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January 31, 1965 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1965-01-31
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E MET

r. N - e. f

-W-ft

PALI.NDFOMY PAT AD PREET
...not a DAFT. FAD but a toy for the Iiterati

By STEVEN S. TIGNER
WORDS HAVE LONG functioned as
both the play things and the most
trenchant artillery of literati and small
children. On the literary side, perhaps
the most ancient and enduring of all
verbal amusements has been the com-
position of palindromes. They pre-date
crosswords and crostics by more than
two millennia, and are known today in
more than twenty languages all over the
globe. These "nugae difficiles" are words,
sentences or verses which read the same
when the letters composing them are
taken in reverse order, and their compo-
sition down through the centuries has
challenged and delighted countless men
of letters (dozens at least). Two popular
examples in English are ABLE WAS I
ERE I SAW ELBA and A MAN, A PLAN,
A CANAL-PANAMA! Any such literary
device which writers from Apollinaris
Sidonis to James Joyce have seen fit to
use surely merits at least our cursory at-
tention.
7he tchiyah .Q I4 e
MAGAZINE
THEATRE, architecture, poetry
and jazz are the focus of the
January Magazine.
Leading off the issue, Steven S.
Tigner examines palindromy, that
curious preoccupation with words
that has fascinated writers from
the ancients to Joyce. Not a pass-
ing fad but a valid game for the
literati, Palindromy Past and Pres-
ent continues to interest men of
letters today. Mr. Tigner is a grad-
uate student in the phiosophy de-
partment.
The recent departure of the Uni-
versity of Michigan Jazz Band for a
State Department tour of Latin
America raises a question about the
future of jazz on the University
campus. On page three, Steve Rab-
son, a senior in English and a part
time jazz musician, examines thev
issue in Jazz on Campus-Why Not
in School?
Architecture, the art many aes-
theticians feel most closely resem-
bles music, is the subject of an arti-
cle by Walter Brown. Mr. Brown,
a fifth-year student in the archi-
tecture college, uses a new book by
Carl Condit to examine the archi-
tecture of Louis Sullivan. His arti-
cle, Architecture as Metaphor ap-
pears on page four.
A Repertory Success in Minne-
sota (page five) reports the pro-
gress of the Tyrone Guthrie Thea-
tre in Minneapolis. H. G. McNally
is an administrative member of the
Guthrie staff.'
Two new books of poems, "A Roof
of Tiger Lilies" by Donald Hall of
the English department and "For#
the Union Dead" by Robert Lowell,
are given critical analysis in The
New Poetry: Two - Critical Views'
(page six.) Donald Hill is an as-
sistant professor in the English de-
partment. G. Abbott White editst
the campus inter-arts magazine, w
Generation, and the New Poet
Series.
Malinda Berry, Stephen Berko.
witz, Robert Ellery, Roger Rapo-
N port, David Berson, Peter Bickel-
mann, Jeffrey Chase and Steven
Haller contribute to Books and
Records in Review (pages seveny
and eight).
Cover artist Judith Engel, a
graduate of the architecture and
a design college, illustrated the Mag-
azineb The drawings on this page
'are by Mr. Tigner.

MAGAZINE EDITOR:
LOUISE LIND
Page Two

&ook4i and I ecoriv'4 nrevie4w

Tradition has it that Sotades, an Alex-
andrian poet of the third century B.C.,
was sealed in a leaden chest and cast into
the sea. In addition to criticizing Ptol-
mey II Philadelphus for marrying his
own sister, Arsinoe, he invented palin-
dromes. (It is presumably for the form-
er offense that he was sent into aquatic
exile.)
Contrary to popular opinion, palin-
dromy has not gone the way of phlogis-
ton. It must be admitted, however, that
the palindromic possibilities of English
were a long time gaining recognition.
The reason for this seems to lie primar-
ily in the fact that the highly inflected
nature of Greek and Latin (the tradi-
tional palindromic media) permits a
great deal more freedom in word order
than does English. It was wrongly as-
sumed that English lacked the flexibility
necessary to serve as an effective palin-
dromic medium. As recently as 1821 the
New Monthly Magazine was able to state
(not quite categorically): "In English
but one Palindrome line is known." But
people hadn't tried hard enough; today,
owing to the efforts of such word wizards
as England's Leigh Mercer and America's
Dmitri Borgmann (who has kindly pro-
vided many of the examples used here),
we have thousands.
LATIN PALINDROMES sound charac-
teristically smooth, subtle and sophis-
ticated, in sharp contrast to the claudi-
cant, crass and crude ones of our own
tongue. Compare the ancient lawyer's
motto, SI NUMMI IMMUNIS (roughly,
"Give me my fee, and I warrant you
free"), with our English equivalent, PAY
ON TIME, EMIT NO YAP (modern Brit-
ish). Even in fun, Latin sounds better.
Compare: O RES TIBI SI TORTA AT
ROTIS IBIT SERO ("O, even if your
thing is twisted, it'll still move slowly on
wheels"-B. Campbell, contemporary
American) and STIFF, O DAIRYMAN,
IN A MYRIAD OF FITS! (modern Brit-
ish).
The early Christian era led to such
gems as SIGNA TE, SIGNA, TEMERE
ME TANGIS ET ANGIS ("Cross thyself,
cross thyself, you touch and torment me
in vain"-Apollinaris Sidonius, fifth
century). And there has been an unbe-
lievable amount of ink spilt over the re-
markable two dimensional palindrome

can Fishwick, writing in the Harvard
Theological Review, supports a claim
that the rebus "originated with Latin-
speaking Jews in the period immediately
prior to the Christian era."
Another well known palindrome is to
be found in a mosaic in the pavement of
Se. Maria del Fiori, at Florence. It
shows a figure of the sun, surrounded by
the line, EN GIRO TORTE SOL CICLOS
ET ROTOR IGNE ("Lo! I, the sun,
whirlingly wheel 'round my circles and
revolve with fire").
During Elizabethan times, Camden
composed the remarkable ODO TENET
MULUM, MADIDAM MAPPAM TENET
ANNA,/ANNA TENET MAPPAM MADI-
DAM, MULUM TENET ODO (each word
is a palindrome, as well as the whole).
At about the same time, "a certain beau-
tiful lady of high degree' attached to
Queen Elizabeth's retinue adopted the
palindromic motto ABLATA AT ALBA
("Secluded but pure") when, following a
court scandal, she was banished. The
only echo (in English) of Camden's feat
seems to be that brilliant, scintillating
dialogue between Anna and Otto: ANNA:
"DID OTTO PEEP?" OTTO: "DID
ANNA?". As for sayings of motto caliber,
English has but one: NO EVIL LIVE
ON!
Dean Swift, in a letter to Sheridan,
gave us what is to my knowledge the
only instance of an extended, bilingual
palindrome (Latin-English). Though im-
perfect, it remains no mean accomplish-
ment: PARTA SIT PARARE EN TEGI
OS. REM MUS 'NI" ODIOSO ILLUD OS
IMA MOTO.--O, TOM, AM I SO DULL?
O, SO I DO IN SUMMER. SO I GET
NE'ER A RAP. 'TIS A TRAP!
Perhaps the two most famous palin-
dromes are Greek. Both are, unfortunate-
ly, unprintable here (for typographic
rather than censorial reasons). One ap-
pears on a marble benitier in the Church
of Notre Dame in Paris. It may be 'En-
glished by' "Wash your sins, not your
countenance alone." And at the beginning
of the last century, Ambrose Hieromon-
achus Pamperes wrote the other, a rec-
ord of 455 line palindromic verse (in a
dialect of ancient Greek which seems to
have been his own) dedicated to the
"Emperor" Alexander. There is some
doubt whether or not its shortcomings
are out-distanced by its length.
ENGLISH PALINDROMY apparently
began with John Taylor, the "Water
Poet" (1580-1653), who is credited with
LEWD DID I LIVE & EVIL I DID DWEL.
However, it was not till the 19th century
that the more familiar MADAM, I'M
ADAM and ABLE WAS I ERE I SAW
ELBA appeared. James Joyce used both
of these in the Aeolus Episode of
"Ulysses," but I cannot here attempt to
justify the ways of Joyce to men.
There have been minor outbreaks of
palindromy in both England and Amer-
ica over the past hundred years, but thus
far they have remained below the epi-
demic level. Newsweek was surely mis-
taken (though admittedly clever) in
labeling palindromy a DAFT FAD, for it
has remained astonishingly persistent.
The English -anguage contains a very
large number of single word palindromes,
from the commonplace CIVIC and DEI-
FIED to the rarer EVITATIVE and RED-
yv ,
? y'

EYEDER (more red-eyed). Certain per-
son, place and thing names are also to be
included: DR AAGAARD (Dean of the
University of Washington m e d i c a 1
school), APOLLO, PA., and the YREKA
BAKERY, for example.
Single word palindromes and simple
reversals have been used by many auth-
ors. It has been claimed, for instance,
that Poe deliberately made the first five
letters of ULALUME palindromic. Vladi-
mir Nabokov uses the palindromic place
name EXE and the near-palindrome
DIDACTIC-KATYDID in his "Pale Fire."
He also employs such word reversals as
REDIPS-S P I D E R an d TOILEST-
T.S.ELIOT. (Such verbal ploys are not
peculiar to Nabokov, of course.)
English palindromic sentences are
numerous, but there are really very few
(less than 100) which sound wholly nat-
ural. Here are some samples:
-WAS IT A CAT I SAW?
-PULL UP IF I PULL UP.
-DENNIS AND EDNA SINNED.
-SIT ON A POTATO PAN, OTIS!
-"NOT NEW YORK," ROY WENT
ON.
"DO NINE MEN INTERPRET?"
"NINE MEN," I NOD.
Others, while perhaps a trifle odd, have
obvious merit:
-TEN ANIMALS I SLAM IN A NET.
-EVE, CAN I STAB LIVE, EVIL BATS
IN A CAVE?
-STRAW? NO, TOO STUPID A FAD.
I PUT SOOT ON WARTS.
-LIVE DIRT UP A SIDE TRACK
CARTED IS A PUTRID EVIL.
--I MAIM NINE MEN IN SAGINAW;
WAN, I GAS NINE MEN IN MIAMI.
-DEGENERATE MOSLEM! A CAR
OF PANS SIDEWAYS, YAWED, IS NO
SNAP FOR' A CAMEL! SO META RE-
NEGED.
- PART DID EVE LIVE IN EDEN. (I
SAW EROS NAP. GOD DELIVER EROS
DEIFIED-SORE REVILED DOG!) PAN
SORE WAS-IN EDEN I EVIL EVE DID
TRAP.
There are hundreds more.
Palindromes are by no means confined
to Greek, Latin and English. They are
known in Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Fin-
nish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungar-
ian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Old
Norse, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Span-
ish, Swedish and Welsh, as well. Ex-
amples of each are included in Dmitri
Borgmann's forthcoming book on palin-
dromes (and other' word curiosities) to
be published by Charles Scribner's Sons
later this year. Here is a lovely one from
the Japanese (kana syllabary):
NA-KA-KI YO NO
TO-O NO NE-BU-RI NO
MI-NA ME-ZA-ME
NA-MI-NO-RI-BU-NE NO
O-TO NO YO-KI KA-NA.
("Everybody wakes up from the sound
sleep of a long night--Winter. How de-
lightful the sound of the oars of a fishing
boat on the sea!")
WITH PALINDROMES of this caliber
being produced today, palindromy is
not apt to die out in the near future.
For those who are still doubtful, and
remain inclined to view this whole pro-
ject as a violation of my adjuration to
SMEAR NO SENILE LINES ON REAMS,
I have one final comment: GNU DUNG!
5'1
y :
is
4 ^ f n

SNCC: The New Abolitionists, Howard
Zinn, Beacon Press, Boston, 241 pages,
$4.95.
". . . more a movement than an organ-
ization .. . an identify crisis for the na-
tion . . . turning point . . . never before
seen .. . civil disobedience on a national
scale ... freedom now ... whites and Ne-
groes together . . . bloody beatings .
exasperates its friends . . . harasses its
enemies .
It is hard to draw a coherent picture
of SNCC from Howard Zinn's book. The
impression is of an emotional montage.
Zinn makes no claims to be writing the
definitive history of the Student Nonvio-
lent Coordinating Committee; rather
what he aims for is to leave the reader
with a feeling for the role of the SNCC
movement as well as its actions.
The book, for the most part takes the
form of personal stories beginning with
how individual SNCC workers started in
the movement and continues through
their particular horror story. Zinn has
tried to find a unifying factor in the moti-
vations of the "young rebels"-but SNCC
aupears to exist without benefit of speci-
fic creed. The members are, however,
fighting for more than equal rights be-
cause they know "that the values of
present American society-and this goes
beyond racism to class distinction, to
commercialism, to profit-seeking, to the
setting of religious or national barriers
against human contact-are not for
them." And herein lies the real impor-
tance of SNCC-and its uniqueness: The
members of SNCC "nurture a vision of a
revolution beyond race, against other
forms of injustice, challenging the entire
value-system of the nation and of smug
middle-class society everywhere."
Even if SNCC (and the sit-in tech-
nique) were to evaporate tomorrow, it
would still have had an impressive impact
on American society. It brought to light
a Negro never seen before by white Amer-
ica-the young, educated Negro. And with
him came a determined, impatient chal-
lenge to the white and Negro Establish-
ments. The sit-ins "represented an intri-
cate union of economic and moral pow-
er" that went far beyond courts of law
both to dramatize the situation and apply
the pressure of civil disobedience. The
conscience of the public and its pocket-
book were both touched-and there al-
ways remains the spectre of potential
civil war aroused by the real image of
larse-scale civil disobedience.
SNCC also via "direct action" supple-
ments the slow mill-grinding of demo-
cratic, representative government. It cre-
ates a political power "which resides
outside the regular political establish-
ment."-Zinn sees it as grassroots action
moving where entrenched self-interest
will not act.
In addition, SNCC's stress on nonvio-
lence is healthy. "It is a reminder to a
violent world that man has been too
quick to reach for the sword in the past."
Still another contribution of the SNCC
sit-in movement is to broadcast the idea
that the slogan "private property" has
long disguised the fact that "so-called
private enterprises drastically affect the
public interest, and the public therefore
has a right to make certain demands
upon them." This goes beyond race, as do
all the vital questions of the civil rights
movement. And it is Zinn's belief that
the true worth of the movement will be
judged by the effect it has on the injus-
tices in all facets of American life.
-Malinda Berry
THE ABOLITIONISTS: A Collection of
Their Writings, edited by Louis Ruch-
ames. Capricorn, New York. Paper-
bound, $1.65, 255 pps.

A BOOK RIDING close to the crest of
the present wave of books and articles
about the abolitionists which has grown
up in the wake of the civil rights move-
ment, Louis Ruchames' "The Abolition-
ists: A Collection of Their Writings," is
one of the finest anthologies of its size
produced on the subject.
Including selections from abolitionist
pamphlets, articles and documents writ-
ten during the 1830's, 40's and 50's,
Ruchames anthologizes the writings of
the "racial radicals" of the period in a
manner which creates an accurate pic-
ture of their reform and structure.
The book's chief failing-and, perhaps
this is something one ought not to expect
from any anthology-is the fact that it
presents only a small, and rather discreet
portion of the spectrum of opinion of the
movement-and this without the context
of the political climate of the time as a
whole.
The result is we come to imagine the
times as being entirely more radical than
was, in reality, the case. To adequately-
as one reviewer has suggested-relate the
abolitionist movement to the desegrega-
tion movement of today, a greater appre-
ciation for the politics-that is to say,
the atmosphere-of the earlier period is
necessary.
In the face of this, other criticisms
will, no doubt, seem minor.
To mention a few, however, one might
note that, in comparison with those of
their white contemporaries, the works of
Negro abolitionists are relatively more
neglected. In this respect, I realize that
information about the Negro writers of
the period is, for the most part, germinal
in many respects; but this sort of thor-
oughness is, after all, one which we have
come to expect of an academic treatment.
In places, Ruchames' editing is sloppy.
Perhaps this is a function of his attempt
to create an anthology as cosmopolitian
in its scope as in the spectrum of views
it presents. But this, nonetheless creates
a jerkiness in the organization of the
whole which is unwonted.
On the whole, however, Ruchames has
done something valuable here-and his
collection should be read.
--Stephen Berkowitz

Robert Capa's "Images of War" stands
out as supradocumentary expression of
the war experience. In a span of some
twenty-odd years and four wars, Capa
says, both in his pictures and in his notes,
"I hate war." But the pronouncement is
not a scream; it is, if possible, a song,
a prose-photography epic which sees be-
yond war and into the souls of those
caught up in it.
From his first pictures in the Thirties
until his death in 1954, Capa's acquaint-
ance with his subject was intense and im-
mediate. He lived in the foxholes, slogged
through the mud, went ashore with the
first wave at Normandy Beach and
bailed out with paratroops over Germany.
He knew the meaning of being a soldier,
but never forgot the civilians and their
indomitable spirit in a time of ceaseless
crises: "There are no braver people ...
and no more terrified either. . . . In
spite of death, life in its ordinary regular
drudging character is more durable than
the desire to stop it."
Photographically, Capa is a master of
his medium and in many ways a pioneer.
With one or two exceptions, his work is
done with available light, and the ab-
sence of the intruding flashgun makes
his perspective all the more cogent. Tech-
nique is never more apparent than con-
tent or message, so the camera indeed
becomes an intergal part of Capa, cap-
turing naturally what he saw and felt.
The full tonal range of the photo-
graphs reveals a master printer as well,
and Capa's use of selective focus, blur
and grain long before these became popu-
lar, imitated techniques is the mark of
a careful innovator.
Capa claims the reason for risking his
life taking pictures was so "the soldier
who looks at the shots . . . ten years
from now in his home in Ohio, will be
able to say, 'That's how it was;'" but he
was after more than this. He was trying
to express in the unaccepted medium of
photography "the tension and drama of
battle which I could feel and follow with
my naked eyes."
Beyond this is the photographer's eye
for the intrinsically visual values of
composition and design, the reflections
of reality that Capa found all around

know of
Capa's ey
escapable
wishes to
twice as b
compel bel
The pic
Naples is
the verbal
"I took o
camera. I :
the prostr
their dead
fins were
truest pici
not anti-
truth of a
rate perce
more wid
more.
"I had t
die. The 1
die. But t
the photo
sures that
CANDY b
Hoffenb
New Yo
WHEN
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(and even
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was talkin
Readers
339 years.
lar novel o
been cons
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satirizing
Terry Sou
are talking
"Candy"
Christian
about Le
like "Gull
years ago
temporary
Some r
significant
structured
writing. It
the stand
familiar
spoofs the
as one cr
rather ho
in a man
scenes of
mentation
behavior."
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that the b
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Candy Ch
who belie
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lege."
Her exp
that porti
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comparisoi
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(C<

S A
A R
T E
O P
R O

T O R
E P O
N E T
E R A
T A S

which has been variously translated,
"The sower, Arepo, guides the wheels
carefully," "The sower intentionally holds
the wheels firmly on the plough-field (on
his plough)," and so on. It was early dis-
covered that the letters in this palin-
drome could be arranged in the follow-
ing non-palindromic, but religiously sig-
nificant, pattern;
A

P
A
T
E
R
NO
S

A .PATER'~

S T E R. O

T
E
R
d
From this discovery it was but a short
step to the rebus' use as a talisman
against disease and disaster. Much later
it even found its way into the advertising
copy of a milk products company. Dun-

IMAGES OF WAR by Robert Capa.
Grossman Publishers, Inc. New York.
1964. pp. 175. $15.
SINCE THE DAYS of Mathew Brady's
photographs of the Civil War, docu-
mentary photography has claimed in-
creasing attention from critics, editors
and photographers themselves. The word
"documentary" has been changed, for
better or worse, to "photojournalism,"
implying something artistically more
significant than mere mechanical record-
ing of events for future reference.
For this reason, out of the millions of
feet of film exposed during wartime,

him. His pictures and his text erase the
stereotyped image of the photographer
as a mechanical, insensitive opportunist.
At one point he says, "I hated myself
and my profession. This sort of photog-
raphy was only for undertakers. . . . It's
not easy always to stand aside and be un-
able to do anything except record the
sufferings around one."
Capa's technical excellence and his
deeply human involvement with all the
actors on the war stage make "Images
of War" a hard-hitting vehicle for the
sharing of an artist's perspectives.
Even if one wishes to argue that Capa's
work shows only part of what there is to

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 1965

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