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January 12, 1969 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-01-12

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A

Qr i 1fliian Daig
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

return trip to the water's, edge
By HOWARD KOHN

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

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

SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 1969r

NIGHT EDITOR: STEVE NISSEN

fi
sunday
Imorning
99
A NEW SEMESTER always breeds illusions of new insights and renewed enthusi-
asm. And since such fantasies are the birthright of youth, we have no doubt that
this time we shall actually bend reality to our own desires.
Cynics relentlessly predict that we will rather bend downward under the eternals
yoke of deadlines and the inescapable goad of grades. But each struggle against so-
called inevitabilitiessrestores our faith in the individual's ability to control his own
destiny;
Underlying our efforts on this page each "sunday morning" is an attempt to_
capture the relevance of those private decisions, to complement our sometimes ex-,
cessive fascination with public happenings. The format of "sunday morning" this
semester will, be constantly evolving, striving for harmony with our almost inde-
finable subject matter.-
Today Walter Shapiro grapples with the perplexing allure of being a student,<
Howard Kohn happens on the internal paradoxes of defecting, David Spurr visits z
a back street bar and witnesses another case of inhumanity and Henry Grix stumbles }
over man's condition in 25 sentences or less.
--THE EDITORIAL DIRECTORS
||||||ling to academia,

T HEY MADE their threats sound respon-
sible, couched in words of valor and
strength. But this freedom was soiled with
the blood of innocents. This land did not
deserve loyalty because it had betrayed
justice.
So we came inevitably to the border,
where a trough of steel named Bluewater
Bridge channels defectors into Canada's
wireless refugee camps.
We reached Bluewater in the early
morning. We drove over, above the swirl-
ing river, and parked the car in an empty
rootbeer drive-in.
WE WALKED BACK along the river
until we had to scramble among the rocks
where sprays of river water made even
scrambling uncertain. From the water's
side Bluewater arches far away, taking no
chances on the mood of the river.
The river is an anxious one, often smash-
ing floes of ice up on the banks where the
needs of industry have encroached on the
water. It pounds each side with equal ven-
geance, jealous that it no longer sets the
limit on the speed of man, resentful that
it no longer divides man from his neigh-
bor.
Bluewater has left the river fretting in its
own impatience, a testimony to man's
ability to order nature's disorder. Overhead,
though, screaming gulls disdain even a
brief rest on the steel muscles of the
bridge as they wing freely across the
water.
DEFECTION IS NOT really defection
unless you believe that the riverdoes
arbitrarily draw the line between man's
hypocrisy and his aspirations.
Bluewater looks the same from either
side. You think you can use it to escape
and the incessant flow of the water urges
you into the lie. But the river knows that
no bridge, not even Bluewater, can be
trusted unless you can cross both ways.
It is an old curse, tricking you into tak-
ing the road away from narrowness and
conceit and finding yob r destination filled
with the same narowness and conceit.
The river watches with satisfaction the
one-way flights, certain, that one day we
will come back to destroy Bluewater and
return the river to its natural role of
dividing and conquering.
We drove back across Bluewater slowly,
watching the gull dive straight toward the
water and then swing back skyward.

4.

N.

#i

hide

from

faded dreams

By WALTER SHAPIRO
S OMETHING ABOUT entering the
last semester of one's undergrad-
uate career triggers the realization
of h o w important the designation
"student' is to one's self-image. And
how much our lives are shaped byf
the existence of a congenial student
subculture.
An aura of potentiality, a sense
that we are preparing rather than
performing, the security of believing,
that things don't really count yet,
have always been !traditional entice-
ments of the student life.
In a society where youth is at an
extraordinarily high premium, there
is a real psychic satisfaction in being
considered a student, which is sort
of synonymous with being young. For
the repressed e n v y which middle
America once reserved for the rich
has 'now been redirected, and ever
intensified, as it has become focused
on the young.
But all this is largely the province
of the Vance Packards and the cul-
ture commentators at Time and
Newsweek.
In a much more important way,
being a student at this bleak time in
history can sustain one's organic un-
ity with a millenialistic movement
that failed. Being a student provides
about the only lingering tie with the
vision of a brighter, shinier, m o r e

meaningful life which was so preva-
lent just a year or two ago.
Superficially, the struggles at Co-
lumbia, San Francisco State and in
the streets of Paris should have fur-
thered the, dreams of the y o u n g
idealists. But these struggles and the
hundreds of smaller confrontations
like them reflected either perversions
of the old dreams or acts of despara-
tion motivated by frustration stem-
ming from the depths of earlier fail-
ures.
For one of the saddest legacies of
1968 was the death of this bright vis-
ion of the future.
ON THIS CAMPUS, the education-
al aspect of this myth died with the
abortive war research referendum last
s p r i n g. The referendum fatally
wounded the naive vision of a Uni-
versity primarily devoted to educa-
tion, rather than to governmental
research. It killed a vision of a Uni-
versity where student influence was
sufficient to ensure that precedence
was given to the education of stu-
dents rather than luxuriant build-
ings and institutional vanity.
The debacles which have all but
killed student faith in political
change have been reiterated to 'ab-
surdity. But even more importantly,
this movement had implications be-
yond the campus in terms of some-

thing which has been crudely called
"life styles."'
At its core, this vision rejected the
materialism and the credo of suc-
cess which marked the suburban
backgrounds of most of its early ad-
herents. It represented a moment of
insight which saw the carefully cam-
ouflaged emptiness of freeze-dried af-
fluence and the fragmented, steel-
encased isolation of commuter-clog-
ged highways.
The idealists longed for something
different. But what emerged were
sterotypes like the "hippies" spawned
and then destroyed by t h e media,
condemned by the shallowness of
their all-pervading hedonism.
ONLY ON university campuses
have any of these revolutionary
ideals been given even the lip ser-
vice of partial success. But while stu-
dent activism has removed m a n y
onerous restrictions, nothing really
substantive has been changed.
In education too often student up-
risings have been almost exclusively
concerned with changing what is be-
ing taught - black history, Inner
City courses and the like - and only
vaguely interested in improving how
traditional disciplines were being
taught.
There is a simplicity, an intellect-
ual fuzziness about the educational

goals of too many of these militant
students.
While repulsed by the university
serving as t h e training ground of
technocrats for industry and govern-
ment, many student activists see
higher education only as the place
to be trained as anti - technocrats,
narrowly skilled in attacking social
problems.
Politically the situation is e v e n
bleaker. F o u r .years of Nixon will
make liberalism again appear to be
a viable political alternative. Even
today, as the intellectual crutch of
"that immoral war in Vietnam" los-
es its emotional impact, it is difficult
for many anti-war, devotees to cog-
ently explain exactly what they have
against the draft.
WHILE THE political failures of
idealism have been the most graphic,
the most poignant setback has been
the destruction of the faith that some
better rationale for existence could
be constructed than consumption and
competition.
While there are still many who are
vowing to replace the materialism of
their parents, few have found any
significant alternatives with which
to replace these superficial values.
Those who have made their peace
with the outside world have either

reverted to the values of their sub-
urban forebearers or have become
embued with either a vocational or
a self-sacrifice ethic. Yet one won-
ders what will happen when the
allure of the law begins to fade or
the despair of trying to teach in a
ghetto school becomes insuramount-
able.
The rest seem to be settling down
with a stubborn certainty that they
are different-that they have had
the flash of Insight and seen the
emptiness of being a stockbroker-
but now they are not sure why. And
so, lacking any motive but vague
necessity, and reflecting the timidity
that generally accompanies an ab-
sence of conviction, they reluctantly
gird themselves to live the same way
their parents and grandparents did.
Some may try to delude themselves
that they are different from their
parents. They may make a big pro-
duction of smoking 1 "grass" twice a
week or making symbolic pilgrimages
to screenings of underground movies,
but these are just- surface rituals
masquerading as something substan-
tial.
WITH THESE shattered dreams,
it is not surprising why many feel a
deep reluctance to leave their, sanc-
tuaries in academia. Remaining a

student nurtures the illusion of not
having bowed to inflexible reality.
It is an historical truth that if no
systematic alternative emerges to
replace a discredited theory or belief
structure, the old system, with all its
failings conveniently ignored, will
continue as the dominant ideology of
the society.
For those who cannot adapt to the
continued dominance of the intellect-
ually discredited suburban life style,
academia remains the most comfort-
able of refuges. To some there is an
informality, a conviviality, an allure
of youthfulness and freshness to uni-
versity commupities which provides
the gratifying semblance of an alter-
native existence.
The hierarchial path from grad-
uate student to full tenured professor
is in a way a circular exercise. The
professor shares with the student an
existence whi'ch maximizes personal
freedom and individual privacy. In a
,way this climb can be seen as a sub-
sidized attempt to return to one's
bright college days.
Still devoted to the dreams of their
youth and seeking their fulfillment,
many of tomorrow's academics will
become kind of, spiritual Ponce de
Leons.

w

Ik

With
visions,

the fading of their glorious
you can hardly blame them.

4_'

John Doe, won't you
please come home?
By jHENRY GRIX
LIFE INVOLVES subtly unlearning the lessons which one has
mastered, shattering myth, constructing reality.
Unfortunately, it is not really that simple. There was a time (when
I was a child) when I thought as a child. I don't remember when, but,
I believe there was such a time. For now that I am a student, I have
learned it is appropriate to think as one is.
FOLLOWING THAT MAXIM, I have learned much from life's
lessons. For example, yesterday I discovered that if you ever come
stumbling, groping your way into a hospital and can no more remember
your name, you should tell them you are John Doe. They will list you
as John Doe.
At the moment, or as of yesterday, there were no John Does in
any Ann Arbor hospital. All the sick people know' who they are.
How do I know this? When I called the hospital yesterday, the
nurse told me.
"Why do you want to know." she queried.
"Because, he's my roommate and he's been missing since yesterday."
The whole episode with the nurse was a fabrication, a shattered
myth. My missing roommate is alive and well and visiting in Chicago.
Of course, I did not know it at the time, but he is.
HIS UNCHARACTERISTIC -and peculiar disappearance at first
concerned and irritated me. But by the time I had notified the police,

A sleazy bar in New Orleans:
'Y'all come back now, heah?'

p

By DAVID SPURR
IF YOU ARE in New Orleans, the cheapest
place in town to buy good booze is a sleazy
little bar off Canal St. called Larry and Katz'.
The bar is actually the corner of a condemned
building, patched up with tar paper and ply-
wood, with its dim neon lights signaling quietly
like a ship's lights from among the "cullud
people's" shacks that line the streets.
Somehow, Larry and Katz' has become the
'in' place to go for the college crowd in New
Orleans, and its ancient fading walls shudder
throughout the night with the sound of rock
music.
"THEY DON'T LET Negroes in 'this place.
They'll serve'm through the window but they
don't let Negroes in. They've even got a gun
sittin' right on the counter to keep'em out."
"Doesn't that violate some sort of law?"
"Law . . . ? I don't know, maybe. Anyway,
that's the way it is. Nobody kicks about it."
We drove up to Larry and Katz' from the
French Quarter after the show at Al Hirt's place

eyes down the counter and saw a shabby old
black man step up to the window in the wall
at the other end.
"One bottle o' L & J red, Suh." He dug deep
into a faded gray coat for some change.
The bartender, handing him a bottle of
cheap wine in a brown paper bag, sent him off
with a good-natured joke. The old man backed
away from the window, turned up his collar and
walked into the parking lot across the street,
where other men like him were huddled over a
small fire.
"They build a fire out there just about every
night, when it's not raining. Get drunker'n hell
on that crap they drink."
I WALKED ACROSS the room, up the room;
since the floorboards were warped and slanted.
Two girls stood underneath a huge hole in the
wall, waiting to be picked up. As I started toward
them, I gulped half of my drink and then decid-
ed no.
It started to rain outside hard. A guy in a
tweed jacket next to me with a deep-South ac-
cent was talking about the Sugar Bowl. "Yassuh,

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