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March 23, 1969 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1969-03-23

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Page Six


Sunday, March 23, 1969


Su-nd--, IMarch- 23.r,1969

This is the way
the. world ends.
The Unprepared Society: Planning for a Precarious Future,
by Donald Michael. Basic Books, $4.95.
ACTUALLY THERE IS very little reason to suppose that the world
is going to survive long enough for us to worry about cowering
before the animus of an Orwellian Big Brother. And it's not because
of Melvin Laird and the ABM (immediately.),
If there is a reason, it very likely is a quite simple one: we hu-
mans have just never decided that survival in the future is an im-
portant enough priority to do something about. After all, a friendly
game of power manipulation has always proved vastly more interest-
ing. So much more interesting that we have even devised highly com-
plex procedures to play the game (it's called Politics and Government).
EVERY NOW AND THEN, though, somebody like Don Michael
comes along who tells us with a fair amount of restrained anxiety
that neither the games nor their players - nor the remaining ,3.5
billion people for whom the games are largely irrelevant - are going
to be around much longer unless we consciously plan for survival in
the future.
Michael's message is clear and direct: the world has become far
too complex, includes far too many people, has far too great a po-
tential for irreversible manipulation of both men and matter for us
not to plan for the future. "Whatever else is abundant, time and
skilled humanity will be scarce. But we can no longer afford to let
things 'work themselves. out,' to bumble through. The consequences
from bumblin-g into disasters will be too great and the chances of
getting out of them while preserving a democratic ethos too small to
risk such an approach."
MORE IMPORTANT, perhaps, than future hunger for future mass-
es is a technical phrase used by the computer people called "in-
formation input overload." For example, the ,more people we have,
the mpre ideas - good, bad, and indifferent - will be distributed, the
more conversations will take place, the more questions will be asked
ahd answered, the, more decisions will have to be made, and so on.
Yet all of these transactions among human beings must be processed
or absorbed and evaluated by individual human beings. That we are
training ourselves, as individuals, to handle this geometrical increase
in the amount of information is, clearly not the case.
THE CATCH IN ALL of this of course is that in order to plan
the kind of world we want, we have to learn how to plan. And that
doesn't mean creatingfiascos like Urban Renewal. It means that we
must operationally integrate our physical,- social and psychological
needs with our prospective technological capacities so that people
are able to live as they want. Our dilemma is that we are forced to do
this massive systemic planning when we quite frankly do not know
how. And what is worse is that we don't even know how to create an
educational system (or environment) which will help people learn.
To bring things -a bit closer to home, it is the kind of problem
which black students and The Daily face and.are still wrangling over.
So far the situation has been approached from a perspective which
I think Michael would agree will-not work in any long-run sense: that
is: negotiations from positions of power when the real issue is the
need- for a systematic examination of communication needs among
black students and between black and white students at the univer-
sity with an eye to what alternatives are technically possible. And
that has hardly anything to do with who sits on a pro forma publica-
tions board. If current and future communications needs can be de-
termined in any scientific way, then there is a basis for planning to
account for those needs.,
BUT EVEN THEN this University, which prides itself on the quality
of its work in the social sciences, has done little or nothing to
train people to apply such approaches. Unless it does so very quickly,
then indeed the future is at best "precarious."
I - ---




Donleavy s


The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B. by
J. P. Donleavy. Delacorte Press, $6.95.
TEND TO GET BORED with modern novels, espe-
cially those of the Couples genre. They start in
bed . . . make rapid breaks for meals interspersed with
psycho-philosophic comments on the human situation
and return eagerly to the action under the covers,
with very little change in locale or technique.
Three-hundred fifty pages of sex can be exhausting
when the reader finds himself wading through lists
of stereotyped characters, actions and plots . . . until
there is nothing new at all, no excitement, no discovery,
just too many words. If you've read one modern novel
today, you may have read them all. Happily, for me,
there are exceptions. There are a few good authors
around. James Patrick Donleavy is one . .. and after
following the erratic and erotic activities of Sebastian
Dangerfield, personable young blackguard of Ginger
Man fame, I was eager to see if the author could find
a suitable successor.
He has.
s BALTHAZAR B is a strange fellow . . belonging
even in his youth to that rare breed of Victorian
gentility, common, perhaps at the turn of the century
. always charming in sporting coat and cap, with
tea at four and dinner at six, rung in by a maid, under
chrystal chandeliers and the like, with trustees to
handle all money matters and nothing more difficult
to think of than life.
His was the world of "Sunday morning scented with
coffee and baking bread. Servants dressed for mass.
All silent through the sunless house. Awnings down
over windows. Concierges taking momentary eyes away
from tenants to feed their canaries. Bells pealing across
Po etry o

Paris. Boulangeries laying out their sweet cakes. While
old ladies lean between their plants to stare into the
Balthazar is the poor little rich boy, born in Paris
"of a mother blond and beautiful and a father quiet
and rich," consigned to the care of Nannie, from whom
he learns about the big wide world. He is sent away
to an English boarding school where he learns to "Play
the game, Play it well. Play it fairly. And avoid smutty
talk and companions," and where he forms a lasting
friendship with Beefy, master-masturbator. Balthazar
leaves school and returns to Paris with his new and
very beautiful young Nannie . .. who helps him explore-
the world of sex. She is dismissed for her pains and hle
is sent away again, to Dublin, Trinity College . . . and
Donleavy's and certainly, Dangerfield's . . . a city of
rich and poor, of high sophistication turning to in-
nocence, of tram tracks and squash rackets, of grey wet
pavement and the yeasty smell of gas works. And
Balthazar moves through it all . . . His life like a set of
paintings, complete even to the last detail-
"Through an aroma of roasted coffee and a glass
swing door. By light eyed ladies with packages and,
gloves and sparkling eyes. In grey flanneled suits and
silken voices who let the breeze of passing people blow
their cigarette smoke away. Everywhere faces. And
ahead past counters of cakes and breads and sweet
smelling loaves, a great high ceilinged room of glass
topped tables ...."
BALTHAZAR MOVES' through the toy city, the
country at the end of the earth, the oldest place. In
search of love, to find it briefly, lose it and to pursue
a dream. He travels from Paris to England to Dublin
to London and back to Paris with the grace that only
a well-heeled bank account will allow . . . watching the

shifting scenery and peoples before him with a poet's
eye, gentle, unobtrusive but exacting. He is a gentle-
man even under the most trying of circumstances.
By his own admission, not a dear little chap but a
small human being.
Balthazar's story is a common one . . .the story
of shifting generations. of maturity and the search
for values and directions as part of growing up. But
it is an uncommon tale too-because Balthazar and
Beefy are uncommon people . . . with a particular
joie de vivre. delight in life and a taste for the little
things therein that is refreshing. Theirs is a fragile
joy, a fragile innocence (for Beefy in particular, almost
tragic) and their search for love, happiness and secur-
ity, neverending. Yet they do go on, through adventure
after adventure, sweeping shattered dreams to the
side-preserving a merry eye and keeping up appear-
ances for ....
"Unless one has a majesty about one's apartments,
people will walkall over you, put ash on the carpet,
kick the olive pips under the tallboys. As- one stands
there desperately besmirched. Trying that awkward
laugh through the teeth. Giving the demeanor, o you
chaps don't put me off my stride at all."
SOMEHOW, DONLEAVY improves as he grows older
capturing in this novel the tender sadness and joy
of youth. (Which lacking in The Ginger Main, being
biterness there, made Dangerfield at his best a black-
guard.) Balthazar is a genuine delight, a figure of
hope . . . lost and bewildered, but always remember-
ing .
It is
The random
Of triumphs
Which is
So nice.


S oviet street corners

Poets on Street Corners, by Olga
Carlisle. Random House, $6.95.
FORMER Cinema Guild Chair-
man Rick Ayers has a six
word vocabulary that includes
everything in his life: hassle,
paranoid, great, fantastic, won-
derful, and delightful. Olga'
Carlisle's new book of reminis-
cences and excerpts fromiSo-
viet poets is not great criticism
and is not bad either-simply
because, according to Rick's
vocabulary, there is no such
thing as a bad book.
Poets on Street Corners is de-
Olga Carlisle wrote it. She is.
not a scholar but a woman, the
daughter of an emigre Russian
poet and grand-daughter of the
great prose writer Andreyev. She
grew up In France and came to
know and love poetry as some-
thing grown-ups gathered to-
gether to read aloud at parties
after she had been tucked in
Poets on Street Corners
reflects the personal way
Russians feel towards poets. It's
over four hundred pages long,
and a little less than half of
them are filled with Carlisle's
own reminiscences based on
first hand experience with many
of the poets and interviews with
friends of the earlier ones. In-
cluded are so many statements,
tributes, and descriptions of
fellow. writers by each other
that the function of poetry over
time and history seems even
more of a family affair.

cupied with selections from each
of the fifteen poets discussed.
These are printed in Russian as
well as in English "adaptations"
by prominent American poets.
They betray a highly personal
as opposed to public interest.
Some are not yet allowed to be
published in the Soviet Union;
some were preserved and circu-
lated in typescript and secrecy
during the great purges; and
one in particular got its author
killed en route to Siberia. The
"adaptations" by American poets
display a recently popular me-
thod of translating and some-
times inspired originality. Ro-
bert Lowell, for example, t o o k
three very different Pasternak
poems and fused them into one
The delightful sensation that
comes from Poets on Street
Corners is the consistent yet
subtle way in which poetry works
its way in Soviet life. W h e n
Carlisle is driving in a taxi with
Yevtushenko and he begins re-
citing, the driver pulls over to
the curb so he too can he a r
without wrecking the cab. In
terms solely of public gatherings
poetry in the USSR is second
only to soccer. Yevtushenko told
Carlisle, "The need to restore
warmth to people's lives is our
most imperative task." Most of
the enthusiasts are technicians
and scientists. Printings of the
leading poets are sold out in
two or three days.
Whether the increasing popu-
larity diminishes quality is a
question Carlisle poses to sev-
eral writers. Although poetess
Akhmatova recalls the new fol-

lowers' high educational back-
ground, continued quality re-
mains a mute question. Paster-
nak, in interviews that "seemed
like one long conversation,"
says that "prose is today's me-
dium, elaborate, rich prose like
that of Faulkner." Yevushenko
says: "I myself belong to a less
exalted poetic tradition. My
verse is usually dictated by con-
temporary events, by sudden
the different types of. Soviet
poetry is not designed for aca-.
demic understanding, but for a
simpler, more everyday insight
into the lives this poetry ex-
presses and fulfills. Visiting the
first great Russian poetess be-
comes an experience of "ma-
jestic graciousness . . . (at thev
age of seventy) . . . reciting
frm memory, her. eyes half
closed, her head slightly bowed,
she seemed to listen deeply to
the music of her own voice."
Her chapter on Mayakovsky,
the great poet of the 1920's,
brings out two very , different
responses to his, death. From
France Bunin, and Nabokov de-
claimed him as just another
communist. Pasternak, who re-
members immediately liking
him when they met as rivals in
a literary debate, recalls his
death, as Caslisle says, "in
what is one of the most moV-
BOOKS extends its apologies
to Elizabeth Wissman and
Walter Shapiro for the cas-
trated form in which their
reviews appeared last week. A'
failure in communications re-
sulted in some unfortunate de-
letions which unnecessarily ob-
scured their ideas. All ridicule
should be directed to BOOKS
rather than to the authors.

ing chapters in all of Russian
THE MOST colorful informa-
tion provided in Poets on
Street Corners is from fellow
writers. Ehrenburg tributes
Tsvetayeva, so does Pasternak
but Akhmatova recalls to Car-
lisle the role she had played in
her fellow poetess' suicide: "her
tone was reserved, and it was
clear that she had treated Tsve-
tayeva coldly shor;tly after
Tsvetayeva's r e t u r n fron
The most popular Soviet poet
to this day is Yesenin, the pea-
sant poet who married an
American dancer and "treated
his own life like a fairy tale.'
Carlisle says that what char-
acterizes Pushkin, the all-time
. Great Russian Poet, is his grace
and eclecticism. What charac-
terizes Yesenin is his lyricism
and archaic streak. Yesenin wel-
comed the Revolution but miss-
ed the country folk he left be-
hind; one of his lines can be
translated: "You can't go home
about the. contemporary Soviet
scene she reveals a close affin-
ity between the new writers and
Americans. The Barachi poets
are very much like New York
beatniks. Vosnesensky's favorite
writers are Ginsberg and Ro-
bert Lowell. In his office Yev-
tushenko has a portrait of
Hemingway (alongside one of
Castro). The best living woman
writer, Akhm-adulina, remem-
bers how awee-struck she and
others were upon the visit of
John Steinbeck. The newest and
most persecuted (by the author-
ities) is Joseph Brodsky. His
concerns are more deeply re-
ligious= and while he has been
translating; John Donne, h i s
favorite American poets are Ed-
ward Arlington Robinson and
Robert Frost.

"At certain times 'he seemed
suddenly to become aware of the
impact of his extraordinary
looks, of his whole personality.
Then he seemed to withdraw for
an instant, .;half closing h i s
s slanted brown eyes, turning his
head away, vaguely reminiscent
of a horse balking."
The chapter on Pasternak is
the longest 'in the book and is
filled with hisaobservations on
" his own work and ,that of oth-
ers. Asked about the symbolist
Bely, Pasternak lamented that
fascination with new forms that
t engrossed Bely, and created a
scope "comparable to that of
chamber music - never great-
Pasternak also laments schol-
arly interpretations of Dr. 7hi.-
vago in theological terms: "I am
weary of this notion of faithful-
ness to a point of view at all
cost. . . Mayakovsky killed him-
self because his pride would not
be reconciled with something
new happening within himself
-or around him."
HE ALSO REPLIES to critic-
ism of Zhivago's loose and un-
t conventional structure: "T h e
plan of the novel is outlined by
. the poems accompanying it." He
Ptit the poetry and religious
symbolism there "to, give warm-
th to -the book. Now some
critics have become so wrapped
f up in those symbols - which
f are put in the book -the way
stoves go into a house, to warm
it up-that they would like me
to commit myself and climb into
the stove."


for whose sake!l?
reflects on "The Value Revolution" and
the Global Environment,
Monday, March 24, 8 P.M.
Michigan League Ballroom
Sponsored by the
School of Natural Resources Student Council



and '
Circle Books
215 S. STATE ST.
2nd fl. 769-1583


p w i


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"The (American) national-security manager does not
grasp that there are some societies where channels of r
:. ~p ace ful change have broken down or never, existed.
Intervention and Revolution
"America's ar on Revolution"
4:00 Lane MIall Auditoriun
Sponsored by Office of Religious Affairs.
8:00 First Methodist Church
Sponsored by Interfaith Council for Peace
Ecumenical Campus Center
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Jan ,Milk Lockman
x Comenius Theological Faculty University of Prague,
Czechoslovakia; Visiting Professor Union Theolog-
ical Seminary.
Richard J. Barnet
Co-Director Institute for Policy Studies, Author
"Intervention and Revolution," served the State
Dept. and U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Jan Milc Lochmah

. .

--Earn up to 8 transferable
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-Learn Italian while study-
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- sessions or full summer
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Call between 5-7 P.M.:

Three generations ago t h e
spiritual head ofrRi.ssia was Leo
Tolstoy. Two generations ago it
was Maxim Gorky. In her pre-
face Carlisle says today's spirit-
ual leader is Solzhenitsin. The
leader of the last generation,
the man most mentioned in
Poets on Street Corners, a n d
the one the poets themselves
most dedicate their verses to is
Boris Pasternak.
CARLISLE describes Paster-
nak's house in Peredelkio
from the outside - its veranda
makes it resemble American
homes of forty years ago, "but
the dense firs against which it
stands mark it as Russian." She
describes it from the inside-
just like an interior from War
and Peace. She describes the le-
gend, growing over his face and
manner - as Tsvetayeva said,
"Pasternak looks at the same
time like an Arab and his horse."
Talking with him Carlisle found,

Pasternak is not exactly the
kind of poet to stand on a street
corner, but Poetry on Street
Corners does convey the per-
sonal side of a medium that has
become highly popular. The
many-faceted relations of the
poets with each other and with
life is richly, delightfully evoked,
and there is an ample selection
of poetry for readers of Rus-
sian and English.
Today's writers .
English major in the literary
college. She plans to graduate
sometime next year or the year
after that .:
PHIL BALLA, a frequent
contributor to BOOKS, may go
to Hebrew University in Jeru-
salem next year to learn more
about - Hebrew poetry. Then
again, he may go into the army.
Higher Education Director for
the United States Student Press
Association, is currently a jun-
ior majoring in history -here.




Over 1400
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