THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Saturday, March 9, 1968
4Death in Life: Survivi
4Robert Jay Lif ton. R~
in Lif e' We are all survivors of Hiroshima
ors of Hiroshima, by
andom House, $10.
Prof. Llftpon's new book is both monumental
and impressive. The result of several years spent
In Japan interviewing survivors of the August
6, 1945, holocaust, the 600-page volume con-
tains, besides the words of the survivors them-
selves (the "hibakusha"), the brilliant explana-
tions of Lifton, who not only places all this
mnass-of material in profound historical and
psychological perspectives, but who also ex-
pands the implications of the subtitle to its
logical and emotional limits: we are all sur-
vivors of Hiroshima.
As Dr. Ilifton puts it, in the clear and honest
prose which characterizes his entire and enor-
mous undertaking, "we may define the survivor
as one who has come into contact with death
in some bodily or psychic fashion and has him-
self remained alive. From this broad perspective
we may compare patterns we have observed
in Hiroshima to those of other 'extreme' his-
torical experiences, particularly the Nazi per-
secutions, but also the plagues of the Middle
Ages . - .As we examine these categories we
find ourselves dealing with universal psycho-
logical tendencies; the survivor becomes Every-
The immediate impression created by Death
in Life is thoroughness. To begin with, Lifton
interviewed, on extended visits, seventy-five
atomic bomb survivors. Then, he had to ar-
range the accumulated materials into cate-
gories of concern, on the basis of "a modified
psychoanalytic approach," and yet with "the
kinsd of symbolic and thematic emphasis now
prominent in much scientific thought which
focuses upon form, and configuration."
The result is a model of research (its comn-
plexities are noted, especially the delicate re-
lationships involved in an American investigator
seeking to know the consequences of the A-
bomb from its victims) and organization; the
clarity is stunning. Not that there are not dull
patches, but the overall momentum gathers as
we read; ultimately, the work is fascinating. For
example, the problem of color discrimination
for survivors whose skin was made permanently
darker by exposure; thlis, of course, is just a
minute part of the larger concern for all aspects
of "contamination" and "discrimination."'
The perpetual "burden of their survival"
dramatizes the fate of the "hibakusha." They
have, indeed, faced the final reality -death
itself; their continued existence exposes them
(and us) to basic questions: "the ultimate coun-
terfeit element for- hibakusha is life itself."
The guilt element is one of the most provoc-
ative conditions which Lifton probes and an-
alyzes. When a visiting Indian jurist compares
"a Japanese tendency to look upon the disaster
as their own fault to a similar tendency of In-
dians to hold themselves responsible for oppres-
sion at the hand of the British," we are at once
in Kafka's world and in the whole large com-
plex of world politics, world and national racism,
you name it.
The overall plan of this book is, finally, very
appealing. Starting with the "experience" of the
bomb itself (including even the "apprehensions"
of residents of this hitherto unbombed military
center), Lifton gradually works through events,
from confusion to comprehension and on to
ultimate reactions. He has fascinating sections
on the survivors' "perceptions'' of America and
on eventual "creative responses" in literature
and the other arts. And his final chapter, "The
Survivor," raises the large questions with which
this review began.
You can't go back to Wolfe
By DANIEL OKRENT
Glttn= ad=ieri -s Hm= =rolms ofBeing Natural
Perhaps the most overblown fallacy that plagues American
education is thie Myth of Expertise, that excuse for the teacher's
opportunity to stand up in front of his tenth grade social studies
class and enjoy the most absurd of "learning process" self-
indulgences: authoritarian domination. The "expert" doesn't
have to answer as long as he is guarded by an upright lectern
and state-given tenure.
Occasionally, though, the Myth of Expertise that seems to
come as a natural partner with any title or rank of academic
distinction, falls away and becomes irrelevant because the pos-
sessor sincerely wishes it that way. And those that do, like
Marston Bates, make the attractiveness and meaning of learning
become clear and inspiring. From the moment Prof. Bates' book
embarks on a tour of the human condition and its illogical, ex-i
tremely laughable, culturally inherited foibles, the reader is
given a carte blanche invitation to answer back.
It's not so easy for someone like Bates to do this: he could
launch his attack on bugaboos and taboos from the enviable
academic record he has earned: an eminent zoologist, he Is one
of the University's most widely-respected faculty members.
But rather than automatically impose the restrictions that
such credentials too often necessarily yield, he drops academic
pretense, ignores the egotistic appeal of esoteria, and quite
frankly explains that maybe there is nothing wrong at all says
Bates, with "coprophagy - the elegant term for eating shit."
Or that history contradicts genetic theories of the harmfulness
of inbreeding (generations of incestuous Ptolemys yielded Cleo-
patra). Or that homosexuality may be established as "natural"
by examining the fact that homo sapiens has reached his heights
because of it - you see, there is a certain amount of sub-
threshhold homosexuality evident in man's age-old ability to
cooperate with other men in building his world.
And it goes on, each challenge of social interpretation of
biological "fact" smacking not of stiff-lipped authority, but of
a simple, rhetorical "Why Not?'" Furthering his attack on a
society that uses the brutality of superstition as the basis for
its morality, he takes man's two greatest drives - food and sex -
classifies them both as necessities, and then extends the com-
parison to establish that if we can sell food in the grocery
store, why can't we openly sell sex?
Of course, such suggestions are based on a spurious premise,
that both drives are of equal magnitude and equal importance.
And. there is no doubt. that the author realized a certain ob-
tuseness of logic. What's important, though, is that Marston
Bates can muster the courage to scuttle straight-faced argu-
ments with ease, wit, potency and remarkable relaxation
What he finally states (and what the reader really senses
all along) is that there is no reason on earth why one man
cannot choose to become coprophagic, queer, or panderous with-
out worrying what the man next door will say or do. That there
is no justification for social moralities disguised in the garb
of scientific doctrine. That there is no rationale for any number
of things we do and thoughts we think, other than the oft-said.
"Well, my father/teacher/brother/ uncle/:next door neighbor
first president did it that way."
tion it attacks.
When Bates asks his questions, he invitingly encourages you
to reply. He does this just so you can catch yourself in the
middle of a pat, rote-learned answer and realize that even if
you make more sense, even if your arguiment is soundly base i
on fact, it is really meaningless. Why should any man any
place, any time, ever get up and take himself so seriously to
think that what he sees, for no matter what reason, is the
same as what the man next door should - or does- ever see'
By DAVID KNOKE
Thomas Wolfe, by Andrew
Turnbull. Random House, $4.95
You can't, Thomas Wolfe
once wrote, go home again nor,
apparently, after reading An-
drew Turnbull's portrait of the
novelist, can you return with
the same appreciation to the
Thomas Wolfe you once read,
Turnbull approaches his sub-
ject with the same awe and
reverence that continues to
win Wolfe countless admirers,
all swept along by his torren-
tial prose and lyric splendor.,
Unable to appraise Wolfe's
literary nierits, Turnbull is re-
duced to reporting assertions
about.Wolfe's greatness. While
this method will be greatly ap-
preciated by those for whom
expansiveness and emotion-
alism in writing are virtues',
ctly toa Elizabet Nowesil',
1960 biographical account or
Richard Kennedy's literary cri-
SE LL NG NOW!.
2nd Floor, STUDENT PUBL!CATIONS BLDG.
tique, "The Window of Mem-
However, the personal pomp-
osity and neuroticism of a
lonely writer come through
even in this superficial ac-
count of Wolfe's brief, meteo-
ric career as The Amer~ican
Novelist of the '30's.
Wolfe cultivated an image of
The Writer as gargantuan con-
sumer of experience, but he
never achieved his incessant
desire to become an artist. In
four major novels and count-
less short stories running to
millions of words, he strove to
capture on paper~ his variegated
and flamboyant experiences.
Wolfe started out to creat art
trndtobecome an artist
There are intimations - be-
fore his sudden death from
tuberculosis at 38 - that Wolfe
was learning patience and con-
trol over his material. Such was
not the case in his personal af-
fairs, as Turnbull's account
Turnbull's best sections are
Pbiographical sketches of the
main actoi's in Wolfe's liter-
ary career - his editor Max-
well Perkins, his mistress Aline
Bernstein and F. Scott Fitz-
gerald, the subject of a pre-
vious biography. Wolfe received
invaluable assistance from all
three, but as his success grew
he became increasingly guar'-
relsome and brought sordid
JUNE 24-AUG. 27
DC-8 Je t
(based on GIT fore)
ends to his friendships.
The fineness of Wolfe's ly-
rics and the nobility of his
credo take on a shallow tinge
in the revelation of his callow-
ness toward his intimate ac-
quaintances and the bigotry la-
tent in his Southern back-
'He could write, in "I Have
a Thing to Tell You," with
great pity about Nazi terror-
ism against a Jewish travelling
companion, but still express ve-
hemently anti-Semitic senti-
ments against his own mistress.
He could write fatuously "I
believe in love, the savior and
redeemer of the universe,'' yet
discard his women once the
affais ceased to inerest hm
of the time," Perkins once tried
to explain, "on account of his
being so sensitive and so dis-
tracted about his work, etc.,
that he was sometimes cruel
and unjust. But he hated those
things. There was no man who
loved good more than 'Iom ."
Wolfe's sensitivity indeed went
into his work. The vision, the
scope, the magnificence of his
endeavors have n o t been
matched in American letters.
The contradicitions anid hu-
bris of the man and his works
are enigmas which Turnbull's
biography presents but does not
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By ELIZABETH WISSMAN
Fifty Works of English Lit-
erature .We Could Do With-
out, by Brigid Brophy, Michael
Levey, and Charles Osborne.
Stein and Day, $4.95.
This group of essays is dedi-
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who have learned through tor-
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IS STILL ALIVE!Y
longa, vita, brevis." There are
moments, in the midst of "Fin-
negan's Wake," when it seem~s
that Joyce has simulated the
process of eternal recurrence all
too faithfully. Authors Brophy,
Levey and Osborne are assured
of a ready audience. For there is
nothing written that is not too
long, too chaotic, too balanced,
too dirty, or too clean for some-
But it is not "taste" which
the authors attack, so much as
the ossification of taste into a
rigid standard. They aim at
those "classics" which make up
the forced feeding of the young
or inexperienced in England and
the United States. This kind of
challenge to the accepted norm
is as welcome in literature as
in any of the arts. But it be-
comes annoying when Brophy et
al take a Promethean stance.
Our heroes set forth against
demon Scholasticism with all
the comical clank of outmoded
chivalry. They would oppose
their emotional and intellectual
honesty ("our taste is, at least,
felt and scrutinized") to the
Evil Giant of the Academy. The
authors successfully mistake
1968 for Eighteenth Century
France. In fact, they are even
anachronistic in some of their
specfictrs. I cn't.on
tradition which supports the
merits of "Tom Brown's School-
days" or "The Bride of Lam-
The attack is further miti-
gated by the authors' indecision.
rAs readers, we desire either a
sound argument or a burst of
delicious malice. We get neither.
What is a statement like "Hop -
kins' is the poetry of a mental
cripple" compared to the crea-
tive invective of Paul Krassner?
And surely there must be some-
thing more reasonable at fault
with "Huckleberry Finn" that
its "abstract concept of 'boy-
There is an unevenness in
"Fifty Works" which is perhaps
unavoidable with three authors.
Certain essays are notable for a
sustained and deadly irony, such
as the attack on "Eliot's Notes
on 'The Waste Land'." A /few
others discover structural flaws
within the work from which a
credible case may be elaborated.
But in most cases, Brophy,
Levey and Osborne damage
their work by rigid comparisons.
While all critical attacks imply
an alternate standard of value.
"Fifty Works" falters by being
too specific. The trouble with
Trollope, we are told, is that
he is neither Thackeray nor
Dickens. This type of reasoning
can only return us to the stand-
ard, with each new work praised
only for its relationship to the
ing and Joyce. But whatever is
produced of value today must
be something else.
For the Latest in
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