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November 23, 1975 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1975-11-23

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Page Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, November 23, 1975

BOOKS

w

The work philosophy: An historic view

Dylan Thomas: Resplendent in
'masterful words and pictures

WORK AND PLAY: IDEAS
AND EXPERIENCE OF
W 0 R K AND LEISURE by
Alasdair Clayre. New York:
Harper and Row. 217 pp., $11.
By JACK HIBBARD
SORKIS SOMETHING that
we all experience, and much
has been written on the subject
from time studies, to dress
codes to Nader's occupational
hazard studies. In Work and
Play, however, Alasdair Clayre
attempts to trace the roots of
work through a' survey of pre-
Twentieth Century philosophical
writings and - of work experi-
ences. Work is described as of
potentially the greatest signifi-
cance and central interest of
every life.
Clayre's initial analysis traces
various thinkers'.works includ-'

ing those of Rousseau, Schiller,
Hegel, Fourier, Marx and Mor-
ris. In the examination of Rous-
seau's writings, work is shown
to be the activity in which man
loses touch with nature and
whereby each man gains more
by harming others. Strong em-
phasis is placed upon old-time
craftsmanship and that men
must reduce their wishes in or-
der to reach a state of minimal
dependence on others. Rous-
seau's social ideal would be that
physical development would be
controlled, reversed or perhaps
even escaped by the independent
individual. Much of his think-
ing on work parallels the "back
to nature" communal - country
living which has been in vogue
with youth d u ri n g the last
decade.

Schiller and Hegel are shown
to differ on terms of man's abil-
ity to deal with machinery.
Schiller is not hostile to ma-
chinery or work in order td re-
strain the detriments of nature,
yet he yearns for man's play-
fulness as the element which
renders an individual whole, sat-
isfying his real demands. Play
is to Schiller as revolution is to
Marx. Hegel, on the other hand,
holds machinery responsible for
the gap between man and na-
ture which results in lost vital-
ity in humans. Man reaches his
most ultimate stupidity when'
confined to operating machines.
A fundamental question arises
here to which Clayre never fully
addresses himself, that is wheth-
er monotony is inherent in all
human labor or whether it ac-
celerates and is emphasized by
machine operations.
THE MARXIAN discussion on
work and its social effects is
more extensive but perhaps not
as worthwhile. The Marxist con-
cepts used seem morn, social
than individual, and the nexus
to the earlier thinkers is not
made clear by Clayre. Work,
for Marx, supposedly becomes a
need after therevolution, and
the distinction between work and
leisure becomes a thin one.
Marx was not favorably dis-

posed towards a pastoral return
of man to nature, and aliena-
tion became the element to be
struggled with: a new concept,
not used often by the earlier
writers.
William Morris, the practicing
artist and craftsman, devoted
his works to making men happy,
the pleasure of exercising the
individual's energy. Work neces-
sarily should be useful and beau-
tiful to attain "happiness," but
pain is inevitable in all work
and the notion of experiencing
joy in work is ambiguous. Mor-
ris envisioned hallowed halls of,
work and learning together (the
originator of work - study per-
haps).
The weakest part' of Clayre's
work is his attempt to gain work
experiences out the distant past.
His basic intent is to give ex-
amples of work in, the work-
houses during the periods of the
philosophers. The work of these
times had been documented in
several ways. Clayre prefers to
glean his social study out of
folk songs. He believes that the
songs are more representative
of the work feelings than the in-
vestigations by labor inspectors.
However, his study shifts and
leaps from the Appalachian hills
to Seventeenth Century poets.
The strongest evidence from
this attempt is from a Dutch

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gentleman, Mandeville, who or-
iginated the idea of instrumen-
talism, i.e., work as the instru-
ment of gaining money. Here is
the clearest thinking in the book
on why man works in particular
situations. Mandeville points to
the masses which contain the
hardest w o r k e r s and those
"least acquainted w i t h the
Pomp and "Delicacies of the
World."
The sing-song style of the
poetry throughout the remainder
of the work is inconsistent with
the rest of the book. The songs
are basically about the social
rewards of work, ala hay-mak-
ing. Eskimoes, Polynesians and
Sudanese are shown to sing
about their work, whereas Nine-
teenth Century Europe sings
about love, war and murder. The
erotic happiness growing out of
working outdoors in a rhythmic l
position is appealing but does
not help Clayre explain the
worker's life in Marx's era.
Clayre's final point here is
strong, however, as he argues
that industrialization and urban-
ization have severely damaged
many by depriving generations
of their inherited culture. We
have lost most of our ties with
the past while attempting to
work our asses off in a modern
economy.
CLAYRE'S CONCLUDING ap-
pendix bounds into the twen-
tieth century by introducing the
See HISTORIC, Page 6
Jack Hibbard is a graduate
of the Law School currently
working at Borders Book Shop.

DYLAN THOMAS: NO MAN
MORE MAGICAL by Andrew
Sinclair. New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston. 240
pp. .sip s ...... ..$99
By JIM HILL
tT'S THAT TIMEof year again
when those large, handsome
coffee table volumes begin ap-
pearing on the book shelves of
retail stores and certainly An-
drew Sinclair's new book, Dy-
lan Thomas: No Man More
Magical, is large and handsome
and timed for the trade in gifts.
From the cover portrait, through
the dozens of photographs (many
full and double-paged), to the
unusual and interesting endpa-
per (the rough copy of his first
major poem), it's a visually im-
pressive 'ook. It can be recom-
mended solely on the merits of
the lavish array of photographs,
portraits, sketches and poems
(all arranged in historical chron-
ology). The period milieu of Lon-
don. Swansea and Laugharne is
captured in text and pictures,
and the poet himself passes
from wide-eyed choirboy inno-
cence (early in' the book), to
cocksure young artist, to bloat-
ed debauchee in the years be- I
fore his death when he was
at the height of his fame.
Sinclair's obsession with Thom-
as is evident; his credits include
writing and directing the film
version of Under Milk Wood
and adapting for the stage,
Thomas's unfinished novel, Ad-
ventures in the Skin Trade. In
No Man More Magical Sinclair
addresses the, entire life and
work of a man often hailed as
the greatest lyric poet of his
age. The book is neither- defini-t
tive biography nor tough, criti-
cal anpraisal of the oeuvre-it
doesn't pretend to be either.
Rather, it is an appreciation.
a fond looksback, a memoir, a
tribute to someone who gave
poetry a startling new look.
A[oST OF US today are sketch-
ily familiar with the legend
behind the man: Dylan Thomas,
that "fat Rimbaud," the word-
mad genius who lived every ex-
cess and died at an early age
on a reading tour of Anerica.
Sinclair very clearly and simply
states the obvious and important
contradictions in Thomas's heri-
tage: ". .. his birthright east a
divided society, a divided
house." Small wonder he was
unsettled.

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Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas spoke no Welsh. stormed then quickly lapsed
Yet his poet's voice owes much into an alcoholic coma and was
to the inherited tradition of the helped home bfy friends. He was
Welsh bards and troubadors, a lovable wastrel who was nev-
"that formal respect for' rhyme er a shilling ahead of the game,
and discipline of the old court who relied upon the largesse of
poets and the opposed gifts of friends to support himself and
the minstrels." his family, and who felt well
and able to write only when
The major themes of Thom- physically sick.
as's work,, birth and death, God4
and the devil, the flesh and the When he sat down to compose
spirit, are, like the outward it was with the meticulous care
facts of his life: a coincidence of a watchmaker who loves his
of opposites. In his sensitive, work, regardless of the painfully
creative interior world he strug- , slow progress. There were -two
gled through his short life to hundred separate and distinct
produce a mystical fusion .of~ versions of "Fern Hill," each
conflicting ideas, a splendid copiedout laboriously in long-
unity, a synthesis and celebra- hand.
tion of God, man and His creat- Following the success of his
ed universe. BBC poetry broadcasts and gen-
THE STRENUOUS PLAY of eral acclaim as a major poet,
E SThomas undertook in 1950 to
his overactive mind droveI answer the call of a growing
him methodically to his dear, body of admirers abroad and
dim, comfortable pub. Dylan
Thomas was a barroom bard; See THOMAS, Page 6
he performed best (by a friend's
account) between the third and Jim Hill is aigraduate student
eighth drinks, and afterwards in English.

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