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July 26, 1969 - Image 2

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14e Sfr4itjan D\ut
Seventy-eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan


or an answer to the Plastic Empire


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

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Nerve 'gas
and Asian security

A'EHE PENTAGON has once again dem-
onstrated that ineptitude rather than
intelligence governs the making of Amer-
ican military policy. And through t h a t
ineptitude the Pentagon may have put an
end to all of President Nixon's plans for
a new Asian security pact.
Large quantities of nerve-g a s muni-
tions, the Department of Defense con-
firmed early this week, have been stock-
piled on American bases in Okinawa
along with the usual contingent, of nuc-
lear warheads. The Pentagon a 1so an-
nounced, in response to the demands of
outraged Owinawans and Japanese, that
the nerve-gas would be removed. How-
ever, nothing was said concerning exist-
ing stockpiles in W e s t Germany and
South Korea, and the Japanese press is
investigating the possibilities of the ex-
istence of the lethal-gas stockpiles with-
in Japan proper.
This series of revelations may very well
provide domestic critics of the arms race,
of imperialism, of the Pentagon's influ-
ence in t h e conduct of foreign policy,
with the most valuable issue by which to
check the emerging Nixonian Asian pol-
Mr. Nixon's present world tour cannot
be isolated a n d examined as merely a
goodwill trip to illustrate to Asia the new
leadership of the United States. Ile seeks
to actively impose his leadership upon
others, to dictate his own world view, to
begin marshalling forces for a campaign
to make law and order a reality for the
entire globe.
While his vain dreams have small
chance of realization, tlie Pentagon it-
self, with all of its misconceived assump-
tions, its past history of frightful mis-.
management, its ignorance, immorality,
and downright evil intentions, may inad-
vertently ruin Nixon's glorious vision.
The President, in the next few days,
plans to capitalize on the grandeur and
gTbry a brought to the American image'
with the successful completion of the
moon shot by a week-long tour of several
Asian capitals and a prestige-pr'ovoking
visit to Rumania.
WHEN ALONE with the Asian chieftains,
Nixon w ill describe his vision of a
brand-new Asian security pact that will
hold forth the promise of massive Ameri-
can economic assistance in exchange for
regional self-defense, t4hereby sidestep-
ping the possibilities of the United States
entangling itself in another Vietnam. The
focus of the pact is clear: the greatest
danger to world peace is the aggressive
and belligerent nature of Chinese policy
- let us contain them.
erted upon the neutrals to join the in-
ternational Nixon bandwagon; they will
be beseiged with the promises of what
the United States can do for them in ma-
terial assistance; they will be told that
the New Nixon is a subtle and wily poli-
tician who will not provoke anti-Ameri-
can hostility through s u e h alignment;
they will be held captive by Nixon rant-
ing about a billion Chinese ever-anxious
to conquer the world; they will be sub-
jected to the Dullesian sermon that neu-
tralism is immoral; t h a t alignment is
The old faithful will be promised that
their nation w i 11 not become another
Vietnam; that the responsibility for
peaceful progress, for domestic tranquil-
ity, for the good of their own people will
depend upon the extent of t h e i r own
commitment to regional self-defense.
All will be told that the United States
wishes to remain aloof from the actual
workings of the organization; that Amer-
Ica will have the vote of only one mem-
ber; that this will be their show provid-

ed it meets certain specifications. This is
the Nixon plan to maintain the Ameri-
can distribution of power in the world.
He hopes to keep law and order abroad by
having other cops do the nasty things the
U.S. of late has had to do in Vietnam.
IF NIXON'S PLAN came to be, one of the
most important nations involved would
be Japan. It is they who command the
resources of the world's third largest in-,
dustrial power; they would be the ones

frankly: if you want the privileges of the
American nuclear and military umbrella,
you will have to become responsible for
some of the duties.
Thus, because of the rapidly deteriorat-
ing state of American-Japanese relations,
nerve-gas in Okinawa may provide the
spark to bust Nixon's bubble-gum vision.
The Okinawa base, a 'virtual floating
arms platform, is generally considered
"the keystone of the Pacific" for the
American military. Within a radius of
1700 miles, American aircraft can reach
any Asian nation with which the U.S. has
a security pact. Every important military,
industrial, or civilian center of China is
vulnerable to the nuclear sights of the
B-52's. Surgical strikes from Okinawa
daily blast the jungles of Vietnam.
O THE PENTAGON strategists, the
special status accorded to American
power in Okinawa even outweighs its
strategic importance. Ever since the sur-
render of Japanese forces to the United
States twenty-four years ago, the mili-
tary has exercised de facto sovereignty of
the island. No legal restrictions enacted
by the Japanese can hamper the military
operations launched from the base (the
Japanese-American Security Pact of 1960
prohibits bases in Japan from being used
as indirect combat areas or for the stock-
piling of nuclear weapons).
Hence, in addition to flying combat
missions to Vietnam, the stockpiling of
nuclear weapons and nerve-gas muntions,
the military also possesses an awesome
tactical missile unit and an Air Force
strategic wing on Okinawa. "Here," one
American military chieftain in Okinawa
says, "we're able to do anything, anytime,
anywhere, without asking anybody."
Unfortunately for the Pentagon, how-
ever, Okinawan opposition to the daily
abuses of the military is growing. When
the B-52's take off, Okinawans know that
the planes are off to kill other Asians in
Vietnam. The Okinawan press has bitter-
ly complained of the buried resevoirs of
jet fuel that have seeped into the local
water supply, resulting in "flaming wells."
American nuclear submarines have left
traces of cobalt-60 in the harbors, and
hundreds have claims pending for dam-
ages to the fishing industry. Add to all of
this the crass nature of American mili-
tary culture, the obnoxious nature of
Americans abroad, and the complete
authority the American military exer-
cises, over Okinawan political institutions
and social life, and an explosive situation
is ripe for disorder.
EARLY IN JUNE, 18,000 Okinawan lab-
orers staged a 24-hour wildcat strike
at U.S. bases. A massive demonstration in
February was held outside the Kadena
Air Force base to protest against the
presence of B-52's. And several promi-
nent American diplomatic and military
officials, including former Ambassador-
to-Japan Reischauer, have warned that
the growing turbulence threatens the ef-
ficient operation of the 117 bases on the
In Japan proper, Premier Eisaku Sato,
under pressure from the Left, began the
New Year with the pledge to recover Oki-
nawa from American control and place
the. bases there under the same restric-
tions that govern American bases in
Japan. He will visit the States in Novem-
ber, and insists that "unconditional re-
version" of the island's sovereignty must
be granted if the Japanese-American Se-
curity Pact is to be renewed- next year.
A visit of his Foreign Minister, Kiichi
Aichi, to Washington in June gave the
Japanese the unexpected gift from the
Nixon Administration of the promise to

remove all nuclear weapons from the
island in the near future, But Nixon is
determined to continue using the bases,
without prior consultation with the Japa-
nese, for training, transit, and supply
bases for Vietnam, and perhaps for
bombing missions as well.
IF SO, THE Sato government of Liberal.
Democrats could easily lose power to
a coalition of leftist parties. And with
their demise, the Japanese-American Se-
curity Pact. American miliary nresence'

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chron-
icle, by Vladimir Nabokov. Mc-
Graw-Hill, $8.95.
I can remember when many
people who said they read books
had never heard of Vladimir Na-
bokov. At the time Lolita. was pub-
lished in France he had been liv-
ing a n d writing in the United
States for fifteen years; graduate
students in English at Harvard
would pass around their smuggled
copies of the Olympia Press edi-
tion andask each other in whis-
pers who "vadimir nabokov"
could be a pseudonym for. Their
chief candidate was, I think John
He is now being touted for the
Nobel Prize. It would certainly be
very surprising if they actually
gave it to him, even though he is
of course one of the bare half doz-
en or so writes in English these
days who can be said to have the
courage - it t a k e s courage at
least as m u e h as it takes time,
money, honesty, and intelligence
- to create literature. But for one
thing, unless Nabokov himself ov-
ersees the job, he does not trans-
late very well. And for another
thingvthe Nobel Award, as we all
know, is much less a literary prize
than the annual excuse for an in-
offensive quasi-political gesture.
It therefore distinctly w o r k s
against Nabokov that he should
have b e e n an aristocratic exile
from Russia and t h a t he now
chooses to live as an exile from
the U.S. Since he has no visible
connection with the fatuously so-
called Third World either, there
is nothing in his political circum-
stances to pleas anyone and a
good deal perhaps therefore to of-
fend t h e politicians. Because a
Nobel winner, of course, like an
Olympic star, becomes automatic-
ally a credit to the politics of his
country. Who can take credit for
Nabokov, though? LeninrStalin?
Hitler? LBJ? Teddy Kennedy? Or
the Swiss? The main trouble, you
see, is not that he is a man with,.
out a country but that he is a man
with too many of them.
There is an additional problem
in that like many other twentieth-
century writers Nabokov has had
to create his own literary audi-
ence. Though his works written in
Russian are known and have been
secretly rated higher than a n y
others by his contemporaries in
the Soviet Union, the circum-
stances of exile have made it dif-
ficult for them to provide a le-
lihood for him except in English
translation, while'even in his Eng-
lish works he has had the task of
educating enough of the literate
public to k e e p himself supplied
with a reasonably steady reader-
ship. Unlike most other writers
who have been forced for the sake
of artistic survival into the task of
education, moreover, he has not
chosen to carry it out in the banal
terms of a given ethical, social, po-
litical, or economic ideology but
has rather planted himself on the
grounds implicit in t h e science
and humanity of literary art itself.
He has tried, that is, to teach his
readers, numbed as they all inevi-
tably have been by the mechanical
nature of their o w n twentieth-
century literacy, how once again
simply to read. i
It is witness to Nabokov's cour-
age as an artist that he should
have chosen as well for so long
such a difficult cultural milieu as
the U.S. in which to create an au-
dience. We are, most of us, as most
of the reading matter in turn that
comes our way supremely testi-
fies, more or less unable to read,
more or less unable to a c c e p t
reading as an experience, unable
to accept perhaps any moving ex-
perience. Citizens of the Plastic
Empire, governed by Ant-men,
crippled, poisoned; gassed, and
stupefied by an increasingly ugly
and dangerous physical environ-
ment, we live almost by necessity

in a mental, moral, and emotional
iron lung. And what we usually
get that passes for literature is

precisely what we are capable of:
a small hairless monster that does
not provide experience but pad-
dles around the edges of it, occas-
ionally stumbling with little sur-
prised cries upon the slowly filling
traces of its own muddy web-foot-
ed prints, evidence of endless cir-
cumambulation. Its furthest range
is a weed-bank on the left hand
and its own reflected image in an
unbroken surface on the right.
And when it turns to s p e a k of
these things to us in, say, a novel
it invariably uses the empty ideo-
gram of the cliche, cheeping at
I -


contemporary novelists take per-
force as the subject of their books,
"culture" being defined in t h i s
context as what is left of a man
after you substract from him ev-
erything that has come to him
without any profound engagement
of the self, an operation that
would leave most of us these days
with what we should recognize"as
very little indeed either to say or
think. For though the novel, as
Frank O'Connor shrewdly pointed
out, is ninety per cent v e r b a 1
"treatment' and is thus essential-
ly, on the one hand, the m o s t
wordy and least substantial of all
our literary a n d sub-literary
"forms," it has also by conven-
tion been conceived existentially,
on the other hand, as mimetically
anthropoand. ethnocentric in its
use of verbal "treatment."
It is therefore natural, given the
gradual obsolescence in our time
of the oldfashioned human being,
his replacement by the Ant-man,
and the consequent disappearance
of language-giving, idea-making
culture, and given also the schi-
zoid literary tradition embodied in
the novel itself, with its simul-
taneous tendencies towards both
logorrhea and the straightfor-
ward depiction of what seems to
be the cultural status quo, that the
work of even "serious" American
writers should have become stead-
ily more entranced by the Mass-
prop social considerations that in
the U.S. are the chief substitute
for culture.
It is particularly natural, given
our present situation within this
gradual cultural decay and liter-
ary evolution, that the only inter-
esting passages of verbal "treat-
ment" in the t w o best-received
works by "serious" American nov-
elists over the last twelve months
or so should be lyric descriptions
of male and female sexual organs
in various states of tumescence
and acquiescence. For more than
anything else that easily comes to
mind, the sexual organs are in our
present condition the symbolic re-
doubts of egoism, of vanity, and
of vapity's side-kick, anxiety, the
apparently inevitable concerns of
a sociological novelist. T h e r e is
perhaps some additional irony and
pity to be found in the fact that
they are also, by accident, nearly
all we have left of a genuine cul-
ture as well, though we should be
warned that even the idea that
we continue to be endowed with
them may be only another popular
delusion. We might take a lesson
in this instance from the monkeys
of the Detroit Zoo, who, wisely
and prudently, are constantly
checking themselves.
The future belongs to formica-
tion, obviously, not fornication. It
has been reliably reported, never-
theless, that some readers claim to
be getting bored with merely fic-
tive sexual organs. I should not
want them on that account, how-
ever, to be put off reading Ada.
There is, to be sure, no lack of
fictive organs in Nabokov's latest
masterwork (see page references,
diagrams, line-drawings, and can-
did photographs below) but he is
not concerned with egoism, vanity,
or anxiety; he is concerned in-,
stead, among other things; with a
phenomenon for which there does
not seem to be a word in American
English, a phenomenon in which
real sexual organs have often been
known to play a highly significant
Lionel Trilling described Lolita
years ago as being fundamentally
about something called "love" as
opposed to something called "lust,"
a description that must have
aroused at least a little laughter
in the dark, betraying so much as
it did of the limitations of the
liberal imagination and conveying
so inadequately as it did what it is
that Lolita really seems "about."
Trilling was attempting to link
Nabokov with the last gasp of a
specific Victorian literary and
erotic tradition that, like most
other Victorian traditions, has

been revealed as vicious, self-de-
structive and meaningless. Nabo-
kov's attitude toward what we

vaguely refer to as "love" has little
to do with the nineteenth century;
it leaps back over two thousand
year to the more civilized sensi-
bility of the ancient Greeks and
The difference between Classical
and Victorian notions of "love"
has been neatly and honestly sum-
marized by Nabokov's old enemy
"The most striking distinction
between the erotic life of anti-
quity and our own no doubt lies
in the fact that the ancient laid
stress upon the instinct itself,
whereas we emphasize its ob-
ject. The ancients glorified the
instinct and were prepared on
its account to honor even an in-
ferior' object; while we despise
the instintual activity in itself,
and find xcuses for it only in
the merits of the object."
In Lolita the objects of the
erotic instinct--Hu-mbert Hum-
bert, the book's madman-narrator,
both trapped and freed by the
pattern he makes of his own life,
Lolita herself, his trollopy teeny-

bopper, and Clare Quilty, her
kinky sexologue-playwright-are
all, like most of us, alas repulsive
and two-dimensional, though Lo-
lita in her old, age may be given
credit perhaps for a certain jaded
warmth. They have few merits,
either -for the reader or for them-
selves and the book is not about
Victorian "love."
The word that Nabokov. supplies
in Ada for what Freud identifies.
too specifically as the operation
of 'the erotic instinct is "ardor,".
the book's subtitle and the fictive
sexual organs in the book belong
for the most part to Ada herself
its heroine-editor, and Van, it
hero-narrator. Like all Nabokov's
literary characters they are liter-
ary characters, which means that
the reader will find it, rather dif-
ficult if he tries, as some readers'
no doubt brought up on George
Eliot always do, to "identify with"
them, Nabokov himself having re-
cently testified, incidentally, that
he personally finds both Van and:
Ada rather disgusting. In this book
he has made "identification" even
more difficult, however, by placing'
these two figments of the imagina-
tion in a world that is much nicer,
on the whole, than the one we
seem to inhabit and by further
allowing them both to live to an
incredibly ripe old age. Given-
these special qualities of the char-
acters and setting of the book, it
might be suggested that it is to
be regarded as a work of fiction.
"Ardor" is the conceptual tread
along which Nabokoy knots what
mnight be called the "themes" of
the book. The most important of
these "themes" are time and mor-
tality, in regard to both of which
his attitude seems to be taken up
in opposition to the almost two-
hundred-y e a r-old categorizations
of post-Kantian Idealism,] which
still represents in the United'
States a formidable ideologic as-
cendancy, especially to the extent
that it hasbecome vulgarized. His
attitude is closely related to those
of Joyce, whom he much admires,
and Faulkner, whom he has never

understood, as well as to the at-
titudes of, among the more ob-
vious, Poe, Tolstoy, Borges, and
various modemn rationalists, scep-
tics, phenomenologists, and struc-
turalists. A good reader of Nabo-
kov, however, is one who has out-
grown Idealist categoresis and is
beyond the superstition of ideology
altogether, with its worlds, as he
once wrote, "hard and round, like
painstakingly painted globes." A
good reader is a human being
conscious that he is doomed to
extinction but capable in the
meanwhile simply of the qualities
that Nabokov identifies with art:
"curiosity, tenderness, kindness,
And now we must say a word or
two, as soberly as paossible, about
A a's remaining ninety per cent:
the "treatment" or "texture" as
Nabokov himself would call it and
as all good little nabokovtsy, tak-
ing their cue from Pale Fire and
its famous line 808, have learned
to call it too. The interest of even
professional critics has been cap-
tured by Nabokov's "texture," some
of whom like it, some of whom
do not, but most of whom describe
him in any case-rather puzzlingly
-as a "trickster." This label, in
fact, seems temporarily to have
satisfied nearly everyone. It pro-
vides those who like Nabokov with
the excuse for playing a game of
allusive one-upmanship, a game
that in a' critical article generally
results in an .infuriatingly coy
strip-tease of the critic's own in-
telligence and sensibility. And it
provides those who do not like
Nabokov with a way 'of slyly sug-
gesting that under all those trap-
pings the truth is that it is really
the Emperor, not the critic, who
has no clothes.
I do not think there can in fact
be any such thing as a literary
trick or trickster. The word "trick"
implies an intention to deceive and
it is. impossible for me to under
stand how in anything other thai
a purely commercial, criminal
sense (forgery, fraud) any work
of genuine 'fiction, at least, can
be described as having been writ-
ten with such an intention.
One recalls, for example, the re-
view of Pale Fire in a major liter-
ary journal by a scholar-critic
famous in the general field of lit-
erary studies nationally and fam-
ous in his specialty throughout
the entire world, as he himself
would readily acknowledge. His
review described the book as
neither more nor less than a satire
on his profession, despite which,
clearly, he felt that it was right
for him to be "generous." The re-
view exemplified, certainly, this
scholar-critic's notion of the un-
assailable importance to literature
of the scholar-critic. Nevertheless
one had the vague feeling as one
read it that not only, had the little
Dutch boy got his hand stuck in
the dyke but that the dyke was
no dyke at all, being rather the
rear end of a huge bewildered
elephant. I picture the elephant
as trying uneasily to look back
over one grey Shoulder.
"Trickery" and "satire" are
oubliettes kept open by the critics'
sense of insecurity. All literary
men are in some degree or other
paranoid and critics, who live in
a Limbo between writer and audi-
ence more so than most.
I would like to urge, then, that
it is the "treatment" of Ada that
is of importance in the book and
that its "treatment" should be
taken seriously, as neither "trick-
ery' nor "satire," but as a noble
expression of "curiosity, tender-
ness, kindness, ecstacy," which
may after all mean "love." In
April Nabokov was seventy. There
is a Festschrift in preparation-
let us not forget that he too is
among many other things, a not
inconsiderable scholar-critic-and
there is every hope that he will
live as long as the rest of us. If
Ada is a final work, however, it
wil make a worthy epitaph. Per-
sonally, I shall be rereading it

more frequently than any of the
other books.




us in a language that strikes the
inner eyes and ears of the ima-
gination with drab brutality. And
all the time it is really talking
about ourselves. Supine in o u r
mustard-yellow tank with its- lit-
tle gauges gleaming as their need-
les climb steadily up to the danger
point, we let the monster tell us
about ourselves endlessly, on clos-
ed-circuit Micro-Vision, over and
over again, in thousands of tiny
repeated dots.
The marked verbal and intellec-
tual impotence of the contempor-
ary American novel is the natural
mode of expression for the cult-
ural decadence t h a t established

'The Great Conductors:*

Filling u pa void

The Great Composers, by Harold C. Schon-
berg. Simon and Schuster, $7.50.
Even though as distinguished an ex-
concert artist as Glenn Gould has joined
today's avant-garde musicians in denying
the viability of standard repertoire concert
performances, that breed of ultra-egoist,
the orchestral conductor, still derives
nourishment from charisma-craving con-
cert audiences. Concert-goers, apparently
not in the least fazed by this official death-
knell for the "stale concert-tradition," con-
tinue to pack halls in order to both see
and hear Bernstein, Ozawa, and Mehta,
just as they did for Toscanini, Koussevitz-,
ky, and Nikisch in past generations.
Since it is clear that the conductor is
anything but a vanishing phenomenon in
the musical life of the West, Harold C.
Schonberg's book, The, Great Conductors,
should attract the attention of anyone
interested in the current musical scene.
Contrary to what the title may suggest

ing, Mr. Schonberg provides several in-
stances of too much anecdote and too little
substance. However, even without the anec-
dotes this book would be a delight to read,
due to the author's witty and urbane prose
style, which couldn't be further divorced
from the turgid writing currently practiced
by music historians (ask any music litera-
ture student how exhilarated he is after
having wallowed through 100 pages of Paul
Henry Lang).
What The Great Conductors offers is an
historical development of the orchestral
conducting tradition in the West, from its
hazy beginnings (purely speculative, as no
one knows who the first timeibeater was)
to the present. This evolution of conducting
emerges through sketches of musicians,
both past and present, who have been most
influential in setting trends in conducting
style, and in defining the role of the con-
ductor in music generally, as well as in the
music which he performs specifically. Thus,
relatively obscure musicians of the past
century, such as Spontini or Habeneck,
receive extensive discussion in the book,
since their cntnribution +tolate conduinen-

upon which grubby old books, magazines,
etc. he bases his history, as there isn't one
footnote in the book, nor even a biblio-,
As a source for further investigation and
research, therefore, this book has severe
limitations. I must hasten to add, however,
that the author is not offering us pure
fantasy. The basic stylistic qualities of
great musicians like Mozart and Wagner in
music performance are well-documented
elsewhere, and jibe perfectly well with
what one finds here. Anyone who has done
much reading in music history will also
recognize many of the quotes as originating
from reputable sources, which lends cre-
dence to Mr. Schonberg's exposition, even
when his general failure to list sources
Another drawback is the author's pre-
judicial, and in one instance, contradictory
approach to the romantic and post-roman-
Today's Writers .. .
JOHN RODENBECK is a professor in
the Enenis e atment.

comment on Liszt the conductor as "a cun-
ning contriver of effects" with "a sickly
sentimentality," as the crotchety com-
plaints of a musical conservative.
t These opinions would be acceptable if
they were consistently held. However, when
Mr. Schonberg devotes a chapter to Leo-
pold Stokowski, he damns him for the very
qualities which he excuses and even praises
in Liszt and Mengelberg. The author uses
anecdotes and third-person accusations
(i.e. the intelligentsia, the musicians)
which variously describe Stokowski as i
charlatan, a musical ignoramus, and even
as a liar.
For the showmanship and flexibility of
beat for which Liszt is praised, Stokowski is
condemned and is finally dismissed as a
matinee idol Nor does the author attempt
to make obvjous allusions to Stokowski's
conducting style as a logical extension of
Liszt's. By neglecting to make this last
point, Mr. Schonberg fails to follow the
basic plan of his book, namely to consider
individual musicians only from the stand-
point of evolution of style. In the case of
C2nrnne.r a s -- r hoc a. a.r...-41 lot


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