7se 4ecline and 9aiI .'( the dZalolmacnt
Right Wing Majority-Still Sma
By BERNARD WALDROP
DO NOT KNOW how many have no-
'ticed that the Wolgamot Society is
dying. A eminent authority on Aleister
Crowley has recently consulted the I
Ching to find out if Wolgamot himself is
still living; by his uncertain interpreta-
tion of that ambiguous oracle, John Bar-
ton is alive, but in decline.
The organization's outward history be-
gan in May, 1959, when it sponsored a
reading-a little illegally-at the Univer-
sity. Three poets of the San Francisco
Renaissance, posters announced, would
read their own poems, answer questions,
and even present a new verse play with
jazz accompaniment. If the poets had
been real, it would-have been a more in-
teresting evening than this campus is
used to, and the hall filled up with local
beats and curious students.
Some, I suppose were psychology .ma-
jors thinking of it as a field trip and
doubtless some were English grads trying
their best to react like Mrs. Trilling.
Anyway, it was a most unacademic look-
ing mob, since the front rows (and the
floor, and the window sills) were taken
by uncombed-some unshod-girls and
men in motorcycle jackets. The very few
instructors who came (I didn't see. any
professors) sat in the back.
THE THREE POETS gave the audience
no chance to apply the usual cliches.
Felicia Borden ("the most authentic wom-
an voice of the late school"-the poster
attributed this to Henry Miller) too~k off
her trench coat to reveal a black sheath
with sequins. Ronald Whalen, a Negro-
some said a Hindu-spoke softly with a
beautiful articulation, no "man's" or
"like it's." There was a notable lack of
A prominent Aristotelian, with tenure
introduced the poets by reading thumb-
nail biographies. Miss Borden had been
awarded a fellowship by the American
Academy of something or other - and
turned it down. Annlause. Kenneth Kant,
the third poet. had been arrested in San
Franoico for natty lareenv and narcotics
violation. Grand applause. Nine months
in a federal prison. he went to Japan and
turned Zen monk in Yoshiwara, returned
to write an autobiovranhv: The Worth-
less Wls-to be npbliched next week.
As far as I know. Felicia Borden's
poenms are now lost.. ThiR is _a pity, since
they are the only examples I can recall
of an interesting genre, the automatic
translation. To make an automatic trans-
lation, the poet simply reads the original
(In this case, annronriately, by the Al-
sation Dadaist. Hans Arp) just enough to
Pet a first imnresnion: than writes an
Fnrlish noem as frts as nossihle-nrefer-
bWl wifhont thinkin., Several of the
lines turned out to be remarkably apt. A
poem nri'rinally starting,
Sind wir nah unterwers?
besre in olii 'P-ran'c raerring,
Ar% wo ,41 1(l the Road?
}n+T r o+ tho rafif.
FELICIA, incidentally, was the best
liked poet of the evening, at least for
the more sober patrons. Her figure cer-
tainly had something to do with it, but
more than one undergraduate girl was
impressed by how profoundly serious she
obviously was. Kenneth Kant was just
as obviously not serious, and some of
those same arbiters decided he was just
"enlnitinr the movement."
Kant's poems sounded as if written by
a bad poet on short notice. As a matter
of fact, they were written by an excellent
poet on the verge of alcoholic stupor.
One demanded politely of John Crowe
Ransonm that he rnm his textures up his
strrye-f ea .nr hadi as refrain,
Crap in your lap!
The audience loved it. They wanted that
The evening moved in two contrary
diretions: the audience, at least the front
half. liked the performance more and
more: the performers got more and more
outrageois, occasionally insulting. Some-
one in the audience insisted the beats
mist have been influenced by John Bar-
ton Wol-amot. Another claimed it was a
generation that knew him not. Whalen
and Kant' bon oniarreline over some
subtlety and had to be recalled by the,
* * *
MUST ADMIT that not all the ques-
tions from the house were completely
extemporaneous, but the best of them
were. A local character, apuarently lead-
ing up to a question, started describing
his large, collection of latrine scribblines,
but was interrupted by Kant's "I prob-
ably wrote some of them." Such inquir-
ies as "What are you escaping from?"
and "What are you escaning to?" were
clearly meant to ask "What can we es-
cane from/to?" The nearly stated. the
barely concealed ciuestion constantly in
the air was. "Why do we have to -o to
San Francinco to be beat: why can't we be
boat ricjh+ hare in Ann Arbor, Mlhio'an?"
But the final degradation-of the audi-
ence because it swallowed it; of the Wol-
aamot Society because it did not manage
to predit how mich- an enlightene4
crowd wi swallow: of the beat generation
for making an ouanndich parod vseem
_uiri-vr_,r~q th ~nrll r pmiare of Rnn-
aid Whalen's nlav. The 0imvering Aard-
vark and th ,Tolvy of Love. Three casts
(T say it to their credit) agreed to dokthe
riav. then looked at the scrint and hacked
out. The narts were finally acted by two
nf fhep onet and several incredihlv loyal
The Quivering Aardvark was actually-
based on the final scene of Francesca da
Rimini by George Henry Boker, a nine-
teenth century American Shakespeare-
imitator and one of the worst playwrights
who everalived. The plot isa little differ-
ent: Boker's Francesca has, as usual-, been
unfaithful with her ugly husband's hand-
some brother Paolo, originally played by
Otis Skinner; the husband, Lanciotto,
kills the happy pair in blank verse,
In the Whalen version, a lovely dope
fiend named Prudence falls for a square
called T. S. and both are murdered by the
hero-hipster Lance. Some of the more ap-
propriate lines from Francesca are left
Can howling make this sight more
but more are somewhat changed. Bok-
Thou canst forsake me, then
To spare thyself a little bashful pain?
Paolo, dost thou know what 'tis for
A woman-nay, a dame of highest
To lose my purity? ...
Whalen's T. S.:
Can you, then, flush me down the
,ust to spare yourself a little bashful
Prudence, don't you know what it is
A man, I mean a man of the hairiest
To be un-cherry? .
what acraven has thy guilt
Transformed thee too! Why, I have
seen the time
When thou'dst have struck at heaven
for such a thing!
Pru, Pru, Pru! What a cruddy coward
has your crime,
Transformed you to? Why man, I've
seen the time
When you'd have cold-cocked Ker-
Dost thou see
Yon bloated spider-hideous as my-
Climbing aloft, to reach that waver-
When he has touched it, one of us
Do you see
Yon bloated aardvark-hideous as a
Climbing aloft, to reach that quiver-
When he has touched it one of us
There was little laughter; people iden-
At the end of the play, Lance shoots
T.. S., shoots Prudence, and fires into the
audience crying, "One for that goddam
aardvark!" The lights went off to let the
corpses get off the stage; and everyone
connected with the performance went
home, leaving the audience in, the dark.
* * *
FOR THE NEXT WEEK or so, we col-
lected reactions. Several bewildered
English teachers were, told, "It was the
first time I really enioyed noetry." Some-
one who liked the nlay Pxnlained its ob-
scure endino: "Tt's wonderful: thev give
you the perfect work of art and then-
nothine. the void." Another: "It chaned
my whole life. They were so free." That
iar"A sM e of uoshudder a little.
One amazine snectator recognized Ron-'
9.4 Whalen. Taking into account that
this ma-n he knew nerfectly well wa
thorouihly di einisd and using a false
name, he approached him the next day
with the only solution his admirable faith
could muster: "Is Ronald Whalen your
We are -not dying because of -that ini-
tial Wnlonmockerv: it was as su Cessful
a an c s eb thine oiiht to be. We are
dvin, rather. for a most classical reason,
bonanse we cannot tie or snurious be-
pinning to our constantly moving ends.
We are not dead vet Rit we sepnarate and
diainate: nothing in the world can hold
"c to'sethr; sineep we refuse artificial
Even the term Wolgamot-that defines
us as a whole, but only to those who
know us already-may soon need defin-
ing. Our plays-we have given Jarry's
Gopotty Rex, Grabbe's Comedy, Satire,
Irony and Deeper Meaning, and the
American premiere of John Heath-
Stubbs' The Talking Ass with the author
directing-are all most people know us
We are now about to publish a volume
of varse--Wolgamot Interstice. This vol-
ume should show us' from a different
angle. A few. of the poems in it .will cer-
tainly outlast the society and serve as a
By MICHAEL GILLMAN
SINCE WE LIVE IN A WORLD where
everything mnust be neatly tagged and
categorized, the political activists among
us must also find a label to fit under.
"Liberal" . "Middle of the road"
"Conservative"- these are our choices.
Like them or not, we have to use them
as the most easily-understood appelations
Yet where does a "conservative" stand
on any issue? Do we know merely because
of his self-assumed or press-given title?
At what stage does a "liberal" become a
"middle of the roader"? Is there any
definitive point, or do these whites-
become-greys-become-blacks in a spec-
trumlike array? The inadequacy of this
system of nomenclature .is too obvious to
belabor further, but since it is accepted,
we must accede.
WHAT THEN shall we say characterizes
what is commonly known as a con-
servative? Who is the conservative stu-
Perhaps one way to approach this ques-
tion is to say first what a conservative
student is not.
He is not particularly interested in
"drives" or "projects" and typically knows
little of the operations of student govern-
ment. If possible, he cares less.
To be -sure, exceptions to this rule are
many, and for the sake of those who
would claim the existence of a. "conserva-
tive movement" on campuses, one might
hope that there were even more of these
The conservative student eschews the
kind of activities that earn his counter-
part on the "left" (another nice handy
label) the name "liberal." He circulates
*no petitions to abolish Congressional
Committees he feels are wreaking even-
tual infringements on his freedom by
overspending. He does not form action
committees to promote right - to - work
laws. He does not create speakers bureaus
to bring people like the welfare director
of Newburgh, New York to address cam-
pus groups. He does not create campus
nolitical parties aimed at electing to stu-
dent government the kind of people who
will most accurately represent his inter-
And in thus by ignoring his right to so
The conservative body of students on
camnus is undoubtedly large, undoubtedly
inarticulate (as a body), and just as un-
doubtedly will so remain.
And this is unfortunate.
CONSERVATISM is probably best de-
A scribed as an ideology-perhaps a way
of lfe. Like any such system of thought,
wide' ranges of oninion are exuressed un-
d"r the tent-like coering of the name.
Some who would call themselves con-
servative use the name of a fairly resnect-
able ideology as a blind for bigotry. They
use it speaking of states' rights-and
thhik of white sunremacy. They use it
when -"they talk about property ,owners'
righlmts-and think of possible decreases
in land values.
Still others think tWat to express it,
they must use soap box tactics, equating
their own way of thought with all that is
good and right and just. They usually
favor motherhood and homemade cookies
One of the main problems facing the
conservative student is that he has seldom
tried to find any single unifying factor
behind his ideas. Too many merely feel
and do not think.
Surely there is an element of emotion
involved in' the expression -of conserva-
tive ideals. These ideals have fallen into
some degree of disrepute of late and even
thinking conservatives are often driven
into bitter-even belligerent-defense of
their doctrines. But this thoughtless emo-
tion would be poor reason indeed to grace
The Inarticulate Student Conservatives
Are Unfortunately Giving Up Their B
To Push Their Ideology. I
Senator Barry Goldwater has become the hero of the your
conservatism with the complimentary
name of a philosophy.
Even those conservative students who
try to give definition to their beliefs-to
put into words the essence of conserva-
tism-are pressed. The liberal student can
sneak grandly of being a brother's keeper,
of the greatest good for the greatest num-
ber, equalization of opportunities. And
one can't deny that these too have their
aura of emotionalism. Likewise, one can-
not deny that these get good mileage in
the nrnblic market place.
Nor is conservatism incompatible with
these goals. But the problem the con-
servatives must face is the fact that their
ideology by its very nature is defensive,
and the particulars the liberal goals put
forward often call for conservative de-
* * *
WHAT THEN is this conservative es-
'' sence? Many students, calling them-
selves conservatives, can advocate in one
breath the need for immediate integra-
tion of public facilities in the South (or
the North for that matter) and the basic
wrongness of a graduated income tax.
These are positions that are usually
placed in separate camps-the' first the
child of liberal thought, the second the
product of conservatism.
But there is in this apparently unlikely
combination of policy positions, an ele-
ment that to a conservative mind is
common to both, and-quite consistent.
That element is justice.
A simple word -used frequently and
loosely. Call it what you will-justice,
fairness, equity-it stands behind most
genuine conservative thought._
It is just, fair and equitable for persons,
regardless of skin color to be fed, bathed
or lodged in like accommodations.
It is just, fair and equitable for those
who benefit from a society to share the
expenses entailed in making that society
function. It is also just, fair and equitable
for that share to be in direct proportion
to the benefits the society provides that
"Individual" is a word that provides
some sort of explanation of the split be-
tween the liberal and conservative, wheth--
er on campus or elsewhere. The liberal
speaks of "needs" of "people," while the
conservative is more concerned with the
"rights" of a "person"--an individual.
Since a commentary on conservatism
of late would not be complete without a
word from Sen. Barry Goldwater, a con-
tribution from that honorable Arizona
legislator would not be out of place. De-
snite the controversy over his "Conscience
of a Conservative" (and many specific
policies espoused therein are open to
question), it does provide a partial key to
the formulation of conservative thought.
In an early chapter, he does a good job
of making clear this split between the
liberal concern with the bodily needs of
groups, and the conservative concern with
the part of man that is more than an ani-
mal to be properly fed and clothed, but
is a thinking being, entitled to the right
to fulfill himself and his abilities-as an
This too, is just, fair and equitable.
rVHE CONSERVATIVE'S concern with
increasing the number of government
functions should not be just a futile pro-
test against the disturbance of a status
quo that has provided.well for that con-
servative, though too often this is sadly
Basically, it is grounded in a very real
belief that there is a limit to the needs
a government must supply - even given
today's increasingly complex society.
Things that are today provided by gov-.
ernment were not "needs" a few years
back. Conservatives fear that things that
are not now "needs," may become so by
For every need taken over by govern-
ment, there becomes one less that the in-
dividual provides for himself. The Great
Depression accelerated the pace of gov-
ernment assumption of functions. Who
among us today can say that steps taken
to meet this crisis were proper ones? Or
improper ones? One dares not venture a
But a recent (and sympathetic) his-
torian of President Roosevelt, speaking of
the need to take the steps that were taken
then, commented parenthetically, "but,
America is the poorer for it."
This is what the conservative fears.
Bernard Waldrop, Projector of
the John Barton Wolgomot Soci-
ety, and one of its original disor-
ganizers, wrote this article origin-
ally as a preface to a new book of
poetry "Wolgomot Interstice,"
-which, if it ever comes out, will .
feature the work, of such well-
known Wolgomots as W. D. Snod-
grass, X. J. Kennedy, Donald Hall
. and the Projector himself.
MICHAEL GILLMAN, a law
student and graduate of the Uni-
versity, is a member of the Board in
Control of Student Publications,
and a former-Associate Sports Edi-
tor on The Daily.
A rather anti-climactic scene in Grabbe's "Comedy, Satire, Irony and Deeper
Meaning," a play of inconsiderable standing among the intelligentsia, presented
by the Wolgomots last year.
THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1961