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February 26, 1972 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1972-02-26

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Saturday, February 26, 1972


Page Five

Saturday, FebrCeory 26, 1 972 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

Visiting Appalachia

Writing of the

Jack E. Weller, YESTER-
DAY'S PEOPLE, University of
Kentucky Press, $4.75, paper
Jonathan Williams BLUES
Photographs by N i c h o l a s
Dean, Grossman, $17.95.
Bill Surface, THE HOLLOW,
Coward-McCann, $5.95.

knew we had accepted the so-
ciety," writes Weller, "when we
bought a porch swing and found
the time to sit in it on a long
summer evening, enjoying the
quiet and oeauty of the moun-
tains around us."
t If Weller may be considered
a thoughtful visitor - that is.
one who both contributes to and
shares in his adopted culture -
then, perhaps this is due to his
willingness to sit back and let
his hosts do the talking. It is a
rare talent and one that is all
the more pleasing when it is
found in more than one source.
And fortunately, just such a
source is available. I think, in
Jonathan Williams' Blues &
By his own account, Jonathan
Williams has been hiking the

Books Editor
I think I was twelve the first
time I ever saw the Appala-
chians. Riding on the train
through the hills of West Vir-
ginia, I remember being disap-
pointed by the gap between my
romanticized preconceptions and
what I actually saw. Instead of

Place and broke her hip:
the sky was high,
white clouds passing
by, I lay
a hour in that petunia patch
and knew I was out of whack
Or, the gut-honest reaction of
Aunt Creasy on Work:
I make the livin
just makes the livin
Much of the impact of Blues
& Roots is due to the superb
typography of Dana Atchley.
This is especially true in the
part on "Countrified Concre-
tions" which is comprised of the
poetry of telephone listings,
Wurlitzer top tunes, and road-
side grafitti.
If Williams and Weller seem-
ingly possess an equally high re-
gard for the necessity of pre-
serving the Appalachian culture.
this does not prove to be the
case in The Hollow by Bill Sur-
face. Instead, we find an in-
stance of Zolaesque naturalism
in its most blatant and socially-
condescending form.
To write his book. Surface left
his New York apartment to re-
turn to the country of his birth,
Eastern Kentucky, where he
spent nearly a year interviewing
everyone from bootleggers and
coal miners to social workers
and VISTA volunteers. The
fruits of his labors - a disap-
pointing patchwork of fact and
fiction - allegedly describes five
"typical" days in the lives, cf
Coy, June and their ten chil
dren. And although the scope of
his task is admirable, one has
the feeling it was all done too
rapidly. In his obvious rush,
Surface has succumbed to pad-
ding techniques reminiscent of
only the most haphazard of high
school term papers. To wit:
. . . the children become so
acclimated to the filling diet
of pinto beans, potatoes, corn
bread, biscuits, flour, gravy,
jelly, and occasional helpings f
of milk, fried pork, pies, and
soft drinks that after starting

-by Nicholas Dean

-by Nicholas Dean

peas, tomato soup, canned
pineapple .
... etc., etc., AD NASEUM
The end result of such card-
board cataloguing can ultimate-
ly do little more than send still
greater hordes of summer tour-
ists tramping over the Appala-
chain hillsides - searching fer-
vently for log cabins, whiskey,
stills, and bare-footed men with
corn-cob pipes One can only
hope that when they arrive they
may have the good fortune to
meet up with the Hermit Cackle-
berry Brown, whose uncompro-
mising egalitarianism is aptly
recorded by Jonathan Williams.
caint call your name
but your face is easy
come sit
now some folks figure theyre
cowflop they
not a bit
just good to hold the world
like hooved up ground
thats whatt

log cabins, whiskey stills, and
bare-footed men with corn-cob
pipes, I foundonly the typical,
jerry-built homes whose exposed
backyards lend a uniform pover-
ty to the tracks of, virtually any
railroad in America. Had I
taken the time to leave the train
-to get into the hollows - I
would probably have sooner or
later discovered all those objects
I sought. Yet it seems now only
too obvious that, had I found
them, they would have provided
merely a superficial camouflag-
ing for a culture I could not have
begun to have understood.
Because Appalachia has re-
gretably failed to produce its
own spokesmen-so far there are
no Vine Delorias or Eldridge
Cleavers - and because inside
documentaries are scarce, most
of us must rely on the outsider's
perspective to gain insights into
the mountaineer's world. These
outside reports, whether they
come from visitors who merely
pass by on train or from those
who stay for several years, can-
not help but remain partially
colored by the writer's own cul-
tural limitations. Yesterday's
People, Blues & Roots, and The
Hollow are all books written in
this vein. They succeed or fail,
I think, according to the respec-
tive author's ability to overcome
his own preconceptions.
Before w r i t i n g Yesterday's
People, Jack Weller spent thir-
teen years ministering to a
Presbyterian parish in Big Coal
River valley of West Virginia.
As a preacher, he was forced to
re-evaluate many of the basic
practices of his profession.
We were strangers in our
own country, among a people
who did not seem to under-
stand us and whom we did not
seem to understand. . . But
how to understand this moun-
tain culture? Although a ple-
thora of books had been writ-
ten on the mountaineer-ro-
manticizing h i m, criticizing
him, deriding him-none had
really tried to do more than
describe him, and this we
could already do.
Weller, by 'focusing on the
Today's writers . .
Janet Russell ,maintains a
long-standing interest in the
occult stemming, from her own
Laura Seager is a graduate
of the London Academy of
Music and Dramatic Arts and
the w r i t e r of several short
changes which occured within
himself, goes beyond mere de-
scription. His book begins with
an historical analysis, then sys-
tematically pels back the cul-
tural layers as he found them
in the society, the community.
and the church. Although his
conclusion may sound somewhat
old-fashioned to those versed in
today's third-consciousness psy-
chology; in 1965, when Weller
first wrote of his experiences,
his ideas provided a fresh and
humane way of viewing the
mountaineer. To Weller's way of
thinking, "a society which tends

Appalachian trails for more
than ten years - picking up bits
of cloth, snipits of speech, high-
way slogans, and, blessedly, no
corn-cob pipes. With photogra-
pher Nicholas Dean, he has cap-
tured in word and image a liv-
ing testimony to the persistence
of the Appalachian culture.
In a .section called "Common
Words in Uncommon Orders,"
Williams records the -homespun
dialect of his mountain neigh-
bors. Aunt Dory Ellis, for one,
tells movingly of the time. she
fell in her garden at the Home


Dennis Wheatley, THE DEVIL
can Heritage Press, $14.95.
Although not too well known
on this continent, Mr. Wheatley
is. in his native Britain, a widely
read and popular author who
has been writing novels since the
early 1930's. Eight of his novels
have an occult theme, and his
latest book pursues that abiding
The book's title I found to be
rather misleading as the book is
divided into five parts and only
in the last part does Mr. Wheat-
ley introduce the Devil and dis-
cuss the evolution of black mag-
ic as we know of it today. The
first two parts of the book con-
cern themselves with various
phenomena such as mesmerism,
faith healing, telepathy. clair-
voyance and other methods of
divination. Parts three and four
deal with mankind's occult be-
liefs from prehistoric times to
the founding of the Theosophi-
cal Society in 1875. By the time
T had finished reading part two,
I still had not seen the word
"Devil" in print once. T turned
the pane to part three and read:
"By this time the reader may
well be asking, 'But what has
all this to do with the Devil and
all his works?'" Tndeed. as this
was the exact phrase I had in
mind. I decided I must be psy-
chic. In any case, although the
author had not yet reached the
supposed theme of the book, he
seemed about to do so. Un-
fortunately, this was not quite
so. and after telling us how it
is assumed that magic works (he
defines it as the application of
scientific laws which are still
unknown to our recognized sci-
entists), he then abandons the
subject of maic and goes on to
tell us' that to reach any con-
clusion about the Devil by basing
it on the practices of one peo-
ple or the tenets of a single re-
ligion w o u 1 d be futile. Mr.
Wheatly is not to be praised for
At this point, still circumam-
bulating his subject. the author
goes on to describe practically
every religion conjured by man.
In part four, entitled "Beliefs in
the Past 2,500 Years," the auth-
or gives us descriptions of man's
latest inventions in the way of
religion, bringing out any points
r e 1 a t i n g to occult practices,
which are very few. Nowhere is
there more than a passing ref-
erence to black magic, or the
Devil, and many small, fascin-
ating cults are overlooked. There
is no mention, for instance, of
the Yezidis a Near Eastern cult
who worship the Devil in the
form of a peacock and about
whom little is known except they
are hostile to outsiders.
Part five, "Of Witches and
Warlocks," brings together a
motley collection of subjects,

ranging from the Little People
to alchemists. Also discussed is
the evolution of the image of tle
Devil from hst of just a wicked
man to a bestial monster with
horns, hooves. scaly wings and
s p i k e d tail invented by the
Church in the Middle Ages. Sor-
cerers are also dealt with quite
briefly in this chapter and here
too is given the tale of the priest
Urban Graridier who was con-
'fessor to the nuns at the Con-
vent of Loudun. At his trial in
1634, it was alleged that he had
turned the convenit into a
harem, though unfortunately no
details are given of how he ac-
complished this remarkable feat.
Wheatley does. however, give us
a reproduction of the pact, writ-
ten in. blood, by which Urban
Grandier is said to have sold his
soul to the Devil. This "pact,"
sad to say, is hardly revealing
for it is practically illegible.,
In a short section entitled
"Tools of the Trade," Mr.
Wheatley gives a list of equip-
ment and ingredients necessary

dom sources which seem to in-
dicyate a growth of witchcraft in
most civilized nations. This is,
in effect, the end of the book,
though after this section we find
a few more pages devoted-to Mr.
Wheatley's "Conclusions and the
Way." in which he supports re-
incarnation and urges us all to
lead good lives, to do no harm to
others, and to be fearless of
On the whole, then, the book
is not so much about the powers
of darkness as the powers -of
light. Although Mr. Wheatley
states,. at the beginning of the
book that the influence wielded
by the two powers'is equal, it
would seem that by devoting less
of the book to the powers of
darkness, the author is trying to
unequalize the situation in favor
of light. Considering the interest
in witchcrart and the occult
these past few years, Mr.
Wheatley may well have a point.
Father Richard Woods, philoso.
phy ins-ructor at Chicago's Loy-

-from The Complete Woodcuts of Albrecht, Durer

Said the anthropol

Martin Wolf, SAID THE
Press, $1.95.
There aren't any tribes left,
not the kind that Mead and
Malinowski poked at with
righteous sticks. Anthropologists
have been left with coffee plan-
tations, the oil fields of Vene-
zuela and the vagaries of large
organizations. It ain't much. By
the same token, young poets
seem obsessed with the thread-
like spinnings of their own
faintly emerging tribe, that
worthless ordering of their own
generation. They are orgiastic
without any supporting system
of symbols. And it is always
an iconography that gives an
orgy strength and solidity.
It's a relief to find a poet,
who in his first book, has the C'
strength to declare himself both
a poet and an anthropologist.
Martin Wolf makes good his
claim. It would be a mistake to
assume that he is an anthropol-
ogist. Martin Wolf makes good
his claim. It would be a mistake
to assume that he is an anthro-
pologist in the accepted sense of
a man, who through reason, ex-
amines a broad social system.
He is a lyricist and by the lyric
gift, he limits his field of ex-
amination to that which moves
him personally.
Let us make a voyage
In a quiet fashion
With everyone I tried to love.
He throws upon these loved
people, mistresses, friends, and
other poets, a clear light of
poetic method. He uses this
method as any good anthropol-
ogist does, with restraint, honor,
and a sense of what is, in the
end, simply true.
... The place shapes the ritual
The ritual shapes the line
Dead men dance in time
What isn't true won't rhyme"
Wolf pays his dues to the
Goddess in the best Gravesian
"A simple loving declaration:
'None greater in the universe
than the Triple Goddess.' , has
been made Implicitly or explic-
itly by all true Muse-poets since
poetry began." Wolf makes his
declaration 'q u i t e explicitly
throughout his work and time
and time again, it proves Graves
righ'lt ()nlv tr hns'whn rub,unr'-

Hustled by some strungout
We have been on the road too
It's time to go home.
He rejects out of hand, the
Apollonian heresy of reason-
given poetry that the genera-
tions before him fell into. Apollo
shot the arrow men must fol-
low but it leads them to plague,
petilence and war, only the God-
dess leads men to poetry.
Wolf has supported his poetic
narrative with the great sym-
bols. Graves says they are fall-
en into a kind of industrial dis-
repair, blackened over by the
smokestack, the assembly line
and the press. Not quite yet.
Prelude to a shape
For those whose law is song
Forever charged by
Minds death undarkened

Ogist. ..
Chase a black ewe
Chase a black mare
Chase a dark lady
Who goes in the air.
With symbols such as these, he
gives body and justification to
his own particular orgy of words.
It isn't quite the Dog, the Roe-
buck and Lapwing, but it'll do.
Finally, what greater homage
to the Goddess can there be
than to take Penelope's role and
weave the threads of Homer and
Oddyseus together. The maker
and the made, the feeler and
the felt-only in Graves' pente-
costal howl-no synthetics and
all cream centers does that sort
of truth come together.
Returned from the countries
of the blind.
Bent by the bow he belonged
Aiming the arrow
By the sound of the string.

for making spells and calling up
spirits. He is most careful,
though, not to give any actual
spells lest someone should use
them. No do-it-yourself fan, he
frequently gives warnings about
the undesirability of "dabbling"
with the powers of darkness and
he cites several interesting ac-
counts of people who boobed
while invoking spirits only to
have had the spirits turn and
render the neophytes gibbering
idiots, dead, or in one curious
case, toothless. After taking two
pages to deal with Voodoo, Mr.
Wheatley moves on to "The
Black Art Today" and cites a
few examples taken from ran-

ola University, has estimated
that there are some eight thous-
and. white witches in the U.S.
(He does not define "white"
witches, but they are generally
assumed to be beneficient).
There seem tb be no statistics
available on black magicians,
but according to the Reverend
Billy James Harris, a Tulsa
evangelist, "devil worship is
mushrooming. It ultimately will
become the religion of the mili-
tants and the revolutionaries."
For these would-be militants,
Mr. Wheatley's book will prove
dissatisfying and it will not fur-
ther their career one toad's

What is life without love?

Wrangler thinks Americans
spend too much for clothes.



.% 4'

And Wrangler's doing
something about it.
They're giving you
what's so hard to get
these days. What
you pay for.
Wremiember the "W is Sileul.

I Awa Em

iii; >a:::":

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