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October 21, 1970 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-10-21

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Wednesday, October 21, 1970


Page F1ve

Wednesday, October 21, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY I"age Five


William 1. Clements Library

Themes from


M a u r i c e Merleau - Ponty'
FRANCE, translated by J. O'
Neil, Northwestern University
Press, $500.
Merleau - Ponty's short
"themes" do not communicate
any unpredictably new ideas,
but they are quite revealing as
robust approaches to tradition-
ally mind-numbing theoretical
problems of literature, philoso-
phy and history, and as the cre-
ations of a systematic intelli-
gence sensitive to its own intui-
tions. The themes, which set out
the issues and inquiries of cours-
es Merleau-Ponty taught, are
driven by the philosopher's phe-
nomenological method but do
not cohere as rigorous works of
complete analysis They are
most remarkable for the intel-
lectual grace and delicacy with
which their author identifies
and formulates his points for
Much of this grace is possible
because Merleau - Ponty feels
bodies of thought, including his
own tradition, bring themselves
into their own fullness and have
as their task their own exami-
nation. Theories for him develop
by confronting themselves, and
no ideas merit special, prefer-
red status outside such inquiry.
As he wrote in "Philosophy as
Driven to self-examination
by the irrationalism of their
times, as well as by the in-
trinsic evolution of their
problems, philosophers have
arrived at a definition of
philosophy as the interro-
gation of its very own mean-
ing and possibility. (p. 105)
A metaphysical theory for
Merleau-Ponty is like a poem,
formulated in a momentum of
experimental conditions and
shaping the possibilities of the
future and the significance of
the past. In the face of the
awareness of unexplainable
brute Being, no metaphysical
theory deserves a place outside
the history of metaphysics as
somehow possibly ultimately
true. Rather, the theory is writ-
ten in what amounts to an in-
tellectual genre, and it would be
as senseless to identify a perfect
metaphysic as a perfect sonnet.
For as one would not seek a
"last" sonnet, one would not
hope for a final philosophy
which presumes to answer all
the questions and end all in-
Merleau-Ponty's concern for
theories as unpretentious arti-
fices and his tolerance of philo-
sophy as a necessarily contin-
uing investigation serves to
free his curiosity. Throughout
his themes, he is eager to see
what philosophies can be form-
ulated from various styles of
systematic thought, and part of
his effort is to develop such
philosophies himself. In one of
his courses he suggested onto-
logies which would be based on
contemporary developments in
physics; in another, he embod-
ied new theories of life sciences.
particularly embryology, into
epistemology. Generally he re-
cognizes how heavily the modes
of scientific thought shape and
finally are restricted by philo-
Applied science uncovers
bodies of fact without ever
achieving any radical self-
expression, because it takes
for granted traditional on-
tologies and never directly
confronts the problem of

being. But the transforma-
tions which it undergoes are
full of philosophical signi-
ficance. We shall attempt
to develop these perspec-
tives, to tie together the se-
parate threads and to ex-
pose the "teleology behind
their progression (91).
Finally, Merleau-Ponty believes
that the assumptions of modern
philosophy despite their scien-
tific affirmations are only as
enduring as those of modern
scientific method - and at the
time of his courses he felt "the
common stock of scientists . . .
continue to bring their own
achievements within (modern
philosophy's) jurisdiction until
the quite un-Cartesian develop-
ments in contemporary science
open up for them a new onto-
logy." (69)
The same volubility that Mer-
leau-Ponty stresses in philoso-
phy is stressed as a central as-
pect of other forms of thought.
He believes that what's most in-
teresting about the poetic use of
language is not the problem of
how fixed terms are applied for
imitative or expressive purposes
but rather how the poet creates
fresh language for all language
uses in 'the process of his crea-
For the most part the the-
ory of language confines it-
s e 1 f to so-called exact
forms, that is to say, to ob-
servations about thoughts
that have already matured
in the person speaking and
are at' least immanent in
the person listening. The re-
sult is that such theory los-
es sight of the heuristic
value of language, how it
works to gain mastery -
which on the contrary, is
clearly seen in the writer at
work. Perhaps constituted
language should be regard-
ed as a secondary form de-
rived from the initial oper-
ation which establishes a
new signification in a lin-
guistic apparatus construc-
ted with old signs and thus
able only to indicate the
new meaning or draw the
reader and the author him-
self toward it (12).
Similarly, in refining the con-
cept of history, Merleau-Ponty
works through the research of
George Lukacs and Max Weber
for a view that history is brought
into being by the historical mind
"reading" the past virtually in-
to a comprehending future
which it creates itself:
History is there . . . where
there is a historical percep-
tion which, like perception
in general, leaves in the
background what cannot
enter into the foreground
but seizes the lines of force
as they are generated and
actively leads their traces
to a conclusion . . . Know-
ledge is gained by putting
ourselves in the positions of
those who have acted; it is
action in the realm of the
imagination . . . Like the
touch of a sleepwalker, it
touches in things only what
they have in them that be-
long to the future (29).
Today's Writers ..,,
Richard Wilson, a graduate
student in American Studies, is
in the beginning stages of a
doctoral dissertation on Archi-
tect Charles Follen McKim.
Neal Bruss is a teaching fel-
low in the English Department
with strong interests in philo-

So Merleau - Ponty handles
concepts as unstable stuff whose
significance is by no means easy
to read. This demands a care in
handling intellectual tradition
which conventional historical
approaches lack. In his courses
on "The Concept of Nature."
Merleau-Ponty avoids merely
constructing a history of the
concept of nature. Rather, he
formulates t h e conceptions
which very particularly, "right-
ly or wrongly, still overhangs
contemporary ideas about na-
ture (67)." Such sensitivity is
all the more remarkable in that
it operates not merely in essays
but in the principles guiding
Merleau-Ponty's courses. For
after all else, Themes from Lec-
tures is evidence of the liveli-
ness and selectivity of those
courses, how a phenomenolo-
gist used his method to locate
what was most vital and most
at issue. This education is to-
tally removed from that which
takes the philosophic compre-
hensiveness andsvalues of ideas
to be fixed and their aim the
final answering of abstract
questions. Merleau-Panty's tea-
ching method, in fact, gives the
Themes a significance xhich
over-rides the fact that his the-
ory of history is more signifi-
cantly stated in an explanation
of Stalinist violence in Human-
ism and Terror and that Shel-
ley and some modern linguists
anticipated his theory of lan-
guage. Even the phenomenologi-
cal analysis of speech and sleep
are not striking in their origi-
nality. Rather, Themes from
Lectures should be taken as the
evidence of a sensitive .,yste-
matic mind at its everyday
work, which must have included
some very remarkable teaching.


W. Hawkins
Wayne State U
Detroit Institut
Detroit Institute
Traditionally ar
tory has been c
fined discourse,,
for the cultured.
years the concen
ly outstanding bu
uments and th
them outside ofs
has been -challen
older system bui
architects. verna
ture (buildings1
tects) and qu
(industrial / engi
tecture) was oft
ered a proper fie
sential element
building's relatio
its function, its
owner, the surro
ment, or the soc:
background was
vant. The books
ation are examp
paths being hew
wilderness of b
The Buildings o
Hawkins Ferry i
analyze the bu:
troit, to see the
buildings of eac
they have mold
have given form
Legacy of Albe
brief survey of
largely created a
the modern Indu
subject long ove
chitectural histo
tions in the field
The average p
daily contact wit]
tecture: his life
formed by buildi
local architects
men who have li
interest in creat
monument. The
Detroit is conce
aspect, with the
buildings of alls
styles that make
commercial city.
few in depth his
buildings from a
has been written
Detroit is not n
of as a notable
tecture, or, in
amenities to the
However, Detroi
some significan
cated amidst the
lined with gari
miles of dreary b
the gigantic ca
has performed
430 individual b
tured) some sen
tectural develop
erican city can1
sically a listing,
critical focus evd
is to comment
building, adding

ildings whic
the style, the clients, and the
F erry, THE period. It is an ambitious at-
F DETROIT, tempt by Ferry and could lead
niversity Press, to a new interest in a city's
building environment.
LBERrT KAHN, Ferry's concern is devoted al-
of Arts, K5.00. most exclusively to architec-
turally designed buildings: those
GUY WILSON that architects will allow their
names to be associated with. The
chitectural his- suburban subdivision, the acres
onsidered a re- of old developments, and the
a subject only snall shops have been virtually
But in recent ignored. The fact is that the
tration on sole- standard landscape of the Unit-
ildings or mon- ed States is not shown. A real-
e isolation of istic view of the American
space and time landscape must range from
ged. Under the Charles Sheeler's "Classic Land-
ldings by lesser scape" to Woodward Avenue and
cular architec- "Jiffy Built Houses." These an-
without archi- onymously designed vistas are
asi-architecture just as important as the "indus-
neering archi- trial Versailles" (General Mo-
en not consid- tors Technical Center) at'War-
ld of study. Es- ren, Michigan or Lafayette Tow-
s such as a ers in downtown Detroit. Grosse
n to its plan, Point Mansions are of interest,
construction, its but just as vital is the develop-
unding environ- ment of American Vernacular
ial and cultural architecture, not only old barns
claimed irrele- or grain elevators but supermar-
under consider- kets, French Provincial homes,
es of some new and hamburger stands.
vn in the vast The problem is to treat the
uilding history. city as a whole, as a collage of
f Detroit by W. diverse elements that in one way
s an attempt to or another come together to
ildings of Del create the urban landscape. Fer-
relationship of ry does make brief sounds in
h era and how this direction. He notes movie
ed a city and theaters, freeways, the huge
to its life. The shopping center, and urban re-
rt Kahn is a newal, but more information
the man who and study is needed. These criti-
nd gave form to cisms should not detract from
strial factory, a the importance of Ferry's book.
rlooked by ar- It is one of the few attempts to
rians and one analyze the confused clutter of
ajor contribu- buildings in a large United 4
of architecture. States city.
erson has little Albert Kahn is an enigma in
h "great" archi- American architectural history.
is molded and A highly talented factory archi-
ngs designed by tect, he gave shape and form to
and - builders, the massive industrial complex
little chance or (e.g. River Rouge, Willow Run,
ing the "great" Chrysler) while as a domestic
Buildings of and commercial architect he
rned with this was closely tied to revivalism.
vast number of Kahn regularized and ,organ-
sizes, types and ized the American factory on a
up the modern scale never before imagined, he
It is one of the modernized the factory and took
tories of a city's it out of the era of sweat shops
all periods that and downtown lofts: River
in the United Rouge became an American id-
iom. But with the commercial
ormally thought buildings he designed (largely
city for archi- in Detroit) and the mansions he
fact, for many
eye or psyche. constructed in Grosse Point, he
t dop. centain was a close follower of the dif-

h surro
ferent fads prevalent in the pe-
riod 1900-1940.
Always a technically ad-
vanced architect,=Kahn clothed
his commercial office buildings
in facades of dubious merit. He
seemed to feel the necessity of
adding ornament to buildingsr
other than his factories, but the1
quality of his ornament seems
thin beside that of his contem-
poraries. Kahn's ornament was
often only skin deep, as seen in
the University of Michigan's
Natural Science building which
is basically a modular factory
design clothed in Italian red
brick and terra cotta.
Kahn often seems to have in-
adequately synthesized a build-
ing's function with the style or
ornamental motif he was ap-
plying to it, as can be seen in
either his Angell Hall or the
Fisher Building in Detroit. Per-
haps his most successful build-
ing, other than factories, and
the one for which he wished to
be remembered, is the Clem-
ents Library, there the Ren-
aissance style evokes both the
mood and the function of the
building convincingly.
The Legacy of Albert Kahn is
the catalogue of the current ex-
higition on Kahn at the Detroit
,Institute of Arts (through No-
vember 1, 1970). The catalogue
contains all the exhibit's photo-
graphs (in better reproduction
than the exhibition), some plans,
an essay by W. Hawkins Ferry
on the Kahn firm's work
through his death in 1942, and
an essay by Walter B. Sanders
on the successor firm of Albert
Kahn Associates (a recent work
of which is the General Library
Wing). Unfortunately, neither
essay is incisive or critical and

und us
the man Kahn remains largely
a puzzle. One can gain a better
impression of Kahn by reading
the Sunday comic strip "Rags
to Riches" stories dealing with
Kahn from papers of the 30's
and 40's at the exhibit. The
most prominent industrial ar-
chitect in the United States,
Kahn's firm was huge, with an
office staff of 400 in the 1930's
Inevitably a large number of the
commissions became office work,
but the degree of his own per-
sonal involvement other than
organization can only be guessed
at through these accounts.
Whether we live near a Kahn
building or not, his imprint has
shaped some portion of our lift.
From developing the assembly
line with Henry Ford to helping
Soviet Russia build over 300
factories, Kahn's influence has
been more than that of a design-
er of buildings. A man of talent,
he has not yet been properly as-
sessed. His style of architecture
is either out of fashion (revival-
ism) or not architecture in the
eyes of many critics, yet his
Dodge Half-Ton Plant in War-
ren is perhaps one of the most
influential buildings in the Unit-
ed States.
The fact that the architec-
ture of Albert Kann or that of
the city of Detroit is even un-
der consideration shows a new
awareness of the elements that
make up the environment where
we spend most of our lives. The
multi-dimensions of architec-
ture have to be studied-from
the auto show rooms on Michi-
gan Avenue to the monuments of
Yamaski-as aspects of the en-
vironment that can be shaped
and perhaps controlled.

79c a Gallon
Convenient Food Mart
(next to Lums)

t buildings lo-
"endless streets
sh shapes and
uildings." From
'taloging Ferry
uildings are pic-
se of the archi-
nent of an Am-
be gained. Ba-
there is little
ent. The scheme
briefly on a
background on


Are you Still
the way your,
parents read?
In the first grade, when you were taught
to read "Run Spot Run," you had to read it
out loud. Word-by-word. Later, in the second
grade, you were asked to read silently. But
you couldn't do it.
You stopped reading out loud, but you
continued to say every word to yourself.
Chances are, you're doing it right now.
This means that you read only as fast
as you talk. About 250 to 300 words per
minute. (Guiness' Book of World Records
lists John F. Kennedy as delivering the fast-
est speech on record: 327 words per
The Evelyn Wood Course teaches you
to read without mentally saying each word
to yourself. Instead of reading one word at
a time, you'll learn to read groups of words.
To see how natural this is, look at the
dot over the line in bold type.
grass is green
You immediately see all three words.
Now look at the dot between the next two
lines of type.
and it grows
when it rains
With training, you'll learn to use your
innate ability to see groups of words.
As an Evelyn Wood graduate, you'll be
able to read between 1,000 and 3,000
words per minute . . . depending on the
difficulty of the material.
At 1,000 words per minute, you'll be
able to read a text book like Hofstadtler's
American Political Tradition and finish
each chapter in 11 minutes.
At 2,000 words per minute, you'll be
able to read a magazine like Time or News-

Chrysler Corporation-Half-ton Truck Plant

dance cc

week and finish each page in 31 seconds.
At 3,000 words per minute, you'll be
able to read the 447 page novel- The God-
father in 1 hour and 4 minutes.
These are documented statistics based
on the results of the 450,000 people who'
have enrolled in the Evelyn Wood course
since its inception in 1959.
The course isn't complicated. There
are no machines. There are no notes to
take. And you don't have to memorize any-
95% of our graduates have improved
their reading ability by an average of 4.7
times. On rare occasions, a graduate's read-
ing ability isn't improved by at least 3 times.
In these instances, the tuition is completely
Take a free
on Evelyn Wood.
Do you want to see how the course
Then take a free Mini-Lesson.TM The
Mini-Lesson is'an hour long peek at what
the Evelyn Wood course offers.
We'll show you how it's possible to
accelerate your speed without skipping a
single word. You'll have a chance to try your
hand at it, and before it's over, you'll actually
increase your reading speed. (You'll only
increase it a little, but it's a start.)
We'll show you how we can extend your
memory. And we'll show you how we make
chapter outlining obsolete.
Take a Mini-Lesson this week. It's a
wild hour. And it's free.

"One of the finest, greatest,
noblest dance companies
ever known to man."
CLIVE BARNES, New York Times

MONDAY, OCT. 26, 8:30
PROGRAM: El Penitente (music by Louis Horst)
p i... - -


OCT. 21
6 P.M.

OCT. 22
6 P.M.




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