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January 08, 1967 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1967-01-08
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: .

4 '1' '9

The Goose Beneath the Skin

On Aggression, by Konrad Lorenz,
translated by Marjorie Kerr Wilson.
Harcourt, Brace and World. $5.75.
Of his third compendium of bio-
logical research and philosophical
musing, Lorenz says:
One might think that scholar with
a certain gift for expressing him-
self, having dedicated his whole life
to a specific subject, would be able
to describe and communicate the
results of his labors in such a way
that his reader would understand
not only what he knows, but also
what he feels about them.
The reader, having by this time
plowed through two hundred pages
of Lorenz's zoological observations,
is ready to take issue with that first
self-conscious assumption: that the
scholar does indeed have a "certain
gift for expressing himself." In un-
dertaking the task of persuading an
unbelieving and traditionalist audi-
ence that aggression acts as a posi-
tive force in evolution-for that is
what Lorenz attempts-it is essen-
tial that the author establish his
credentials unequivocally. T h e
opening paragraphs give us hope;
but as we read on it becomes dis-
couragingly clear that, however
brilliant the scientific correlations,
the way they are presented leaves
slim hope they will be accepted.
If the message fails to come
across, though, it is hardly the fault
of Lorenz's organization. A logically
interlocking chain of data leads us
toward conclusions which would be
hotly disputed in another context.
Lorenz denies that aggression is a
life-destroying principle, shows how
it is expressed in various ritual
forms and ultimately connects it
with human morality.
In his epic journey from cichlid
pairing to indiscriminate human
neighbor-loving, he calls attention
to instinctive ritualized animal be-
havior that closely parallels our

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amazing, but Lorenz refrains from
drawing too obvious connections.
After recording the activities of
various animal families, Lorenz dif-
ferentiates the ties that hold each
together. Although he tends to an-
thropomorphize the beasts, he does
give the reader the benefit of fur-
ther explanation in purely scientific
terms.
But problems loom large when
Lorenz, in the final pages, tries to
substantiate his proposition that
moral law is the creature of natural
evolution-that it is as instinctive as
the greylag's triumph ceremony,
and as practical. Had he, by this
time, convinced us of his capability
as a scientist, we might be more will-
ing to accept this philosophizing.
But our author has kept so busy at
buying interest with clever phras-
ing (not nearly so clever as his ex-
periments) that we doubt equally
his rhetoric, his qualifications and
his conclusions.
In spite of obnoxious habits of
style, Lorenz takes a fresh view of
some worthwhile topics. His defini-
tions of terms such as "culture,"
"value" and "normal," for example,
are thought-provoking. But the first
enthusiasm we feel after encounter-
ing Lorenz's stimulating ideas on
socialization flags somewhat during
the long trek to his final philoso-
phy, where objectivity is abandoned
and the text begins to read like a
familiar sermon. At the parting
plea to Love Thy Neighbor, we have
a strong urge to flip back to page
one and make sure we have finished
the same book that began on such a
pleasantly scientific note.
Mary Sue Leighton
Miss Leighton is a second-year student
in the College at the University of
Chicago.

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own. Perhaps his most interesting
observations concern the mating
habits of his old friends the greylag
geese. It is difficult to determine
whether Lorenz's language is more
characteristic of him or the geese,
but in any case he insists that he
"failed to recognize a well-known
individual after (the gander) has
suddenly fallen in love." Later he
comments that "It is only the play
of her eyes which tells the male

how his courtship is received (by
the female)" and that "there are
true friendships between male and
female which have nothing to do
with love, though naturally love
may spring from them." There is
undoubtedly a lesson to be learned
from the fact that "Young geese
can often be seen making copulato-
ry movements, but these are no
forecast of a later pairing." The
number of similar comparisons is

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Sodomy Last Summer

Varieties of Pornographic Experience

(Continued from Page Three)
A man who used to enjoy cutting
small steaks from the girl's rump
has absolutely become *a butcher:
he has the girl sandwiched between
two heavy planks, then slowly and
carefully sawed in two.
An embuggerer of both sexes has
brother and sister fetched in; he
declares to the brother that he is
about to die a horrible death, and
shows the young man all the de-
ployed tackle he proposes to use;
however, the libertine continues, he
will save the brother's life if he will
fuck his sister and strangle her at
once. The young man agrees, and
while he fucks his sister, the liber-
tine embuggers now one of them,
now the other. Then the brother,
fearing for his life, 'deprives his sis-
ter of hers, and the moment he
completes that operation, both he
and his dead sister tumble through
a trap door into a capacious char-
coal brazier, wherein the libertine
watches them be consumed.
A great devotee of asses and of
the lash brings together mother
and daughter. He tells the girl that
he is going to kill her mother if
she, the girl, does not consent to
the sacrifice of both her hands; the
little one agrees, they are severed
at the wrist. Whereupon these two
creatures are separated; a rope
suspended from the ceiling is slip-
ped around the girl's neck, she

stands upon a stool; another cord
runs from the stool into the next
room and the mother is requested
to hold the end. She is then invited
to tug on the cord; she pulls it
without knowing what she is doing,
she is led directly into the first
room to contemplate her work, and
during that moment, in her keenest
distress, she is smitten down by a
saber blow aimed at her head from
behind..
Any one of these proceedings at
first seems merely grotesque, for,
viewed against the background of
the real world, where men are
usually benevolent or at least indif-
ferent to one another, it is simply
an instance of man's occasional in.
humanity. But as one reads on and
on, through the fifty pages of ra-
pine, torture and murder which
conclude the volume, one's sense of
what is usual in this world gradual-
ly dissolves, to be replaced by
echoes of Sade's credo: "through
vice alone is man capable ... of the
most delicious voluptuousness."
Like Finnegans Wake, The 120
Days of Sodom cannot be read; it

can only be read at. And it is a good
thing, too, for I suspect that if it,
were possible to read straight
through the 500 pages with all of
the attention one can give to- isolat-
ed paragraphs, one would emerge
with permanently damaged sensibil-
ities. Fortunately, the book soon
palls; after a few dozen pages (or a
few dozen paragraphs of the last
section) one simply cannot read on.
What sort of mind could have
created this masterpiece-of horror?
I fear that the answer must be: a
great one. No matter what one may
say about Sade's deranged values,
his novel poses an unanswerable
moral problem. If it is the case that
there is no God (and Sade believed
in none), why should one be good?
If virtue has no reward in heaven,
just as, indeed, it has none on earth,
what legitimate value can one cling
to in life except the pleasures of the
individual? And if these pleasures
should be cruel, then so much the
better. In The 120 Days of Sodom,
Sade takes to its ultimate conclu-

sion Rabelais' dictum "Fay ce que
vouldras."
The experience of this book-not
its style, nor its ideological
content-is what convinces me that
Sade cannot be ignored or argued
away. The power of The 120 Days
of Sodom is neither literary nor in-
tellectual; it is existential. It is
right, then, that the existentialist
Simone de Beauvoir should be giv-
en the last word:
In the solitude of his prison cells,
Sade lived through an ethical dark-
ness similar to the intellectual
night in which Descartes shrouded
himself. He emerged with no reve-
lation but at least he disputed all
the easy answers . . . Sade drained
to the dregs the moment of selfish-
ness, injustice, and misery, and he
insisted upon its truth. The su-
preme value of his testimony lies
in its ability to disturb us. It forces
us to re-examine thoroughly the
basic problem whichrhaunts our
age in different forms: the true re-
lation between man and man.
David H. Richter
Mr. Richter is a Second-year graduate
student in the department of English
at The University of Chicago.

The 120 Days of Sodom and Other
Writings, by the Marquis de Sade.
Translated by Austryn Wainhouse
and Richard Seaver. Grove Press,
$15.00
A Manual of Classical Erotology, by
Frederick Charles Forberg. Trans-
lated by Viscount Julian Smifh.
Grove Press. $7.50.
The Image, by Jean de Berg. Trans-
lated by Patsy Southgate. Grove
Press. $5.00.
Oh, my achin' prurient interest!
Another crop of porn from Grove
Press, which must by this time have
a collective case of satyriasis. How
will they get the books past the
Postmaster General's watchful eye
this time? Nothing to it: de Sade is
a "classic," of course; Classical Ero-
tology is a reference book, more or
less; and The Image is
literature-as much so, I guess, as
last season's Story of 0.
The Image, a little piece of non-
sense written by "Jean de Berg,"
raises fewer questions as literature
than as pornography; for, taken as a
piece of writing, it is a slight matter
indeed. The formula, familiar to
readers of Story of 0, is "girl meets
girl, girl whips girl, boy meets girls,
boy whips both." O r i g i n a l l y
published in France by Editions de
Minuit in 1956, it suggests the sort

of "variations on a theme" which
the author of Story of O might have
attempted in the wake of his more
successful novel (Histoire d'O first
appeared in 1954).
I rather suspect, in fact, that
"Pauline Reage" and "Jean de
Berg" are one and the same per-
son. (I further suspect that the au-
thor of both books is male, but my
reasons would tell more about my-
self than about the novels.) My
grounds for believing in the iden-
tity of the two are rather shaky:
for one thing, "Pauline Reage's"
introduction to the Grove Press
edition of The Image coyly hints at
it; for another, both books are writ-
ten in the same flat, undistinctive
style; for a third, their fetishes are
quite similar.
As literature, The Image is inde-
fensible, but it is this very fact that
makes it interesting as porn. Here
we have a book which, for all its
modern techniques and ideas (a lit-
tle symbolism here, a little existen-
tialism there) is basically masturba-
tion literature.
Story of O, it may be admitted,
was a borderline case, for the por-
trayal of sadistic acts was directed
at characterizing O's peculiar style
of femininity-O becomes a saint
and martyr to sexual cruelty. The
Image, on the other hand, has no

such object in view, and scenes like
the following are effective only to
the extent that they arouse the
reader:
The knowing hand moved toward
the sex, from the rear, and once
again disappeared into the crevice,
I could hear Claire murmuring:
"She is soaking, the little darling
. . ,," and after a while: "It's a
real lake." Her thumb, easily find-
ing the orifice, sank in up to the
hilt, withdrew, and plunged in
again. Anne began to moan. Her
moans got longer, and harsher, as
the caress continued, the hand
moving to and fro between her
thighs.
Grove Press is assuredly not kid-
ding itself that it has just published
a worthy novel; they realize, I am
sure, that they are merely adding to
the collections of those whose taste
in porn is too "sophisticated" for
drug-store dirty books. I see noth-
ing wrong with this: but it is a pity
that our country's laws force the
publisher to put up a hilarious false
front. After nearly two hundred
years of supposed "freedom of the
press," it is certainly time for the
courts to let outfits like Grove end
the masquerade.
No such masquerade is necessary
for A Manual of Classical Erotolo-
gy, an amusing anthology of
Greco-Roman derring-do originally
published in England (in a limited
edition of 100) in 1884. Frederick

10 * MIDWEST LITERARY REVIEW *

* MIDWE S T L I T E R

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