David Grayson Page 3
    Monsieur Valéry, in our business
  ideas are so rare that
  if a man hits upon one
  he certainly won't forget it.8

Beyond the inherent limits of science, constraints are imposed externally, too. As a survivor of both the Nazi occupation and Communist governance, Holub is acutely aware how politics can enmesh honest and open inquiry. Indeed, Holub had personal experience with the practice of government control. During Communist rule, Holub chose not to join the Communist party; he also, as mentioned, participated in reformist activities. The reper-
cussions of these decisions were significant. He was fired from his position at the Microbiological Institute, his books were banned for many years, and his travel abroad was restricted. He had to issue a public apology in order to work at even a junior position.9

These personal experiences suffuse his poetry with a hypersensitivity to authority. In "Žito the Magician," for example, Žito is able to do every-thing the king requests: "To amuse His Royal Ma-jesty he will change water into wine. Frogs into footmen. Beetles into bailiffs." However, when Žito is asked to "think up sine alpha greater than one," Žito cannot do it, explaining that "sine is between plus one and minus one." 10 Like Žito, Holub sticks to proofs. A friend and translator of Holub's poetry, David Young noted: "He viewed science and reason as antidotes to Communism. He put his faith in facts and was critical of all expressions of irrationality."11

Although the spectrum of challenges can be discouraging, our survival as a species depends upon our study of the world. Equally important, there is pleasure to be derived from overcoming obstacles; this is the very heart of the scientific quest. Describing Holub's approach, the