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November 21, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-11-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Seventy eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan.
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

Mailer and Aidridge: Not just friends

420:Maynord St.,. Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in oll reprints.



Today's rally:
A necessary, first step

AT NOON TODAY on the Diag, Radical
Caucus is holding a rally to protest
distribution requirements.
Between 3000 and 4000 students have
signed petitions demanding an end to
requirements, ard after the rally the
Caucus will present these petitions to,
literary college Dean -William L. Hays.
With the petitions will be presented an
ultimatum: End language requirements
by January or "appropriate action" will
be taken.%
Undoubtedly, many studerits-includ-
ing some who favor abolishing require-
ments 'or' at least the language require-
ment-will have misgivings about the
Caucus' procedures. Despite such misgiv-
ings, students should attend and support
today's rally.'
THE VALUE OF learning a language is
clear; not so the value of being re-
quired to take a language. A number of
studies indicate that undergraduates only
learn languages if they are interested in
learning them.
Those forced to enroll in foreign
language classes may fulfill the require-
ments (often after much suffering) but
they don't learn the language. On them
the value of learning a language is lost.
Rather than require languages, the
indicated solution would be to expand
the counseling system both qualitative-
ly and quantitatively. Students persuaded
of the value of language-learning will
be far more likely to learn the language
rather than fulfill the requirement.
For those who advocate learning
languages, allowing students to decide

for themselves then is not only fairer
but more practical.
PROBABLY FAR more students support
ending o n 1 y language requirements
than abolishing all distribution require-
ments, although the petitions so far do
not reflect this preferance. However, the
current distribution requirements are
deficient in several respects and require
thoroughgoing alterations.
The January-or-else ultimatum is both
unfair and unwise; the threat of "appro-
priate. action" tied to the ultimatum is
undoubtedly a tactical mistake, mostly
because it binds Radical Caucus to make
good on a threat it m a y later wish it
hadn't made.
But students who attend the rally need
not participate in delivering the ultima-
tum, and are in no way bound, to take
any action in the future. And those who
favor abolishing only the language re-
quirement can attend the rally in good
conscience, knowing that this is only a
first effort to demonstrate to the Uni-
versity the extent of student dissatisfac-
T END THE LANGUAGE requirement
and obtain restructured distribution
requirements in other areas students
m u s t demonstrate their disagreements
with the current arrangements. Attend-
ing today's rally is an extremely effective
way of demonstrating disagreement, for
it will be impossible for the literary col-
lege faculty to ignore a massive turnout.
Editorial Director

IT'S ONE THING to be a friend of a tour de force like
Norman Mailer. But it's quite another to be Mailer's
biographer while he is still alive.
Prof. John Aldridge of the English department is both.
For 20 years, Aldridge has been a friend of Mailer. During
that time, Aldridge has consistently reviewed Mailer's
works in leading periodicals and has written the first
criticism of Mailer ever to appear in book form.
Now, Aldridge is confronted with the almost monu-
mental +task of writing the biography of Norman Mailer.
do this book albout a year and a half ago, he was aware
of the problems involved in examining the life of a man
who is still alive. Procuring information from family
and friends, for example, is more difficult.
Nevertheless, Aldridge seized the !opportunity to
chronicalize the life and career of the enigmatic novelist-
turned-journalist. He expects that this venture will take
him longer than the three years that his publisher has
allotted him.
Mailer was at first hesitant about the biography.
Having his biography written at this time gave Mailer
"a profound sense of mortality," according to Aldridge.
But when Mailer visited Ann Arbor last spring, he told
Aldridge that he had changed his mind. Mailer gave him
first crack at any biographical materials that he would
need, including correspondence and taped interviews.
ALDRIDGE'S INTEREST in Mailer is not merely the
interest of one friend in another. He believes that Mailer
is "the most exciting writer of this generation in this
The professor describes Mailer as a "not quite first-
rate novelist but a first-rate'journalist of the American
psyche." Aldridge sees Mailer's role more as a "cultural
anthropologist" than as a writer.
A good deal of Mailers reputation as a journalist rests
on the success of his Armies of the Night and his recent
Miami and the Seige of Chicago. In these two books,
Mailer reports vividly the events of last year's march on
the Pentagon and the story of this year's party conven-
ALDRIDGE AND MAILER became acquainted before
Mailer turned to this brand of journalism. The two men
met in New York in 1951 following the publication of Ald-
ridge's first book, After the Lost Generation. They met
through novelist Vance Bourjaily.
At the time Bourjaily and Aldridge were beginning
a literary magazine called Discovery. Mailer contributed
a piece for the magazine entitled "Dead Gook." After
that meeting, Aldridge and Mailer continued to see each
other intermittently.
Six years later Mailer and Aldridge lived near each
other in the Connecticut countryside. Novelist William
Styron also lived closeby, and the three of them would
gather, as Aldridge puts it, to play croquet and argue.

be the pioneer work in the criticism of the new post-war
authors. Two of his other books, In Search of Heresy
and A Time to Murder and Create, have also garnered
considerable attention.
Before coming to the University in 1964. Aldridge lec-
tured at Princeton University and held a criticism chair
at New York University. He also won two lecturing Ful-
bright fellowships which sent him to Denmark and Ger-
In addition to his book reviews for magazines like
Harper's, Life and Commonweal, Aldridge was writing
a biography of George Orwell. He abandoned that project
when the recent volume of new material including Or-
well's letters was released. He says it would now be un-
feasible to write a biography of Orwell.
INSTEAD ALDRIDGE will now devote his time to
devote his time to finishing a second novel and to the
Mailer biography.
Aldridge hopes that his story of Norman Mailer will
be not just a biography but also a commentary on the
literary and political scene of which Mailer is so much
a part.
He plans to write it as a chapter of literary history
with Mailer as the main character. Aldridge will give pro
and con comments about Mailer the person, but he says
that the book will be an affirmative statement about
Mailer's works.
The concept of treating Mailer as the main character
in a chapter of literary history is borrowed from Mailer.
In his recent journalistic accounts he has treated himself
as a character. If Aldridge's subject is to be Norman
Mailer, his genre, then, must be Mailer too.
ALDRIDGE UNDERSTANDS Mailer to be an enorm-
ously ambitious man. One ambition is "to have a more
direct impact on the public than a novelist has." Aldridge
feels that Mailer wants to project an image that the
public can immediately respond to.
Only actors and political figures can evoke such an
image, Aldridge says. Mailer's running for mayor of New
York and his constant candidacy for President then are
a joke, but to some extent not a joke.
Mailer's preoccupation with himself appears to be part
of the legacy of Ernest Hemingway. Aldridge says that
Mailer inherited from Hemingway the concerns about
how "a writer should behave and how a writer should
create his own style.
MAILER CERTAINLY has created a style. He has
been successful as ta novelist, a journalistt, and most re-
cently a maverick movie-maker. And while Aldridge is
trying to 'make some organic sense out of the colorful
career of Mailer, his character will probably be making
movies, reporting some' of the great events of the day,
and shocking the American public with his descriptive
language that is embellished with four-letter words.


Aldridge believes that this was a bad period in Mailer's
career. He had already written The Naked and the Dead,'
Leer Park, and Barbary Shore; and his career seemed
to be languishing when his second 'two novels did not
reach the success of The Naked and the Dead.
THE DAYS IN CONNECTICUT became a turning
point for Mailer. He wrote the first draft of "White
Negro," which has become his most important piece of
non-fiction. Aldridge remembers reading the first draft
of the paper and not liking it. He now likes the piece
but says that at that time he felt it was a bit "over-
'Since those days in 1957 Mailer has earned a place
among the significant literary figures of the last two
decades. His latest novel, Why Are We in Vietnam?, was
a huge success and won nomination for a 1967 National
Book Award.
Aldridge, too, has become an important literary figure.
He is recognized as one of the nation's most prominent
literary critics. After the Lost Generation is conceded to


Reconstructing language reqieet

'Classified research: Solid
reasons for student conicern

sity's involvement in classified re-
search never seemed to impress students
very much. When a referendum question-
ing the participation of University scien-
tists in "secret war research" came .to
a student vote last spring, voters o v e r-
whelmingly endorsedl classified research.
But the issue is not dead; faculty, ad-
ministrators and researchers are keeping
it alive. A nine-man faculty review com-
mittee (the Coon Committee) has been
scrutinizing all new proposals for classi-
fied contracts since late September, and
there is some indication that they have
found certain proposals "'inappropriate"
for research here.
At the same time, it appears that the
number of classified contracts being done
at University laboratories has increased
this year, ,although the dollar value of
contracts is down.
Conspicuously, the core of students
who had decried the University's contri-
bution to the "'war machine" have found
more viable concerns in academic reform.
And although local groups occasionally
resurrectlast year's controversy, t h e y
usually reveal only how woefully misin-
formed they are on the extent and condi-
tions of the University's commitment
to the defense department.
BUT BEYOND THE furious New Left
propaganda, there are still solid rea-
sons why students should be maintain-
ing an interest in the development of the
classified research complex here.
On moral grounds, students should be
concerned about the attitude rampant
among researchers that "Unless you are
making bullets your work is not necessar-
ily for war use." Although not all classi-
fied research is war research, it is dan-
gerously irresponsible to assume all re-
search done peacefully in laboratories
has no immediate application in tech-,
nological warfare.
It is equally clear that the defense de-
partment "overclassifies'-' projects, in-
discriminately placing security restric-
tions on research which has only peace-
ful application, but which requires use
of classified equipment or information.
CERTAINLY, on pragmatic grounds, stu-
riatc a r actt,+ na n.ct in i4n.r-

about the foreign research in which Uni-
versity scientists become entangled.
The defunct but once infamous $1
million Thailand project, which involved
a handful of University personnel in
Southeast Asia, has, in retrospect, been
deemed unwise even by many faculty and
administrators. But there is no t i g h t
guarantee that the University will not
again land a contract that places scien-
tists in counterinsurgency work abroad.
Indeed, the very vagueness of the El-
derfield Report guidelines - the only
guidelines which the Coon Committee
has for judging the merits and demerits
of a contract proposal-should c o n c e r n
conscientious students. Several research-
ers and administrators, including A.
Geoffrey Norman, vice president for re-
search, have consistently explained that
the,, Elderfield Report did not really
change the criteria for accepting or re-
jecting research at the University.
BUT THE VAGUENESS of the guide-
lines under which the committee is
operating compounds its power and re-
sponsibility. Like a supreme court, t h e
committee can interpret the report; and
even Norman's veto cannot prevent the
committee from demanding an open
hearing before the Senate Assembly.
Therefore, students should (but have
not been) vitally interested in getting
representation on the committee. While
Coon and Norman have both advocated
placing students, especially "mature"
graduate students on the committee,
Graduate Assembly and Student Gov-
ernment Council have failed to t a k e
them up.°
If the administrators are merely pay-
ing lip service to the appeal for student
power, as SGC President Mike Koeneke
has said, then it is time for students
to call their bluff.
on University Affairs and the Faculty
Assembly have both endorsed the notion
of student representation on all Univer-
sity committees, and the only excuse for
students not being on decision-making
committees, is now the intransigence of
committee chairmen or the apathy of
While the Coon Committee was itself
slow in organizing, it has been operating

distribution a n d language
requirements. From all view-
points, this is the most practi-
cal and feasible solution.
Assuming that' the abolition-
ists are morally and philosophi-
cally right, do they actually ex-
pect the faculty to accept and
endorse this class,- reducing
slap-in-the-face? To be grate-
ful for the ego-deflating infor-
mation that years of hours
spent on lecture preparation
and presentation as well as on
test composition and theme
correction have b e e n all in
vain' To give thanks to t h e
stripping of any professional
pride that society still affords?
Furthermore, the faculty, who
d e c i d e distribution require-
ments, believe strongly in their
judgment of what constitutes
a liberal arts education. Both
history and our present society
illustrate the difficulties of
changing human nature, espec-

ially where ego is involved, no
matter how moral or noble the
The best that can be tangibly
hoped for is re-construction -
not destruction - of the pres-
ent requirements.
THEN, THERE IS the typ-
ical reaction to radical de-
mands. The Radical Caucus and
friends must realize that ex-
treme action arouses extreme
reaction - which results in
non-action on ,the issues.
Validity of the abolitionist
view of itself is questionable.
True, the present requirements
are too restrictive. False, an 18
year-old 'is intelligent and ex-
perienced enough to successful-
ly chart his own liberal educa-
For evidence I can only cite
my own college experience. I
never would have taken a n y
physical science had I not been
forced to by my distribution re-
quirements. My two geology

courses not only gave me prac-
tical knowledge of the subject
but opened my e y e s to the
scope and essence of geology
and h o w it relates to other
physical and social sciences.
An Organic Evolution course.
interrelated geology, evolution,
theology, anthropology a n d
philosophy for me. My social
science and humanities courses
have been deeply enriched by
the substansive insight gained
from this course.
Only one reqiired course
(general physical science) has
been of negligible value to me
which is probably no worse a
batting average than I could
have earned by selecting my
own courses.,
five days' a week with elemen-
tary Spanish was admittedly
irritating. But at the end of
two years I had gained: (a) ap-
preciation for Garcia Lorca,
(b) determination to read Don

Quixote unabridged, (c) ac-
quaintance with Spanish liter-
ature in general, (d) a feeling
for the history and present con-
dition of the life and people in
Spain and Latin America; (e)
reading knowledge= and crude
speaking competence of the
Spanish language; and (f) sev-
eral friends and many hours of
'fun and' games' while listening
with one ear.
I fully realize that many stu-
dents are not able to study a
foreign language. There is no'
reason, though, not to stuay a
foreign culture. Foreign culture
study is virtually ignored in
public schools and most stu-
dents do not fill this void 'in
Studying at least one other
foreign culture is 100 peri cent
consistent with the current
liberals' desire to break out of
the "ivory tower," understand
the world as it is, and do some-
thing constructive about it -
starting at home (e. g., Ann

Arbor welfare mothers activi-
THE BEATLES now say, first
fix yourself so you will be cap-
able of fixing the world. Pro-
fessor Feuerwerker (Nov. 19
letter to editor)'is not all wrong
in suggesting the paradoxical
narrow-mindedness of the "an-
ti-imperialists" w h o oppose
If a student is so opposed to
courses 'which may spark new
interests or reveal new abilities,
he can, attend a "free univer-
sity," a specialized career school
or take random courses. A de-
grei carries w i t h it. certain
learning responsibilities;. if.ob-
taining a degree makes -educa-
tion impossible, then forget the
degree and get your education
as you see fit.
The game can be won from
within by playing it right; the
world is grey, not black and

t W

__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

~ / a

Letters to the Editor
Reply to Feuerwerker


To the Editor:
AS A 1966 GRADUATE of the
University as a French major,
I would like to make some com-
ments on the language require-
ment controversy.
I feel the requirement should be
abolished. Those who. argue that
there are values to bi-ingualism
and list Treasons for the study of
language are missing the point.
The central controversy is not, "Is
it good to study languages?" but
"Shall some people coerce other
people into studying languages?"
Prof. Feuerwerker in his letter
(Daily, Nov. 19) argues sensibly
and clearly for the advantages of
bilingualism and discusses the de-
struction caused in the world by
t h e provincial, condescending
American who expects every other
culture to conform to his. I
couldn't agree with him more, and
his are some of my reasons for
having chosen to study languages.
However, I feel that his argu-
ment is so good that it could stand
alone. If the courses were well
taught' and worthone's time to
take them, people would take
them, were good reasons m a d e
available to them. The University
depends on its ability to coerce
students into studying languages,
in order to avoid the responsibil-
ity of having to offer decent ele,
mentary language instruction.

I could only conclude it was the
teaching methods here that were
at fault, as the students were cer-
tainly no stupider here, than there.
I took a second year Italian
course which consisted mostly of
conversations in English about
Italian grammar. Periodically the
instructor would moan, "Why is
everyone doing so poorly?",'I sug-
gested to her t h a t one cannot
learn Italian by talking about it
in English.
Her response was "How can I
talk to the class in Italian when
they don't understand Italian?"
Sh e maintained that "There is
just simply a lot of boring rote
memorization to learning ap lan-
guage." Prof Feuerwerker says the
same thing. I know for a fact from
my own experience that this is not
true. A language can be learned
simply and naturally if the meth-
ods are good. There Is no reason
to memorize a list of translations
when one can learn by conditioned
reactions the same way one learns
his native language.
where Italian classes were active
experiences conducted solely in
Italian, where the students par-
ticipated in the learning and were
constantly doing instead of being
talked at, the fact is there that
these students spoke Italian. Here,
,where Italian was talked abou~t in


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