'y, Januory 15, ;1,969
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Page N h
yJanuary 15, 1969 THE MICHIGAN DAILY
.,. i n
Kosinski: The writer as Comrade
Finding the artistry
of edioting reality
By HENRY GRIX
The Odessa steps of Sergei Eisenstein's classic silent film
Potemkin may be the Steps of Jerzy Kosinski's latest novel. And
then again they may not. "I rely on whatever it is that makes me
do it," the writer-in-residence says.
But parallels between literature and film are evident and the
topic of Kosinski's lecture last night in Rackham, "Montage in
Cinema and Modern Fiction."
"The novelist can learn a lot from movies;" Kosinski says, sug-
gesting that "montage, putting things together, editing" is becom-
ing more a part of art. He adds that the sharp editing of films like
Bullitt set an artistic pace that "few novels dare to follow."
"Looseness of composition is part of the structure of the mod-
ern novel or film," the writer explains. "The less you give the aud-
ience the more the audience will make the movie or write the book."
"To communicate by not communicating, by involving the aud-
ience in the creative process," is the goal of modern film directors
and novelists. The art of the novelist or cinematographer, lies in
presenting a "composite work of art," in selecting the details which
will stimulate the audience to join in the creative effort.
Kosinski feels audiences have been conditioned in creativity,
"trained by movies and via TV," to supplying events suggested by'
a novel or film. He cited an experiment which indicated rich de-
tailing inhibits the minds of viewers or, readers.
Ironically, Kosinski shies from the suggestion of turning either
of his fictional works into films. "The Painted Bird was written
as a novel," Kosinski explains, "and it never occurred to me that it
could become anything other than that."
In fact, Kosinski pleas ignorance of an extensive knowledge of
film. He claims his closest connection with cinema came when
Hollywood sought to make a film of The Painted Bird, a grim
chronicle of inhumanity. But Kosinski wouldn't sell out. Especially
when they insisted on making a musical version.
By MARCIA ABRAMSON
"You have a doctor in your
book, comrade? Do you know
medicine? Have you been a vol-
unteer? Why not? They need
The work of the writer in a
socialist state is under constant
scrutiny, from preliminary out-
line on, Jerzy Kosinski explain-
ed yesterday. The writer must
answer to other writers of vari-
ous lusters, to semi-literary po-
litical figures, to editors and
publishers-of state publishing
houses, of course. IN
And even if the work passes
all the inspections before publi-
cation, a sudden change in the
"political temperature" may pre-
cipitate disaster in the reviews.
Kosinski, who left Poland only
11 years ago, knows the dilem-
ma of the writer in a socialist
state. But the problem with his
analysis of the situation in yes-
terday's afternoon discussion
was that he spent too much
time analyzing the mechanical
structure of the socialist system
without getting into the per-
sonal and psychological ramifi-
cations that his lecture suggest-
ed must exist.
For example, Kosinski said
that being published abroad is
the closest thing tos uicide.
"Just getting in touch with a
foreign publisher is an act of
courage," he explained. But he
did attempt to explain what
makes some men commit this
kind of suicide, while others
stay with the system.
Kosinski's talk left many
questions of this nature unan-
swered. Do some potential writ-
ers give up without trying,
knowing that they will be stif-
led, but not willing to publish
abroad? Is the accepted writ-
ing any good? Do some of the
writers become literary hypo-
crites, or do most of them be-
lieve in the system? Kosinski
did not say.
The system is fairly simple to
grasp. To be able to publish, you
must be recommended for and
join the writers' union, and then
subject yourself and your pro-
posed work to constant criti-
cism. You meet with your peers,
the other new writers. You meet
Student Book Service
with more accepted, published
writers. You meet with a tape-
recorder at all the meetings. You
are observed not only as a writ-
er but as a citizen. "Your file,"
Kosinski explained, "develops
right along with you." The ra-
- tionale for these sessions is that
the work does not belong to the
author alone, but to society.
How serious and cutting the cri-
ticism is depends on the politi-
cal climate of the particular
In any case, the younger writ-
er is in the most perilous posi-
tion. More accepted writers are
under less political pressure
from the system.
But even they do not choose
to use what freedom they may
have in defense of the less
orthodox. In answer to questions
from a receptive - and percep-
tive - audience, Kosinski said
the large body of Soviet writers
are reactionary. However, he did
not quite explain why this is so.
Kosinski added that he con-
sidered the writer's position
most tragic in the socialist
country. "They may be the only
ones who are really aware," he
explained. "The others are
more-or less comfortable; so-
ciety moves forward and pro-
duces material goods for them."
Kosinski was only beginning
to talk about the writer's per-
snal dilemma when it was time
for him to run off to a dinner
engagement. It is too bad that
he could not have gone on, since
so much more could have been
A film of a "psychoballet" and
a lecture on the use of art in
spiritual development will be pre-
sented at 8 p.m. tomorrow in
Rackham Assembly Hall by a
The program is sponsored by
the Baha'i Student Gorup. There
is no admission.
The most complete
NEW and USED TEXTS
is at the
Student Book Service
I . . !I
- Joi the Daily Staff Today!
Today at 8:00 P.M.
PRESIDENT FLEMING speaking
"The Role of Fraternities"