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April 10, 1967 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-04-10
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I 4, F



(Continued from page 3)
laid aside the manuscript for nearly
eight years. When he picked it up
again he wrote in a different style
about a different Huck.
MARK TWAIN had succumbed to
what Poirier calls the environ-
ment of force, as opposed to the
writer's own created environment of
freedom. Later writers like Edith
Wharton and Dreiser fall victim so
completely to the environment of
force that they could imagine no
freedom at all for their characters.
But Poirier does not see things get-
ting worse or getting better. The en-
vironment of force worked as pow-
erfully in Melville. And the environ-
ment of freedom has been more re-
cently created by Faulkner and Fitz-
gerald, even, as Poirier sees it, by
Mailer and Nabokov..

American literature as "poignantly
heroic." But Coriolanus was also a
poignant hero in Shakespeare's play,
when, banished from Rome, he cried
For you, the city, thus I turn
my back.
There is a world elsewhere.
Coriolanus's fate is tragic, and Poir-
ier, taking his title from these lines,
intimates that the fate of personal
freedom in American literature is
tragic, too.
For all that I admire Poirier's
book, my own preference lies still
with Lawrence and Bewley, with the
possibility that the creation of per-
sonal freedom in American litera-
ture can touch society and affect it.
It seems to me that Poirier places
too absolutem and uncritical a faith
in the transcendentalist notion of
the self.
One doesn't have to be a behavior-
ist or a sociologist (bad people, in

But over all Poirier
solations. Obviously


no con-

the eyes of critics like Poirier, be-
cause they try to build systems) to
want a sharper, more thorough
treatment of the romantic-mystic
self than Poirier gives it. What after
all does the self consist of? What are
the sources of its power? What the
best method of expression? Poirier
simply takes for granted that there
are reservoirs of self that get re-
leased in those privileged, transitory
moments - thence to melt away
in ordinary environments. William
James was transcendentalist enough
to want to ask those questions from
a psychological point of view, to try
to revamp the old doctrines if pos-
sible and give them new relevance
for his own time.
Nearly all the great American
writers took their basic attitudes
toward the self, directly or indirect-
ly, from transcendentalism. But few
accepted that idea of the self as
thoroughly as Poirier does. One may
read the works of Melville, of Haw-
thorne, of Henry James, even of
Fitzgerald, and come away suspect-
nig that in their novels the tran-
(Continuedd from page 5)
plays upon the ignorance of the
white people.
Powell is just a reversal of Wal-
lace . . . Powell means God.
HOW do you feel when you see
girls you know going out with
white guys? Does that bother you?
It wouldn't bother me.
You see all these hippies, fake
hippies. It seems like the thing to do
used to be dating a person of another
religion. Now, it's a person of anoth-
er race. I just question the sincerity
of it sometimes.
A lot of times when you see a white
guy dating a colored girl, you won-
der about the feelings of the guy
toward the girl.
Somehow when you see a Negro
out with a white girl you're hoping
he is exploiting her. The white male
has been fooling around with the
Negro female from time immemorial.
You just wonder about it sometimes,
whether the relationship is real.
You see these white guys coming
down, just to know what it's like.
You see white girls and you figure
they just want to know what it's
like, too.
Then, too, there is sort of a mar-
tyr complex. A guilt complex. It's
like when white Peace Corps girls
go to Africa. This is one of the things
they learn in training-don't have
this guilt complex. You are some-
how relieving yourself of the injus-
tice that has been done to the Negro.
Some white women think that by

scendentalist conception of the self,
when put into practice, leads inev-
itably to death or death-in-life.
This is a far bleaker view of "a
world elsewhere" than Poirier takes.
The romantics may have believed
that attaining personal authenticity
was more important than the survi-
val of self; those today who are
preaching personal freedom, and
those who are seeking it, should face
up to the issue just as resolutely.
A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style
in American-Literature, by Richard Poir-
ier. Oxford, $5.75.
Studies in ClassicAmerican Literature,
by D. H. Lawrence. Compass paperback,
The Eccentric Design: Form in the
Classic American Novel, by Marius Bew-
ley. Columbia paperback, $1.95.
On Revolution, by Hannah Arendt.
Compass paperback, $1.65.
Against Interpretation, by Susan Son-
tag. Delta paperback, $1.95
The Varieties of Religious Experience,
by Williams James, Mentor paperback,
giving their bodies to the Negro
they are absolving themselves of the
suffering that has been brought on
the Negro. They take this sort of at-
titude, to be a martyr, sort of lay
themselves on the cross.
You don't look at people as indi-
viduals. You don't look at John Doe
and Mary Smith, you look at black
men and white girls. This process of
mechanization . .. we don't look at
people as individuals, we categorize
WHAT ABOUT people in the
South? Are the people down
there really religious?
Most of the students at Tuskegee
who go to chapel are freshmen and
sophomores. They love to hear Bap-
tist songs. They go because they've
been conditioned. I think that they
go to church because they think if
they don't they will be betraying
their parents.
The more you become economical-
ly independent the more you can
get away from God. The less this
world is unbearable, the less you
have to look for an afterlife.
Church gives people a chance to
exercise some of their individuality,
like they can be deacons. They can
get up and speak. They know that
when they go into the wide world
they can't say anything, just bow
I've heard some illiterate people
get up and try to express themselves.
They can hold some kind of position.



It's sort of an economic thing, I
think. You find it is the white man
at the bottom who is afraid of the
Negro, he thinks the Negro is go-
ing to push him right out of the
way. Most of the whites from this
class, they're very hostile, there's no
telling what they'll do.
The man in the high income
bracket doesn't really do too much.
The people he comes in contact with
are all of his own social status, and
he doesn't have much contact with
Same thing is true with Negroes -
with plenty of money, they don't
need'to be bothered with social is-
sues. All these things are trivial to
When you decide to go to a dif-
ferent college even though it is an
exchange program for just a year,
you may jeopardize your friendships.
There was one exchange student
over here who i back there now.
I correspond with him; he said, "You
just stay over there. You know, most
people say 'you've been up around
those white people' now," like they're
sort of uneasy.
When I applied to come here I
sneaked my application in. When my
roommates would come in, and I
was filling out my application, I
would just hide it. They didn't know
until the last minute.
That's true. When I was home I
wore a Michigan jacket and the fel-
lows would come around and say,
"What's that on your back, you got
Michigan?" and you know, they kind
of went away ther because they feel
the lack of communication, they feel
I wouldn't be interested in what they
wanted to talk about.
The whites especially, for instance
a clothing store manager; my father
and I were going to get a few clothes
that I needed. The manager of the
store said, "Where did you get that
jacket?" He couldn't visualize that
I was going to Michigan. It really
got me.
WHERE DO YOU run into trou-
- ble up here?
I thought one of my problems
would be getting along with the
whites, but the Negroes are my most
trouble, because they think I'm from
a primitive society down South. Ac-
tually, most of their relatives are
from the South.
I haven't had much contact
with Negroes up here either. I did
for a while, but they were so cold.
Right, whenever I make my en-
trance they say we carry on tribal
ceremonies down there . . . when
they get to talking like that I shy
away from them.
I think they're satisfied with this
world of their own, yet they feel
superiority over the southern Negro.
One of the attractions of Stokely
is that he's not like that. He's an
educated young man. He comes down
South and wants to look like us,
walks around and jolks with us. He's
not acting like some Negroes who
have a college education and don't
want to associate with us.

One thing a lot of people don't
realize is that the black mentality, as
well as the white, can be provincial
and conservative. Not only is the
white man conservative, narrow-
minded, parochial in his interest,
but the black mentality has also
been affected by this attitude.
Naturally, when you have a sort
of revolutionary group down there
trying to emphasize blackness, while
the majority of the students are try-
ing to get into the mainstream of
white culture, they would be against
anybody wearing "Afro" hairdos and
trying to emphasize his Negroness.
Anybody who in any way antag-
onizes the white Southerner they're
against. They want to be nice, to get
along and don't do anything to an-
tagonize the white man.
The people who take on the bour-
geois mentality are against SNCC
the same way as people here who
take on the bourgeois mentality are
against VOICE.
WAS THERE a time when you
thought something was wrong

through. You get to sort of hating
that your skin is black.
I think this is part of the whole
Carmichael mentality-despair. The
only thing you can do is go back to
your blackness and somehow make
it respectable and be able to live with
yourself. This is how the whole black
movement started.
I think we're going through a per-
iod where white people are going to
be antagonized. You're going to have
to deal with the Negro on the basis
that he's not inferior, before you
have a society where you don't have
I think Carmichael is saying that
you have to have Negroes going
down there helping; because when
whites go down there is an unequal
relationship; you go down there feel-
ing that you have the burden on your
WHAT ABOUT your own life, do
you think you'll make it? Will
you go back to the South to the
people you came from?
I feel that I will go on and get

til now-
I thin
okay. He
and he a
of his ir
He's gooc
I thinlk
sort of a l
er T. (V
the Negr
same thi:
When he
was reall
I admil
really. It
through z
I don't
Brooke, b
he was ;
rights, m
are enouE
elect him

:yv'%: ,;



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is Outline Time
Use our condensed


with you? Does white society strip
you of your confidence?
In the South, when you are a very
small kid, you might get to feeling
like that, because you're very im-
pressionable at that age. You walk
down the street and you see these
white kids all hollering "Nigger, Nig-
When 1 was home for Christmas,
I was walking down town, and there
was this little girl in a car. She was
just old enough tc talk, and she yell-
ed "Nigger Joe" at me; and I took
my little brother to the Dairy Queen,
and the lady came up to me and
said, "What do you want, Nigger?"
She was obviously illiterate; hadn't
been to school.
I cursed about 20 times to myself.
Most Negroes go through a period
of self-hate, like Baldwin went

my degree and live happily.
... You're kidding yourself.
I think I'm going to make it ...
on my own merit. I don't see myself
failing. Opportunities. up North
would be greater than in the South.
I think I should go back, not to
join the movement, but rather be-
cause the kind of things I'm train-
ing myself for I could really utilize
there. I don't think I should run
away from the problem, you know,
but rather stay here and try to al-
leviate this thing.
I'm not going back until we 'get a
new governor. I'll still go back, be-
cause the South is needing trained
personnel, Negroes especially, to get
the job done, to lead the South in
going where opportunities are great-
WHAT DO YOU think of the
leaders the South has had un-

Do xo
No, he'.
what whi
rest of th
I'm afr
because i
I would
disagree N
has done
around Y
the dirt tl
the degra
play upor
people, a


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