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April 16, 1970 - Image 13

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Thursday, April 16, 1970


Page Five

Thursday, April 16, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Tanio Nakamura, CONTEM-
PAINTING, Tudor Publishing
Co., 1969, $9.95.
I eagerly looked forward to
reading this book because there
are only two other English lan-
guage books which cover modern
Japanese painting, and neither
one in c lu d e s contemporary
works. I was ,disappointed to
find that the title, Contemporary
Japanese-Style Painting, is mis-
leading. Mr. Nakamura does not
include the generation of artists
who matured after World War
II and who are, in my opinion,
the most interesting because of
both their close' proximity in
time and the quality of their
This youngest generation of
mature artists went to New
York, the mecca of the post-
war art world, to do their ap-
prenticeship with the abstract
.* expressionists. In time, the per-
spective afforded by distance
and, possibly, th emphasis on
the two-dimensionality of the
painted surface of the post-
painterly aesthetic led these art-
ists to re-evaluate their native
tradition and to look to Japan
for motifs and principles of de-
sign, if not actually to return
there. It is interesting to remem-
ber that the Japanese Ukiyo-e
prints were what influenced late
nineteenth'century Western art-
ists, such as Manet, to initially
explore the form~al aspects of
two dimensional design.
Mr. Nakamura confines him-
self to artists born during the
latter half of the nineteenth
century and who matured art-
istically during the first half
of the twentieth century. He
finds the sources of their work
in the cross-fertilization of styl,.
es and techniques with the of-
ficial opening of Japan to the
West at the beginning of the
Meiji era. Actually, this diversity
of Japanese, Chinese, and West-
ern-inspired aesthetics, motifs,
and techniques is an important
I feature of Japanese painting*
since the eighteenth century.
Unfortunately the eighteenth
and nineteenth century artists
who were aware of the West'
have, not been adequately stu-
died, nor have their works been
reproduced for popular exposure;
this book reflects these limita-
tions. It seems Mr. Nakamura
preferred not to broaden his
scope too far afield, having al-
ready published a book on Jap-
anese-Style Painting in the
Meiji Period, and was forced to
fill out his selection of plates
with second and third rate
works. %
The Introduction is divided
into the following sub-topics:





tria is




What is Japanese-Style Paint-
ing?, The Characteristics of
Japanese-Style Painting, Tech-/
niques and Materials, and Birth
and Progress of Modern Japan-
ese-style Painting. The strengths
of the text are Mr. Nakamura's
discussion of painting tech-
niques and materials, and the
role of Ernest Fenollosa, Wil-
liam Bigelow and lesser known
Westerners in the revitalization
of Japanese painting at the end
of the nineteenth century when
the government supported a
Chinese oriented Academy and
infatuation with the West sub-
sumed all. Art historians often
ignore the physical properties
of the painted image and Mr.
Nakamura's informative account
is indeed welcome.
The only difficulty of the
text is that of language rather

the artist's primary motivation
was a greater interest in unin-
spired subject matter rather
than the challenge of native de-
sign aesthetics or some sort of
integration of the formal ap-
proaches of China, Japan, and
the West. Nakamura includes
many examples of Bijin-ga,
paintings of beautiful women,
which substitute the traditional
Ukiyo-e interest in bold two-
dimensional composition and
surface design of flat colors and
textile pattern for a little West-
ern shading and three dimen-
Equally numerous are paint-
ings which focus with a disturb-
ing literalness on Western ex-
otica such as a sphinx. The dis-
tastefulness of these paintings
is increased by the fact that
they are reproduced on highly

ANCE, New York Review/
Vintage paperback, 1970, $2.45
When my friend Cary had to
spend a week in Santa Rita
P r i s o n following a Berkeley
demonstration, s h e w a s sur-
prised to find that she and her
fellow activists were put into a
different common cell from the
other short-term prisoners.
When she asked the matron
if the warden was worried they
would be bad influence on the
hookers in the next cell, she was
told, "I got my orders. They
told us to keep the political
prisoners separate from every-
body else."
Political prisoners. Damned if
we hadn't thought they were
guilty of trespass,
The matron's frankness would
never be found even in closed
sessions of the higher echelons
of our society. Judges, district
attorneys, top corrections offi-
cials, the President himself, to
a man deny the existence of
political crimes in this country.
Instead, people are tried for
possession of marijuana, tres-
pass, contention, larceny, re-
sisting arrest, refusing to obey
orders, assaulting a police offi-
cer, or even murder. There is
also conspiracy, usually to com-
mit any or all of the above.
(Conspiracy is a clever little de-
vice because it is almost impos-
sible to deny, and conviction of
it can greatly increase your
The crime with which a po-
litical criminal is charged varies
with the accused's race and so-
cial status, and in part with
what he has actually done.
The state can bring charges
against David Hilliard for al-
legedly threatening the life of
the President, or Bobby Seale
for murder, because both gentle-
men are black and, more to the
point, both are Black Panthers.
It can convict John Sinclair of
possession of marijuana because
the public will believe that a
long-haired freak is automati-
cally a dope user.
When it goes after a Benja-
min Spdck or a David Dellinger,
however, the state must exercise
more caution, and bring the ac-
cused to trial for more blatantly
political offenses. No one would
believe that a respectable-look-
middle-aged WASP would smoke
pot or shoot a policeman-but

the defendant himself will free-
ly admit to organizing a demon-
stration or urging young men to
resist the draft.
The indictment, however, is
only half the problem. Unfor-
tunately for the government, we
have not yet got to the point
where a D.A. can totally dis-
pense with the Bill of Rights
and so avoid the effort and ex-
pense of bringing the accused to
The government is good at
acting as if such trials are
really the criminal prosecutions
they pretend to be, but the de-
fendants are rarely so obliging.
There has been a rapid develop-
ment over the past two years
of the political trial as an art
form, with the simultaneous de-
velopment of a cadre of affi-
cianados who watch the pro-
gress of such trials with a cur-
ious mixture of awe, delight, and
Trials of the Resistance, a
collection of essays on some of
the major political trials of the
last three years, was designed
to keep such people happy while
they are waiting for the Panther
21 trial to reconvene, during the
lull before all the books on the
Chicago 7 come out. All of the
nine essays which comprise the
book were originally printed in
The New York Review, and al-
though they vary considerably
in style, significance, and con-
tent, they share the same point
of. view-the semi-detached, in-
volved, left - liberal - but - not -
quite - radical ideology for which
that magazine is famous.
On the whole, the essays are
intriguing and occasionally en-
joyable, if you happen to dig
political t r i a 1 s. Unfortunately,
the book is rather unbalanced
-heavy on the side of U.S. v.
Spock et al-with five of the
nine essays concentrating on
that case.
Perhaps because so very much
has been written about the
Spock trial, perhaps because it
was inherently duller than most
of the other political trials we
have seen in the last few years.
these essays all tend toward the
tedious, with only the brief, .
first-person account of Michael
Ferber, "On Being Indicted,"
showing much originality or new
In contrast, the other fourj
essays are all well worth read-
ing, if only because they deal
with trials which received rela-
tively poor critical coverage in
the national press, and so are
unfamiliar to most readers.
Francine Du Plessix Gray's
"The Ultra-Resistance" is the
highlight of the book. Dealing
with the actions of largely
Catholic pacifists who have spe-
cialized in raiding draft boards
and then awaiting arrest, Mrs.
Gray's article traces the growth
of the "ultra-resistance" from
its beginnings:
"On a warm spring day in
1966, a nineteen-year-old Min-
nesotan by the name of Barry
Bondhus broke into his local
draft board and dumped two
large bucketfuls of h u m a n
feces into a filing cabinet,
mutilating several hundred I-
A draft records in protest
against the Vietnam d r a f t.
The offender and his eleven{
brothers, sons of a machinist
who had threatened to shoot
anyone who attempted to in-
duct his boys into the Ameri-
can a r m y, had fastidiously
collected their organic wastes
for two weeks in preparation
for the raid.

"This primordial d e e d is
known in the annals of the
anti-war protest as The Big
One action, in honor of Barry
Bondhus' hometown, Big Lake,
Minnesota. B a r r y Bondhus,
who had calmly awaited arrest
after his performance, served
an eighteen-month sentence
at Sandstone Federal Correc-
tional Institution and c a m e
home in March of 1968 to run
his father's machine shop. Big
Lake One was hardly men-
tioned in the press, but Bond-'
hus' was "the movement that
started the Movement."
Mrs. Gray devotes most of her
essay to the trial of the Mil-
waukee Fourteen, a group com-
prising 12 Catholics (5 of them
priests), most of whom decided
to act as their own lawyers
against a state charge of burg-
lary, arson, and theft (they had
burned some 10,000 draft files
(with homemade napalm).
The Fourteen's trial was some-
thing of a prototype of the
genre. It had all the usual ele-
ments of a political trial-ar-
guments over the rules of evi-
dence, vocal spectators, attempts
to explain motivations, the ul-
timate conviction - plus a few
unique little ironies of its own.
Of these, the most delightful
was the effect of the trial on
the two prosecuting attorneys.
Deputy District Attorney Allen
Samson and his assistant, Har-
old Jackson, Jr., were both 29
years old at the time of the trial,
both anti-war liberals who sup-
ported Sen. McCarthy from the
beginning, both under attack
from the right as being too left-
ist for their positions. Samson,
a Jew, had a kid brother at the
University of Wisconsin who
was active in Resistance. In the
middle of the trial he requested
"that the Court instruct the
jury as to the legal reasons why
certain evidence is not admis-
sible. We request that it not be
done in terms of the customary
lawyer's nomenclature. . . . It
is impossible for the State repre-
sented by human beings to sit
here any longer having it said
that they believe in and of
"A wacky, wildly funny,
touching plea for the civil rights
of the American Indian."
only 950
q N
,E eax c*fat'_

themselves that poverty and the
war are irrelevant."
"His voice broke. 'I just can't
take it,' he said."
T h e defendants expressed
sympathy and suggested that he
could always quit. He didn't.
But Jackson, who is black,
.did. Two weeks after the trial
ended, he left his job at the
district attorney's office to work
exlusively with black civil rights
cases. "Negroes in this country
are being sent to jail like Jews
to Auschwitz," he is quoted as
saying. "There's not enough
legal talent around to help
Mrs. Gray is not the only ob-
server to note the radicalizing
effect of political trials upon
their more Establishmentarian
participants. Jessica Mitford
underscored the political meta-
morphosis of some of some of
the Spock jurors, and Emma
Rothschild notes the same
phenomenon in her account of
the Oakland Seven trial.
The Oakland trial is some-f
thing of a classic, if only be-
cause the seven defendants were
acquitted. (The State succeed-
ed, however, in keeping them
out of action for three months;
and the trial costs bankrupted
five of them.) In addition, this
was the first recent political
trial to attempt to use a con-
spiracy charge as a means of in-
creasing the penalty for an of-

fense. (The seven organizers of
the 1967 Stop the Draft Week
were being tried for conspiracy
-a felony-to commit trespass,
a misdemeanor. This gambit is
legal under California law, but
is mercifully absent in most
other states, and in the federal
criminal code.>
Miss Rothschild's account on
the trial is episodic, but intelli-
gent and concise. The writer has
an agreeable stylistic habit
which adds life to an otherwise
prosaic narrative-the juxta-
position of prosecution evidence
with the prosecution of the war
in Vietnam:
"As in Vietnam the Oakland
Police are helped in their
pacification endeavors by Rev-
olutionary Development Cad-
res. At home they have a
Tactical Unit. One officer
testified: 'The purpose of the
Tactical Unit was to practice
a specific tactic which was
crowdcontrol in this case. In
classical crowd control you
push to the right or the left
. . . we used a wedge forma-
tion .. .' Captain Fish, second
in command of the wedge,
said: 'We don't arrest under
conditions of Clear . t h e
Streets.' We don't take prison-
ers under conditions of Search
and Destroy."
Meanwhile, the trial of the
Chicago 12 will soon convene;
others, no doubt, will follow.

- -

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than of scholarship.'The text
was originally written in Jap-
anese, and the English trans-
lation reflects the fact that
Japanese patterns of thought are
organized differently than ours.
Precise comments on Japanese
qualities of design are inter-
spersed under the section en-
titled "Techniques and Mate-
rials" rather than "What is Jap-
ese-Style Painting?" A List of
Plates in order by artist and a
Glosary of Japanese terms are
included for easy reference. The
Plates are preceded by a short
biography and a photo of each
Mr. Nakamuras connoisseur-
ship is disappointing, consider-
ing he has been deputy curator
of the Painting Section of the
Tokyo National Museum and is
a member of the Japanese Sec-
tion of the Association of In-
ternational Art Critics. The ma-
jo ity of paintings indicate that

Eunuchs and

glossed paper and the colors as-
sume a garishness akin to a
pastel refrigerator. It may be
that Mr. Nakamura's book is
representative of the range of
paintings of the period he cov-
ers, but some attention to dis-
stinctions of quality and tradi-
tion of the works would have
been preferable.
It should be remembered that
it took American artists until
the 1940's to assimilate and free
themselves of the overwhelming
influence of the European
a v a n t-g a r d e. Contemporary
Japanese-Style Painting reflects
the efforts of the older genera-
tion of modern Japanese artists
to perpetuate tradition, on the
one hand, and to try out for-
eign styles, on the other. A few
of the artists who paint closer
to their native tradition of fine
art, such as Hishida Shuso and
Hayami Gyoshu, are very suc-
scattered. The purpose of this
book is to make portions of Pro-
fessor Mitamura's study avail-
able to the general public; the
book makes no claim of consti-
tuting a definitive work on the
topic. Nevertheless, scattered
through the book are snippets of
tantalizing information to suit
every interest. For those simply
morbidly curious, Professor Mi-
tamura describes methods of-
castration as well as the physi-
cal and emotional characteris-
tics of the eunuch. The non-
Chinese specialist in history or
sociology may be attracted by
such aspects of history or so-
cial change as those mentioned
above. The reader, however,
should familiarize himself with
names and dates of Chinese dy-
nasties and of major historical
figures before he reads this book
because, the author frequently
skips back and forth from one
e'a to another without indicat-
ing the time period involved (no
historical or chronological chart
is provided in the book itself).

Taisuke Mitamura, CHIN-
POLITICS. Translated by
Charles A. Pomeroy. Charles
E. Tuttle Company, 1970.
In this small, slim volume, a
noted Japanese historian pre-
sents (via an "adapted and con-
densed English version") some
wide-ranging commentaries on
the historical role and the so-
cial world of the eunuch in Chi-
na. In early China, castration
was practiced on captives as a
sign of conquest; it was also
meted out as punishment to
members of Chinese society (the
P great historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien
so suffered), but in later times,
the vast majority of eunuchs
were volunteers. Entry into the
palace household as a eunuch
servant opened the door to
wealth and power otherwise de-
nied to a son of a poor family,
+w or the ambitious but uneducated
The extraordinary political
power which palace eunuchs
sometimes acquired and then
abused, thereby contributing
through cliques and intrigues
to the collapse of some Chinese
dynasties is generally well-
known to historians. Professor
Mitamura not only touches on
this political aspect of eunuch
life, but also expands upon the
more personal and intimate re-
lationships (non-sexual) which
often existed between members

of the Imperial family and their
eunuch servants and mentors.
In addition, the author presents
a brief picture of the more spe-
cific duties and responsibilities
of the eunuchs who administer-
ed the various imperial house-
hold agencies.
The author makes several
points of historical-sociological
interest. One of these points
concerns the changes in atti-
tudes toward sexual and domes-
tic life in general which occur-
red after the tenth century in
China; a second interesting
point is the contention that pri-
or to the T'ang dynasty (618-
906) eunuchs were provided by
conquered non-Chinese tribes
and races, whereas, during and
after the T'ang era, the demand
was supplied largely by the Chi-
nese themselves, particularly
those living in South China.
The subject of eunuchs in
China, with all its attendant
historical, social, physiological
and psychological ramifications
is exceedingly vast and complex,
the records and source mater-
ials exasperatingly meagre and
Toddy's Writers. .
Jenny Stiller was Editorial
Page Editor of The Daily, 1969-
70. A graduate student in the
Department of Art History,
Anya Gendler specializes in the
arts of Japan. E. J. Laing re-
ceived her Ph.D. in Chinese
Art History from the Univer-
sity and presently teaches at
Wayne State University.


An incomparable reference tool
The Nineteenth Century.:
with the assistance of / I,
Dayton Kohler and Staff
Invaluable for students and teach-
ers, this series presents in digest
form the sequence-by-sequence
story of each famous work repre-
sented, with useful reference data
and critiques. |||

Now on sale wherever paperbacks are
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N.Y. 10010


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