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January 22, 1972 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1972-01-22

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Saturday, January 22, 1X72 T


'Page Five

A Pilgrim's

Thomas Farber, TALES FOR
CHILD: BERKELEY, 1966-1969,
E. P. Dutton and Company, $5.95.
Memorable tales these are -
indeed, the sort one might share
with, a favored grandchild yet
choose to keep carefully hidden
from one's own children, as the
*.. title of this book implies. Thom-
as Farber writes as. a young, old
man: twenty-seven years old
at the time the book was fin-
ished, he looks back at his de-
parted, youth within the "coun-
ter-culture" c e n t e r e d from
Berkeley to Big Sur. The exper-
ience for him had proven in-
credibly exhilarating, at first
liberating, later entrapping, fi-

This is a book of character-
portraits. Farber draws skill-
fully, occasionally poignantly.
He draws with a fine eye for
ironic detail which sometimes
makes both members of the
"straight world' and the "new
hero" a bit ridiculous, sometimes
makes the more pathetic and
fallen of his subjects more hu-
man and admirable than those
our traditions would tell us to
consider their betters.
Half of the chapters in this
book are devoted to memorable
individuals who lived in Berke-
ley during the period when
Thomas Farber was there. We
meet public heroes, like Lenny
who helped found the Resist-
ance Movement, or Om, the re-
ligious figure who brings love
to the world and makes the sun

looking back. is not always sym-
pathetic with his subjects, but
he shares enough of their world
view to make them no more un-
reasonable than their "straight"
counterparts. Because we see
persons and events through the
eyes of a pilgrim we often avoid
the kind of analysis which
might "make sense" out of the
Berkeley counter - culture as a
developing phenomenon: that is
not the purpose of this book.
Instead, we are offered a dis-
turbingly "objective" set of por-
traits of individuals and move-
ments attempting to build life-
patterns from zero They some-
times succeed, often fail, yet
are hauntingly alive. Because
Farber's world came to encom-
pass the no-longer-young and
the never-rich as well as the
more regular inhabitants of the
"youth culture," his portraits of
the young occasionally accent
the arrogance, and naivete,
along with the hope he sees
embodied in these "alternative
styles." And if the over-all mes-
sage is that of a search which
becomes despair, what accounts
for this? Farber's own progres-
sion as a pilgrim? The chaos of
the Berkeley scene from 1966-
1969? Or a built-in flaw in the
grand design for a life style?
This book will not attempt to
answer that question. Yet I can-
not avoid the conclusion that
Farber's life has become incred-
ibly richer, if not always happy,
because of his experiences in
Berkeley. Arid that in a less in-
tense way, the same has been
true for me because I looked
through his eyes for a while.


Howard Levy, M.D. and Da-
vid Miller, GOING TO JAIL,
Grove Press, $6.00.
Dr. Howard Levy was court
martialed in 1967 for refusing
to instruct Special F o r c e s
troops destined for Vietnam. He
served 26 months in federal and
military prisons. David Miller
was the first person to burn his
draft card after the law pro-
hibiting that act was passed. He
was convicted and served 22
months in federal prisons. Out
of their joint experience came
Going to Jail, a book subtitled
"The Political Prisoner."
Its purpose, according to
Levy, is two-fold:
First, to provide a concept-
ual fraimework through which
those who have never been in
prison can comprehend and
then"'challenge the prison sys-
tem - a system totally lack-
ing in socially redeeming
qualities. Second, to proffer
a sort of "training manual"
for prospective political pri-
It seems to me that the book
not only fails on both of these
counts, but also fails in con-
A little of what Levy and
Miller wrote seems, in light of
Attica, almost prophetic:
Of course, the goon squad
is not the ultimate force.
Even the rifle - bearing tow-
er sharpshooters are not final.
All prisoners know that noth-
ing short of massive military
might would be unleashed



quality of their suggestions, that
they have been far too myo-
pic. Levy and Miller had an ex-
perience that apparently deep-
ly affected them. Yet they were
too close to the prison experi-
ence (most of the book was coni-
pleted while in prison) to see
what was needed. What was not
needed was another book on
"how I suffered in prison,"
There are too many of those al-
ready. Also, Levy and Miller
were incapable of delivering an
effective account in those terms.
What is desperately needed is
some viable alternative to pri-
least, sons as they are now. Prisons
ized in do not reform. Recidivistm is fir
f he so too high. They are, from the
d their moral viewpoint, from the pri-
soner's viewpoint, and even
r pre- from the accursed' viewpoint of
or re- social expediency, dismal fail-
whole ures. It is too bad that GOIng t
es into Jail can do little to Improve
rm the them.

W'a bl t


against them should they
have the collective gall not
to appreciate their situation.
But Attica was a state pri-
son and state prisons are no-
toriously bad. Certainly there
should be some public outcry
at the conditions there.
Levy and Miller's experiences
in the federal system are pale
by comparison. Their main
problems were petty nuisances
-like mail censoring, visiting
limitations - that arouse little
sympathy. Anyone who has liv-
ed in a university dorm, for ex-
ample, will find little that is
unfamiliar in their description
of prison food:
The food, its method of
preparation, and the amount
received is out of the control
of the recipient. A prisoner
goes through the line and
takes his choice of what is
available. While he may heap
up the potatoes and gravy, the
vegetables and the bread, the
choice items are guarded. The
food is almost always over-
cooked and unimaginatively
spiced; steaming is a favorite
kitchen device; and potatoes
and canned vegetables are
steamed again as they sit in
their containers in the steam
Some of their observations,
while not necessarily untrue,
are exceedingly curious. For
Political prisoners tend to
be a nonconformist lot when
it comes to matters of per-
sonal grooming and hygiene.
They tend to place far less
emphasis upon these social
customs than do their fellow
As far as advice for prospec-
tive political prisoners, there is
little here of value. Some de-
tails, such as those that have
to do with contraband, are
passed over out of fear that
the information will fall into
the wrong hands. Their advice
on race relations will be unten-
able, I think, to most blacks
and whites alike. On homo-
sexuality, while the advice ap-
pears useful, it is not anything
strikingly clever or imaginative.
It seemed clear to me, from
their descriptions, that anyone,

nally destructive. Now, not yet
thirty, Farber looks back, re-
constructing experiences, draw-
ing portraits of the people who
now epitomize, for him, the am-
bience of those years.
Thomas Farber came to
Berkeley in 1966 to "where the
action was, to where it was all
happening." He was twenty-two
years old, and had been to Har-
vard, gone to Europe, found no
way to build a satisfying life for
himself either in the pathways
that an elite, Establishment ed-
ucation opened for him or . in
the alternative styles of Europe.
So he came West, settled in
Berkeley not to be near the Uni-
versity of California, but to be
part of a life style that was
springing up in that vibrant lo-
cation. The Free Speech Move-
ment had rocked the Berkeley
campus two years before, mak-
ing Berkeley a point of inspira-
tion for young, radical protest.
In its aftermath a new com-
munity of disaffected young
people were drawing together,
trying to create a style of life
radically different and, they

in the federal system at
could escape being victim:
terms of homosexuality, i
desired. He wouldn't nee
The last, short chapte
sents their suggestions R
form. Here is where the
problem of the book come
focus. One can see, fro

Echoes of Eliot

come up. Somehow, in Farber's
hands they become less than
heroic, yet intensely interesting
people. We also meet "little
people" known only to a circle
of acquaintances - for example
Randy, the alienated student
who draws ever deeper into the
world of psychedelic experience
in an effort to beat back what
he sees as genetic drives toward
self-destruction; or Ted, unat-
tractive, lonely, pursuing a con-
stant round of self-analysis try-
ing to "get it all together;" or
Rita, trying desperately to find
a man worthy of her, trapped
by her unwanted child, slowly
becoming a seductive witch.
We meet visionaries who push
drugs as a. means to support
the commune they have set up
for underage runaways. We meet
ex-cons who build a life amidst
the pretensions and foibles of
the more arrogant young. And
we meet a life-long loser, a man
so humbled by his constant pas-
sage from jail to jail that he
has no resources for survival
among others except his hu-
At other times Farber intro-
duces us to groups that help
shape the style of this ever-
shifting counter - culture. We
meet the Motherfuckers, radi-
cal street revolutionaries who
aim to discredit "Establishment
radicals" and make a shambles
of their parliamentary power-
plays. We catch glimpses of
the growing community of the
Resistance, trying to make per-
sonal purity and 'renunciation
an alternative to coercive vio-
lence in the nation. We dis-
cover the followers of George
Gurdgieff, seekers who renounce
all to know themselves and to
follow the Truth.
And we see, through Farber's
eyes, battles for control of the
streets, maneuverings and coun-
ter-maneuverings among rival
radical groups, conservative and
liberal politicians. Somehow the
University (which spawned this
alternative life style among its
disaffected students) fades into
the background, almost an ir-
relevancy in the Berkeley
Thomas Farber came to know
and love-and perhaps hate.
This is a rich mixture-but
saved from becoming an exotic
tour through a wax works be-
cause we always view the scene
through the eyes of a partici-
pant - become - pilgrim. Farber
makes no effort to present a
comprehensive picture either of
the "scene" or of the individuals
Today's Writers . ..
Max Heirich teaches in the
Residential College and is the
author of The Beginning:
Berkeley, 1964.
Barbara Aarigo is a graduate
student in the Journalism De-

John Updike, RABBIT RE-
DUX, Knopf, $7.95.
In Rabbit Redux John Updike
has turned out another well-
written and enjoyable book.
Both Updike's talent and the re-
turn of his character Harry
Angstrom ("Rabbit"), original-
ly dipicted in Rabbit, Run, make
this latest novel interesting as
well as good reading.
Rabbit has changed between
novels. From the active runner,
the seeker, of the first novel,
Rabbit has been transformed
into a passive accepter of life.
Apparently beaten-down by the
events of Rabbit, Run, he ap-
pears ten years later as a
paunchy middle-aged man. His
emotional commitments are on-
ly a patriotic belief in the Viet-
nam war and a small nagging
fear of urban problems which
might spill over into his shel-
tered suburban life. He is Har-
ry Hardhat, right down to the
flag decal on his car.
Furthermore,, since the death
of his baby daughter in the first
novel, Rabbit has associated sex
with death. Early in Rabbit Re-
dux we learn, "It had all seem-
ed like a pit to him then, her
womb and the grave, sex and
death, he had fled her cunt

as a tiger's mouth." It is not
surprising, then, that Janice,
Rabbit's wife, leaves him at the
beginning of the novel.
Sex is a key aspect of con-
munication in Updike's writing;
thus Harry's incapacity to love
purely indicates a bottling up, a
sickness. He is no longer in-
volved in life except perhaps on
the most pragmatic level of do-
ing whatever is easiest.
By doing what is easiest, Har-
ry allows his wife to leave him
without a struggle and lets a
young suburban runaway and
her b 1 a c k friend move in
with him. This pair attempts to
revitalize him politically, re-
ligiously, and sexually. Skeeter,
the black man evading trial on
a marijuana charge, appears in
the Angstrom living room an-
nouncing, "I'm the real Jesus. I
am the black Jesus, right? There
is none other, no. When I fart,
lightning flashes, right?"'
Thus the quest for God which
characterized Rabbit, Run re-
turns to Harry, Skeeter is a hip
version of the earlier Rabbit
who also had vague God delu-
The runaway, Jill, moves in
right after Janice leaves. Slow-
ly, she reawakens Rabbit's ca-
pacity to love. As important as
she and Skeeter are to the
change in Rabbit, they both are

a bit stereotypic and there is
a sense of alienness about them
which deprives them of a com-
plete feeling of humanity.
Updike's writing often seems
narrow, a slice or sector of
America that is not particular-
-ly applicable to a larger view.
Here he seems to be striving for
a more representational, story.
Harry is one man, but he is also
everyone who has become in-
volved after the stupor of the
fifties. Finally, after the in-
volvement he comes to a stable
state of acceptance Hence, he is
Rabbit 'redux'-led back or re-
turned to health.
In this novel, Harry muddles
through, as most of us do, to a
sense of tranquility, which
many of us never achieve.
Even after experiencing the bla-
tant racism of his neighbors,
Harry cannot believe his coun-
try is imperfect. He somehow
assimilates all the injustices
into his view of things working
This basically is a story of
things working out. It is a story
to take sides on. What's right
for Rabbit may not be the ans-
wer for everyone. Nevertheless,
it is good reading, and even
somewhat thought provoking.
Despite some of its failings, it
is certainly one of Updike's best

R. H. W. Dillard, NEWS OF
THE NILE, University of N.
Carolina Press, $3.75.
Michael Anania, THE COLOR
OF DUST, Swallow, $2.50.
These two books share many
of the same characteristics -
an evocation of private experi-
ence, a concern to present ma-
terial as unflinchingly as pos-
sible (even cruel and ugly ma-
terial), and a general effort at
unadorned directness of style.
R. H. W. Dillard's News of the
Nile, while honest and straight-
forward, has also a self-con-
scious air of "poeticality" that
smacks of pretentious inflation.
For example, raw experience is
a perfectly appropriate subject
for poetry, but it is hard to sus-
tain interest in a poetry made of
a great many solemn lines as
raw as "There are many parking
lots/ And garages in downtown
Roanoke," or "I reach the first
real page/ Of John H. Watson's
reminiscences/ Who took his de-
gree in 1878." In defense of Mr.
Dillard, it is probably true to
say that such lines are intended
to convey something of the ir-
reducible quality of hard reality,
and as such they are reminiscent
of Gertrude Stein, to whom in-
deed there is a poem in homage.
But, as literature, the evocation
of flatness by being flat was no
more gripping in Miss Stein's
work than it is here, though
Mr. Dillard often attempts to in-
volve the reader more deeply by
direct invitations to participate
in the feelings of the poem:
"You are howling like a dog,/
You lick your own shame." Mr.
Dillard is thoughtful and seri-
ous, but it seems unlikely that

News of the Nile will be very
widely read, even within the
slender stock of modern poetry
I found Michael, Anania's col-
lection of poems, The Color of
Dust less enjoyable, since it
gives the impression of believ-
ing that intense sensitivity will
be magically transmitted
through mannered prose if it is
arranged artfully and labeled
"poetry." The poems are m'ostly
descriptions of landscapes the
poet has known, on the ptemise
of the epigraph from Pablo
Neruda, "that, when I try to ex-
plain my problems/ I shall
speak, not ┬░of self, but of ge-
ography," and they are evident-
ly the familiar attempts to be
"present, precise to the moment/
concrete, stinging, exact." But
they really aren't. Perhaps if
the reader were himself familiar
with the scenes described he
would find in them as stinging
a meaning as their tones lay
claim to present.. Perhaps these
should be illustrated poems, the
precursers of a whole new genre.
But as they are they do not
seem important, and, as for
style, both in landscape and in
meditation many of the poems
are not much more than accu-
rate echoes of T. S. Eliot:
the city In dust
rain hard on the dust,
snow and heavy, white smoke-
dead of summer, dead of winter.
We move through Intersectiol
Capable of history.
In reading these poems, it was
impossible to avoid behind the
scenes the recurring Image o
the Poet, Writing Poetry. The
image was distracting and made
the poems seem self-serving.



What is life~ without love?

Revenge of the Lawn is the title story in this marvelous collection
of 62 stories from Richard Brautigan whom the Hudson Review
calls "One of the most gifted innovators in our literature."
Brautigan is the author of four novels and seven books of poetry,
including Trout Fishing in America, The Abortion: An Historical
Romance 1966 and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt - all
among the most widely read books in America.


hoped, better than that from
which they had come. Farber
became a full part of the set-
ting - interested in campus up-
heavals, becoming part of the
developing drug scene, develop-
ing friendships among leaders of
communes, radical splinter par-
ties, new religious communities,
and later, the total drop-outs of
the drug world. He worked for a
time as reporter for a radical
4 paper, The San F'rancisco Ex-
press Times, spent a period of
time as a neophyte in a new
community of religious seekers,
visited Esalen Institute, joined
for a while in what outsiders

A- 1, RWfI:mm

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