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March 27, 1970 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-03-27

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a ,
Friday, March 27, 1970


Dic key s



On the art of Tibet

Pratapaditya Pal, THE ART
OF TIBET, The Asia Society,
1969, $16.50.
The art of Tibet is difficult
of access, both literally a nd
psychologically. Since the nine-
teen fifties the treasures of 'its
great monasteries - wall paint-
ings, hanging scrolls (tankas),
sculpture and ritual objects -
have been lost to students from
the West. Although collections
of Tibetan art exist outside the
country itself, the importance
of this primary loss (especially
for our knowledge' of Tibetan
painting) may be appreciated
when we recall Giuseppe Tucci's
remark that although individual
works which find their way into
museums are seldom signed or
dated, those in situ often are.
Tucci based many of his at-
4 tributions on stylistic compari-
sons with such murals or cult
images housed in temples and
But there is another obstacle
to a general appreciation of the
remarkable Buddhist painting
and sculpture of Tibet. Vajray-
. ana, the Third Vehicle, sponsor-
ed a multitude of esoteric deities,
and an extraordinarily complex
iconography. Tibetan art seethes
with demons, monsters, guard-
ian kings of appalling ferocity,
gods and goddesses, their mani-
festations, symbols and attri-
butes. Unfortunately, no general
introduction to the fascinating
jungle of Tibetan visual imagery
has been readily available. The,
publication of' the Asia H o u s e
exhibition catalogue The Art
of Tibet is particularly welcome,
bringing together as it does an
outstanding selection of Tibetan
art objects and an excellent com-
mentary by Pratapaditya Pal,
keeper of the Indian Collections
at the Boston Museum of Fine
Dr. Pal's knowledge of Tibetan
art is impressive and has been
i. intelligently distilled to meet the
requirements of both the stu-
dent of Oriental art and the
general reader. Geography is
history - never more so than in
the case of Tibet whose proxi-
mity to China, Kasmir and Ne-'
pal has brought it into contin-
uous contact with the major cen-
ters of Asian culture. Dr. Pal's
text includes a brief survey of
Tibet's historical development
and the influences shaping her
artistic expression. Additional
sections discuss Lamaisni, Tibet's
special form of Buddhism. the
,,art objects, their materials and

techniques, and the role of artist
and patron in Tibetan society.
Problems of special interest to
scholars are dealt with in the
plate annotations. In general
Dr. Pal has followed the broad
stylistic categories established by
Tucci, differing only occasion-
ally in matters of date or at-
tribution except in his introduc-
tion of new material. Dates of
paintings or bronze images are
in most cases supported by care-
ful stylistic analo ies, but the
author does not coceal the dif-
ficulties inherent in any attempt
to organize a body,- of undated

be judged by the quality of its
reproductions and.here readers
familiar with previous A s i a
Society catalogues are in ,for
a disappointment The plates are
not always clear. This is espec-
ially the case with paintings. Dr.
Pal has observed that "nowhere
does the Tibetan genius express
itself better than in painting,"
and therefore the muddy sur-
facss of many' of the reprints
included in this expensive vol-
ume are a Arawback. It is true
that black and white photo-
graphs scarcely convey the
"message" of Tibetan tankas,

James Dickey, THE EYE-
day, 1970, $4.95. (paperback,
Several years ago I decided I
should 'learn something about
poetry. What I had read seemed
perfect and distant beyond any
willingness to admit my life;
when beside a real leaf, the leaf
of words showed for nothing.
And yet, I could not trust my
opinion because, well, wasn't
poetry supposed to be the best
use man has made of language?
In the whim that guides such
choices, I bought a book called
Buckdancer's Choice by James
Dickey (had it been Robert Lo-
well, I probably would have
stumbled off to enlist a term
with the nearest gravedigger).
Here was the proof of another
life, a happy man. Added to
this joy, the audacious meta-
phors bridging the synapses
with lightning, was a strange-
ness whose presence I could not
fully explain, like a colt sensing
the imminence of a summer
storm, the storm behind that
storm. The Eye-beaters, Blood,
Victory, Madness, Buckhead and
Mercy - sounding like a super-
ior law firm - is the name of
James Dickey's new collection of
poems, a book which likely will
cause violent reactions of love,
hate, and love-hate in the com-
ing months.
Much of the book I cannot
like, some poems seeming curious
experiments in wipe-out bathos.
Most often this occurs when
Dickey takes on a subject pub-
licly certified as significant, a
position always dangerously
close to sentimentalism end
temptations of blown rhetoric.
What I find disturbing is that,
in poem after poem, the details
he clusters are precisely the ones
we would arrive at, were we
given the task of writing about
"going home," or "the moon
landing": the poem does not
generate itself from within like
a new sun.
"Looking for the Buckhad
Boys" is about going home again
(you can't go), and finding
everything changed. The poet
walks the streets, a king return-
ed to his kingdom, but where,
in earlier works-and like Lor-
ca's King of Harlem - he has .
used so effectively this image
of the submerged kings, Ar-
thurian kings, in a time of
egalitarianism, here Dickey re-
sorts to crowing, "Lord, Lord!
Like'a king!" The allusion seems
remembered from his own poems
rather than from a primal un-
conscious source; the king is a
hemopheliac who must pawn his
crown to pay the milk bill.
There are other egregious
poems, I'leave them for you to
discover, the words remaining
at a chrysalis state, failing at
the point of imaginative trans-
formation to become something
else, at the point when we stop
thinking of clay as clay, and be-
gin to think of it as sculpture.
But The Eye-Beaters, Blood,
Victory, Madness, Buckhead and
Mercy also contains the near-
best of Dickey's work, the sel-.
dom consummated promise of
what language can do and be.
I am talking about "The Lord
in the Air," "Pine," "Madness,"


and "The Eye-Beaters." We
should be able to anticipate the
poems to come from the ones
before, and from the wonder-
fully expansive poetry criticism
that seems to include the pos-
sibility of the unwritten Poem,
yet to look upon these four is to
to see for the first time a marv-
elous new species of animal,
conforming to all specifications
of animalness but joyfully un-
expected - who' could have
known? He locates us at the
very junction where, at any mo-
ment, the nerves will burst into
leaf. He has the power, justly
used, to destroy us utterly on
the strength of one word, to de-
stroy and remake us more hu-
manly than before.
I will try to become less ab-
stract, but, the fact is, the poems
defy extracting of quotations be-
cause of the way they are
shaped on the page, line length,
or a wild spinning syntax in
which one image after another
is nabbed and casually ,discard-.
ed in the search for the right
combination, like trying on
shoes, piles of shoes, until final-
ly deciding to remain barefoot.
The poems invite an individual
response and are justified by
anyone willing to make the at-
For example: "Pine." It is the
apprehending of a pine tree,
one section given for each of the
five human senses, recalling the
Hopkins Journal entries - the
"in-scapings" - for bluebells
and lightning. In the first part,
devoted to. sound, Dickey moves,
often with the slightest sugges-
tion, convincingly with a flurry
of references: sewing needles, a

swimming pool, a carny's bark,
a lifeguard, long-distance run-
ning, rescue, love making, just-
ice scales, ax-throwing, and es-
cape. With taste his attention
gravitates around the irrational
and are your children
What you eat? What green of
And manna in the next eye
To come from you? And will
he whistle
From head to foot?
The encounter of human and
non-human, the poet's means
for participation in the making
of the universe; is an unnatural
act, a wide-eyed-from-shock ac-
counting of a bestiality result-
ing in a creature that has never
before existed, unintended of
God. Usual description, and
most prose, dwells on the visual;
here, Dickey tacitly dismisses us
with one word: "Glory." He
does manage to present us the
terror of the forest, without the
I number the metaphor "the
blue swoon of the pool" among
my favorites in literature, a
flash bringing to mind a kidney-
shaped pool, the smell of chlor-
ine, and, for some crazy reason,
the Norwegian artist Edvard
Munch's portrait of a scream.
In "Madness" I like the lowly
dog described in the terms of
the four throne-guarding beasts
of the apocalypse, "full of eyes";
I admire how "a family foot"
implies the family all connected
above the dinner table into a
mysterious animal . . . but
enough. Buy. Read. Delight.


Newe novels

and stay in
either one is ONLY $189
and inclu~des


Robert Stone Pryor, COLD
IRON, McCall, 1970, $5.50.
Frank Miceli, THE SEV-
ENTH MONTH, Frederick
Fell, 1970, $5.95.
Tony Hillerman, THE
BLESSING WAY, Harper and
Row, 1970, $4.95.
Samuel Astrachan, RE-
JOICE, Dial Press, 1970, $4.95.
Robert Stone Pryor, we are
told "is the pseudonym of a
well-known novelist who must
remain anonymous," and we
might logically assume t h a t
paranoia, which is the theme
of Cold Iron, the paranoia felt
by today's "drug and rock count-
er-culture," has affected the ob-
viously sympathetic author.
Cord Iron is the name of the
rock group whose members pop-
ulate this novel; cold iron forns
the badges, guns, and clubs of
the police endlessly watching,
harrassing, and busting the
young men and women whose
only goal is to stay high, shake
off fear, and occasionally touch
The fascination of Mr. Pry-
ors novel, which maintains some
of the delirium of prose master-
ed by Tom Wolfe in The Elec-
tric Kool-Aid Acid Test, is that
while he obviously sympathizes
with the "counter-culture"--wit-
ness a beautiful scene where the
stoned group wander through a
California equivalent of K-mart
--he manages to portray the
subliminal hysteria, the com-
pulsive activity, the unfocused
energy, and the essential 'lack
of interpersonal empathy that
operates among the denizens of
the drug scene Somehow, every-
thing remains in the mind, and
for all of the expletives concern-
ed 'with: bodily functions, h o w
little is really touched and felt.
Its a fine line, and Pryor treads
it well in his fine, brief novel.
The dust-jacket of Frank Mi-
celi's The Seventh Month pro-
claims that the novel concerns
"a young man's moral devalua-
tion as he grapples with t h e
chaos and confusion of 'h i s
life." Unfortunately the lack of
destination that enervates anti-
hero Tony Niente also plagues
the progress of the novel for
Mr. Miceli has obviously no t
been able to solve the problem
of how to describe the pettiness
and meaninglessness of human
activity without throwing h i s
own narrative into entrbpic de-
Miceli can write with a strange
acidic power that cuts into one's
consciousness and scars; his
opening scenes of the insane
carnage and eroticism of t h e
Vietnam war become almost pal-
pable. Likewise his description
of Niente's family in New York
-the broken father, the quietly

suffering mother, the pot-head
brother - recalls Di Donato's
fine stores of Italian, working-
class families. Yet, with the ex-
ception of a few outstanding
scenes, for both Niente, losing
his mistress after a squalid abor-
tion, and for the reader, flipping
pages with increasing inatten-
tion, life becomes a boring soap
opera with fewer and fewer re-
deemable qualities. The last line
might well serve as the novel's.
epitath: "Out. of the earth came
the worm 'for his turn on the
A suspense thriller which
takes place on a Navajo Indian
Reservation may itself sound
somewhat suspicious, but Tony
Hillerman has turned this un-
likely combination into an ab-
sorbing and unique mystery
novel. Born in Oklahoma and
presently a resident of Albu-
querque, Mr. Hillerman has
amassed an abundant knowledge
of Indian habits and lore which
he weaves into his story with
what seems to this uninformed
reader considerable authority
and authenticity. Such unique
background material greatly en-
hances the interest and original-.
ity of the novel, but also oc-
casionally interrupts the flow
and climactic build-up so essen-
tial to this genre. Anxious to
know the outcome, the reader
tends to skim over material
which in another context might
prove interesting and inform-
ative. On the whole, however,
The Blessing Way is intricately
constructed and makes very ex-
citing reading. The writing,
while hardly of Chandler or
Simenon quality, gives evidence
of its good journalistic upbring-
The hero of Rejoice could per-
haps be called a modern, west-
ern Siddhartha, although, con-
sidering all that the transfor-
mation implies, any comparison
to Hesse's -,book should not be
carried too far. Benjamin Sum-
mers leaves wife, son, wealth,
and position to seek spiritual
rebirth in a nomadic and soli-
tary life that takes him to
France and finally to Greece,
where totally the Stranger he
finds a spiritual homeland.
Astrachan's book should be read
on a quiet, thoughtful evening,
in one sitting if possible, for
much of its meaning lies within
the atmosphere of quiet com-
munication with nature and self
that the author skillfully cre-
ates. Rejoice is not an intellec-
tual novel. Writing style subtly
parallels the process of purifica-
tion which Summers undergoes:
like the man, it is at the begin-
ning harsh, disjointed, and an-
noyingly preachy, but attains at
the end a remarkable level of
poetic simplicity and beauty.

7 days' and nights on
the beach at the Hotel
A welcome in cocktail
Moonlight cruise includ-
ing free parties, floor
sming, riding, fishing.

7 days and nights at the'
Freeport Inn
Free h a p'py hours with
rock bangs every, night,
Free services to beach-.
es and casinos.
Scuba diving, snorkl ing,

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r g
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or, just get away from it all.
(either place has miles of beach)
Along with your jet airfare and baggaie handling,
you get the vacation of a lifetime.
for information BARRY BOYER, 761-6359

material which is the product
not only of different periods,
but of distinct geographic and/
or monastic styles within those
Eleanor Olson, whose cata-
iogues of Tibetan objects in the
Newark Museum provide a val-
uable introduction to that im-
portant American collectipn, has
contributed a brief essay on
Tibetan rituals. In view of the
complexityof Tantrism, and its
central role in Tibetan art, an
even more extended interpreta-
tion of its many layers and lev-
els of symbol, by so knowledge-
able a writer would have been
useful, but Miss Olson's refer-
ences to plate illustrations en-
sure that the reader will re-
ceive maximum visual reinforce-
ment in his efforts to grasp
such difficult subject material.
Ultimately an art book must

but the color plates themselves
seem unduly garish. Readers
who wish to receive the full im-
pact of the Tibetan artist's al-
most mystical manipulation 'of
color must still turn to Tucci's
monumental Tibetan Painted
Tibetan art offers a fascinat-
ing postscript to the long de-
velopment of Buddhist painting
aid sculpture in Asia. But its
relevance to modern culture is
equally noteworthy. Trained in
meditative techniques, its artists
reproduced not only processes
and symbols but psychological
states - an achievement rare in
any media. While The Art of
Tibet may not constitute the de-
finitive introduction to this re-
latively little known subject, it
answers a real need; text and
images more than suggest t h e
unique qualities of Tibetan art.


". . . . . .en passan

C RETURN TO MY NATIVE LAND. Aimd Cesaire. Trans- Q
lated by John Berger and Anna Bostock with an Introduc-'
tion by Mazisi Kunene. A joyful verse and prose poem &
-the exuberant expression of a West Indian poe living :
C In France, who discovers his own racial roots in frican
,Z culture. A Penguin Original. 95¢
LEADERSHIP. Edited by C. A. Gibb. $2.25
SHogg. $2.45
WITH MALICE TOWARD ALL. Edited by Robert L. Fish.
< An anthology of mysteries from the Mystery Writers of
America. A Penguin Book. $1.25
C KOREA: THE LIMITED WAR. David Rees. A Pelican
KC: Book. $2.45
General Editor: Christopher Ricks.
This new series will present collected criticism on major :>
English, American, and European writers. Each volume &
contains a full selection from the writer on his own art, i
the thoughts of his contemporaries, and, in the longest &
section, modern critical writings. Plus an introduction to Q
each section, a table of dates, a bibliography and a full l
.r4 glossarial index.

On April 6th, Random House
will publish a new paperback
quarterly, titled Amistad, that
will be devoted to Black liter-
ature and culture. Its editors,
John A. Williams and Charles
F. Harris, h a v e collected for
their premier issue pieces that
go beyond rhetoric and make
solid contributions to American
letters. Eapecially interesting to
0' students 'of modern American
literature, as well as those con-
cerned with the 'plight of the
black writer in general, will be
a long interview with Chester
Himes, an ex-patriot black writ-
er who has been living in Paris
for over two decades. Himes's

of his novels which was climb-
ing to best-sell'erdom, provide
sufficient evidence to prove the
roots of his bitterness. Himes
also expounds on black writers
in Hollywood, on the "Harlem
Renaissance," and on black.
anti-semitism. A valuable bib-
liography of Himes's works is
also included.
Other major pieces in t h e
first issue of Amistad will in-
clude an essay on "The South-
ern White Writer and Ameri-
can Ibetters" by Addison Gayle,
Jr., ain, essay on the signifi-
cance of Atlantic slave trade,
written by C.L.R. James, and
fiction h IshmaeniRe d.G eogn

who have not the time or incli-
nation to burrow in second-
hand bookshops looking for a
copy of the firstedition.
Partisans of the English writ-
er Angus Wilson, whose novels
such as Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
and The Middle Age of Mrs.
Eliot received critical acclaim if
not wide readership, will be
pleased to know that twenty-
five stories from T e Wrong
Set, Such Rarling D dos, and
A Bit Off the Map have been
gathered together and publish-
ed in a Viking paperback en-
titled Death Bance. ($2.45).

P Al 7 11A

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