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September 11, 1970 - Image 5

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Friday, September 111 1970

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

Friday, September 11, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

Marx

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Roger Garaudy, Marxism in
the Twentieth Century, Scrih-
ners, $5.95.
By JOHN WIMSATT
Marxism in the Twentieth
Century is a rich, and at times,
chaotic book designed to com-
municate to the members of the
World Communist Parties the
need to rediscover the critical,
scientific foundations of Marx-
ist thought. Written in 1966, it,
is also the beginning of a per-
sonal rebellion which ended in
the early months of 1970 with
Garaudy's expulsion from h i s
position of leadership within
the French Communist Party.
The b o o k is Garaudy's re-
sponse to doubts w h i c h had
been affecting h i m since the
Russian invasion of Hungary in
1956. In particular, it marks a
growing awareness of the dis-
parity that exists between the
historical objectives and goals
of the World Communist Par-
ties and their realization in
practice. In 1966 it was clear to
Garaudy that many of the
Communist Parties no longer
worked for the humanization of
the relationships between men,

and had fallen into a Marxist
dogmatism which not only was
a hindrance to the task of the
comprehension of man's situa-
tion but a 1 s o served as the
ground for the brutalization of
man.
Thus t h e question Garaudy
asks is this, How can the World
Communist Parties overcome
this dogmatism and creatively
assume the type of historical
initiative demonstrated by Len-
in?
The first and most obvious
answer is that they must have a
knowledge of the world in which
they live. In short, they must
know the problematic reality
which presents itself to them:
its trends and the structure of
these trends.
Garaudy argues t h a t three
world historical facts qualify
and condition all actions which,
these Parties initiate. These
are: the staggering developments
of the sciences and technology;
the build-up of socialism on the
road to becoming a world-wide
systenm; and the decolonization
of two continents, Asia and Af-
rica. Garaudy emphasizes t h e
qualifications which arise- from
these facts.

20th
The development of the s
ences and technology has f
ally and permanently ma
obsolete the claim to poss
once and for all either t
prime elements of reality
of the first principles
knowledge . . . our mod(
method of knowledge is 'nc
Cartesian': in every field
substitutes dialectic for in
ition. The development of;
cialism in different geograj
ical and historical conditio
on the scale of several con
nents, imposes correspor
ingly the notion of a plural
of 'models,' Just as the u
versal process of decoloni
tion, by liberating new sou
es of human creation t h
have long been denied a
held back by colonialiE
forces us to widen the ho
zon of humanism t h a t 1
hitherto been regarded asi
clusively western.
As a means of countering
growing inertia of t h e C
munist Parties, Garaudy1
gests the appropriation of t
areas of activity about wx
Communists a r e particul
unseeing, namely, tiory
knowledge, ethics, religion,

century:
ci- art. In other words, precisely ;
in- those spheres from which man
ade receives his deepest and most
ess subtle differiation and accom-
the plishment. Toward this end,
or Garaudy provides brief, illum-
of inating reflections upon s u c h
ern themes as cybernetics, struct-
on- uralism, positivism, existential-
it ism, revolution, the dialectical,
tu- nature of religious faith, t h e
so- trully revolutionary nature of
ph- the Christian concept of love'
ns, the essential relationship of
nti- myth and labor, and the auton-
nd- omy of art.
ity Garaudy concludes his essay
ni- with critiques on the Marxist
za- philosophies of Sartre and Alt-
rc- husser. He argues that the
a t Marxism which -he describes is
and neither, as subjectively oriented
sm, as Sartre's nor as objectively
ori- grounded as Althusser's. Again
has Garaudy's critiques a r e brief
ex- a n d presuppose a previous
knowledge of the philosophies
the he criticizes. But in the case of
om- these two philosophers, a more
sug- lengthy examination becomes
hose imperative. This is especially'
hich true of Sartre whose Critique of
arly 'Dialectical Reason is by far the
of greatest and m o s t significant
and philosophical work produced by

A

haunting

Some poetry. to keep around the house

a Marxist, and which, with the
publication of his second vol-
ume, promises to bring about a
r e v olutio n in philosophical
thought comparable to that of
Hegel and Marx.
The book's weakness is that
f o r political reasons Garaudy
allows a promising materialist
logic (grounded as it is in his
three world historical facts) to
become an idealist catalogue of
philosophical' reflections afraid
to speak the conclusions of his
logic. If he were to develop this
materialist logic, he would be
committed not only to a criti-
cal elucidation of the existing
conceptions of the materialist
horizons within which the In-
ternational Communist Move-
ment assumes its position but
also he would have to demon-
strate the necessity of his pro-
posed reorientation through the
presentation of numerous med-
iations informed by a scientific
knowledge of history, sociology,
and psychology. And this would
mean he would have to directly
confront those dogmatic and
brutal Stalinist realities he
wishes to change. But in 1966
such a confrontation seemed ill-
advised, for Garaudy still had
hope in the possibility of change.
Thus Garaudy tells us only part
of the truth. He is silent about
those things which frighten and
disgust him; and it is this sil-
ence which haunts his book and
diminishes its value.
For example, he continually
urges the adoption of creative
historical initiative in the tra-
dition of Lenin without once
specifying the content and form
of this notion. And when he
does enter- into a detailed ex-
plication of a n o ti o n (as he
d o e s in attempting to appro-
plate a more subtle and differ-
entiated notion of human exis-
tence) he fails to consider such
revolutionary thinkers as Ar-
taud, Reich, and Freud. Indeed
what is most disturbing about
his notion of human existence
is its essential austerity.
This was in 1966. Since that
time Garaudy has broken his
silence and has made specific
criticisms and proposals.
In one of hi s latest books,
Today's writers . .
John Wlmsatt is working on
a Master's degree in American
Studies. Mary Baron, a poet
herself, is a graduate student in
the English department.

published I a s t December in
France u n d e r the title, "the
Great Turning Point of Social-
ism," Garaudy argues that
what is needed to overcome the
state of crisis pervading the in-
ternational Communist move-
m e n t is an "agonizing reap-
praisal" pf Marxism's tradition-
al goals and methods so as to
make Communism relevant to
the problems of a modern,-com-
puterized society. Garaudy de-
velops the idea that advanced
industrialized societies 1 i k e
France are producing a new so-
ciety in which engineers, tech-
nicians. and other scientific
personnel a r e assuming great
importance. Such people form,
with the traditional working
class, a "new historical bloc."
His book was accused of "right-
wing deviationism" and "anti-
Sovietism," because it attempt-
ed to "dilute" the working class
and to diminish its importance.
More recently, Garaudy was
ousted from the Central Com-
mittee and the Politburo of the
French Communist Party a n d
relegated to the rank and file,
for his continued criticisms of
t h e international Communist
movement. His m o s t vigorous
indictments have been directed
against the Soviet Union for its
invasion of Czechoslavia and its
assistance in building electric
power stations for a Greek gov-
ernment that had tortured Com-

idence
munists. Garaudy has also crit-
icized the Polish Communist
Party for the sale of coal to
Spain while Spanish miners
were on strike.
At a time whet the French
Communist Party has pledged
to maintain its traditional soli-
darity with the Communist
Party of Russia, Garaudy's po-
sition was an embarassment and
his removAl came after other
methods of terror had failed.
Currently, Garaudy's position
comes to this. The Communist
Party becomes tenable in con-
temporary society only if it con-
tinuously reexamines the ma-
terial foundations of its thought
and practice. So expressed, Gar-
audy has affirmed Merleau-
Ponty's notion of interrogation
which is set forth in the philo-
sopher's last word. The Visible
and the Invisible. In terms of
Marxist philosophy, this means
that dialectic philosophy is un-
derstood as a part of the ma-
teriality of the world and must
be subjected to an intensive
interrogation lest it fall into a
dogmatism which no longer
comprehends the world of which
it is a part. In terms of action,
this means that the usual dia-
lectic which occurs between the
intentions of an action and its
effects will fall under an inter-
rogation bringing to bear his-
torical, sociological, a n d psy-
chological knowledge.

Charles Edward Eaton, "On
the Edge of the Knife," Abelard
Schuman, $4.50.
Erich Fried, "On Pain of See-,
ing" Swallow, $4.95.
Louis Ginsberg, "Morning in
Spring," William Morrow and
Co., $5.04
Derek Walcott, "The Gulf,"
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $5.50.
By MARY BARON
Charles Eaton has been highly
praised as a poet who can make
poetry "as immediate as the
news without descending into
journalism." This is silly. No
poet today can expect extra
points for writing ,bout the
twentieth century, u nd those
poems of Mr. Eaton's which are
most "immediate" are by far
his worst. He is uneasy with his
subject matter. The closer he
gets to the minor events of life
the More he feels compelled to
tell us why he finds them worth
writing about. The poems are
overexplicated, their metaphors
come with directions, "how to
assemble and apply," and they
end as more prose explanation
than poem. In "The Parure,"
for example, the poet has just
seen his old car in an auto-
mobile Junkyard:
Xt was like a quick look in a
tinted mirror -
How had a part of myself
become encrusted and en-
bedded
In suoh public passions that
were an aggregate of terror?
The simile is interesting, but
the unnecesary comment of the
next lines deadens it. And the
language of the last two lines
is unbearable. The question, by
the way, is not answered in the
poem. To be fair, this is an ear-
ly poem and an extreme ex-
ample.* In the latter poems Mr.
Eaton shows an increasing will-
ingness to use metaphor as an
acceptable if inexact way of
getting his point across, but
other problems remain. The'
chief problem is Mr. Eaton's
curious and almost Germanic
syntax. He often ruins a good
poem with lines which would be
unacceptable in simple prose:
Messy with his food, impos-
sible to please,
Arthritically rigid if too many
he despises foregater
The first line is fine, the sec-
ond is awful, and Mr. 'Eaton
does not seem to notice the dif-
ference. Throughou~t the book,
in fact, the language does not
equal the conception. Some-
times, however, Mr. Eaton can
write controlled quiet lines that
do just what they should do.
This usually hapens when he is
not talking about himself. My
favorite poems all belong to a
series of portraits in Part V;
the people described are misfits,
a mulatto woman, a femalo im-
personator, a midget. In these

poems Mr. Eaton is at his best.
He has a good mind; 'he sees
clearly; he writes it down well.
Most important, he has the
comprehension and restraint to
avoid facile empathy with his
subjects. From "The Imper-
sonator":
. .She is a door ajar
Into the dressing rIohi where
we see him
Wriggling into the sheath like
an erotic fish,
His feet spread in the flippers
of a tail.
Thickly inade up and sIead
with ambergris,
The gill-hair of false eye-
lashes attached,
He pulls on long gray gloves
smooth as eel skins.
Then the massive tout'h is in
the wig
Which draws her up onto the
dry land
Of speculation.
This is what Mr. Eaton can
do when he gives us the text
without the gloss.
Erich Fried's work is difficult
to talk about for two reasons.
The poems are in translation.
with no text of the original in-
cluded, and many of them deal
with the political state of mod-

political aftermath. Often I
have no idea what he is talking
about; the place names, the
dates, the people, mean nothing
to me. They are not a part of
my experience, and I do not
have the connotations which
would tie the poems together.
They do not work for me, and
they leave me questioning the
point at which a "committed"
poem ceases to be art and begins
to be a broadside or a march-
ing song. To bring the matter
home, contemporary American
poetry is full of war poems and
of poems against the war; the
first are poems, the second are
political expresions.The differ-
ence' should be noted.
Louis Ginsberg is Allen Gins-
berg's father; they have no lit-
erary kinship. Louis writes in
meter and in rhyme, and his
subjects are incredibly genteel.
He writes very badly. Or, the
simplest level, the poems show
the inexcusable flaws of bad
metered verse: inversion for the
sake of rhyme, insistat mono-
tonous stress patterns, diction
which would stand out as poetic
anytime after Tennyson, ("Sud-
denly sfaded that insane de-
ceit!"). These are not, unfor-
tunately, temporary lapses;
they pervade the poetry. What
seems to me his most serious

"The teacher pounds for order
in the class!"
Allen Ginsberg's introduction
to the book is interesting for its
gsneral comments on the prob-
lem of writing the (metered)
poem for the ear, and for its
peculiar comments on h i s
father's work. He tries to justify
his father's doings on the
grounds that the poems reflect
much that is universal, and that
some. ("Night in Silver") come
near to a "Pure tune imag-
inable", whatever that is. The
tune in question is as follows:
And with a shining crystal
All shingled is the shed;
Each icicle shows in it
A moon is tenanted.
This strikes my ear as awk-
ward and unimaginativ verse.
As to the claim of universal-
ity, Allen comments on t h e
title poem, "morning in Spring",
that "the ancient recollection
of cosmic identity breaks
through ...".
The first section of the poem
reads:
One morning when I went
downtown,
I felt such sunlight capsize down
The streets were glutted with
more gold
Than all my heart could ever
hold.
I thought a glory much like this
Must have been poured from
Genesis.
I don't deny the "recollection",
but I can't take this particular
expression of it very seriously.
Derek Walcott knows what
he's doing; he's writing poems.
There are poems in The Gulf
which I find too long, a few
I find uninteresting, but none
is bad. Mr. Walcott's use of
language ranges from good to
excellent; he sometimes says
the wrong thing, but he never
says it clumsily. His percep-
tions are unfamiliar and exact.
This is partly due, I think, to
his background. He is of Wst
Indian and English descent and
has lived in the United States.
He seems not to feel at home in
any of these places, and he
talks of them all as being dif-
ferent but not foreign, an un-
usual perspective. In "T h e
Train" the poet has gone to
England, to find "Where was
my randy white grandsire
from?", and decides, "Like you,
grandfather, I cannot changs
places,/ I am half-home."
Walcott seems to be able to
write equally well in and out of
meter, with or without rhyme;
whatever the form, he is in con-
trol. He works at it:
Schizophrenic, wrenched by
two styles,
one a hacks hired prose, I
earn
my exile. I trudge this sickle,
moonlit beach for miles,
tan, burn
to slough off
self-love.
Dialectical Reason is by far the
To change your language you
must change your life.

What I find most impressive
about this book is just this sense
of labor. Even if a poem fails.
there is evident effort and craft
in the way it is worked out. I
think "God Rest Ye Merry,
Gentlemen," for example, fails.
In the end it is too pat. But the
first lines are impressive as col-
loquial metered verse:
Splitting from Jack Delaney's
Sheridan Square,
that winter night, stewed,
seasoned in bourbon,
And I find some of what is
said in "Blues" embarrassing,
but the movement of the lines is
something to try for:
Those five or six young guys
hunched on the stoop
that oven-hot summer night
whistled me over. Nice
and friendly. So, I stop.
MacDougal or Christopher
Street in chains of light.
These are poems to learn from
if you write poems. They are
worth keeping around the
house - I suspect permanently.

WOODEN SPOON BOOKS
200 N. 4th Ave.
769-4775
Used, Rare, and Out-of-Print

ART PRINT LOAN
Liven up your room-rent a print from Art Print
Loan for a semester or a year.
3524, 3529 SA B

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11PTHSO 111 I

ern Germany, about which I
know nothing.
Taking the poems as they ap-
pear in English, they do quite
well. Some sound like epigrams,
some like the best war poems of
Robert Bly. The diction is
sparse, almost monosyllabaic, the
rhythm is pleasing; they are
clean, well-made poems. - And
they are problematic. According
to the book jacket, Mr. Fried
holds a position in German lit-
erary circles as an advocate of
"poetry of commitment." He
writes, in part at least, to
achieve a political end. This
raises all the problems of poetry
as a didactic art, but it also
raises more specific considera-
tions on the poem and its audi-
ence. Most of Mr. Fried's poems
deal with the horrors of Nazi
Germany and their social and

problem, however, is that Mr.
Ginsberg has very little to say.
This is the; gentle poetry of
keepsake albums, rarely more.
It is largely concerned with sun,
snow, rain, and their effect on
the human psyehe, the highly
predictable effect of rumina-
tion and a poem. However there
are some execeptions, most
notably "Repeater's Class," in
which:
girls whose bodies are
more wise than they
Are floundering, bewildered,
in themselves.
I find these lines equal to
much observation and comment
in the work of W. C. Williams,
but Williams can sustain this
sort of thing, Ginsberg can't.
He ruins, this poem for me by
the heavy irony of his last line,

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