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April 02, 1978 - Image 13

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-04-02
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Page 6--Sunday, April 2, 1978-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily--Sunc

ROOKS
Punk or poetry?
Patti Smith now
a bard~~ iBae

Hare Krishna, Hare
HE FIRST TIME I saw them
was in New York - a cluster of
orange and white robed exotics By Paulne T ole
with shaved heads, methodically chan-
ting, unmindful of the rushing passer-
sby. "Hare Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare bor Krishna community agreed to NLY A SMALL wooden sign
Rama . . wordso punctuated with discuss the movement with me. alerts the visitor to the presence
rhythm drumbeats out of place theof Ann Arbor's Krishna temple,
hustle of midtown Manhattan. My aunt The Krishna founder, Prabhupada a nondescript, two-story frame house
rushed me by, muttering words about arrived in New York from India in 1965 aemoniscrntos soude hou s

By Barry SteinhArt

BABEL
By Patti Smith
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 202pp.
Illustrated; Cloth $8.95, Paper $4.95
IT IS TEMPTING to write off Patti
Smith as just another punk-rocker,
but those who do surely don't know
much about her. She was recording
before punk rock ever appeared. Unfor-
tunately, her appearances at CBGB's in
New York have linked her with punk in
the minds of many. Smith's new volume
of poetry, Babel, calls for a closer look
at the nature of her talent.
This is not her first book of poems,
but it is the first to be published by
anything other than an underground
press. As a result, most people know of
her only as a recording artist who hap-
pened to write bizarre lyrics for her
songs and "stream of consciousness'
liner notes for her albums. Because of
the unusual nature of her work, she has
never attracted mass audiences, but
those who follow her are appreciative
and loyal.
Smith's latest efforts, including this
book (written while recovering from a
near fatal fall off a stage) and a soon-to-
be-released album, will do nothing to
alter this loyalty. Perhaps, though, her
work will present her to a wider
audience and revive her career from
the negative effects of her forced
retirement.
Barry Steinhart is a junior in the
Honors English program when he
isn't listening to Patti Smith.

W ITH A STYLE that is heavily
influenced by French Symbolist
poets, notably Rimbaud, it is not sur-
prising that Smith suffers from those
peculiarly French diseases of the soul
(a "malady of the spirit" she calls it),
which so profoundly affect a writer's
approach. Her poems overflow with,
images of torment and violence, piled
on one another with numbing effect.
This nervous energy - her sense of
perpetually being on the edge - gives
her work a power which can be both
physically and emotionally fatiguing.
Patti Smith is preoccupied with
images of communication. Radios,
telephones, cameras, movies and other
symbols of electronic communication
appear regularly; ithe stark black and
white photographs which accompany
the text share this -theme. One shot
shows Smith and Bob Dylan staring in-
tently at each other, hands cupped over
their ears, no doubt waiting for some in-
ter-galactic message.
In speaking of the "forbidden cinema
of the mind," Smith reveals her am-
bivalent fascination with cameras. "for
me getting my picture taken has
always been uncomfortable. i feel too
familiar with the camera; an eye that
connects and freezes the present with
one acoustic wink," she writes in a
poem called "munich." This is in sharp
contrast with her feelings in
"k.o.d.a.k.", the screenplay for a
surrealist movie that she wants to star
in: "media me. shoot me on the kodak,
I'll do it for free."

crazy kids while I gawked, entranced
by the performance.
Those exotics, members of the Hare
Krishna movement, were devotees
following an ancient Indian religion fir-
st taught in America by the late Swami
Srila Prabhupada.
Every spring the local Hare Krishna
devotees set up their tent on the Diag
and chant their never-ending mantra. I
always wanted to ask where they
hibernated in the winter, for they
seemed to pack up their multi-colored
tent in mid-fall and nomadically disap-
pear, resurfacing in the warmer
springtime weather.
The magical rhythms and chanting
voices lost their allure when a friend,
whose freshman roomate joined the
sect, became concerned that those who
were Krishna-conscious were trying to
'get him.' He outlined his fears of
brainwashing and spiritual coercion
and, suddenly, the mystical figures
dressed in flowing robes seemed a trifle
sinister; still, the mystery of the sect
piqued my curiosity.
My longtime curiosity was finally
satisfied when members of the Ann Ar-
Pauline Toole is a Daily staff
writer.

with seven dollars to his name, deter-
mined to share his brand of religion
with the heathens. By the time of his
death thirteen years later, membership
had soared to 10,000. Based on ancient
Vedic (Indian) writings, the Hare
Krishna faith traces its orgins back
thousands of years. The religion
revolves around an anti-materialistic
tenet - whatever exists belongs to
Krishna and man should dedicate him-
self to developing an awareness of his
debt to Krishna.
The Krishna religion practiced here
differs only slightly from the forms
practiced in India. An ancient
philosophic work, The Bhagavad-Gita
is the cornerstone of, the Krishna
movement, much like the Bible is in
Christian faiths.
Only three Krishna devotees call Ann
Arbor home at the moment. A larger
group used to worship and live in their
holy house, called the Sri Sri Radha
Kirsna Temple, on Madison St. Last
fall, about 20 Ann Arbor locals moved
on to the grandiose Fisher mansion on
Jefferson Ave. in Detroit, dedicated to
transforming the 415 acres on the city's
east side into a museum and temple for
the teachings of Krishna.

My imagination had prepared me for a
house of strangely-garbed ascetics,
replete with shaven heads. Instead, the
door was opened by a young, stocking-
capped figure who evoked memories of
Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront.
"Hare Krishna," he politely greeted
me, beckoning me to enter. The har-
dwood floors were polished to a bright
shine, and the saffron-tinted walls were
painted in hues of yellow and orange.
Before entering the room that serves
as -the Krishna temple, we had to
remove our shoes. Padding quietly
through the vestibule, we entered the
place of worship. Pari Purni Das, my
host, unveiled the altar, pulling back
cloth hangings to reveal the parapher-
nalia of the religion. Along the walls,.
bright yellow, magenta and blue colors
mix on oil paintings depicting Krishna
and his divine disciples.
Pari (his name means Servant of the
All Attractive One) began to quickly
spout the names of Indian Krishna
leaders and traced the development of
his faith. Citing names and places-
blurred syllables - he sounded like the
articles in the magazines that Krishna
followers peddle on busy street corners.
"The basic idea of the human
Krishna relationship is that Krishna is

the creato
point is to
concept of
awaken th
lying dorrr
matter of f
"Every
germ or d
very natu
God, bec
originally
- the orig
He paused
his nervou;
the subjec
ts, portions
solute pers
Repeatin
favorite st
ces with a
tensity.
Pari Pu
three year
searching
Sunday fea
and was in
straightfo
questions.
"I starte
chanting H
pleasure in
so many d
heart becc
accumulat
Pari expla
The cha
words: Ha
an integra
devotees
using the n
a form of

Se

COMMUNICATION is her goal, but.
it never occurs easily. "Babel",
the central image of this volume,
represents a time when men had no lan-
guage barrier and could communicate
fully the most intricate ideas. "The
alcohol and the glow of com-
munication" are intoxicating nourish-
ment for her. She is attempting to con-
vey to us some of the varied workings of
her mind, from frantic, unsubtle
declaration ("IN ANOTHER DECADE
ROCK AND ROLL WILL BE ART")
to comples dream visions. One of the
latter, "doctor love," portrays Smith as
a woman-of pure sexuality, for whom
love is just an annoying searchlight
playing over her, a convict, as she tries
to escape from prison.

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
A less gloomy image which lightens
the oppressive pessimism of many of
the poems is the repeated use of Easter.
Smith opens the book with a dedication
"to the future" above a picture of her-
self and her sister ("w/linda easter
1950"), both ready for the Easter
parade. The rebirth symbolized by this
day is an appropriate metaphor for this
volume of poetry, which follows Smith's
reappearance after her aforementioned
accident.
Patti Smith's work will continue to
evoke varied reactions. Some may call
her poetry the meaningless product of a
delirious mind. To do so would be to
ignore the feverish energy of her work,
which allows us a brief but fascinating
look into her subconscious.

-. krishna

(Continued from Page 3)
attributing never-ending wonders to its
magic.
HE RELIGION prohibits mater-
ial enjoyment. Members do not
gamble, take intoxicants, watch
movies or television. Sex is prohibited
outside of marriage and is only allowed
then for the purpose of procreation.
"Those things tend to degrade one's
mental and physical condition," Pari
Purna Das claimed. Krishna says that
one who's gained a higher taste can
automatically give up the lower forms
of pleasure. We experience the pleasure
of Krishna consciousness."
Every follower works for Krishna,
supposedly devoting each action and
thought to the purpose of elevating
Krishna consciousness. "You cannot
give up the world like that," Pari Purna

Das said, snapping his fingers. "It does
not require any special material
arrangement to become Krishna con-
scious. You don't have to live in a
special place or do a special thing. You
only have to alter your consciousness
from thinking materially - thinking
that I control everything."
He talked on, relating the tenets of
the religion, at times becoming
somewhat incomprehensible.. "The
basic point is to see that everything
belongs to Krishna. Therefore, I should
utilize everything, even this body which
has been given to me," he explained.
A devotee commits himself to the
Krishna lifestyle through a process of
inquiry. He brings questions to a
spiritual master - a member of the
community with special insights. If the
See KRISHNA, Page 7'

aly rno o oy r ET RSLIN G
Garbed in flowing robes, Ann Arbor's Krishna community engages in daily
prayer chants. Brian Black is standing in the forefront; behind him in
white is Lonnie Jackson, Asha Narang and her child.

Hare Krishna devotes Asha Narang and her child, Rihada, sit in front of the on Madison St. Brightly colored paintings and photol
, decorated altar in the sect's Ann Arbor home,-the Sri Sri Radha Kirshna Temple, and his divine disciples decorate the walls.

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