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November 23, 1958 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1958-11-23
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I . - - 4 - -- .- 11

p tC t[ c ri MtZ J

MAGAZINE'
Sunday, November 23, 1958

The Lengths and Depths of Humor
S. J. Perelman's Works Are Collected in a Volume
Guaranteed To Bring Readers Nothing but Laughs

Vol. V, No. 7'

"The Most of S. J. Perelman"-A Review
BydLane Vanderslice _ Page Two
Education Without a Harness
By Erhord Lippmann Page Three
Garrett-Montague-Fitzgerald: A Review
By Donald A. Yates Page Four
The Great Assault on Nature's Secrets
By Mahendro Parekh Page Five
A Profile of Bump Elliott
By Jim Benogh Poge Seven
Help for the Emotionally 111
By Gerald Lundy Page Nine
SGC: Group With a Lost Mission
By David Kessel ______Page______Ten__
Creative Spark for a Society Page Ten
By David Guilloume Page Eleven
Lyric Poems: Rich in Mood, Insight
By M. Abbott __Page Fourteen
Lolita: An International Controversy
By Garden Mummo Page Fifteen
Man's Most Widely Practiced Art-A Review
By Donald A. Yates Page Sixteen
MAGAZINE EDITOR-David Tarr
PICTURE CREDITS -Cover: German Information Agency; Page Three:
German Information Agency; Page Five: Department of Aeronou-
tical Engineering; Page Six: Department of Astronomy; Page
Seven: Daily -Charles Curtiss; Page Ten: Top--Daily--Allen
Winder, Others--Daily-David Arnold; Page Eleven: Department
of Fine Arts; Page Thirteen: Daily-Allen Winder; Page Sixteen:
University News Service; Page Seventeen: German Information
Agency; Page Eighteen: German Information Agency; Page Nine-
teen: Department of Fine Arts.
COVER--The contrast between East and West Germany is strikingly
shown in these two pictures. The wide difference between the
two is reflected in the attitude of each toward education. The
approaches to education in Germany ore discussed in on article
beginning on the next page.

THE MOST OF S. J. PERELMAN,
By S. J. Perelman. 650 pp. New
York: Simon and Schuster.
$5.95.
SIMON and Schuster has neatly
sidestepped the question of
whether the selections in this book
are really the best of S. J. Perel-
man by titling the volume The
Most of S. J. Perelman. The 650
pages in the book, the publishers
assure us, are the most Perelman
selections ever assembled.
And in one man's opinion-S. J.
Perelman's-the selections are the
best, for Perelman has made them
himself.'Included are all of two
of his earlier books, Westward Ha'
and Acres and Pains, and many
articles published in magazines-
primarily the New Yorker-from
1930 to the present.
Dorothy Parker has said for
many years (and she said it again
in the introduction) that Perel-
man is-the best living humorist. If
this is partially due to lack of
competentacontemporary humor-
ists, it is mostly due to the fact
that Perelman is genuinely funny,
and can maintain a consistently
high level of humor throughout

MOST humorists, if they have
ever written enough td fill a
book of this size, would have
quickly worn out their small for-
mulas of household difficulties
and personal inadequacies and
with this, their welcome.
Not so with Perelman. He has
his own comic formulas, to be
sure, and he uses them often. His
published titles with his cooks
and maids or his encounters with
one or another of a whole host of
obscure trade magazines would
easily fill a slim volume.
But he depends less on these
comic formulas for provoking
laughsthan he does on original
content.
Perelman consistently writes
well whether it be as the spirit
moves him or on assignment such
as in Westward Ha in which he
described his voyage around the
world for a national magazine..
IN THIS SECTION, although
"sicklied over with the pale cast
of sun-tan lotion," he fixes the
ridiculous with the same firm eye
he displays in his other essays.
"The memory of the next half
hour will haunt my dreams for
years to come," he says, describ-
ing his trip through a pyramid.
"Doubled over in a half crouch,
we groped our way along a gal-
lery approximately the length of
the Simplon tunnel, crawled up a
back-breaking ninety degree in-
cline studded with slippery metal
cleats, and scrambled everlasting-
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ly through a Stygian channel no
bigger than a rain-barrel and cer-
tainly not as fragrant."
On the journey, he says, he
'managed to enrich every existing
medical concept of claustropho-.
bia."
NY SORT of discussion at all
of Perelman would have to
mention his cast of characters,
from gossip columnist Louella
Parsons the veteran hunched
over her typewriter in the turbu-
lent city room, eyeshade askew
and corn cob ablaze, pecking out
bulletins and gulping coffee from
a cardboard container" to one of
his earlier cooks, "Philomene La-
bruyere, colored, no laundry."
"Philomene was a dainty thing,
built somewhat on the order of
Lois De Fee, the lady bouncer. She
had the rippling muscles of a
panther, the stolidity of a water
buffalo and the lazy insolence of
a shoe salesman."
Although a good swath of life
comes under Perelman's pen, more
than anything else, he satirizes
the English language. Literary
puns, an often amazing assort-
ment of words from the un-
abridged dictionary, metaphors
made literally true and inane
word contrasts are the means by
which he assaults the English
language.
IT ALSO helps explain why
Perelman's earlier writing is not
noticeably -dated. Given a slightly
humorous situation, he develops
it himself, without using topical
material for an easy, though
quickly fading, laugh.
Unfortunately f or his popularity
with the avant guarde, Perelman
is not a political or social humor-
ist. The nearest he comes to any
kind of humorous social criticism
is an occasional parody of Clif-
ford Odets or Saks Fifth Avenue.
Deep themes, or significant so-
cial criticism will not be found
in-Perelman. Humor will.
-Lane Vanderslice

Artist in Society
(Continued from Page 12)
slons which resulted. By the art-
istes storming against the conven-
tions and proclaiming the arts
the realm of the different, the
field of the arts was seen as a
refuge or place of developmentE
for not only the persons legiti-
mately qualified for the arts, but
also for any non-art, lunatic fringe
social misfits.
The shoutings and flauntings of
these latter have come to be iden-
tified with art and its practice to
the hurt and confusion of theI
qualified practitioners and the
public in general. The practitioner
wonders "can these values be
valid"?, and the public, in ex-r
asperation, concludes, "they're all
mad."
FHERE IS presently a fourth
classification of the art prac-
titioner taking form-the design-
er-artist.
The industrial revolution andI
rise of industrialism took over
most of the art areas and largely
replaces the traditional art prac-
titioners with the industrial and
commercial designer.
The designer, largely an Amer-
ican invention, has gained tre-
mendous prestige both on snob+
appeal and on actual merit, partly
because our culture is largely a
snob one and partly because our
culture is oriented to the idea of
technology and efficiency.
The designer is the production
line's solution and adaptation of
the artist role. He is a high rank-
ing (often executive) member of{
the hierarchy, yet geared to the
desires of the public through the
more or less successful inquiries
of consumer research devices.
Also, in a system and era geared
to narrow tolerance of deviation,
his products are ground out in
absolute uniformity one after an-
other, by methods toward which
the public is favorably inclined,
even though largely ignorant ofj
the actual processes. The art pro-1
duct is fabricated in an accepted
manner, whereas the product of a
studio carries with it not only the
possibility of being different (a
quality, as noted, more talked than1
achieved or, desired) as well as
being tainted by the differentl
(that is, probably immoral) "art-
ist." t
Even though the designer and
his wares are accepted, there isx
still some of the old fear of thek
"artist," much as actors are still1
looked on with suspicion by many.

there will be personality and ~ad-
Justment difficulties,
NOT AL of these, however-in
probability, very few if any-
-willbe as a result of being an
artist: lawyers, housewives, and
shop clerks are also liable to devia-
tions from the social norms. It is
interesting, however, that whentan
artist or arts-hanger-on is deviant,
the blame for this is usually laid
to his identification with the arts.
This general attitude -almost
entirely confined to the western
world--seems to stem from the
era of the rise of Christianity
when the arts were declared be-
yond the pale as pagan.
However, the artist may or may
not (depending largely on the in-
dividual) identify with and be ac-
cepted by his society as easily as
most other highly specialized
members of the group.
The designer is in a position
rather similar to that of the art-
st, but, because of the bent of our
society to venerate mass produc-
tion, and the great urgency to keep
up with the Joneses by even the
lowest middle classes, the designer
has a far greater prestige and,
often, income. In effect, connec-
tion with an assembly line obliter-
ates any questions of unaccept-
ability.
The artiste is often in sad condi-
tion. Not only are the artiste's
j notions of his own position often
FINE ART-The aesthetic value unreal, but the ideas concerning
of art or the difference between him are usually unreal also.
fine and applied art is seen in The prime examples of artistes
this statue. today are probably those engaged
in motion picture making, The ex-
it should be noted that the classi- tremes of animosity and adulation,
fications are types rather' than the absurdly varying tensions and
particular persons; it is quite pulls and drives in alnlost every
probable that one individual will phase of their lives, the values
partake of more than one type. which are and are not meaningful
Also, the development of a new to them, make one wonder not at
type does not wipe out previous the maladjustments one notes so
types - they can and do exist often, but at the fact that as deli-
simultaneously. cate an entity as the humand mind
can survive at all.

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HE ROLES played by each of
these art practitioners - art-
isan, artist, artiste, designer-will
vary somewhat from one society to
another, but will be, in the main,
fairly constant.
The artisan will function simply
as a member of the society with a
special skill, but no more differ-
entiated than the woodsman,
hunter, farmer, or mechanic.
He will produce goods (of the
highest aesthetic qualities) as
items directly utilitarian whether
that utility. be on the level of a:
stool or bowl or that of a ritual
mask or funerary object. He will
be valued to the degree in which
he meets his society's demands for
his goods. His adjustment to his
society will be due largely to his

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PARALLELING the rise of the own efforts and abilities, not to
designer has been a change in his engagement in the art areas.
the public towards art that could The role of the artist will be
well change considerably the role considerably more complex. The
of art in the culture and, there- society in which he finds himself
fore, the role of the art practi- may be comparatively simple or
ticner. extremely differentiated. Com-
Rather suddenly the masses, on plexity of social ordering offers
an ever increasing scale, are in- wide choices with the possibility
terted in art in all its phases, that the choices nmade may not be
areas, and eras. This fairly recent the best.
development, in conjunction with . Tension and insecurity are con-
the acceptance of the designer, stants, and there is the possibility
holds the possibility for the arts of regrets continuing long after a
and their practitioners to once poor choice has been made. These
more identify with and work for factors (which operate for all
the society as a whole. members of the society) may seri-
In closing this discussion of fously affect the' individual on
classifications of art-practitioners, whom they bear. Almost inevitably
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