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October 09, 1967 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-09
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- s

AIL I w A m





"I mean, of course she's nice, but
there is something about her I just
don't like and that's why I don't
want her in.


1ibert kIlao n Reand TAin ,9

rushees so u±,at we can refer to
them when we need more inform a-
tion concerning a girl. Their pres-
ence in the room, and occasional
snatches of advice, lend an aura of
traditional authority that bothers
Happily, about midnight we had
a surprise that cleared the air --
three handsome boys burst in with
cases of cokes and the encouraging
cries, "Here's our wish that you
have as great a pledge class this
year as you did last." Cheers from
After the break at 12:30 we were
chewed out for making hash slow,
nebulous, repetitive and irrelevant.
"If you want her then take a stand;
if you don't want her vote "five"
and tell why."
A very strong negative home vote
was given on one girl by an alum.
She said that this negative factor
would not come out in a rushing
situation, but in a living situation.
"I just want you to know that you
would be taking on a responsibility,
thats all." Everyone is very curious
-just what is it that is so unmen-
tionable about this girl? Does she
leave the cap off the toothpaste or
is it some actual character flaw?
The remark was enough to change
3's to 5's, however, so the alum's

"inside information" did its job.
Today was the beginning of
third set. We've changed from a
1-5 to a 1-3 system tonight. A '1'
means you definitely want a girl
in the pledge class; a '2' means
you wouldn't mind but would also
abdicate in favor of someone else;
a '3' means you definitely don't
want her in the pledge class.
The main considerations tonight
seem to be: what would this girl be
like in a living situation? Is it the
time to be tenacious, or is it the
time to bow to or at least bend with
your sister's opinions? Every girl
who comes to final desserts is a
potential pledge. What will happen
when there are two completely
polar opposite opinions?
I almost got sick when the alum
read a green sheet for a girl we were
undecided about - it said: "Her
background and breeding are un-
excelled; she comes from one of
Cleveland's most prominent fami-
Another time we needed a green
sheet on a girl who was liked by
every one who met her. "We are
having some real problems getting
a recommendation on this girl, and
not because no one knows her,"


said an alum. Ominous silence. "I
think you ought to know this," she
The girl is very well-liked. We
don't have a green sheet on her. If
this is because of lack of informa-
tion, then the rush supervisor can
write one for her to solve the prob-
lem. But if the alums won't recom-
mend her, for some reason, there's
nothing we can do. This girl can't
come to final desserts without a
recommendation or the written
promise that one is coming.
Some actives apologized tonight
for "monopolizing" a conversation
with a rushee. They admitted that
they got "too involved." Dennie and
Chas said "Watch that. Don't allow
yourself to get involved because it's
not fair to the girl. She must meet
as many people as possible to have
more votes." Yet, is it better to be
voted on by a few who talked with
you for a long time and know you
better or by many people whose
opinions are tentative?
I have the sickest feeling in the
pit of my stomach. Two wonderful
girls seem to be completely unap-
preciated by several other activies.
It is so frustrating and almost fu-
tile-how can you convince some-
one of the merits of a girl they just
didn't like?
All you can do is ask the girls to
give the rushee another chance.
Loud cheers tonight because it
is the last hash! We are becom-
ing much more aggressive with
our opinions now that the last
chance has come to voice our
"I knew her from kids in my gym
class-and that's a living situation.
She borrowed everything!"
One girl was just given five 3's-
she won't be back. She was self-
confident, strong, opinionated and
real-but five people didn't want
her because she is too much of a
person. I'm just a little bitter.
Then again: a girl who seemed
more real and refreshing and true
to herself than anyone else was
termed "lacking in poise," whatever
that is. Some of us spoke out in des-
pair, saying that we didn't want to
be living with a class of poised, con-
trolled, uninspiring people. The real
meat of a class is in those who aren't
the "nice" girls who cause no con-
troversy and who also cause no re-
action at all. This can easily turn
into indifference, which is far
worse than dislike.
In reference to the girl who did
not have a green sheet, we discov-
ered: "There is sufficient reason
why the alum cannot write a re-
commendation on ...........This
means you cannot ask this girl back
for final desserts." Apologetic, but
firm. No word of dispute from the
actives, just mute silence.
Some practice last night for an
hour and a half-Judy taught five
songs for final desserts. Another
practice equally long tonight. Every-
one is getting pretty tired of spend-
ing all their time in meetings or
rush activities. It's getting to the
point now where we just want to
be settled in with our new pledge
class and be done with the whole

The second set of final desserts
is over. It's almost impossible to
describe the mood of the occasion.
Someone in the house expressed
it well when she said, "Mixers is
a time for breaking the ice,-see-
ond set is a chance for' thought-
ful discussion, and third set is a
social situation. But final desserts
is sorority life in an emotional
Quiet one - to - one conversation,
candlelight dessert in a formal set-
ting, the ritual of the final dessert
ceremony-all are designed to snow
the rushee with the beauty and
warmth of sorority life. '
I was very moved by the evening
myself, and was softened in my
feelings of resentment towards the
rush structure. The unity and
thoughtfulness shown the rushees
those last two nights was not a
facade, perhaps only an exaggerat-
ed manifestation of the spirit which,
nevertheless, is there.
As I met more of the girls who
were potential pledges, I was much
more enthusiastic about rush, and
I found it more and more difficult
to remember that through defects
in the system many other fine peo-
ple were overlooked or misjudged.
It's been a long day. Yet when I
consider the wonderful results of
the two-and-one-half weeks ,of
frenzy and disenchantment, I am
grateful. Incredulous, but grateful.
Starting at 2 o'clock, our twenty-
seven pledges were carried crying
and laughing up the sidewalk and
into the house by boisterous fra-
ternity men. Each new pledge was
immediately surrounded by the
tearful, hysterically happy congrat-
ulations of actives.
For the whole day the pledges
were the center of attention. Their
picture was taken, they were blasted
by the noisy songs sung in tribute
to them by the actives, they were
given the traditional roses and
kisses from the fraternity men and
were identified by corsages.
I tried to meet the girls I had
heard about but not met. Borne
away by the spirit of the occasion
we were close friends at once, at
least for the moment.
There was much talk of "growing
friendships" and "how much the
house will come to mean to you."
Then the pledges were turned
loose for two hours and catapulted
into the most notorious of all Greek
activities-the mixer, or open house.
Immediately they were exposed to
all the rigors and pitfalls associated
with the fraternity-sorority dating
Whether or not this is too heady
an influence at the offset 'or not, I
don't know.
Next came the contrast of the
pledge supper, with its emphasis on
congeniality with the sisters, and
finally climaxed by the pledge cere-
mony itself. The last hour before-
the pledges returned to their dorms,
spent in candlelight ceremony, per-
sonified the peace and sense of be-
longing that can have such a hyp-
notic effect. We really didn't give
those girls a chance to like us grad-
ually -,we kind cf forced the love
through a day concentrated with
special attention and cmnpliments.

Stranger in a Strange Land proves
the theory that imaginative writ-
ters can be prophets and seers, early
warning systems, antennae in touch
with the future. Robert A. Heinlein
published it in 1961, and nothing
else I have seen, heard, or read does
so good a job describing the contem-
porary hippie ethic - and making
its conventional origins clearer than
ever before.r
Rene Daumal's Mount Analogue
demonstrates, however, that the
truly prophetic imaginative writers
see through not to fads and fash-
ions, but to universals.
Some books you want to talk
about just because they're good -
in the case of Stranger in a Strange
Land and Mount Analogue because
they're extraordinary. But first I
want to explain why the two appear
together here.
Last spring I wrote an essay for
The Nation on why students like to
read J.R.R. Tolkien's hobbit books
and Herman Hesse's novels ("Top
of the Pops: Tolkien and Hesse,"
May 8, 1967), and I asked an ob-
servant friend at Stanford what
books the bells-and-beads crowd
read out West. The list he sent was
reassuringly familiar, but one title
I was particularly curious about,
and another I had never heard of at
all. The first was Stranger in A
Strange Land the other Mount Ana-
logue. I read them and liked them;
but weighty things can be said about
them, too, as may be seen.
Heinlein has written more than
three dozen science fiction novels,
and some of his fans say that
Stranger in A Strange Land, as far
as it expounds a love ethic, is a
fluke. His other recent works are
said to preach Barry Goldwater's
philosophy more than Allen Gins-
berg's. There is one Goldwater-type
in Stranger - though Jubal Har-
shaw more closely resembles Theo-
dore Roosevelt - but he manages
to share in the love even though he
doesn't sermonize about it.
The stranger is Valentine Michael
Smith, born to Earth explorers on
an early Martian expedition, who
returns to Earth as "the man from
Mars." Mike Smith possesses un-

ROBERT SKLAR teaches History
and American Studies at the Uni-
versity of Michigan. Author of a
study of F. Scott Fitzgerald, he re-
cently contributed an article on
Thomas Pynchon for The Nation's
"New Novel, U.S.A." series.

earthly powers taught him by the
Martian "old ones" - mental tele-
pathy, and the ability to kill or de-
stroy objects through mental con-
centration. But he can teach these
powers to other humans who can
learn to "grok" as he can.
To "grok" is to understand the
way nineteenth century New Eng-
land transcendentalists tried to, by
intuiting the essence of something
instead of merely knowing the fact
of it. There is a story about the
transcendentalist Margaret Fuller
who one day, despite warnings,
walked smack into a tree. "I saw
the tree," she explained, "but I
didn't realize it." If she had "reali-
zed" it she would have, in Martian
terminology, grokked in fullness.
The core of Stranger in A Strange
Land is Mike Smith's effort to found
a religious sect based on his super-
ior Martian insight into human es-
sences and life's fundamental val-
ues. His sect is not so much trans-
cendentalist as it is utopian Protes-
tant, resembling John Humphrey
Noyes's Oneida community, which
practiced a spiritually based com-
munal sex sharing much as Mike
Smith's tribe does.
Heinlein's utopia has a strong
elitist bias=- only a few people can
master the inental discipline requir-

ed to enter it - but in most other
respects it represents the hippie eth-
ic in tan extraordinary way. It lives
by the same spiritual sense of love
and unity with others, the same
break with common temporal cares,
and explicitly criticizes in the same
way middle-class anxieties and
fears, possessiveness and selfish-
Heinlein undercuts his version -
perhaps in deliberate self-satire -
by incorporating a Thorne Smith-
type Heaven, thus compromising
his characters' courage by allowing
them an easy immortality. But this
helps to clarify-in ways that I at
least had not recognized before -
how much the hippie ethic is root-
ed in a conventional yearning for
religious certainty by American ado-
lescents who have grown up in an
almost totally secularized Protestant
Rene Daumal's humorous fanta-
sy of a voyage to a high mountain in
the middle of the South Pacific al-
so provides a metophor for spiritual
self-discovery and self-transcen-
dence, but the voyage within may
be undertaken anywhere by any-
one. Mount Analogue was left un-
completed when Daumal, a French
essayist, poet, and philosopher, died
at the age thirty-six in 1944.

self in his he
to the power
turn to his s5
Mount Anal
finds, and he
Climbing the
finds out "wl
tating anyon
Daumal's N
most as read
as does Heinl
tistry lends it
one who see]
cumbered b5
ment, group
Daumal left
among his ur
mountains in
the greatest
"Art is here
ledge realized
LAND, by Ro
paperback. 75
Daumal. Trai
tion by Roge
(London),. pa

Pledge Sunday and the
carrying-over of the select,

... ,.



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