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May 20, 1972 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1972-05-20

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Saturday, May 20, 1972


Page Five

SatudayMay20, 972 HE ICHIAN DILYPageFiv

Jonathan Kozol, F R E E
SCHOOLS, Houghton Mifflin,
Books Editor
Before reading Jonathan Koz-
ol's Free Schools I had read
several of his earlier articles
sent to me by a friend. They
had prepared me, I thought,
for the venom of his attacks on
white, upper middle-class Free
Schools. I was mistaken. In fact,
because many of his remarks so
forcefully and so clearly struck
close to home, I became at first
alienated, then embarrassed, and,
finally angered at myself for
having been so oblivious to Koz-
ol's ends and to my own short-
As far as Kozol is concern-
ed there is only one kind of
genuine Free School. It is locat-
ed in the midst of the urban
poor, usually in a black or Puer-
to Rican neighborhood. In his
There are no quotations from
the I Ching or Buckminster
Fuller on the walls or in theF
stairways. There is none of
that incessant jargon about
Love and Joy, butrthere is a
great deal of love and there
is also a great deal of joy,
not of the verbal self-conscious
kind which never gets past the
pint of mandatory glee, but
love of the kind that men
such as St. Francis and Tol-
stoi have spoken of: the love
that turns, each day, f r o m
abstract concepts into an ethi-
cal vocation made of concrete
The concrete deeds of which
Kozol speaks consist of inter-
minable battles on behalf of
children who must contend with
unheated apartments, broken
glass, and rat-infested p 1 a y -

Tree Schools'

calls his book a "handbook" for
setting up one's own reality-
based Free School. And this is
what it does, indeed, become
. . . once Kozol has vented his
own well-healed spleen.
In the last five chapters of
the book, plus an epilogue on
"Contacts, Leads, and Address-
es," Kozol details the tactics ne-
cessary for starting and main-
taining an urban Free School.
To wit: What do you do on a
visit to the ice-cold offices of
the Ford Foundation? Kozol's
suggestion: "It-is difficult . . .
but it is of great importance to
get right to the point that you
want cash, how much and for
what purpose." Secondly, How
do you write a proposal for
funds from one of these institu-
tions? Most important - -don't
write an official-sounding, care-
fully budgeted and businesslike
proposal. Rather, say it in your
own language. The epilogue iists
the Chicago address of P a t
Zimmerman who will send, upon
request, a copy of "the b e s t
proposal of this kind that I have
ever seen." Finally, what do
you do if these funds sither fail
to appear or else dry up' after
the first few years.
The best thing is to go
directly to the neighborhood end
round up the mothers, fathers,
and the children. Tell them y(u
are about to close, then get on
the phone and call the press,
Better still, write letters. "The
announcement of immedite ex-
tinction is often an excelent wa
to raise ten thousand dollars.'
Other fund-raising - approaches
might involve setting ip a pro-
fit-making warehouse bookstore
or renovating an abandoned
apartment house. Both these pro-
jects have the added advantage
of involving the older students
in valuable apprenticeship sela-
tions with accountants, carpent-
ers, electricians, and so on. Ko
zol even suggests opening a Col-
onel Sanders or a McDonald's
hamburger franchise which can
draw in between twenty-five and
fifty thousand dollars a year for
a single outlet. In Kozol's view
"Each of these options repre
sents a certain degree of 'rip-
off' in the mindssof those who
are prepared to see -aarxist
revolution taking place on Mon-
day morning but none of thorn
represents a product or service
which is going to do specific
harm to other human beings."
Perhaps the most significant
chapter for those rf us engaged
in university affairs is that en-
titled "Research and Exploit-
tion: Living off the Surplus of
the Universities." Here Kozo
outlines his operational plan for
gaining access to university re-
search funds. As Kozol aptly
points out "Without the ghetto,
without starvation, without cul-
tural and social "deprivaon,"
without legal and educational
discrimination, there could be
no Nathan Glazer and no Ar-
thur Jensen and no Daniel Moyn-
ihan. Without the Free Schools
there could be no Harvard Edu-
cation courses in 'Black Radi-
cal Alternatives to Public Edu-
cation.' And perhaps more to
the point, there would be no
funds "to keep the children of
the social scientists in all-white,
or in nearly all-white, upper-
class private schools and to
Today's writers ...
Tom Greenwald teaches a
course on film at York Univer-
sity in Toronto.
Eric Lacktman became famil-
iar with Texas as a law student
at the University in Austin
maintain their wives in pretty
shoes and handsome dresses
from Design'Research and Lord
and Taylor."

Kozol's suggestion is nit to
halt the flow of these funds but
to make at least a part of them
accountable to the neighborhoods
which provide. the 'vital statis-
tics.' He makes special mention
of a Boston community group
known as the Black United

Front. This body now reviows all
applications for research within
the Roxbury, Dorchester, and
South End communities, t h e n
gives permission only to those
programs which are not o.ily to
the clear advantage of the school
children but also show a villing-
ness to divvy up at least -one-
tonth of their funds to help sub-
sidize "the watchdog labors" of
the Black United Front.
Although obviously well-inten-
tioned, there are certin dangers
inherent in this type of approach.
First off, and most unlikely, is
the danger that the community
Free Schools may end up cut-
ting off their own meager noses
by refusing research projects
whose ends cannot be made imo-
mediately apparent to tie re-
view board. While secondly, and
seemingly presenting the more
serious threat, is the temntation
that all groups such as the Black
United Front must guard against;
their own possible degeneration
into Mafia-type extortion out-
fits. In such cases, the profits
procured in the name of equality
will only add to further injus-
tice . . . this time, at a com-
munity level.
There is, then, a sense of the
g a nn b 1 er in Kozol's proposi-
tions. But he is without doubt a
veteran gambler and his odds
have been heightened by the
strength of his reputation and
the courage of his convictions.


Sex, psyche and film

Parker Tyler, SEX, PSYCHE,
Penguin Books, $1.65.
On the back of the Penguin
paperback edition of Parker Ty-
ler's Sex, Psyche, Etcetera in
the Film, Richard McLaughlin
is quoted as saying, "Parker
Tyler sees, hears, and feels more
than any of us." Unfortunately,
Tyler manages to effectively
communicate a good deal less
of what he sees; hears and feels
than do such other film critics
as Dwight Macdonald, Stanley
Kauffman, Paulene Kael and
John Simon. Undoubtedly, Tyler
would feel that this is not a fair
comparison because Macdonald
et al. direct their responses to-

ward a mass audience. Tyler
does not think that film is an art
for the masses, mainly because,
as he says, "people are hard to
educate into the essence of any
art." Mass film criticism, even
mass film criticism which, like
Macdonald's, helps to educate,
is not Parker Tyler's bag. Not
too surprisingly, Tyler's books
(he has published six volumes
of film criticism) have reached
only a limited audience. Because
of a prose style which is diffi-
cult at best, impenetrable at
worst, even serious students of
film may find him expendable.
If you have read either of John
Simon's collections of film cri-
ticism and found him to be
almost compulsively concerned
with film as art, you are going
to be overwhelmed (or perhaps

Cowboy Nostalgia

grounds. Kozol's allegiance to
the Free Schools of urban
streets is so great, in fact, that
he has virtually no sympathy for
those who opt for the greener
pastures of isolated country
schools. At one point he kites so
far as to portray this latter var-
iety - for the sons and daugh-
ters of the white and rich - as
similar to sandboxes "for t h e
children of the SS Guards at Aus-
- While I feel that Kozo's anger
is in large degree warranted, I
think that he has unfortunately
compromised himself by 'he nor-
rowness of his vision. If t h e
Free School movement is to be
dealt with fairly, a distinction
must be made between the very
real, material needs of ghetto
children and the more spiritual,
but nonetheless essential, needs
of their more affluent counter-
parts. Kozol somehow seems to
miss the point when he admon-
ishes the "well-set North Amer-
ican children" for wasting their
time building Iroquois canoes in
the 1970s. Surely, no one is fool-
ish enough to believe that canoe
building is an essential survival
skill in a practical sense; but
it just may be in a more phil-
osophical vein.
Fortunately, however, Kozol
does not confine his remarks to
the shortcomings of the "bour-
geiois" country Free Schools. He

Larry McMurtry, IN A NAR-
ROW GRAVE, Simon & Schus-
ter, $2.95.
Mr. McMurtry devotes t h i s
book of essays about his native
state largely to complaints and
lamentations. His primary com-
plaints are that the cowboys are
an extinct breed of man, and
that the range lands of W e s t
Texas are now fettered w it h
fences. Much of the book is per-
meated with nostalgic admira-
tion for the cowboy way of life
-Mr. McMurtry obviously ad-
mires a man who can handle a
horse, a man who is at home
in the blank open spaces of Tex-
as, and I suspect, he admires the
cowboys because they are not
overly educated or articulate.
The free and open range lands
which the author loved, seeming-
ly out of nostalgia rather than
personal experience, are now
confined by barbed wire; ad-
venture is limited by mechanical
methods of cattle-raising. The
towns of the Texas panhandle
and those of north-central Texas,
where Mr. McMurtry grew up,
are either ugly or dying or both.
The people who inhabit them are
fanatical political conservatives
who have deep veins of bigotry
Just below a certain immediate
friendliness and expansiveness.
Mr. McMurtry's description con-
vinced me that I wouldn't want

to live there; but Texas is a big
state, and it is in describing the
other parts of Texas that Mr.
McMurtry falls somewhat short
of the convincing authority he
displays when writing about the
Mr. Murtry affects disdain for
the simple love of money that.
the opulence of Houston so unde-
niably expresses. Most of the
buildings in the city are new, o'
old and dirty as in the North-
ern cities. The city is almost per-
fectly flat, the climate is alwas
either warm or hot: neilter
aesthetic scenery nor the incle-
ment weather distracts one f'oi
pursuing one's "career" with the
outsize seriousness one associat-
es with an ex-President from
Texas. Yet certainly no. only
Texans succumb to admiration
for money: Houston is enough to
make almost every American
pulse beat a little faster. The
material wealth of the city
seems so desirable, so recogniz-
able - and the slums are well-
Mr. McMurtry feels contempt,
so it seems, for all this greed-
iness, but he doesn't tell us what
faith, if any, he has adopted as
an antidote. More importantly,
he does not tell us where in
America he is now living. Sure-
ly not in Texas. And probably
not in some share-and-share
alike commune. I'll bet he lives
in some nice apartment in New
York or L.A.

underwhelmed) by Tyler's Sex,
Psyche, Etcetera in the Film.
Simon takes the intelligent posi-
tion that, although film is an
art. it has not produced very
many works of art. Tyler takes
the position that film is -called
an art only because the masses,
which include serious critics,
academicians and a lot of other
people who generally do not con-
sider themselves part of the
masses, have deemed it an art
when, in reality, film has done
almost nothing to justify that es-
Yet it would be grossly unfair
to characterize Tyler as an
aesthetic snob or an old fogey.
In what is an accurate summary
of Tyler's approach to film, he
For serious critics, the movies
function on the one hand as a
set of symbolic texts for socio-
psychological - mythical inter-
pretation with aesthetic over-
tones, and on the other as a
supposed laboratory where it
is possible to show the (sic)
Film has inexhaustible ways
to produce what theoretically
has every right to be termed
"art," but which is art only
because it must be in order to
save "everybody's' face.
This is an accurate description
of Tyler's brand of film criticism
with one all important modifi-
cation-he is not concerned with
saving "everybody's" face. Most
of the 21 essays collected in this
book show Tyler in the process
of "socio-psychological-mythical
interpretation" of the symbolic
texts." In these essays, Tyler
functions more as a social scien-
tist than as a film critic. He is
remarkably well equipped for
both roles, bringing as he does a
vast knowledge of the arts and
social sciences to his writing.
Nonetheless, the end result is at
times eccentric, such as when
he devotes an entire essay to
analyzing the totemic role of
the horse in American film. Two
of the essays included in this
collection, however, should be re-
quired reading for anyone with
even a casual interest in film:
"Orson Welles and Big Cult
Hero," which is possibly the
most intelligent evaluation of
Welles' career to date, and
"Film as a Force in Visual Edu-
cation," which neatly, but not
superficially, defines some of the
limitations, strengths and po-
tentials of film in visual educa-

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