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April 14, 1971 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-04-14

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Wednesday, April 14, 1 97'1

THE MICHIGAN DAILY '

WenedyAri 1,191TH MCIGNDAL

Habitat: TJ
Moshe Safdie: BEYOND HA-
BITAT, 1970, MIT Press, $10.
By JIM THOMPSON
Combining equal amounts of
genius and pure guts a young
Canadian architect named Moshe
Safdie battled bureaucratic es-
tablishments in Canada to create
a unique housing structure for
the Expo 1967. The project, Habi-
tat, and the struggle by a group
of progressively-minded archi-
tects in Montreal to: see it built
N are described on a first-hand ba-
sii by Safdie. The book combines
his autobiography, the history of
his projects, an analysis of our,
housing needs 'in terms of both
quantity and quality, and a heal-
thy amount of preaching to give
a many-sided view of this archi-
tect and his ideals.
Safdie traces his outlook on
architecture and housing in par-
ticular back to his youth in Is-
rael and admits that his .deas are
thoroughly conditioned by Medi-
terranean architectural systmes.
To put his ideas into the most ex-
treme simplistics, Safdie has
taken the traditional Mediter-
ranean village built on a hillside
and injected twentieth century
technology into it. He has taken
the system of multiple uses for a
roof as another's garden and the
closeness of a community with
v full privacy for the individual and
applied these to current housing
dilemmas. The major problem
he and his ideas have faced,
while not mentioned explicitly in
his book, is our predominantly
Northern European heritage in
housing. Tightly packed, struc-
turally - overlapping communi-
ties as may still be seen in the.
Greek Islands today are not in-
digenous to Northern Europe.
Only in the Mediterranean region
is there a tradition of both in-
cluding and excluding the climate
in the construction of housing.
Thus the houses are oriented in
such a way as to avoid the heat
and strong light of day, but to

he sItudy (
lem for my thesis and instead
do a housing system.
Several years after this thesis
was submitted, the chance to
build Vtabitat arose. After some
months of bureaucratic debate,
it had been decided by Canadian
officials to build a housing ex-
hibition instead of a wild sym-
bolic gesture like the Seattle
Needle. Gradually the project
took form and was begun. Safdie
elaborates on the many crises
he and his team faced, ranging
from dollar-tight politicians to
uncooperative contractors to ma-
jor cutbacks in the program.
Finally, Habitat was completed,
much altered, but on time. Even
in its abbreviated size Habitat
was seen as a structural and
aesthetic, success. More import-
antly, as David Jacobs of "The
New York Times" has said,
"Habitat is, before it is any-
thing else, a decent place to
live."
The success of Habitat was im-
mediate, the famne of the build-
ing and its designer spread. Saf-
die relates a number of subse-
quent projects which wer planned
but never begun. The Department
of Housing and Urb'an Develop-
ment wanted a development for

f a dream
the Fort Lincoln project in Wash-
ington, D.C., and eventually left
Safdie holding a huge bill for
feasibility studies. New York
City almost got a Habitat or so
it appeared until the New York
Stock Exchange found out who
its new neighbor was to be. San
Francisco State College wanted
a Safdie student union paid for
completely by student tunds, but
the regents in one day vetoed the
plans and then fired Professor
George Murray. Enter S.1. Ha-
yakawa and the San Francisco
rio police; exit one architect, one
student union, and one professor.
Only a project backed by build-
ing developers in Puerto Rico
seems to have gotten started.
Eventually, it is hoped, some
sense will prevail and the hous-
ing problems of this country will
be approached in terms of twen-
tieth century technology. Saide
in his work illustrates the prob-
lems an dproposes a rather good
solution to them. It isn't the
only solution, but it works and
should be tried on a more effic-
ient scale. At some point men like
Safdie will be allowed to build
their ideas. Perhaps Habitat and
Beyond Habitat will bring this a
little sooner.}

Mystacismal colla

Beethoven,'

Liszt: Mixed mudi

By R. A. PERRY
The constantly rising interest
in mysticism and in Eastern re-
ligions has caused publishers to
bring into paperback editions
many booksthat ten years ago
they would not have touched.
For anyone who wants to'pursue
a fascination with mysticism
and the "inscrutable East" be-
yond George Harrison's sitar, a
large number of outstanding
books are available. Some of the
newest paperbacks are noted be-
low.
For the philosophically-minded
person who wishes to "under-
stand" the religious experience
by comparing in a methodical
manner his Western heritage
with the traditions of the East,
two recent paperbacks offer con-
siderable help. Rudolf Otto's
Mysticism East and Whest (Mace.
Millan, $2.45) compares a n d
contrasts Occidential and Orien-
tal mysticism by focusing on a
prime thinker in each tradi-
tion: the German mystic Meis-
ter Eckhart and the Indian}
mystic Achara Sankara. Otto's
book is not without a reliance
on technical terms, and his use
of only two thinkers somewhat
limits his scope; nevertheless
Otto is a reliable and insightful
author.
A more thorough examination
of Western, Chinese, and Indian
philosophy that g'oes beyond the
consideration of mysticism alone
is P. T. Raju's useful and read-
able Introduction to Compara-
tive Philosophy' (Southern Illi-
noisUniversity Press, $2.85).
Raju's book hardly shiges with
the inner light that many read-
ers will seek, but it is neverthe-
less a good reference volume.
Students who wish a less aca-
demic introduction to the phe-
nomena of the mystical exper-
ience should seek out F. C. Hap-'
pold's Mysticism (Penguin,
$1.95), a slim voume containing
both an excellent short essay4
and a well-considered anthology
of mystic writings.
An especially fascinating book
on the subject of Nirvana -
that Indian goal of complete
stillness and serenity, the
"place" where a candle will nev-
er flicker. Where a fire "goes",
when it goes out - is Rune E.
A. Johansson's The Psychology.
of Nirvana (Anchor, $1.45). Jo-
hansson not only examines the
most ancient Buddhist pro-
nouncements on Nirvana, but
also draws certain comparisons
between the Indian goal and the
aims of modern mental health.)
One of the most intriguing In-
dian holy men in recent cen-

turies was Ramakrishna,
Christopher Isherwood's Ran
krishna and His Disciples (
mon ando Schuster, $3.95) rc
idles the swami's life and act
ties in a thoroughly engag
manner. Isherwood, one of Ei
land's'finest novelists, whose
terest in Indian religions has
to his collaborations on seve
fine translations of religi
texts, provides a study w h i
embraces not only the extrao
inary influence and powers
one man but also the entire c
ture which produced and s
cored that man. Photogra-
from the original hardcover e
tion have been retained.
The Indian experiences of a
ther 'holy man of sorts, A 11
Ginsberg, are found in
chaotic, hallucinogenic, inspir
scatological, descriptive, bori
pungent writings that Ginsb
scribbled down during his ran
lings through India in 1962
Indian Journals has recer
been published by City Lig
Press in San Francisco ($3) a
is aptly illustrated.
The English poet, artist, a
mystic William Blake has :
haps never been penetrated
well understood because h
reliance of esoteric symbol:
was so complete. A fine way
gain entrance into Blake's sp
ial wisdom is through S. Fos
Damon's A Blake Diction
(Dutton, $4.45). Damon, a B1
specialist, lists in alphabeti
form terms, concepts, ico
graphic facts, and mytholog:
beings used by the poet, expla
each, and gives examples f r c
the poetry and art works
further understanding.
Finally, examples of the p
fect fusion of mysticism, p
try, eroticism and art may
found in two new Grove.Pr
volumes: The Love Songs
Vidyapati and The Love So
of Chandidas, both translated
Deben Bhattacharya ($2
each). Beginning in the 1
century, there was in India
rise in the worship of Krisl
a personification of the gr
god Vishnu. Krishna was t
perfect potent, beautiful ma
(god) with whom all fema
(the human heart) sought
'be united. Poets such as Vid
pati and Chandidas explored
longing of the soul for god
their highly perfumed and :
sionate descriptions of the lc
seeking the beloved. Indian
tists, too, painted scenes
search and union in erotic a
highly symbolic miniat
paintings that are today mi
prized by connoisseurs.

Elliot Forbes, editor, THAT-
ER'S LIFE OF BEETHOVENO
Princeton University Press, $6.95.
Ernest Newman, THE MAN
LISZT, Taplinger, $750.
By JOHN HARVITH
14 shirts, 20 undershirts, 9 sym-
phonies, 18 pairs socks, 0 night
shirts, 16 string quartets, 14 un-
derpants, 5 piano concerti, 6 night
-caps, 32 piano sonatas, 20 ascots
and handkerchiefs . . . These
earthly remnants of one Ludwig
van Beethoven are among the

boolksbooks

and manuscripts, thus yielding all
the necessary data for later edi-
tors to complete his mammoth
undertaking, first in German,
then in English.
Unfortunately from an histor-
ian's point of view, it is often im-
possible to tell which parts of
the work are Thayer's own, and
which belong to his subsequent
German (Deiters and Reimann)
and English (1rehbiel) editors.
This lamentable state of affairs
has been caused by the myster-
ious disappearance of Thayer's
papers and Krehbiel's own notes
after the latter's death in 1923.
Until music conservatories can
produce occult music detectives
a la Rosemary Brown to enlist
Thayer's aid in preparing the un-
expurgated original, e d i t o r
Forbes' sensible handling of this
tangled biographical thicket will
be scholastically unassailable.
Forbes handled admirably the
unenviable task of sifting through
and re-evaluating the previous
German and English editions for
their current accuracy and rele-
vance. His solution for a 3t ling
nowly-discovered information and
deleting disproved assumptions
of the past is to incorporate these"
fruits of recent Beethoven schol-
arship into the body of the text
carefully marked off by elabo-
rate art nouveau parentheses,
briefly footnoting the source.
Forbes thus neatly avoids the log-
0

jam of.lengthy footnotes which so
often stifle the literary efforts of
more pedantic professional edi-
tors, while making his own con-
tributions to the text clear for
posterity and preserving the ba-
sic literary style of the book.
Although Thayer's general mot-
to in historical endeavors-was
"An ounce of accuracy is wotth
a pound of rhetorical flourish,"
this crusty old bachelor foun-
dered badly when it came to the
topic of sex. Normally level-
headed and extremely devoted to
keeping his own preconceptions\
out of the picture, Thayer pruned
out all but the most fleeting fere-
ences to Beeth6ven's six-life re-
vealed in conversations with the
Bonn profligate's one - tine
friends and bed-fellows.
This most unhappy puritanical
relic of Thayer's Bostonian up-
bringing (not to mention Bee -
hoven biographer Anton Ochind-
ler's methodical destruction of
two-thirds of the conv-icsation
books supposedly shedding fur-
ther light on this secretive area
of Ludwig's personality) reduces
all efforts at divining Beethoven's
attitudes toward sex and his dis-
puted syphilitic cosdition to the
realm of educated guessing.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt
from what'is left of the conver-
sation books that Beethovan was
an earthy person with respect to
sex, though somewhat prudish,

when one recalls that he dis-
liked Mozart's Don Giovanni for
portraying a lech as a hero. For
those Interested in tracing this
sketchy terrain of Beethoven's
psyche, the Sterbas' psychoana-
lytic Beethoven and his Nephew
comes highly recommended.
As far as the external trappings
of this defiant genius' evenll
life are concerned, howrm i'
Thayer's scrupulously detailed
exposition still pre-emipts te
field. And, consider that this
paperback edition is being of-
fered at less than one-third the
price of the original hardback.
The Man Liszt, a reissue of the
1935 character studyby the En-
glish music critic Ernest New-
man, is chiefly memorable for
its lucid preface. In it, N wmuan
sets forth his basic premise of
scepticism in biography, He
makes it clear that painstaking
research and scholarship hive
usurped the position all-too-fre-
quently occupied in other au-
thors' biographies by popularly
accepted, yet unexamined mis-
conceptions and inaccuracies
spewed forth from the mouths of
revered "authorities." He also
discards a beloved biographical
technique of some scholars, the
adoption of a pet theory and sub-
sequent rejection of any evidence
which cuts to the contrary. New-
man, not unlike Thayer, is con-

tent to have all his collected da
congeal into logical patterns from
which conclusions can be drawn.'
While this approach is an- un-
impeachable model for any as-
piring biographer, the results
Newman achieves in The Man
Liszt are regrettably disappoint-
mug. The primary reason is the
seemingly straw-nian theseis that
Newman sets up for himself:
Franz Liszt was not a Saint.
Actually, the proposition that
Liszt could ever have been mis-
taken for a Saint was not ot pat-
ently ridiculous to the musical
public of the 1930's as it is to the
musically inclnecd of today, who
view Liszt at the opposite end
of the moral Sectr'lcful, as a kind
of Tom Jones turned pianist. The
myth of the pure Liszt emerged
from Lina Rin:nn's late nine-
teenth-century biography w rit-
ten inconjunction with Liszt's
then-mistress Countess S a y n-
Wittgenstein, and acquiesced in
by Liszt himself), according to
which Poor Franz was temnorar-
ily deterred from the patn of
1 righteousness (i.e. maliciously
seduced) by the designing, sex-
crazed Countess D'Agoult.

receive the cooling breezes of the
evening. Northern European ar-
chitecture with a more extreme
climate to consider has to a de-
gree simplified matters by sim-
ply excluding the climate, shut-
ting off all external elements
from the house.
Safdie points out repeatedly
that the low population density of
our suburban communities has
caused many problems for the
suburbanite. Primarily this is
seen in the lack of public serv-
ices. As an example he cixes Los
Angeles as having such a low
density factor to make financial-
ly sound public transportation
impossible. This applies just as
well to both Detroit and Ann Ar-
bor. With transportation and
other public services at a mini-
mum. Saf die asserts it is impos-
sible for the suburb to function
as a community. Or better, to
even fulfill the supposed func-
tion of a suburb: availability to
the city's resources without the
city's problems. The same lack
of a sense of community plagues)
the modern urban housing pro-
ject. However, greater problems
are posed here such as the lack
of krivacy, public services, and
local business, social, recreation-
al, and educational areas. In gen-
eral, Safdie, like many other
prominent architects today, finds
the state of housing in this coun-
try woefully inadequate.
Starting with these assump-
tions, Safdie decided to try to find
a solution while still an architec-
tural student at Medill Univer-
sity. The first step he took was
probably the most important.
"I felt we had to find new
forms of housing that would
re-create, in a high-density en-
vironment, the relationships
and the amenities of the house
and the village , . . I decided
to abandon my plan to do a
parliament building for Jerusa-

fascinating statistics to be en-
countered in what his to be the
weightiest paperback issue of the
Beethoven Bicentennial Y e a r
(both in terms of amassed data
and sheer poundage): Thayer's
definitive Life of Beethoven.
I'm sure you've noticed for-
lorn copies: of this elephantine
classic (newly edited by Elliot <:
Forbes) staging a sit-in on the
music shelves of local Ann Arbor
bookstores, but have sheepishly
passed it by, fearing a possible
muscle spasm while attempting
to wrest it from its tightly-
wedged cranny. Let this flabby
reviewer put all your qualms to
rest: it isn't as heavy as it looks
(a mere three pounds, according
to nty landlady's bathroom
scale). in addition, it is the -most
scrupulously honest Beethoven
biography ever written.
Alexander Wheelock Thayer,
nineteenth-century Bostonian and
Harvard Law School alumnus, lit-
erally devoted his life to re-
searching and compiling this
Beethoven histoire. Though he
never lived to complete the ac-
tual writing of the text, his in-
satiable quest for unbiased infor-
matign (aided by invaluable legal
research tools) drove him all
over Europe interviewing living
Beethoven acquaintances, un-
earthing old court records and
news clippings, and poring over
Beethoven's conversation books
Today's writers.. .
John Harvith is a second year
law student and a regular music
reviewer for the Daily.
Jim Thompson is a graduate
student i4 art history.
R.A. Perry now teaches at the
University of Wisconsin and is
the former Books Editor for the
Daily.

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