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December 02, 1973 - Image 4

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.1

Page Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

sunday, December 2,1M913

r

BOOKS

PRESENTS '
A SHAW FESTIVAL PRODUCTION

MURDOCK
You
cAN

PAXTON
WH ITEHEAD
IN
NEVER
TELL

by BERNARD SHAW
WITH
PATRICIA JAMES SHELIA
GAGE VALENTINE HAN EY
directed by EDWARD GILBERT
". the effervescent Shaw Festival Company. "
-DETROIT FREE PRESS
"An enormously winning, refreshingly civilized delight."
DETROIT NEWS
DECEMBER 6-9
8 P.M. (Sat. & Sun. Matinees 3 P.M.)
Ticket Information available at PTP Ticket Office
764-0450 Presented in MENDELSSOHN THEATRE

'N
/,

OATES & AWARENESS
Love: The ultimate but rocky
journey to personal liberation

DO WITH ME WHAT YOU
WILL By Joyce Carol Oates. New
York: Vangurd, 561 pages, $7.95.
By KARL POHRT
DO WITH Me What You Will is
a catalogue of disturbance, an
exploration of the subtle, com-
plex, often terrifying edges of
the human soul. It is a danger-
ous book, a gun pointed in the
reader's face.
I continually felt myself slid-
ing towards panic as I read this
book. The issues and states of
consciousness that Oates articu-
lates with the sharp clarity of
an x-ray are ones that preoc-
cupy and threaten to engulf us
all. She has pulled out all the
stops, snapped off the safety
blinders, so that the novel rush-
es out with a tremendous inten-
sity. One feels an energy be-
neath this book that must have
been born of an almost obsessive
urgency.
Oates once said that she was
"concerned with only one thing

-the moral and social conditions
of my generation." In her recent
work it seems to me that she has
expanded and deepened that con-
cern into something much larger.
In the current issue of the
American Poetry Review she de-
fines the writer's function as
"helping to bring into total con-
sciousness the unconscious; en-
ergies of the void." That is a
serious statement for a 35 year
old writer to make but Oates
already has behind her a sub-
stantial body of very serious
work.
O ATES USES Do With Me
What You Will as a vehicle
to explore "the tension between
two American 'pathways': the
way of tradition, or Law; and
the way of spontaneous emotion
-Love."
The way of the law is repre-
sented as being absolutely dis-
asterous in its consequences on
the human personality.
Oates sees the way of love as
dislocating and chaotic but, ulti-

mately, the only authentic pa'h
to a personal liberation. One of
her characters talks about a
"heavy love" that "drags us
down into the mud of self and
the great mud of wars." But, he
says, "the way down is the way
up."
The novel chronicles Elena
Howe's j o u r n e y towards self-
awareness. All her life she has
been surrounded by people who
suffocate her sense of self. She
has been taught to mistrust and
discount her own feelings. She
defines herself only in terms of
these other people.
THE BOOK opens with Elena's
kidnapping from a school play-
ground by her father Leo Ross.
He is half-mad, a victim of the
courts which have separated him
from his daughter. He drives her
to California telling her that h,2r
mother is dead. He falls apart
finally and Elena almost dies.
Her rescue by her mother
Ardis is nearly as disastrous. She
tells Elena as a child that she

1.

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BITS & PIECES
A Capote sampler:

1
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C
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1-JOME MADE H OUSES
A Guide to the Woodbutcher's Art
by ARTH UR BOERICKE & BARRY SHAPI RO
published by SCRIMSHAW PRESS
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(except professional texts)

POrtrait of
THE DOGS BARK: PUBLIC
P E O P L E AND PRIVATE
PLACES. By Truman Capote.
New York: Random House, 419
pages, $8.95.
By <JOHN FEATHER
HE UNUSUAL title of this
volume comes out of a meet-
ing between Capote in his young-
er years and the French master,
Andre Gide. Capote had just re-
ceived some unfavorable literary
criticism and was complaining
when Gide hunched over the ta-
ble and said, "Ah well. Keep in
mind an Arab proverb: 'The dogs.
bark, but the caravan passes
on."' Capote describes his reac-
tion in the preface:
"It seems to me that I've spent
a great bit of time taming or
eluding natives and dogs, and the
contents of this book rather prove
this. I think of them, these de-
scriptive paragraphs, these sil-
houettes and souvenirs of places
and persons, as a prose map, a
written geography of my life ov-
er the last three decades, more
or less from 1942 to 1972."
The work here ranges from a
complete novel to short stories
to character sketches, and ends
with two reflective, self-reveal-
ing sketches about Capote's rela-
tion to his work and to himself.
!NE THIRD of the volume is
taken up with this novel,
When Muses Are Heard (1956),
which describes the first visit of
an American music production to
the Soviet Union during the Cold
War. Capote includes only the
time span between leaving West
Berlin and opening night of the
show, Gershwin's "Porgy and
Bess", in Leningrad. His focus is
not so much on the mechanics of
the production itself as it is on
the people, both American and
Russian, who interacted to make
the event what it was. Fortun-
nately, Capote has that rare gift
of being able to characterize in a
phrase or a sentence - to make
each character distinct. He nev-
er allows a character's exposi-
tion to crumble into confusion or
tedium. Rather, it seems to flow
naturally into the narrative line.
Another closely - linked Capote
quality is his ability to balance
between what he calls the "sta-
tic" and the "narrative" parts of
the work. He never lets the plot
dawdle long enough to stagnate,
yet he devotes a large amount of
I~ I

the artist
space to descriptions of the coun-
try, its people, and his own ram-
bling thoughts.
MY OWN favorite piece is Ca-
pote's interview with Mar-
lon Brando in "The Duke in his
Domain" (1956), partly because
it represents the author's stated
desire to take the lowest form of
journalism (the movie star in-
terview) and turn it into an "art
form." As in When Muses Are
Heard, Capote weaves the inter-
view with other people's reac-
tions to Brando, Brando's early
history, and Capote's own
thoughts as it took place. These
factors are carefully balanced to
keep the story moving, even
without a plot line. Brando ob-
jected when this article original-
ly came out, but it is really quite
sympathetic. Remembering back
fifteen years, Capote's reaction
is not now so kind. He calls Bran-
do "a wounded young man who
is a genius, but not markedly
intelligent."
Most of the other works in the
collection are short, some a sin-
gle page long. The last two bear
particular, notice. "Ghosts in Sun-
light: The Filming of In Cold
Blood (1967), recounts Capote's
reaction to reliving on the movie
set many of the experiences he
had to deal with in real life. His
first meeting with the actor
playing one of the murderers,
who bore an uncanny resemb-
lance to the original, "was like
a free fall down an elevator
shaft." The whole experience re-
veals a great deal about Capote's
sensitivity to human beings and
their surroundings.
THE LAST work, "Self Por-
trait" (1972), is a delightful
question and answer mock-inter-
view between Capote and Capote,
in which he shows off another
famous quality. He is supposed
to be one of the world's greatest
conversationalists, and quite a
few fall under his scatching wit.
For example, he describes Bob
Dylan as "a sophisticated musi-
cal (?) con man pretending to be
a simple hearted (?) revolution-
ary but sentimental hillbilly."
The Dogs Bark will not be as
important a book as In Cold
Blood, nor as famous as Break-
fast at Tiffany's. Nonetheless,
this collection of short works is
interesting because it contains
both the seeds and the fruits of

can read her mind. She manipu-
lates her into a totally dependent
position that feeds her own in-
sidious needs.
Lawyer Marvin H o w e mwes
Elena one night in a Detroit bar.
He sees her as something un-
contaminated, as the possible
agent of his own redemption. He
quickly arranges a deal with
Ardis to marry Elena. Marvin
believes himself to be nearly di-
vine in his lawyer-role and is
consumed by a fierce desire to
c o n t r o I everything. For him
Elena is just another piece of
negotiable property.
Elena, in turn, takes Jack
Morrissey, another lawyer, as
her lover. Jack, a former civil
rights worker, is acutely aware
of his own limitations and what
he can't control. In this recog-
nition he possesses a humanity
that the others do not and yet
his motives toward Elena are
complicated by a former connec-
tion of total dependency to her
husband. His insecurities event-
ually disintegrate the relation-
ship into a sadistic series of epi-
sodes where he makes jealous
accusations and impossible de-
mands of her.
ALL THE characters speak to
Elena, wander through the
scrambled maze of their own
secret feelings like sleepwalkers.
Elena stumbles through the
labyrinth of the conflicting needs
of her husband and her lover,
trying to get clear. She has mo-
ments of vertigo where she be-
comes paralyzed. Her face is "a
perfection of hysteria."
When she has an orgasm with
Jack, she is brought to life in
one blinding, terrifying moment.
(The description of this experi-
ence is extraordinary. I've read
nothing like it anywhere.) Elena
is frightened and shaken. She
attempts to retreat back into the
delicate structure she has so
carefully created to avoid the

world. But she is exhausted from
the effort and is unable to main-
tain the protective wall. She col-
lapses into a nervous breakdown.
ELENA EMERGES from her
breakdown unable to live any
longer in contradiction to her
own needs. She leaves her hus-
band and returns to confront her
lover with a new sense of herself
that is grounded in a realization
of her own existential responsi-
bility. The last scene of the novel
is a transcendant vision of what
is possible for them.
The length of the book has
given Oates enough space to
slowly and carefully examine
human feelings and their rever-
berations. She amasses the small
details of betrayal and damage
as if she is preparing a legal
brief. She offers up an exhaus-
tive analysis of the internal
states of, consciousness of her
characters. The only internal de-
scription comparable in its lu-
cidity in recent fiction is in the
novels of Doris Lessing.
The effect is that the specific
disturbances of the characters
become paradigmatic of the
larger and deeper disturbances
produced and shared by our
whole culture.
Do With Me What You Will
left me with some questions:
What do people need to get clear
about? What issues do we need
to define in terms of our own
lives?
ONE OF my deepest (and
most foolish) fantasties is that
one day I'll open a book that will
make everything clear. Do With
Me What You Will' is not that
book but it does face head-on
the complexity of the human
heart and our own confusions.
That kind of honesty and serious-
ness is rare today, is a begin-
ning, and is a great achievement.
Karl Pohrt works at Centi.
core.

PLACES & THINGS
Cataloging another Americana

those major works. As 'Capote
himself admits, his eye has be-
come more narrowed and less
lyric, but he is also more sure
of himself, less hesitant in han-
dling material. This book is a de-
light largely because Capote has
a deep and continuing sensitivity
to and understanding of human-
ity.
John Feather is a graduate
student in English.

.1

4

PLACE 216 pages Vol. III No.
1, June, 1973, Wonders Inc., (dis-
tributed by Random House) $4.95.
By DAVID STOLL
PLACE aspires to be a kind of
anthology of America, a ser-
ial Whole Earth Catalog of es-
says, photographs, drawings and
poems. Issued several times a
year, the most recent number to
come into my hands includes
such things as the antiquely

The American penchant for
movement reaches a pitch of
expression in five autobiogra-
phies, including very personal
histories of a '56 Ford V-8 sta-
tion wagon and a 1960 half ton
truck from Chevrolet. An an-
thology of articles from the cru-
sading weekly Mountain Eagle of
Letcher County, Ky. screams
like the eagle on the masthead. ,
Place is for people who have
given up on their continent pre-
maturely. Although the maga-

"This is for people who have given up on
their continent prematurely. There is a real
effort to overturn our misunderstanding of
what the American experience means ..

crafted landform cartography of
Erwin Raisz and an exploration
of the mystical Sacramento Riv-
er delta. Readers also learn how
two hippies float down the Mis-
sissippi and get to know the red-
necks Dennis Hopper and Peter
Fonda were never fortunate
enough to meet. There is also
evidence, from Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle - including photographs
- that fairies really do exist.

zine's center of gravity is ob-
viously California, the people
who put it together have enough
friends and contributors east of,
the Mississippi to manage a na-
tional diversity.
TENDING toward first hand
narration of experience, stor-
ies, letters and poetry from plac-
es like Wapakoneta, Ohio and.
Greenville, Mississippi there is a
full report on our continent's op-
tions.
Although publications like Place,
and I'm thinking of the Whole
Earth 'Catalog, can be accused
of camp and cultural imperial-
ism, there is a real effort here
to overcome and overturn our
established misunderstanding of
what the American experience
means.
The photographs ranging from
professional to period to quite

bad, are a significant part of the
magazine and the most obvious
clue to what it's about.
A photo essay on tourist road-
side culture hints at the stillness
in the heart of the American
motion. Shots of streamlined
chrome and old men in a small-
town cafe show the years which
have passed. The death-in-life,
cosmetically mummified face of
a truckstop waitress, if viewed
for -a time, becomes almost Ma-
donna-like.
IF THERE is a weakness in all
this, it is that the treasure
is buried in the past. What is
old and gone forever is valued
over what is new and strange.
Old two-lane roads lined with
tourist trash, not freeways, are
the vehicle of the vision. The
rumpled old man in workclothes
sits in a greasy spoon, not in a
spanking new Burger Chef.
It is in this' frightening present
of overstuffed .suburban garages
and computerized cash registers
at Gino's, however, that the real
battle has to be fought.
BUT FINDING what one is look-
ing for in the here and now
h3s always been very difficult.
For now, it should be enough to
be able to sit down at a lunch
counter in Tucumcari, New Mex-
ico or the equivalent and dis-
cover the object of one's wander-
ings in the last part of a grill-
ed cheese sandwich. After all,
are we not:
Born and bored in Indiana
I used to ask what there was to
do.
My mother would tell me,
"Spit in your shoe
and send it to Kalamazoo."
(Richard Le Mon)

!!! COMING THIS THURSDAY !

ISRAEL

NOW

}
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t

beginning at 7 p.m.
Informal workshops with participants from programs
in Israel: Sherut La'am, Kibbutz, University, He-
brew Ulpanim, etc.
AND AT
8 p.m.
PROF. EMIT FACKENHEIM
DEPT. OF PHILO., UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
one of t h e world's most distinguished J e w i s h
thinkers will discuss:
"The Meaning of Israel
Ar. a.L u i t.: L n r-ld0

- - --ms s =

i

A Joseph E. Levine an ru nt IProductions
George Glenda
Segal Jackson
A Melvin FrankFiA
T-1n1A

Paintings, Prints, Ceramics,
Sculpture, Photography
ON SALE
AT THE

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VII

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