquer it, now turn against them, dominating and conquering them with one more object. Science and the machine kept distancing themselves toward a mathematical Olympus, leaving the man to whom they had given life alone and helpless. Triangles and steel, logarithms and electricity, sinusoids and atomic energy, strangely united with the most mysterious and demoniacal forms of money, ultimately constitute the Great Mechanism, in which the human beings ended by being obscure and impotent pieces. Until war breaks out, which the person-things anxiously await because they imagine a great liberation from routine. But once again they will be the playthings of a horrendous paradox, because modern war is another mechanized enterprise. From the factory where a single motion is executed, or from the anonymous position of the bureaucratic juggling priorities, or from the bottom of a laboratory where as a modest Kafka-esque employee she passes her life measuring spectrographic plates and piling up thousands of indifferent numbers, the person-thing is identified with a number, to a squadron, a company, a regiment, a division, and an identically numbered army. And in which a Greater State, as invisible as the Tribunal in a Kafka-esque process, moves the pieces as in monstrous chess, with the help of mathematical maps, telemeters and aerial photo-diagrammatic reliefs. Guided by telephones and radios, the person-thing will rise towards positions identified with letters and numbers. And when one dies due to an anonymous bullet they are interred in a geometric cemetery. One out of the many is taken to a symbolic tomb which receives the meaningful name, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Which is like saying: Tomb of the Man/Thing. III Man's rebellion THE DIALECTIC OF THE CRISIS IF HISTORY did not comprise a process of counterpoised forces in constant interaction, one could establish the following series of antimonies: ITALIAN RENAISSANCE - GERMANIC RENAISSANCE classic - romantic logic - life rationalism - irrationalism limitation - limitlessness finite - infinite static - dynamic clear - obscure day - night ESSENCE - EXISTENCE Yet in reality these antimonies do not remain as such but generate and multiply in a reciprocal and incessant game. Not even Italy of the Renaissance was free from Gothic ingredients, nor were the German nations foreign to the prestige of antiquity. Modernity has resulted, rather, as the dialectical synthesis of those concepts, as a simple examination of the bourgeoisie, the essence of modern times, demonstrates: precociously arisen in Italy, it later moves to become the decisive element for the Germanic peoples and the Anglo- Saxons; imbued with rationalism they have to generate, through its limitlessness and its dynamism, the contrary concept. As we see, this element of modernity runs alternately down the two columns of the antimonies. Thus, as we have said, naturalism culminates in the machine, which is its opposite; and vitalism in abstraction and the individualist spirit in the massification of our times. From the very beginning of the process the forces of reaction were growing, until over the last two centuries the spirits emerge into full consciousness which revive a new naturalism, a new vitalism and a new individualism. It is true that Italy had an ancient basis and, as such, the Italian Renaissance belongs more on the left of our antimonies. Yet Italian capitalism never would have been born with the simple resurrection of Greco-Latin antiquity. The Greeks professed a static and finite conception of reality, and a good part of the Italian Renaissance felt their influence; yet, as we saw, the problem was complicated by the apparition of Christianity and by the Gothic ingredient. Christian religion is a syncretism of Greek philosophy with dynamic Jewish and Manichean elements; and thus, from its very origins, in its breast two counterpoised forces will contend: depending upon the era, the peoples and the persons who adopted it, Christianity distributed its emphasis between contemplation and action, between essence and existence; at times this conflict can be seen in the same man, as in the case of Pascal, who begins with geometry and concludes as a mystic; and in this spiritual latitude resides the biggest force in this religion, for every time it seems on the point of collapsing, a new existential impulse renews its structure. Christianity's spiritual and existential dynamic ignited with maximum force among the Gothic peoples, creating in this way the Germanic counterpoint to the modern world, without whom it would be impossible to comprehend the problem of our crisis. Without the cultural tradition of Italy, those peoples erupted into civilization with a more barbarous and modern character, with a pure mercantile impulse and imbued with a dynamic and semi-Judaic Christianity which facilitated its powerful development. And that dynamic and irrationalist element also breathed in the Germanic spirits who arose against the modern society that engendered them: in the romantics and the existentialists. Romanticism is a rebellion against science and capitalism: it opposes the individual to the mass, the past to the future, the countryside to the city, nature to the machine. In its cult of the individual it is, then, a return to the ideals of the Renaissance. But in its insurrection against science and capitalism, it relates to the medieval spirit. Lewis Mumford shows how that initiative had to result historically in a disaster. Its representatives were held to be crazy or smothered in ridicule, where driven to alcohol or toward the remote islands of the Pacific. Their messages floated on the vast ocean of the 19th century, until they could be found and fairly interpreted. For the moment was to arrive in which that arrogant civilization would crack under the perplexity of its own operators and, for the first time, those ludicrous prophets would have the possibility of being heard. The revolt against the machine began in the 18th century, when it attained its most resonant triumphs. It began to dream of pre-machine humanity, turned its glance toward the African jungle or to the southern seas, began the descent to popular art, to primitive art, to the creation of children and the insane. The longing for other lands and other times will be seen in the works of Schiller, Goethe, Walter Scott, Hoffman, Stendhal, Lamartine, Chateaubriand, Mérimée. Many artist rise against classicism and dogma. In 1819, in many senses an historic date for art, Géricault releases The Raft of the Medusa, which scandalizes the French public accustomed to the cold and academic painting of David. Géricault, ardent and moving, represents the revolt of the I, the proclamation of the "rights of the heart." After Géricault emerges Delacroix, the man who introduces the painting of our time, mocked, insulted by the Academy, the romantic par excellence. With regard to Nerval, precursor of the surrealist movement, he aspires to penetrate the continent of those dreams, to find the region where reality and daydream merge. The dream, madness and experience--this reiterated theme of the German romantics--were the means they meant to use for that "season in Hell" which later would also be invoked by Rimbaud and the surrealists. MARXISM The world of the machine appeared conjoined to the world of money and the attack against machine-ism assumed the character of a simultaneous attack against capitalism: many romantics, sickened by the mechanical brutality, were delivered to socialism. In this way, while some fled to distant isles or to previous epochs, others attempted new social utopias. Yet science was so co-substantiated with 20th century man that soon those utopias were made in its name, and to the utopian socialism of Fourier and Saint-Simon there followed the "scientific" socialism of Karl Marx. In this genius were combined a profound romanticism and powerful rational penetration, and perhaps a good part of his success was due more to his human quality--that caused him to admire Shakespeare--than to his monumental volumes of Capital. Because if the analysis of the political economy gave his doctrine a scientific flavor, his violent disparagement of the bourgeois spirit, his passion for justice, his love for the dispossessed were in fact the true forces that arranged the working masses behind his banners. And not only the working masses but all spirits from the nobility and the bourgeoisie who felt repugnance for a mercantilized society. And that it was above all those sentiments which created the prodigious revolutionary movement is attested by the fact that an enormous majority of its militants never read Marx's great works. When I was a student, my inclination towards Marxism was due not to the calm reading of Capital but instead to the passionate intuition that the truth was in that movement. Later, now a communist, I read all the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, confirming--naturally--my original intuition, since in all religious movements one must believe in order to see, and not a single case of alienation has occurred for solely intellectual reasons: the causes are more complex and, in every case, of a spiritual nature and not easily reducible to pure reason. The a posteriori proof that Marxism does not rest on simple reason is its survival and even its growth despite its enormous equivocations that mark its trajectory. Its strength, always reborn, lies in that obscure and powerful sense of justice which breathes in the masses and in the best individuals of a society, whatever its social extraction may be. Be that as it may, Marxism appeared and unfolded beneath the sign of science and technique. Paradoxically it was, also, a product of money and reason. And its rise--and this is very significant--was not against the machine but rather against the capitalist use of the machine. It was an attempt to break the fearsome alliance of money and reason, liberating reason and putting it in the service of man, humanizing it. This is a crucial point in the doctrine that we should examine. Lewis Mumford himself--who is not a Marxist--believes in that possibility, and affirms that capitalism should not be confused with machine-ism: in antiquity there was capitalism without machines and one can also conceive of the existence of machines without capital; it is false to attribute to the machine, which is amoral, the sins of the capitalist regime; as it is sophist to attribute to capitalism the merits of the machine. For a long time I too was persuaded of that truth, yet now I begin to think the machine has evils inherent in its very nature. Mumford says it is sophist to attribute to capitalism the advantages of the machine. But, what are they? And what importance do they truly have? It is probable that they have brought some advantages to man, but I think that, blinded by them, we have not noticed the dangers paired with them. It is true that upon inventing ingenious mechanisms and in riding his admirable vehicles man elevated infantile play to a marvelous hierarchy, almost divine. It is true that the conquest of natural forces has a grandeur which elevates that task above coarse utilitarian desires, and that the conquest of the unknown continents, from the sea and from the air, at least had the greatness of the epic poems. Further it is not less certain that great and fearsome forces were engendered underneath this arrogant civilization, dark forces pertaining not to the essence of capitalism but instead to that of machine-ism: not the unemployment, the misery, the industrial Taylorization that are attributes of a society based on money; but instead the mechanization of all of life, the general and profound Taylorization of human beings, every day more dominated by that infernal offspring that has escaped from her hands and which, from some dreadful Olympus, plans the total destruction of humanity between its tentacles of steel and mathematics. Who knows if after all, the worst will be not capitalism but machine-ism. For ancient capitalism was a matter of men, a human enterprise and, like everything truly human, created to its scale, its image and resemblance, and in the final analysis attackable and destroyable by men themselves. While today's machine-ism is a monstrous creation that now holds no resemblance to the beings who launched it into the world, and the gigantic machineries are like metallic concretions of ideal objects, eternal and superhuman, realizations in steel of ideas belonging to the mathematical universe. It was, then, foreseeable that the Marxist doctrine should lead to a society resembling the capitalist, but with the opposite sign. Since between the factory directed by an abstract consortium and that directed by an abstract commissariat the difference is merely linguistic: in both cases we witness the triumph of rationalizing and abstract mentality; in both cases we are before a civilization that has the machine and Science for tutelary gods. Because granting the different meanings of money, what is certain is that with the development of capitalism the concrete and personal character of wealth was disappearing; until when the extreme of state centralization is reached, it is impossible to find the difference between state capitalism and state socialism. It is not by chance that Aldous Huxley was able to make Brave New World the satire of future society blending characteristics of Russia with those of the United States. Yet, why resort to satire when we have the reality? Leaving aside Russian industrial organization, the power of its technology and of its science, and admitting to a large degree that in all those aspects she has reached a level comparable to that of the United States: it is not by offering me an industrial imitation of North America that will make me advocate the Soviet paradise. It may be well that to spice it you may show me automobiles almost as good as the North American. The advantage you would have to offer are in your concept of man, in the exaltation of your spirit, in the elevation of your human condition. Yet when we ask about those values we are shown a people integrated through numbers, a sort of anonymous and squared army, which thinks, desires, loves, speaks, and lives uniformly, as in an immense worm farm. Marx's doctrine, by taking the side of the dispossessed against the exploiters, focused all the desire for justice of the 19th century, constituting a true lay religion, with its faith and its fanaticism. And there appeared two sorts of enemies of Marx: the anti-Marxists and the Marxists. For the most part the anti-Marxists were recruited among people interested in maintaining the state of things. Many crudely confess their desire and have, at least, the value of authenticity. Others, however, revert to the most tortuous paralogisms to pick the worst party and continue well with their conscience. I have heard criticisms of socialism that schematically consist of the following: "Marxist ideas about the electron are mistaken, so socialism is impossible"; with which its authors remained quite tranquil before the fact that millions of human beings live and die like beasts among the colonized peoples. It is as if someone should negate the advantages of evangelical morality because paleontology has proved the existence of dinosaurs and, therefore, the falsity of the Bible. These sophisms are not as infrequent as you could imagine, for hypocritical sophisms multiply when a society has reached the limits of its existence. A Chicago banker denounced the total denaturing of communism in Russia, as if that gentleman could be interested in the true application of its postulates. Yet against this type of contemptible sophist the fanatics of Marx are arrayed, who defend violently--and when they have the power, inquisitorially--the doctrine elaborated a century ago and schematized into its most grotesque extremes. And we encounter the paradox that those who postulate the process claim that with his ideas philosophy has reached the final stage: nothing remains to discuss except matters of detail. For Knowledge is summarized in the Marxist System and that system has an absolute guardian, who by the way is Mariscal, depository of total power, and Infallible Pope at the same time, who dictates excommunications, calls councils of cardinals and is, finally, the Grand Inquisitor. As in all similar movements, those who partially subscribe to his theory are denounced as mortal enemies, infinitely more pernicious than those who deny it altogether. What is certain is that the best allies of a creator are his heterodox disciples; because others, by making rigid and definitive that which in him was living and fluid, by killing and mummifying it, condemn it to criticism and to ridicule, while its enemies in bad faith will focus on an inevitably false part of any doctrine. I do not think it exaggerated to state that the creators themselves have value to the degree that they are heterodox: with respect to their predecessors and with relation to their own doctrine, given that they live and transform it. Marx did not think during his last years as in his youth, and if he had lived until our time he would have altered his doctrine on fundamental points. But naturally, Marx being a heterodox Marxist is not noticed because in the creators of a doctrine any heterodoxy is ipso facto orthodoxy. That Marxism has part of the truth is evidenced by the fact that many persons of spiritual value have passed through its ranks. In a thinker as singular as Berdiaeff his Marxist youth is visible. It is that Marxism signified a powerful moment in history and all the ridiculous grotesqueries expounded by its partisans and usufructs should not obscure that truth. Marx had been a genius, despite what Stalinists affirm. Yet there never has been a genius without mistakes and in a certain sense the power of geniuses is measured by the span of their equivocations. Schopenhauer said of Aristotle that he had been a great historical calamity. But he was so precisely because of his genius, not despite it. Vast lengths of time were dominated by his certitudes, yet also obscured by his errors and, most especially, by the stupidity of his followers. He gave us the logical and good part of the philosophy; but also, two thousand years after his demise, he bequeathed us those professors who refused to look at the satellites of Jupiter from Galileo's telescope, because the master nowhere mentioned them. The most valuable part of Marx's doctrine is, without a doubt, his interpretation of history and of society. Until him a tendency prevailed to study an ideology, a philosophy, an artistic school intrinsically, without relation to the social problems of the day and, above all, with an absolute disdain for the most fundamental factors; it would have seemed a display of bad taste to establish some link between Renaissance painting and the emergence of the bourgeoisie. Once and for all, Marx signaled the importance of the social medium in the problems of the spirit and that methodology has been of incalculable value in later research: a work, for example, like the Sociology of Knowledge of Max Scheler cannot be conceived without the Marxist antecedent. Yet in order to be fruitful, the thinkers who followed Marx should have ridden his methodology of its defects and, in particular, of the excessive importance that he conceded to the purely economic factors of the social medium. It is explicable, nevertheless, that Marx would concede such transcendence to economic forces, for he lived in a society crudely dominated by capitalism. Guizot, in studying the history of France, thought he had found the secret spring in the struggles of the bourgeoisie against the nobility: Saint-Simon confirmed this hypothesis of Guizot's, yet unlike what his predecessor believed concerning the juridical character of that conflict, he held that its essence was economic. This idea was enthusiastically grasped by Marx, but in his enthusiasm he generalized it to all of history: the entire universal historical process is the result of the class struggle and this struggle is, ultimately, the consequence of an economic infrastructure. This dynamic sense of history was structured according to the laws of dialectic, which he had learned as a disciple of Hegel, and combined with the analysis of surplus value from English economics. But the emphasis in the doctrine was placed upon the essential transcendence of the economic factor, given that this was, definitely, what caused the division of society into classes and the class struggle is the secret motor of this historical process. All the complex set of institutions, doctrines, religions, and political systems, all the confused variety in ways of feeling and thinking comprise, according to Marx, superstructures that rest on that economic structure of the society, the true secret plot of historical movement. It is true--he admits--that sometimes a religious doctrine can move men, unleash wars and constitute the immediate factor of the historical process at a given moment; yet, at the same time, that religious doctrine is itself determined by the economy of the era. In this manner, in the last instance, the economic factor is the historical factor par excellence. Now then: the Marxist doctrine itself constitutes an example of how philosophical doctrines are often the result of the socio-economic structure. Because truly, Marx's doctrine typically reflects the situation in the 19th century, a century rudely dominated by the struggles between capital and labor, by the development of capitalism and the proletarian movement, by the tremendous power of economic imperialism, by the almost sovereign domination of the machine. It should not surprise us that, dazzled by the importance of the material factors in that historical epoch, Marx would have thought he found the key for all times. Modern man was, truly, homo oeconomicus. And thus, also, the "Marxist" aspect that the analysis of modern society and its crisis which I make in this book can present. Yet recognizing the importance of money in this society is not Marxism: it is simply a platitudinous tautology. What there is of Marxism in this analysis is what there is in any contemporary sociological analysis: the importance that is given to the social medium for judging the problems of the spirit. On that today almost all are in agreement, from Bertrand Russell to Max Scheler. Marx's error consists in believing that that social medium is likewise dominated, in any type of society, by economic forces. Perhaps, if one wants to identify a force that in every case determines the course of history, they would have to identify, as Russell does, the desire for power. Power that, according to the type of society, could be reached through money, religion, magic or, which is more frequent, through force of arms. From this viewpoint, neither Marx nor Düring were right in their polemic over the primacy of economic power or that of physical violence: either of them can prevail, according to the circumstances. An exclusively religious movement like that of Muhammad caused a profound transformation of the entire history of the West, such as we have seen. A purely economic fact like the appearance of the European bourgeoisie brought incalculable consequences of a spiritual nature. The Renaissance is the epiphenomenon of a great social transformation: the passageway from the feudal world to the capitalist world. But this does not imply saying that this transformation was inevitable and that the economic factors are those which definitely move history. On the contrary, from the fact that great civilizations like China or the Hindu may not have followed the same evolution it would have to be inferred that western capitalism is one of a kind, though its appearance has included the coexistence of other factors outside of the economic, present everywhere. For now, our modern world would not have been possible without technology and positive science. And neither of them managed to achieve their western forms in other civilizations, and not for mental incapacity. As much for the space of time that it covered as for the massiveness of the millions of men it involved, Chinese civilization was the greatest civilization which humanity had known: still today, we admire its fine realizations in philosophy, in ethics, in plastic arts, in literature, in religion. And nevertheless, our legacy from China is only random and in a certain sense wasted inventions which, far from forming a systematic body as in western technology, appear before our eyes as unimportant games. When a Chinese invents gunpowder it is to light artificial fires; yet when a European knows its formula, they immediately put it in service of their interests. For the Chinese professed a completely different philosophy of life from ours, rejected and despised technology's creations, the control and exploitation of nature, or change and speed. For those Chinese of antiquity--not contaminated by Europeans ways--the machine was a despicable invention, just a way of exploiting the natural world, a violation of the profound harmony that should subsist between man and the cosmos. The same could be said of India. Nor did the Greeks, one of the most lucid peoples of all time, create a science like the contemporary and not for lack of time but instead because their ethos disdained such orders as inferior. If the economic factors were autonomous enough to decide the destiny of a civilization through their own strength, that does not explain why the Greeks did not develop a technology at least as advanced as their philosophy. Marx claims that in the final analysis metaphysics, a conception of the world, is the result of the economic structure. Perhaps one must affirm the inverse proposition; perhaps one must say that a conception of the world, a determinate ethos, a metaphysical position determine progress or economic stabilization. At root, this is what happened in China and in India, what impeded the Greeks in the formation of a positive science, what produced the priestly sculpture of the Egyptians and the pagan realism of the Greeks. It would be interesting to study this hypothesis: the Reformation, by inhibiting the plastic expression of mystical feelings, might have been one of the factors in German musical greatness beginning with Bach. For me, the fanaticism that derives from faith is infinitely more powerful than from hunger or misery. I know of no great movement that has been built upon a basis of hunger. Whereas the most tremendous earthquakes in history have been due to religious or fanatical impulses: it suffices to think of Christ, of Muhammad, of Napoleon, or Hitler. And, that which is fatal for Marxism, Stalin. This, regarding Marxism as a philosophy of history. But a good Hegelian and as a good German, Marx could not remain satisfied with a doctrine of the only history or of the only economy: he had to include the entire Universe, starting with the atom and ending with the State. Seduced by Feuerbach and the materialists, he attempts a general conception of the world by inverting the Hegelian dialectic, placing it upon materialist foundations. Nevertheless, his passion was history and with "dialectical materialism," in four words by way of Feuerbach, scarcely formulated, he turned to analysis of the society of his time, to the philosophy of society and of history. But his disciples, beginning with Engels himself, set out to develop and justify that presumed philosophy of nature of their master, managing, as the only result, to debilitate their flanks. The worst enemies of a theory are not always found in the trenches ahead. The late Colonel General Zhdanov and those professors from the Academy of Moscow who refute Plato with aphorisms from Stalin can be considered, exceptionally, among the most incarnate and tortuous adversaries of Marx. The creation of a new curriculum in Russia shows to what point revolutionary thought can be buried or, in accordance with Soviet customs, mummified and exhibited in a bell jar. Indeed there is nothing as conservative as a revolutionary in power. These communists consider that with the materialist dialectic there was found, at last, the key to the universe and with that have concluded the millenarian discussion: that which remains are problems of detail, which should be resolved via the Marxist method. It should be recognized that this optimism, very logical to its proponents, has not been propagated beyond the Soviet organs and its believers. It is curious that outside the borders of the sovietized peoples no philosophy of rank professes dialectical materialism. There, philosophy pursued its unalterable course and after Marx there have been philosophers as important as Husserl, Dilthey, Bergson, Heidegger, Croce, Russell, Whitehead, and Scheler. But in Russia there is no more than one philosophy: the official, by which not only thought but all of science, literature, politics, and military technique are ruled, as well as the secret police. It is a strange that in matters and arguable as truth, the essence of beauty and of good, 180 million persons--without counting the millions incorporated in the orbit of the last advances of the Red Army, which apparently has a philosophical quality--have suddenly come into unanimous agreement concerning problems that the philosophers have been debating for 25 centuries. The same unanimity has been achieved, as we know, in politics. The Stalinists explain this striking phenomenon by the suppression of the classes in Russia. This is curious enough, yet it is still more curious that the suppression of the classes should instantaneously close the millenarian philosophic discussion: it is quite rare, for example, that even belonging to a single class, a melancholy man would have the same sense of beauty as a man of action, and could repudiate a painting by Van Gogh with the same enthusiasm as the president of the Union of Soviet Painters. This is suspicious. The Stalinists explain the persistence of philosophical doubts in the west by the bourgeois essence of its thinkers. As we know, there are two philosophies: a proletarian, which includes half of our planet and whose goodness is manifested in the fact that it is not discussed by anyone within that geographic zone; and a bourgeois one for the rest of the world, the putrefying inheritance of the thought that preceded Marx, the expression of a society decadent and in crisis. This remains very well explained in the speech given by Colonel General A. Zhdanov, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, before the philosophical congress convened in June of 1947 to discuss "the deficiencies and tasks on the philosophic front": "For almost all the old philosophers, Alexandrov finds opportunity for an affectionate word. And the more eminent the bourgeois philosopher, the greater is the praise. All this leads to that comrade Alexandrov, perhaps without suspecting it himself, is seen the slave of the bourgeois historians of philosophy... Such is the arsenal today placed in circulation by the philosophical lackeys of imperialism to sustain their clearly ruined master... The fact that Alexandrov's book has provoked no important protest, that it has required the intervention of the Central Committee and Comrade Stalin personally to unmask its weaknesses signifies the absence, on our philosophical front, of a critique and a sufficiently developed Bolshevik self-criticism... The subjects of study, including the works presented to obtain university degrees, refer to the past, regarding non-compromising historical matters of little difficulty, of the genre of the heresy of Copernicus in the past and in actuality (commotion in the hall). This leads to a certain rebirth of scholasticism. From this viewpoint, the discussion that has taken place regarding Hegel is quite strange. Those who have participated in it have gone back to inventing gunpowder. The question of Hegel has been resolved for while. There is no reason to broach it anew... Why have certain representatives of the old generation here been able with justification to aim the reproach of early decrepitude at certain youths, of absence of aggressiveness in tone, of their lack of combativeness... The brilliant victory obtained by socialism in the great patriotic war, which was at the same time a brilliant victory for Marxism, continues like a bone in the throat of the imperialists. The center of the fight against Marxism has passed today to North America and England. All the forces of obscurantism and reaction are now in service to the struggle against Marxism... Yet the experience of our victory over fascism has already shown to what dead ends for the people the idealist philosophies can lead. Today they appear in a new, particularly repugnant form, reflecting all the depth, all the lowness, all the villainy of bourgeois decadence. The ruffians and criminals of the common right applied to philosophy signify, evidently, the limit of its ruin and decomposition... Contemporary bourgeois science provides to clericalism, to fideism, a new argument that it is essential to scornfully unmask... The Kantian subterfuges of today's atomic physicists lead them to deductions regarding "the free will" of the electron, to essays representing matter as nothing more than a set of waves and other witchcraft... Who but ourselves--nation of triumphant socialism--and our philosophers should assist our friends and brothers from abroad to illuminate the struggle for a new society with the light of scientific socialism?" A rationalist-totalitarian society is founded on Sacred Books, which cannot be debated: for it tends to be merely deductive, to extract all knowledge through syllogisms that originate in the Sacred Premises. With the Marxist Church the same thing happens and just as the peripatetics of Pisa refused to look at Jupiter's satellites through Galileo's telescope because Aristotle had not mentioned such objects, the scholastics of Moscow refuse to believe in the experiments of the "bourgeois" geneticists, because these contradict their official philosophy. Professor Antón Zhebrak, world-famous geneticist, a partisan of the Morgan-Mendel theory, was denounced in Pravda--a word that means Truth--for having declared in the North American magazine Science that many Russian geneticists supported the Mendelian doctrine. Just denounced, professor Zhebrak wrote a letter to the very powerful daily newspaper of the Party, in which he declared: "I, as a member of the Party, realize that I am not permitted to cherish opinions that have been recognized as errors by the Central Committee," words that strangely recall those pronounced by Galileo during the Inquisition: "I, Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vencenzo Galilei of Florence, et cetera, swear that I always believed and, with the help of God, will believe in the future, all the articles which the holy and apostolic Catholic Church of Rome maintains, teaches and preaches..." Meanwhile, the Lenin Academy of Agrarian Sciences sent the following note to Josef Stalin: "You, our beloved Chief and Master, have helped the soviet experts to develop our progressive materialist science, which serves the people in all their work and conquests, a science that expresses the ideals and the elevated purposes of the new socialist society." At the same time, the academy eliminated two of its most illustrious members: the physiologist L. A. Orbeli and the morphologist I. I. Schamigauzen; liquidated a cytogenics laboratory and accused its director, the world-famous N. P. Dubinin, of adopting "unscientific" positions. All the biology texts were rewritten and teaching is performed at this moment upon the basis of Lysenko's doctrine, in accord with the postulates of dialectical materialism. Marxism in its soviet form is the most dramatic example of how irrational forces cannot be annihilated but only their appearance, and that the gods who are expelled through the door return through the window. Marx is in many ways an ultrarationalist and a worthy descendant of Hegel's panlogism. A paradoxical destiny for these rationalists, like those others from the French Revolution, to destroy by force the germs of free thought! Nietzsche states in The Will to Power: "To claim that truth is here and that ignorance and error are over is one of the greatest seductions there is. Supposing that one believes this, the will to test, investigate, predict, experiment is mutilated; they can ultimately become a hobby, can place the truth in doubt. "Truth" is, consequently, more disastrous than error and ignorance, because it hinders the forces with which one can work for enlightenment and knowledge." In Russia, the "truth" has been found once and for all in dialectical materialism. It is useless for your theorists to tell us that that claim is false for it deals with a "method" and not with a "system." If system and process represent the same fact, dialectical materialism is a system, given that it applies to all the phenomena of nature and of culture; no phenomenon escapes its famous laws. A method is the experimental method, that recommends submitting every conclusion which refers to the natural world to observation and to experiment; but it is not a system because it does not apply in every case, remaining foreign to aprioristic and cultural sciences and because it does not impose its laws upon reality but instead, on the contrary, is willing to leave the field open whenever it sees that an application is useless or inadequate. With dialectical materialism it is the reverse: its application is total and dogmatic. "The laws of the dialectic are the general laws of nature and of the social world." What kind of scientific method of knowing reality is this which affirms a priori that everything discovered and which may be discovered in the future must fit exactly in the dialectical scheme? Here Marx's Hegelian and metaphysical extraction can be clearly seen, that poor original which consists in wishing to extract the reality of a system a priori. When Marx affirms that "the dialectic of Hegel should be turned on its feet" he should add that he could not do so and that the Hegelian giant was perhaps too heavy or, better, like those dolls with lead feet that always end by returning to their original position after the vain efforts to invert them. The Hegelian lead is, naturally, in its ultrarationalism, in its pan- logism, which derives all reality and all knowledge from the dialectical mechanism. That panlogism was transmitted, whole, to Marx. One need not be fooled by appearances. Marx tells us that it is necessary for Hegelian dialectic to "regain its rights": the changes in the material world are not a consequence of changes in the world of the Idea, but the reverse; dialectic "is in the world of things" and the eternal flux of the Universe which since Heraclitus is affirmed by so many philosophers, in Marx takes the form of a dialectical flow, of a material evolution through contradictions, with mental contradictions a mere "reflection" of them. From Engels to Bukharin, the Marxists spent life offering examples of that dialectic of material things: from the seed which to become a plant must cease being a seed, "negating itself," to the dialectical synthesis of light. All this is philosophical ingenuity that derives from attributing a dialectical structure to nature which in reality is ours, characteristic of our minds, of our incapacity to judge a changing reality with static concepts. The reality is neither a wave, nor a particle, nor a wave-particle synthesis; all this is a mere conceptual apparatus, a human attempt to capture a dynamic reality through a system of static concepts. All this reveals to us that if the Hegelian dialectic can be taken seriously, precisely due to its idealist and conceptual character, that of Marx, above all in that it refers to the world of nature, is completely naive. It is a shame that he had not time or desire to develop his succinct words contained in the Thesis on Feuerbach; it is possible that he might have noticed his equivocation. Be that as it may, Marxist rationalism has ended, dialectically--not thanks to a dialectic of matter but instead of spirit, by virtue of that powerful regulatory function of the contrast, of that enantiodromia of Heraclitus--ending in a new and paradoxical form of irrationalism. The violent, unanimous application of a rationalist credo has thus produced one of the most singular paradoxes of our time: the irrational cult of Reason. That men like Saint Bernard anathematize rationalists like Abelard is perfectly logical, given that they did so in the name of faith and the absurd: what is peculiar is that they irrationally anathematize the irrational. Yet this is the sign or our time. And there does at root exist in men a profoundly irrational root and a strong religious sentiment. Our civilization banished the gods and prophesied the triumph of Reason: the result was neurosis and the tortuous underground triumph of the irrational forces. When the great gods seemed to have disappeared, a quantity of grotesque and insignificant little gods made themselves present in the bourgeois mentality; or in the best of cases, intensely religious secular movements emerged, like Marxism. Marx was an energetic atheist and, like all of them, was animated by a strong religious spirit. There are men who manage to abolish God, but do not notice that it appears to them on the other side, sometimes in the most incredible forms: for example, in the form of an impassioned text against the possibility of her existence. For no one who really disbelieves in God is going to do the work of fighting against Him. Atheism should be atheism and nothing more: one must suspect energetic atheism, since God exists or does not exist, without enthusiasm adding anything to the alternative. Energetic atheism is one of the most intricate yet most incarnate ways of believing in God. And perhaps this explains those brusque and violent conversations with certain atheists. THE EXISTENTIAL REACTION Doctrines do not appear by chance: on one side they prolong and deepen the dialogue that occurs across the ages, on the other are the expression of the era when they were stated: just as Stoic philosophy is born under despotism, so Marxism well expresses the spirit of an industrial society, and existentialism translates the Zeitgeist of those men who live out the collapse of a technolatrous civilization. This does not mean that it translates it univocally and literally, for a doctrine is constituted in a most complex and always polemical manner. Thus, while rationalism was the dominant theme at the beginning of the Renaissance, irrationalism erupted now and then, with growing violence, until beginning to be the dominant theme of our time. Paul Valéry wrote three essays about Leonardo, which are very meaningful concerning his spiritual structure. In them, as in that engineer of the Renaissance, there is the same condemnation of metaphysics, the same exaltation of efficiency and of technical precision that comprises the best of the bourgeois spirit: geometry and ballistics are not as far from Valéry's poetics as one might suppose. One must not confuse an artist's aristocracy with their mental structure: with their manners, with their refinement. Valéry, like Leonardo, was an aristocrat; yet sociologically he was bourgeois. It is enough to examine the essay titled Leonardo and the Philosophers to convince oneself: his entire critique of metaphysics is that of the positivists, and within it he assumes the typical attitude of the engineer or the physicist. But if that analysis is insufficient, one should remember his love of mathematics, that love which like so many unwritten loves left no children yet was tenaciously prolonged throughout his life, in an almost obsessive and neurotic form, to the point of contaminating his language. That passion made him hate, with all the forces by which Monsieur Teste could hate, Pascal who very precociously had possessed and spurned the same woman whom Valéry always held as an inaccessible goddess. In this Valéry-Pascal contrast is incarnated for me the conflict between essence and existence, between abstraction and the man, between physics and metaphysics. How simple to understand from one who had really lived the mathematical universe is that disgust and that deprecation of Pascal, for his dehumanized world of mere shadows, when one is facing the problem of man's destiny! Since the Renaissance, science and philosophy had aimed at the conquest of the objective world. They aspired to unveil the laws that rule the functioning of the Universe, to place them in man's service. But to do so they had to dispense with the I, had to investigate the universal order just as it is, such that its laws, once discovered, would have the implacable validity of facts, which depend neither upon our will nor on our desires. To achieve that objective knowledge, man is validated through reason--whose laws are independent of human desires--and through observation of the external world. We already know the result: it was the conquest of the objective universe, but at the price of a total sacrifice of the self, the degradation of the truly human values. The adolescent enthusiasm of the technicians was succeeded by dread before the mechanical monster and the intuition that it could be fatal for man. The romantic artists were early to suspect it. Kierkegaard gave an exact form to this suspicion. It always happened this way: it is curious that man begins by questioning the vast Universe before questioning one's own self. Before Socrates was to ask about good and evil, about our soul and our demise, about our anguish and our sin, the adolescent philosophers of Ionia had sought the secret of the Cosmos, the mission of water and of fire, the enigma of the stars. Against the marbled museum of mathematical symbols was the individual man, who finally at last had the right to ask himself what good was all that apparatus of world domination if it did not serve to resolve his anguish before the eternal enigmas of life and of mortality. Over the problem of the essence of things was erected that of man's existence. Does life have any meaning? What does mortality mean? Are we an eternal soul or merely a conglomerate of molecules of salt and earth? Is there a God or not? Now these are important problems. All the rest, as Camus accurately states, is at bottom a child's game: the law of gravitation, the steam engine, Jupiter's satellites, and even Mr. Kant with his famous categories. To the devil with pure reasoning and the universality of its laws! Perhaps he who reasons is an Abstract Philosopher or me myself, transitory and miserable individual? What does it matter that Pure Reason be universal and abstract if He-who-reasons is not a god devoid of passions and feelings but a poor being who knows that one must die and that from that carnal demise and his own Kant could not save them with all his categories? What celebrated knowledge is this which leaves us alone before our demise? In his mathematical fury, Descartes wanted to put the soul in a bell jar and to eliminate feelings and the emotions through cold thought. Yet I ask what is life worth living for if that Cartesian project--as well as repugnant--were not utopian. What meaning could a Future Society have where they had managed to discard the feelings and emotions? It is false that man desires that objective and disinterested thought: they want tragic knowledge, that is amassed not only by reason but also through passion and life. Man rebels against the general and the abstract, against the principle of contradiction; for the man of flesh and bone is truly the contradiction: he is and is not, is a saint and a demon, loves and hates, es small and at the same time capable of portentous feats. It has required a general crisis in society for these simple yet human truths to re-emerge in all their vigor. Let the adorers of Abstraction remain kneeling before it. While their exterminating angels arrive, in the form of atomic airplanes, let them continue kneeling before that lay divinity, before that entity whose cult tends to claim Love of Humanity but eventually comes united with the most uninhibited hatred for man with small letters. And are there not only men of small letters? God save us from the guillotine or from the concentration camps of these adorers of Humanity! With regard to Valéry, he died in time, mourning for Greek geometry and the static and luminous architecture of its temples. The world was cracking in its foundations and soon there would be nothing left of it but ruins. IV Arts and letters in the crisis THE LITERATURE OF THE SELF GIVEN the claims of the individual, of her concrete and nontransferable experience, it is logical that the representatives of the contemporary revolt have resorted to literature for expression, since it is only the novel and drama that can render that living reality. Yet not to that literature which enjoys itself in external landscape description or that of bourgeois customs, but instead to the literature of the unique, of the personal. In his notable Ensayo sobre el destino actual de las letras y las artes, W. Weidlé maintains that we contribute to the decline of the novel and the play because today's artist "is impotent to deliver himself wholly to creative imagination," obsessed by their own selves; against the great novelists of the 19th century, those writers who, like Balzac, created a world and depicted living beings from the outside, to those novelists who, like Tolstoy, gave the impression of being God itself, the writers of the 20th century are incapable of transcending their own selves, hypnotized by their own misadventures and anxieties, eternally monologuing in a world of phantasms. Many critics affirm, in one way or another, that the 19th century is the great century of the novel. For my part, I am disposed to accept that the 19th century is the great century of the...19th century novel. The word novel today represents something quite different from what it meant in the past centuries. And it is not so much that the writer cannot transcend her own self to achieve an objective description of reality: it is that she is no longer interested. Or at least, was not interested until very recently, when there has begun to emerge a new synthesis of the subjective and the objective, precursor of the vast spiritual synthesis in which we engage for overcoming the contemporary crisis (if in fact the tremendous material forces in play permit us). This attitude of existing literature comes fundamentally from Dostoevsky. In Notes from the Underground the hero tells us: "Of what can an honorable man speak with maximum pleasure? Answer: of himself. I will speak, then, of myself." And in all his work, Dostoevsky will speak of himself, whether disguised as Stavrogin, Iván or Dmitri Karamazov, of Raskolnikov and even the generals or governess. This literary trick was also very useful to Kierkegaard. In all great contemporary literature one observes this displacement regarding the subject: the work of Marcel Proust is a vast solipsist exercise; Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, Joyce with his interior monologue, William Faulkner, all have a tendency to depict reality through the subject. A character of Julian Green's says: "Writing a novel is in itself a novel, of which the author is the hero. He tells his own story and if he looks to himself for the farce of objectivity he is quite a novice or quite foolish, for we do not ever succeed in leaving our selves." It is very well to observe the world from a high tower, describe the movement of its creatures from outside, paint the landscape in which they live. Yet why does this and only this have to be the artist's destiny? Already in Dostoevsky, who in many aspects is the gateway to present literature, one observes that disengagement from the external world: we never altogether know if his characters, so absorbed in themselves, live in a beautiful mansion or a detestable place, rarely does he tell us whether it rains or is sunny, and when we know it is only because of a phrase or two and, furthermore, because that rain or that sun form part--and in what a fashion!--of the anguish or of the feelings which at that moment seize the character. In these novels it is fitting to say that the landscape is a state of the soul. The classification of literary production into genres has always been a task mostly destined for failure. With regard to the novel, it has suffered all the abuses and, as Valéry said with evident disgust, "tous les écarts l'appartiennent," or something like that. Our era has been a new exaltation of the self. A novel by Faulkner is called As I Lay Dying. Another, The Sound and the Fury, since it did not seem necessary then, or even convenient, for the world to be related by an omniscient and omnipotent novelist. The novel could be, as Shakespeare says life is, ...a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. FROM REALITY TO SUPERREALITY Weidlé's critique coincides, in large part, with that which Ortega y Gasset makes of the new art in general, accusing it of being "dehumanized." Why do most of the public shrug their shoulders or smile before its expressions? Is the Spanish philosopher right when he claims that that attitude is indicating the dehumanization of art? Has the artist skipped all the bridges that united her to the continent of human beings, to shelter in the isle of madness? Does all this signify a mortal crisis in the arts and letters? To my understanding, what is in crisis is not art but the concept of reality that dominated the West since the Renaissance. For that concept, "the" reality is merely the reality of the external world, the naive reality of things as they are felt by our senses and conceived by our reason. From the naturalism of the Italian painters and sculptors to French impressionism, almost all western art answers to this conception. One need not be fooled, in effect, by the mere technical liberation which impressionism assumes: at bottom it is the culmination of that whole desire for objectivity and for naturalism; it is the end and not the beginning of a concept of artistic reality. The new painting surges from their breasts, while negating its own essence, in the persons of Van Gogh and Gauguin. Both flee sickened by civilization. "If our life is sick--writes Gauguin to Strindberg--so must also be our art; and we can only return it to health by beginning anew, like children or like savages... I have fled everything artificial, the conventional, the habitual... Your civilization is your illness; my barbarism is my recovery." The entire young generation of 1900, those "furies" who are going to scandalize the comfortable Parisian salons, derives in a direct line from those two revolutionary painters, above all the tortured spirit of Van Gogh. And they are disciples of strange Gustave Moreau who would say: "What does nature in itself matter? Art is the incarnated pursuit, solely through plastic expression, of the interior feeling." A sentence related to that of Van Gogh: "Instead of exactly reproducing what I have before my eyes, I employ color more arbitrarily, to express myself with greatest force." Matisse, Rouault, Vlaminck, Dufy, Van Dongen, Friesz, Derain, launch themselves against the conventions of bourgeois painting, enjoy throwing the canons of the Academy overboard, insulting its exquisite traditions: they are lyricists and poets, violently expressing their emotions and feelings, deforming and exaggerating nature's proportions, putting the self into the heart of the object like a monstrous spring, turning their backs, ultimately, on CéCezanne himself, to carry forward Van Gogh's teaching. Because CéCezanne represents, in the final analysis, the constructive reaction as against impressionist dissolution, meaning in many ways a return to the classic and geometric, to that which is most essential in this civilization. The Fauvism movement had to grow in the more advanced countries, in those nations where civilization had reached its most abstract extremes with the machine and with reason: in them the artists tended to feel more strongly than elsewhere the longing in life and the irrational. That movement triumphed in the ultra-refined cities of France, Germany and Italy. In the Germanic nations expressionism emerges with Kandinsky and Kokoschka: recapturing the Gothic tradition, without the brake of French rationalism, feeling in addition the influence of the Slav nations, expression took the lesson of the new art to its ultimate frontiers. It seems mistaken to me, then, to judge a Van Gogh painting or a Kafka novel by the light of an outdated concept of reality. Naturally, when despite everything it is done--and how frequently!--it concludes that they describe a sort of "unreality," the beings and things of the outlandish territory of the man maddened in his solitude. The artist seems thus to have abandoned the world of the real to commit herself urgently to schizophrenia. That is what many people think of contemporary art. Yet this attitude is very similar to that of the naive realists of philosophy, for whom it is mad to deny the reality of a table such as our eyes see it and our everyday reason conceives it. The art of every epoch refracts a vision of the world, the vision of the world held by those of this era and, particularly, the concept which that era has of what is reality. Bourgeois civilization also has its concept: it is that of an external and rational reality. This indeed represents a dehumanization, because genuine reality includes man, and since when is the human being devoid of interiority and how is it possible to suppose man to be solely rational? To every type of culture there has corresponded a different conception of reality and that conception is definitely grounded in a different metaphysics and even ethos. For the Egyptians, preoccupied with eternal life, this flowing and transitory universe could not constitute the truly real: and thus the hieraticism of their grand statues of gods and pharaohs, the abstract geometricism which is like an indicator of eternity. Hieraticism that is not, therefore, a consequence of an inability to depict nature, as proved by the meticulous naturalism with which the slaves and beings of no importance painted. When we move to a mundane civilization like the Hellenic of the great era, plastic arts again become naturalistic and even the same gods are represented in "realist" style. When Christianity appears, this worldly conception of art disappears and again we observe the birth of an hieratic art, foreign to space and time. And when a new civilization of the temporal type supervenes, with the bourgeoisie and their yearning for world conquest, art ceases to be divine to return to the human, but human in a more naturalistic and corporeal sense: from there the admiration for the art of Greco-Latin antiquity; from there the apparition of perspective and proportion, which manifest the importance of physical space. That is why I believe it dangerous to speak of progress in art. Is the appearance of perspective progress or is it, simply, a different manner of seeing the world? Is Greek sculpture perhaps superior to the Egyptian? Perhaps it is only meaningful to speak of perfecting within a cultural domain, within certain canons of beauty: certainly Donatello was superior to some of his ignored disciples or contemporaries; but it would not make sense to speak of the superiority of this artist with respect to a sculptor who in Egypt created obeying another vision of the world, another metaphysics. However, when we say that art depicts the concept of reality that an era or a culture has, we do not wish to say that it always expresses that which is on the minds of all. Maybe that occurs in certain happy and culminating moments in a civilization, for example during the 19th century, insofar as it refers to our civilization. Yet when an epoch approaches its crisis, it is the artists who, thanks to their hypersensitivity, predict the times to come, the times that, being secret and subterranean currents, already flow beneath the present, ready to become powerful visible torrents which will treat the old concepts like dead animals or tree trunks. Today's art is the violent reaction against bourgeois civilization and its Weltanschauung. It is thus certain that it misunderstands its reality and frequently shreds it. Yet even when this attitude has been merely iconoclastic at times, even when occasionally it may have bordered on simple madness, it always has shown that it was making of crisis an outdated concept of reality, a concept that now does not represent our most profound distress. The naturalistic ideal of the 19th century novel is one of the many manifestations of the bourgeois spirit. Zola, who created the reductio ad absurdem of this attitude, went so far as to make compendia of his characters, in which he annotated everything from the color of their eyes to their type of dress according to station or the state of the times. Gorky spoiled a good part of his excellent gifts through the observance of a false aesthetic, derived from that scientism that was in the air of the day; claimed that to describe a shopkeeper it was necessary to take hundreds of them and seek the common traits. Evidently, this is the modus operandi of science, which seeks the universal abstracting from the particular. But this is the road to the dead and to essence, not that of live existence. Thus it results that Gorky's characters often seem like mechanized dolls to us; and when this is not so it is because, happily, Gorky's narrative talent is superior to his dogmatism. This type of art in which the objective document dominates, the vista and external movement will be supplanted by the cinematographic. I see no difficulty in novelists like Dickens or Zola being integrally translated to film, in the same manner that certain realist painting was replaced by photography. The burghers of Flanders who were painted did not request a work of art but a document; they sought the same practical end which today is sought in entering a photograph house. If despite all many of those portraits were, additionally, a work of art it is because those painters were not only honored artisans who works on commission but also excellent artists. The movies, radio, the theatre, and the cartoons of the mechanized world have carried to their ultimate extremes the characters of that bourgeois realism which in its highest forms produced a Dickens or a Zola. Why ask from the artists of today products already realized to perfection in those instruments? A good part of the novel of the former century was a novel of the external, of things, of time, and of physical space. Whether they were naturalists or impressionists, the painters and writers occupied the external world. It does not matter that the painters of impressionism might try to give the sensation of the real through an atomized set of spots: at root they always responded--although in another way, by another road--to the anxiety that all bourgeois civilization have had to capture the exterior universe. In this case they captured it with pure sensation--or at least so they thought-- and in this responded to a spiritual movement parallel to that of positivism in philosophy, a doctrine essentially linked to bourgeois pragmatism and to the scientific spirit. The contemporary artist has abandoned this aesthetic. It is not that he has ceased being realist but instead that now, for him, the real signifies something more complex, something that without leaving the external aside resides profoundly in the I. From this complex attitude the necessity has been born for technical resources that were unknown with the 19th century novel, like the simultaneity of John Dos Passos, Joyce's interior monologue, Faulkner's intersubjectivity, the counterpoint of Huxley. The 20th century thus becomes the century of the great technical innovations, as has always occurred during the great swerves of history, when it has been necessary to express a new reality that could not already be expressed in the superseded shapes. Upon submerging in the self, the writer encountered time not that of the clocks nor that of historical chronology, but instead a subjective time, the time of the living self, often, as Virginia Woolf said, in "marvelous discord" with clock time. Already in Dostoevsky there begins to prevail, even coming to constitute the very essence of novels like Mrs. Dalloway, faithful registers of the mental situation, of its fleeting steps past human creatures. And that temporal flow has imposed the interior monologue and at times the non-syntactic and illogical language which in good part dominates contemporary literature. The submergence in what is most profound in man often gives the literary and artistic creations of our time that phantasmal and nocturnal atmosphere which was only known in dreams. In writers like Kafka, Julien Green, Faulkner, or Dostoevsky as well as in painters like Chagall, Chirico and Roualt one senses that nocturnalness. For they have descended underneath reason and consciousness, toward the obscure territories that before had only been frequented in states of sleep or of dementia. How noteworthy is it that those artists usually give us a world of phantasms in place of those "real," well- delineated, tactile, and daytime figures of bourgeois art? And to this descent there corresponds a new type of universality, which is that of the cellar, of that sort of no man's land in which the different features of the external world almost do not count. When we lower to the basic problems of man, it matters little that we are surrounded by the hills of Florence or in the midst of the vast plains of the Pampas. Yet one should not confound that universality with that other which science has provided: that of reason and of the abstract entities of mathematics. That other universality is that obtained, as Kierkegaard desired, through the concrete and individual. It is not the universality of reason but instead that of unreason. The uprising of contemporary man against rationalist tyranny begins with Notes from the Underground. Its hero, behind whom the author is very visibly hidden, tells us: "With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense. But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like a chess player, loves the process of the game, not the end of it... Granted that man does nothing but seek that mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, but to succeed, really to find it, dreads, I assure you... I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too." [Constance Garnett translation] Logic applies among static entities, those to which the principle of identity can be applied; not for life, which is a constant transformation and, therefore, a constant negation. Borges complains that in novels called psychological liberty becomes absolute arbitrariness: assassins who kill out of piety, lovers who separate for love; and argues that, paradoxically, only in the novels called adventures does rigor exist. This seems to be a critique, yet is only a definition: the definition of what Borges understands by rigor. We thus find out of what for him rigor of the syllogistic type is comprised: Dante loves Beatrice; Love tends towards union; Later, Dante searches for Beatrice. In reality it turns out that, unexpectedly, Dante flees from Beatrice. If we accept logical rigor as the canon, this attitude appears totally arbitrary. Yet human beings are not chess pieces: if a bishop is suddenly moved like a rook, we have the right to reproach the player as incoherent. But a human being is something infinitely more complex than to obey merely logical norms. As against that type of rigor there exists, alternatively, psychological rigor and it is with respect to that that it will be possible to judge the behavior of a character. Who can affirm that Raskolnikov proceeds without rigor, despite his repeatedly performing absurd acts, if he is judged from a syllogistic point of view? For in life as in literature that which logically is absurd, psychologically is rigorous and real: "I believe because it is absurd." The coherence to which Borges refers is only conceived in the novels paradoxically called adventures, in pamphlets and, above all, in crime narratives of a certain type. In them that rigor prevails which can be established through a system of simple and Cartesian conventions, as in geometry or dynamics; yet that rigor implies the suppression of the truly human attributes: if in reality there is a Plan or Law, it must be of infinite complexity for our human eyes, though in theory one can suppose that a divine monad views it with full rationality. ORTEGA AND THE DEHUMANIZATION OF ART The proof of the dehumanization of art lies, for Ortega y Gasset, in the divorce that exists between the artist and the public. I ignore why it did not occur to the Spanish philosopher that things could be exactly the opposite: that it would be the public which is dehumanized. Perhaps he discarded this alternative because it seems logical to suppose that the public is "humanity." Yet this is the great sophism of our time, because humanity is one thing and the masses another, that is, this set of beings who have stopped being human animals to become or be converted into numbered objects, fabricated in series, molded by a standardized education, embedded in offices and factories, daily shaken in unison by the news launched from the Central Unknown. While the artist is The One par excellence, he is the lunatic who thanks to his dementia, to his incapacity for adaptation, to his rebelliousness, has preserved the most precious attributes of the human being. What does it matter that at times he exaggerates and cuts off an ear! Even so, he will be closer to what a man is, in the asylum, than a scribe in the bowels of a ministry. It is true that the artist, despairing of the gigantic dehumanization project of all humanity, flees to Africa, to the Pacific islands, to the jungles of Misiones province, to the paradises of alcohol or of morphine, or to mortality itself. Does this mean, perhaps, that the artist is the one who is dehumanized? The other side of Ortega y Gasset's sophism is putting all contemporary art in a single bag, since it is formed not only by different but by antagonistic elements. The Renaissance led to abstraction, as we have already seen. It is possible to indicate this process in the plastic arts with proportion and perspective during the era of Piero della Francesca, by the cubes and conical cylinders of Cezanne and, finally, with Cubism. This art does tend to become a dehumanized art. I say tends because: 1st - man is not a mere animal but also spirit, and geometry forms part of her spirit, not being able, therefore, to ever be something totally inhuman; and 2d - because not all the representatives of this tendency have claimed that their art was the art. Within many Renaissance pictures there were triangles, pentagons and proportions. Yet those figures were only the geometric skeleton of a palpable carnal body. However, to the degree that mathematical civilization advanced, those triangles and pentagons were advancing past the flesh, until the instant arrived when it was thought possible to proclaim that art is geometry. Yet any pretense to reduce art to abstraction should be considered as a dehumanizing attitude, not because the abstract is not also human but instead is something more than that: it is the abstract and the concrete, the rational and the irrational, the machine and nature, science and art. Regarding the psychology of abstract art, it is contradictory: I think that in the first place the artist is impelled by scientific fetishism, but also by an unconscious desire for order and for security in the midst of a confused and staggering universe: just as some flee to the Pacific isles, others take refuge in mathematical labyrinths; also, and finally, is is the product of a legitimate contempt towards bourgeois sentimentalism, or a sort of asceticism of beauty. Yet whatever their psychological origin may be, from the viewpoint of its essence abstract art today is the expression of the scientific mentality of our time. And as such, far from representing a revolutionary art, it characterizes a culture in decline. A TRAGIC LITERATURE If it is a sophism to speak of the dehumanization of contemporary art as a bloc, it would require the revision of the meaning of all those words to extend that judgment to today's literature. This is a true literature, difficult and tragic, with a difficulty unknown to the 19th century, except in those writers who intuited the collapse. Far from declining, the novel and drama have deepened the the great ethical and religious enigmas: from Dostoevsky to Graham Greene, passing by Kafka, the great literature of our time is eminently metaphysical and its problems are the essential problems of man an his destiny. This is an ascetic literature and love appears in it as the repeated specter of solitude and mortality. Never like today has carnal love been described with so much crudity. And nevertheless it acquires a metaphysical sense, because throughout it, in its intense yet fleeting ecstasies, man confronts the tragic problem of communication and the meaning of life. Hölderlin would say that if we do not concern ourselves with infinity it was worthless to be concerned with anything. The problem is being or not being. The problem is the transitoriness of everything earthly: the fragile happiness of love, the illusions of adolescence, the instants of communication with the like-minded. Everything marches, inexorably and anxiously, towards finality. On almost all great literature of today weighs the problem of mortality, a problem that sharpens when the venue is known. From The Idiot to The Stranger. It is that dying on the installment plan, one's demise known and awaited minute by minute, peremptorily sets forth the enigmas that natural dying has forgotten: in everyday life we proceed as if we were eternal; we work, we struggle towards the future, suffer from trifles, as if we were to live eternally. When we cause a beloved being to suffer it is because we think them eternal. The 19th century writer still lived in the euphoria of an arrogant civilization. Man's secular triumphs, faith in the future, incited them to an optimistic and easy literature, and in other cases to a precious aestheticism. But the collapse of all the bourgeois myths confronted us with a dramatic reality that required a less frivolous and mundane attitude from the writer, a will more for metaphysical purification than simple beauty. Our gods are no longer the luminous gods of Olympus, who illuminated the western artist since the Renaissance: they are the dark and cruel gods who preside over the collapse of a civilization. The accent, which in 19th century literature was placed upon aesthetics, now is placed on metaphysics and on ethics. This revolution in content has been realized through an unavoidable transmutation in form, and this is the reason that all the attempts at judging the new art and the new literature from the viewpoint of pure form fail. Today's disgust with grandiloquence, in effect, is more ethical than aesthetic, obeying a question of content more than of form: it is part of the authenticity the contemporary artist possesses, sometimes frenetically, of her will to reject that which sounds false, conventional, merely "literary." Never has the word "literature" awakened so much discomfort among the writers themselves as today. They flee from ornament and from rhetoric, which characterizes the easy and idle epochs: this is closer to Saint Augustine and Pascal then to Oscar Wilde or Gabriel D'Annunzio. As in all the great ages--and this sole index will prove that our epoch is literarily great--only deeds speak: deeds are those that are poetic or tragic, not the words which, humble and transparent, do not interpose between the reader and the things that are said. The strength of the best contemporary writers is highlighted by that neutrality of the language that they use: the horror of tragedy is raised to the maximum by being expressed with simple precision. Today's literature does not propose beauty as the goal - what it also achieves is something else. It is more an trying to deepen the meaning of existence, an incarnate attempt to reach to the root of the problem. This desire for authenticity, which in some men like Antonin Artaud reached even ferocity and madness, is that which casts off the conventional and false sentimentalism that plagued literature previous to Dostoevsky, that literature in which men were good or bad, heroes or cowards, nobles or villains. Since Dostoevsky we became used to contradiction and to the impurity that characterizes the human condition: we now know that behind the most noble appearances may be hidden the most villainous passions, that the hero and the coward are often the same person, just like the saint and the sinner. For the first time, children can have evil instincts and tortured feelings. How far Dmitri Karamazov is from the villain or the hero of a film from the far East! And how far, also, from Monsieur Teste, a sort of Cartesian automaton! And every word is backed by the writer-person, nothing is said in vain, for mere play, as pure linguistic ability. And when it is, as very often in Joyce, it comprises a defect and not a virtue. Rarely has history provided that type of writer who, like T. E. Lawrence, André Malraux or Saint- Exupéry, form a single and inseparable being with the man of flesh and bone behind him. Never has so much contempt existed for mere words as today. Saint Augustine says in his Confessions: "...because then it seemed to me that Scripture should not be measured by the dignity and excellence of Cicero's writings. For my bluster and vanity refused to adapt to the simplicity of the former style..." Somehow Saint Augustine seems so modern to us. Literature has stopped belonging to the Fine Arts, so as to engage in metaphysics. TRANSCENDENCE AND LIMITATION OF SURREALISM In 1916, in that Switzerland that seems the quintessence of the bourgeois spirit, that little rationalist and respectful garden, Tristán Tzara began the Dada movement, a completely destructive and nihilistic rebellion against an outdated society. With true fury, those moralizing spirits assailed the commonalities and the hypocrisies of the bourgeoisie. For we should not fool ourselves: the entire insurgency of the contemporary spirit--from Van Gogh to the existentialists--has a profound ethical meaning. Bourgeois reason appeared as the principal enemy and the Dadaists launched their most ferocious attacks against it, like the later Surrealists. With greater effect than Breton's rationalizations in the manifestos, Dada combated reason with outright unreason, with their insults and their provocative spectacles. Later prolonged as Surrealism, the great age of this movement extends until the appearance, in 1930, of the second manifesto. There its gradual weakening begins, in part because the initial fervor had been disappearing and also because the whole world enters the great social and political crisis that will produce Nazism and the Second World War. Conceived from the beginning as a revolutionary movement, it is natural that at some point Surrealism should move towards communism. But nevertheless, in many ways this approach was an absurdity. Surrealism was much less yet also much more than a mere political-social attitude: it signifies a revolt against the entire spirit of western society. As a genuine Romantic movement, it is a defense of the concrete living man and, to that extent, radically opposed to every rationalizing conception of the world. It seems to me that because of all that it is mistaken to link it with other contemporary movements like futurism, Vorticism, simultaneity, and even Cubism. Aside from the fundamental fact that Surrealism is a movement located beyond art, a general attitude of man confronting reality, those purely artistic movements are the ultimate expression of a society dominated by calculation and abstraction. With regard to Marxism, which also is a total conception of the world and of man, it is the culmination of the ultra-rationalism of Hegel. A spiritual attitude that vindicates, as the Surrealists do, instinct as against reason, nature against the machine, the dream as opposed to wakefulness, the rebellion against order, will be energetically labeled by the Marxists and reactionary and anti-historical. To the theoretic ingenuity of Breton and to historical contingency must be attributed that strange fusion of Nerval and Marx expressed in his manifestos, and to that singular jumble of dialectical materialism and Lautréamont, of the fourth dimension and the sixth sense, the asylum and the workplace. All this is madness and in the best of cases we should take Breton's manifestos as a reflexive and poetic document and furthermore, as the honest expression of the subconscious of a man of our time who rebels against reason and science but who, unconsciously, renders them tribute at every instant. From this viewpoint, nothing could be said against Breton. The problem is that the intention of this poet is really to produce a theoretical document, a serious foundation for Surrealism, not another expression of his poetic temperament. Breton would indignantly rise against any attempt to take his writings as something less than a theoretic grounding. But all this is a contradiction. In a certain sense, the only consequential position of the Surrealists from the theoretical point of view were the spectacles with chanting and drums. And for me, the most worthwhile that they have produced: a style of life. Nevertheless, historically, it was inevitable that the Surrealists would end supporting the Russian Revolution and its dialectical philosophy. In many ways this revolution meant the revolt against that bourgeois world they detested so much: it also was Asiatic barbarism which many of them had invoked against the putrefied West: it was the insurrection of the negated, the dispossessed; was the liquidation of nation, of nationalism, of wealth, bourgeois comfort, piety. How can we not understand this approach of the Surrealists to Russia since it was the same impulse that pushed so many of us students in 1930 towards communism! What happened to Breton and his friends happened to us: that we confused the romantic strength of every great revolution with the philosophical essence of Marxism. We believed we were discovering the secret of the world with the dialectic and with surplus value and what we were discovering was our will to overthrow this hypocritical and rotten society. The Romantics had already opposed Poetry to Reason, as one opposes Night to Day and the Dream to Wakefulness. The Surrealists, last vestiges of Romanticism, carry this attitude to its extremes. For Breton, the image is worth more the more absurd it is: which lead to the invocation of automatism, of the imagination liberated from all rational ties, their disdain for norms and the classics, for beauty in the traditional sense and the libraries. Surrealism had been placed beyond aesthetics and art: it was more a general attitude before life and the world, an investigation of deep mankind, beneath the social conventions. Thus their fervor for Freud and for Sade, for the primitives and the savages. But paradoxically, it was thereby converted into an instrument for obtaining a new genre of beauty, a sort of beauty in the savage state, convulsive and violent. As if it were a new morality, a basic morality, that which is left when all the masks imposed by a society fearful of the profound instincts of the human being are pulled: a morality of the instincts and the dream. There thus emerged an aesthetic, as Gaëtan Picon says, and a Surrealist ethic. Yet upon crystallizing in manifestos and recipes, the decadence of the movement begins. And it is known that there is no worse conservatism than that of triumphant revolutionaries. From the search for sincerity, for authenticity, it embarked on a new academicism, whose paradigm is Salvador Dali, that charlatan who after all also belongs to Surrealism and who demonstrates, in exemplary fashion, its worst attributes. When Surrealism is attacked in figures like Dali, the best heirs of the movement rebel. And nevertheless, although Dali no longer officially belongs to the Surrealist church, he continues being a Surrealist painter to all the world: for the profane, for the journalists, for the art critics. Meanwhile he enjoyed Breton's blessing for a long time, with characteristics exactly the same as those he presents today. It would seem illicit to judge the Surrealist movement--as some do--exclusively by representatives like Salvador Dali. Yet nor do I think fair the pretension of certain Surrealists who would be judged with the exclusion of Salvador Dali. Just as we could not honestly judge Christianity by the sole presence of beings like Saint Francis or Saint Augustine. It is not by chance that a man like Dali should be a Surrealist. As Larrea well expresses it, instead of plunging into the infernal dens, instead of seeking that region where the sky and the underworld of which the Romantic Nerval spoke are united, the Surrealists have been more preoccupied with seeming than with being, more with theatre than with reality. And despite their pretension of comprising a brigade of desperadoes, heirs of the damned poets, they almost never sent their troops to the asylum or the cemetery, except in exceptional cases like the great Artaud. Nor is the grandiloquence that too frequently characterizes the Surrealists fortuitous: the basic falsification always comes accompanied by pomposity of form. That false rhetoric which was one of the worst attributes of the Romantic movement re-appeared in Surrealism to frighten the good burghers with its grand words. Nor can the fact be accepted as a coincidental disgrace that Surrealism --like other modern movements--had been the refuge of the grossest impostors, of fraudulent poets, of unmasked dissimulators. And, among them, of Salvador Dali, not the Prince of Catalan Intelligence as he liked to put on his postcards, but instead the Prince of Imposture and of Fraud. Some years ago I wrote against Surrealism. Now I understand that I was unjust and excessive; but I never claimed to be fair in the problems that closely touch my life. And Surrealism for me was a violent experience, a powerful liberation of my spirit, an anxious search for my self. What can be strange about my later revulsion at its frauds? Apart from that nothing rises violently against anything which does not somehow keep constituting their love. I have not reneged nor do I renege on what most deeply within me I may have of Surrealist or Marxist. I am now very far from believing that men, and less so the heart of men, can be cataloged like minerals or fossils. Man's heart if alive and contradictory like life itself, and that which is its essence. Indubitably there is something alive, something that continues to have validity in the Surrealist movement and which, in a certain sense, is prolonged and deepened in the whole existentialist movement: the profound conviction that the dominion of literature and of art has ended, that the moment has arrived wherein man is placed beyond mere aesthetic preoccupations so as to enter with rough decision into the region where the problems of man's destiny are debated. We continue believing that the vast enterprise of liberation initiated by Surrealism against a false and exhausted society is the preparatory condition for any redefinition of the human problem. The Surrealist terrorism was necessary to later undertake any enterprise of reconstruction; it was necessary to undermine, to overthrow the positions of the bourgeoisie and their obsolete art, so as to examine the very roots of our destiny. One had to dispose once and for all with the petty gods of the bourgeois society, with its false morality, with its Philistinism, with its comfort and its progress and its optimism, in order to open the doors of man. Our time is one of desperation and of anguish yet, paradoxically, only thus can the door to a new and authentic hope be opened. The error of Surrealism consisted in believing that revolt and destruction sufficed, that total liberty was sufficient. No, liberty does not suffice. Because once liberty is in our hands we have to know what to do with our liberty. When one solely has to destroy, everything goes very well and we even experience a certain happiness: I always remember the euphoria that we felt in Paris when we insulted a bourgeois or did something to undermine their tranquility, their calm digestion, the firmness of their convictions. But, later? Therefore Surrealism has been strong while it has been dedicated to the nihilist agenda or, in the best of cases, to research into the unknown regions of the soul. But later came the moment for construction and that is where Surrealism showed itself incapable of continuing forward. Therefore the logical goal of a consequential Surrealist is suicide or the asylum and in this we should render homage to the men who like Nerval or Artaud were consequential to the end. Furthermore neither madness nor suicide can be a genuine solution for man. And here, at this juncture, is when we should separate ourselves from Surrealism. The second World War concluded with the movement, which otherwise was already almost dead. When in 1938 I was with the Surrealists, they already lived on memories and Surrealist academicism had replaced the anarchist impulse of the early times. The second war was very different from the first, which had given birth to the movement. When the first ended many myths of bourgeois society had to be destroyed. But now those myths were destroyed. The men of today have seen too many catastrophes and ruins to keep believing in the need to overthrow. There is already enough desolation to enable seeing, through the crevices of a devastated society, what are man's duties. It now is insufficient to destroy: we have to comprehend. It is not enough to return to the fetishes of Central Africa: we have to ascertain, through the cracks in a usually disastrous Church, what is the Judeo-Christian mystery that has dominated all Western civilization and has imposed a new shape on the human spirit. It is not enough to emit howls and scare the burghers, insufficient to entertain oneself nor even to go mad: one must undertake the hard task of new construction, although it be in the midst of despair. It is not enough to demand the irrational. Nor even are the indications always favorable, given that the Nazis have already done this, and on such a scale! It is necessary to comprehend that man is not only irrationality but also rationality, that we are not only instinct but also spirit. Or shall we renounce the greatest attributes of the poor human race specifically in the name of its regeneration? We live in the moment when a new synthesis is necessary. She who does not understand this necessity will not at root comprehend the problems of man in our epoch. And then what? FOR Berdiaeff, History has no meaning in itself: it is no more than a series of disasters and of failed attempts. Yet all that accumulation of frustrations is destined precisely to prove that man should not seek the meaning of his life in history, in time, but instead outside of history, in eternity. The goal of history is not immanent: it is transcendent. Thus, for Berdiaeff, that set of calamities which Ivan Karamazov denounces is, paradoxically, a motive for optimism, for they constitute the proof of the impossibility of any earthly solution. So then: it is very difficult not to fall into pure despair if we remove the belief in God from this existentialism, for we remain abandoned in a meaningless world, which culminates in a definitive demise. It is somewhat Verjovensky's conception in The Possessed and thereby a part or a moment in the perplexities of Dostoyevsky. Yet Dostoyevsky is saved from total desperation, as Kierkegaard is saved, because ultimately he believes in God. Also saved are those like Nietzsche or Rimbaud--or many energetic atheists-- who have God as an enemy, since in order to exist as an enemy one has to exist in the first place. But for an atheist existentialist like Sartre, it would seem that there is no exit except pure despair. The Romantics had said that no one can discharge other than their own demise. Yet for them, mortality was the perfecting of life, its justification. For Sartre, however, it is purely absurd: the impossibility of all possibilities, pure impossibility, the "revelation of the absurdity of all hope, even that of hope for it." And the past, which aspired to justify itself in the future, that future which was to confer a meaning on it, remains in the end a dead end, against total nothingness. Dying has no meaning nor is it even horrible, given that the same word, horrible, loses meaning when one has died: if we keep applying it that is because we judge mortality from our viewpoint of men still living; but it is evident that nothing has meaning for the dead themself, that it cannot see itself from outside, that it cannot contemplate its own corpse. This atheism consequently has to flow into--it seems--a total disillusionment with the values of the living, since those values are ipso facto annihilated through mortality, and being dead arrives, sooner or later. "Everything is the same once one has lost the illusion of being eternal." This tragic sense of existence is in large part nourished by existing literature and explains why its central themes are usually anguish, solitude, non-communication, madness, and suicide. The Universe, seen this way, is an infernal universe, because to live without believing in Something is like executing the sex act without love. We can ask, nevertheless, if before the Berdiaeff-Sartre dilemma there is another exit. If one is forced to declare for God or for despair. It is not strange, therefore, that now we should ask what man is. As Max Scheler says, this is the first time that man has become completely problematic, since as well as not knowing what she is, he knows that he does not know. What would cause those who do not believe in God to fight, to write, to paint, to discuss since in effect, one must choose between God and nothingness, between the meaning of our lives and the absurd? Is it that we who write or build bridges are then--without knowing it--believers in God? I think that the enigma begins to be less enigmatic if we invert the question: not to ask how it is possible that one struggles when the world seems meaningless and when mortality seems to be the final goal of life; but the reverse, to suspect that the world should have a meaning, given that we struggle, given that despite all the unreason we continue acting and living, constructing bridges and works of art, organizing tasks for many generations beyond our own demise, merely living. So, is not perhaps our instinct more penetrating than our reason, that reason which constantly disheartens us and threatens to turn us into skeptics? Skeptics do not struggle and strictly speaking should kill themselves or die amidst an absolute indifference. And nevertheless the great majority of human beings do not die or kill themselves and keep energetically working like ants who had eternity before them. That is what is grand. What value would it have that we eagerly work and live if we knew that we had eternity? What is marvelous is that we do it despite our reason permanently disillusioning us. Just as it is worth marveling that the symphonies and the paintings and the theories are not made by perfect men but by poor beings of flesh and bone. One afternoon in 1947, while I was traveling through some Italian village or other, I saw a little man bent over his land, still working determinedly, almost without light. His tilled land returned to life. On the side of the road a twisted, discarded tank could still be seen. I thought how admirable it is that despite everything the man, that so small and transitory thing, so repeatedly crushed by earthquakes and wars, so cruelly put to the test by fires and drownings and plagues and deaths of one's children and parents. Gabriel Marquez says: "The soul exists only through hope; hope is, perhaps, the very fabric of which our soul is made." Why think about the uselessness of our life, which we also insist upon rationalizing, a most dramatic danger for our existence? Why not humbly limit ourselves to following our instinct, which induces us to live and work, to have children and raise them, to give aid to our neighbor? Precarious and modest, this conviction implies a position before the world. Because if we live, we live in a concrete world and cannot disengage ourselves from what happens around us. And around us includes the naive who keep believing in the Incessant Progress of Humanity through Science and Invention, or crazed monsters who dream of the enslaving or the destruction of races and entire nations. Not two world wars, not the mechanized barbarity of the concentration camps have caused faith to vacillate in those adepts of Scientific Progress. It has not even caused them to meditate that the worst excesses occurred in the nation which had gone furthest toward scientific perfection. The dogma follows along. The torture, the Gestapos and Chekas do not matter. All that is unimportant because it is transitory: Humanity awaits an Age of Gold, in which everyone will be equal and happiness will reign forever. Meanwhile, we must persecute or liquidate those who place that Brilliant Future in doubt, must burn their books and proscribe their doctrines, must denounce them as decadents, counter-revolutionaries and sell-outs. Must one then loose anarchist bombs against the omnipotent power of the super-states? Must one flee to a deserted island? Or must one enclose themself in a tower for writing political charades? The physical power of the states today is so tremendous that it seems useless to propose theoretical solutions to the problem of man. Nevertheless it is the first thing we should do, whatever be the possibility of their realization. The Renaissance began as individualist so as to lead to massification, originated turning toward nature to culminate in the machine, began by defending concrete man so as to conclude in the abstraction of science. Man should fight today for a new synthesis: not a mere resurrection of individualism, but instead the reconciliation of the individual with the community; not the banishment of reason and the machine but their strict confinement to their corresponding territories. Because not everything was bad in our modern civilization's process. The control of nature gave man a new temper and the forces unchained by reason had a certain aspect of greatness. The exploration and the conquest of the planet, the gigantic enterprises carried out in America by the pioneers of individual capitalism are comparable to the epics of other times. As long as the machine remained on a human scale and under the dominion of its creator, it represented a triumph for man, an expression of his capacity to transcend his biological frontiers. For, as opposed to the other animals, man is characterized by his capacity to exceed the limits of his physical body: from the moment when he grasps an ax or throws a javelin, this strange animal already begins to surpass his carnal and bony structure to extend his primitive arm, later to multiply his force through the lever and his speed through the car and the ship. Little by little, over centuries of maturation, he kept extending the power of his organs, through apparatuses of growing complexity, until his senses were extended in all the directions of space and time, the lightest effort of his fingers sufficing for potent machines to obey his demiurgical will. On land, in the air, on water, man experienced the inebriation of infinite control and it seemed to them that all had to give way before their desires. Man, proud of his creation, sang exultantly of the machine. Thus Walt Whitman to the Locomotive: Thee for my recitative! Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day declining Saint-Exupéry described that lovely sensation of the pilot who is inextricably united with his machine, to his docile mechanical creature, his son or brother of steel and electricity. For those dreams of power, which according to Freud cause us to fly in the heavens, are realized today in actuality in those giant birds that Leonardo wanted and which 20th century man could at last construct and direct. And when I encountered the chapter of The Mint in which T. E. Lawrence speaks tenderly of the motors that were lovingly greased, polished, tuned by the mechanics of the R.A.F. I remembered with emotion my childhood days, in the engine room of our mill, where the boys would help with our mechanic's Sunday routine, detaching the cylinders and cleaning the valves on our big motor, that gasoline motor from the first war, with its flywheel ten feet in diameter and which we judged stronger, harder-working, more beautiful, more true than Cabodi's horrible motor. Because whereas the machine is in our service, while it is on our scale and we can review its entrails, mount and unmount its pieces, know its secrets, and participate in its distress and mistakes, while we can help it to live, to function again like a loyal houseboy, to save it from overheating and friction, while we can avoid its sufferings of a monster beyond itself, while we feel ourselves its father and mother, brother in blood and bone, older brother, more knowing and capable, while all that occurs, the machine is never our enemy but instead our beloved and at times admired extension, like the exploits of our children or younger siblings are admired. And that feeling is stronger in those who bet their life on their machine, in those who have to confide and do confide in the fraternal fidelity of their motor, in the aviators. For just as in danger there is formed among men that brotherhood of fear, that fraternity of the poverty of the human condition, so also, and maybe with greater tenderness, it forms and strengthens between man and his machine, until forming a single body and spirit, as can only happen between lovers. Something similar also happened with pure science, when man investigated things linked to his earthly life, to his feelings and emotions, when the language of science was the same as of life and of literature, when one could speak of the "arms" of a lever and the "life force," science was the fantastic and adventurous prolongation of the human, having all the attributes of life as well as the prestige of fantasy, of adventure in distant lands. In its bold explorations of non-Euclidian territories, in the vast theoretic constructions of relativity, man was exalted with the power of his imagination, with his unlimited capacity to transcend the limits of his everyday intuitions, with a sense for the pure beauty of the intellect. Science and the machine, ultimately, uncovered new aesthetic horizons: a good part of contemporary art, the entire abstract and constructivist movement, is the result of the new mentality. The same machine came to comprise a lovely universe of functional forms. Architecture provided its machines for living and its imposing abstract skyscraper structures. Yet just as the machine began to free itself from man and confront him, turning into an anonymous monster foreign to the human spirit, so science was turning into to frigid and dehumanized labyrinth of symbols. Sciences and the machine were retreating towards a mathematical Olympus, leaving the man who had given them life alone and helpless. Triangles and steel, logarithms and electricity, sinusoids and atomic energy, strangely united with the most mysterious and demonic forms of money, finally constituted the Great Mechanism in which the human beings ended by being obscure and impotent parts. And while the scientific specialists pass their lives at the bottom of a laboratory, measuring spectrographic plates and compiling thousands of indifferent numbers, the last individuals of the mechanical era, the aviators who still were like the wandering minstrels of the air, are enrolling in the anonymous cohort of the great mass of flying machines, geometrically produced, directed blindly by radio and by protractors, according to abstract grids on maps to bombard definite points with Cartesian coordinates. It would be necessary, now, to recoup some human meaning from technology and science, to set its limits, end with its religion. But it would be foolish to do without them in the name of being human, for in the last analysis they also are a product of her spirit. Just as it would be absurd to do without reason, solely because our simple predecessors had elevated it to the category of myth. If we are not destroyed by atomic forces, it will be necessary to undertake a vast synthesis of contrary elements. Already existential- phenomenological philosophy attempts a reconciliation of the objective and the subjective, of essence and existence, of the absolute and the relative, of the atemporal and the historical. A social synthesis of man and the community should correspond to this philosophical attitude. Neither individualism nor collectivism are human solutions: as Martin Buber says, the first does not see society and the second refuses to see the man. Those two reactions of contemporary man are the obverse and the reverse of that inhospitable situation, of that cosmic and social solitude in which is debated: to take refuge within oneself, or shelter in the collectivity. Yet the true position is neither one nor the other but instead the recognition of the other, of the speaker, of resemblance. The isolated individual as much as the collectivity are abstractions, since the concrete reality is a dialogue, given that existence is the human being entering into contact with things and with her equals. The fundamental fact is man and man. The rule of man is not the narrow and anxious territory of his own self, nor the abstract domain of the collectivity, but instead that intermediate land wherein love, friendship, comprehension, piety usually occur. Only the recognition of this principle will permit us to found authentic communities, not social machines. The usual response to this class of arguments is that it is useless to offer utopias when the reality is represented by two colossal states who from one moment to another will unleash atomic war. This argument can be answered: first, that if the super-states are on the verge of unleashing atomic war, nothing is more utopian than expecting something from them, because the most probable is that our whole civilization succumbs and human beings disappear from the face of the earth along with the monuments of their past grandeur; and second, that merely physical power cannot be an argument to resolve the great enigmas of the human spirit: it can annihilate them, not resolve them. The struggle to create small socialist communities can seem disproportionate and absurd, in the midst of this gigantic conflict between monstrous states. But many great stages in man's historyur have been preceded by disproportionate and absurd positions. Furthermore, what do we know of that which is beyond the absurd? Why does a struggle have to appear reasonable? We ignore, at least I ignore, whether the evils and perversities of reality have some hidden meaning that escapes our dull human vision. Yet our instinct for life incites us to fight despite everything, and that is enough, at least for me. We are not completely isolated. The fleeting instants of community before the beauty that we sometimes experience beside other men, the moments of solidarity before pain, are like fragile and transitory bridges which link men over the bottom less abyss of solitude. Fragile and transitory, those bridges nevertheless exist and even if everything else were placed in doubt, they should suffice for us to know there is something outside our cell and that that something is valuable and gives meaning to our life, and perhaps even an absolute meaning. Why must the absolute be attained, as the philosophers claimed, through rational knowledge of all our experiences, and not through some sudden and instantaneous ecstasy which at once illuminates the vast dominions of the absolute? Dostoyevsky says through the voice of Kirilov: "I believe in eternal life in this world. There are moments when time suddenly halts to make room for eternity." Why should the absolute be sought outside of time and not in those fleeting yet powerful instants when, upon listening to some musical notes or on hearing a close person's voice, we feel that life has an absolute meaning? That is the sense of hope for me and that which, despite my somber vision of reality, lifts me once and again to struggle. All the horror of the past and present centuries in man's long and difficult history is furthermore non-existent for every child that is born and for every youth who begins to think. Every hope of every youth is new - happily, because pain is not suffered except in one's own flesh. That candid hope proceeds roughly, it is true, deteriorating miserably, most of the time becoming a dirty rag, which finally is discarded with disgust. Yet what is admirable is that man keeps struggling despite everything and that, disillusioned or sad, tired or sick, he keeps blazing trails, hoeing the land, fighting against the elements, and even creating works of art in the midst of a barbaric and hostile world. This should suffice to prove to us that the world has some mysterious meaning and to convince us that, although mortal and perverse, we men can reach some form of greatness and eternity. And that, if it is true that Satan is love of the earth, in some part of the sky or in some corner of our being resides a Divine Spirit which incessantly fights against him, to lift us once and again out of the dust of our desperation.