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July 14, 1971 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1971-07-14

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Wednesday, July 14, 1971


Page Five .

Wednesay, Juy 4,191 HEMIH-_NDALYPae-v

A redeeming rkythm
prophetic books, are much more adjust his mask and put s'me
Peter Gould BURNT TOAST, important for us than anything shape on, or pass for a tree, be-
Knopf, $3.10. else. For in this type of writing fore we pass each other an- the
By NEAL BRUSS we can "write ourselves out," trail and tip caps, or. stop t
Writing visionary literatureas come to discover ourselves in exchange light words, as way-
many people are presently, is al- language and find rhythms and farers do (it could happen;
way astrule wr h prese in a- words which can serve as the days and nights are travellirs
ways a struggle with whatever in frequencies of our being. As this of eternity, poets say).
tenitiousness or cliquishness onto writing always involves a dis- This book, which does not o-
tenpagessIftherc sessmoeo covery of a new freedom, it is vde a self-sustaining mytiilogi-
the page. If there were more of always a source of encourage- cal universe or speak sti asght
the visionry-o lnsbestheass- ment for others. from the type of life found every-
problem. But of course writing is We find this type of writing in where in the West, has special
the very path we have chosen for forms ranging from vast original problems for the average readeur,
fulfillment, so- we have these dif- mythologies (Blake) to continu- a moral problem. What it is O y-
ficulties. And the more we want ing autobiographies (Henry Mil ing to do, why it was x rits en,
a "success" and lack patience, ler)- Peter Gould's Burnt Toast what some of the ssietnces
the more our energies seem to de- is a hybrid, a story of a Ver- mean may make no sse with-
feat themselves. mont life in which visionary out a bit of insight into Zen and
But the "successes," be they images (especially memories of a American Indian lore of visoin-
single perfect phrases that pop father's influence), are pursued. ary initiation.
into our thoughts or sustained And while the book's carping on More, the book opens prey-
the intimate / rural / organic ing on the history of Lbe atio
/ magic business is obnoxious in News Service, particulalyty ho".
its seriousness from the begin- the LNS circle fled to Veriont
ning ("The night before, for sup- escaped politics in farming, and
per, we'd had brown rice and split among themselles. Burnt
vegetables and sesame toast and Toast is a sort of sequel to the
Verandah's onion soup with goat LNS history, Ray Mungo's Fa-
cheese melted in. Then peach mous Long Ago.
pie and camomile tea."), Gould Readers should also have some
his written himself out through- patience, if not experience, pur-
out. And that is redeeming. suing unknowns. Gould'a is nam-
In putting himself through a ed in his title:
spiritual rite of passage, coming I may as well tell you now:
to a place in a community of dif- you've set off on the wreng foot
ferent spirits, and fulfilling the in- already, if you've just hap-
fluences of his father, Gould in pened to code, somewhere into
his persona, Silent, speaks in an your memory, a slice of white
easy and gentle language with toast, mildly scorched, even
the rhythm of the movement of blackened, buttered or no,
impressions: hanging in the air over Spirit
And walking, and sitting, and Lake (the image of fire over books cc
walking again, I met nobody, water). That's not what I saw, which is
no one I can recall, coming or that's just a name I have for it. works of
going - but when I tell this Though it presented itself as a ' These
story again, it won't be like piece of burnt toast, it seemr'd weakness
this at all, I know. Walking the to say, in the same iustant, this Iles Gou
same path twice, you can't help is only a symbol: what I am and, in I
but find it different: some other like is what I am not; things passes.
time, coming round tze last that you see are as provisional poet" cea
bend, I'll chance upon some as words themselves, tempor- marks a
shadow, a shuffling hour, or a ary perceptions that last till annoying
fleet-footed minute, who, see- you know what's really there, more ou
ing me, has just enough time to Some readers will resent the tences ar
A clown to be taken

-Photo by Dianne Davis
'nstant, lyric sexuality, into the fluid language of his
always the case with revery:
this kind. . . . we stand and listen to
are not problems or the wind that's come from so
ses as much as obsta- far, carrying his father on his
ld faces on his w:y, back, wind and the father wind
the course of the book, that pound on our door for
His crowing, "I'm a food; the three of us look at
ases, the life-,iyle trade- each other as the wind passes
nd menues become les by-not now at least, not set;
. Gould comes to write not this night but some other,
t of his aw, the sen- we'll know when
e easier, the book lapses to let him in.


Sweden, Russia and China. Kar
Warren Lerner, KARL RA- Radek is viewed by most bour
DEK: THE LAST INTERNA- geois and Marxist historians a
TIONALIST, Stanford University the outstanding clown of interna
Press, $7.95. tional socialism. This is not to b'
denied, yet if one reads Lerner'
By ROBERT BERNARD biography carefully, he will rea
Warren Lerner, in his exciting lize that Radek must be taker
and excellent biography of Karl seriously not simply as a journa
Radek, very carefully portrays list and a polemicist, but also a
a side of Radek's activities that a political theoretician, strategist
I doubt anyone has ever been tactician, activist, and 'behind
fully aware of. the-scenes' manipulator. I doub
Born in 1885 in Lvov, Poland, if even Lenin was fully aware o
educated in a gymnasium in Cra- just how instrumental a role Ra
cow, Karl Radek eventually came dek played in the events sur
to play a drastically underevalu- rounding the Russian Revolution
ated role in leftist politics in Po- Of course, Radek was a clowi
land, G e r m a n y, Switzerland, and a scoundrel. This biography


among others, fully documents
this fact. One of the most famous
anecdotes about Radek (which
Lerner believes is a myth) took
place just after Radek capitulated
to Stalin in 1929.
Stalin is supposed to have
said on this occasion: "Com-
rade Radek, we are pleased to
have you back, but you must
watch your jokes and gibes
about me. Do not forget that I
am not only the Secretary Gen-
eral of the Communist Party, I
am also the leader of the world
revolution." Radek is supposed
to have been unable to resist
the reply: "That, Comrade
Stalin, is your joke, not mine!"
Lerner reveals Radek's role
in combating revisionism in the
Second International, in helping
to transport Lenin from Switz-
erland to Petrograd in 1917, in
handling German affairs for the
Communist International, and in
attempting to forestall the de-
bacle in China in 1927. However,
Lerner does not feel that Radek
functioned effectively as a po-
litical theorist. To strengthen his
argument, Lerner quotes from an
article written by Radek in 1918.
The transition from capital-
ism to socialism begins when
capitalism has inflicted such
suffering on the people . . . that
they rise up against the rule of
capitalism; when the masses
can no longer endure the conse-
quences of capitalist economic
conditions . . . Austria and Italy
are in a similar situation to that
of Russia, and the experience
of the Russian Revolution
proves that a socialist revolu-
tion is by, no means certain in
the land where capitalism has
had the greatest development.
There are some who might dis-
agree with Lerner's pronounce-
ment of Radek's theoretical capa-

With the death of Lenin, fac-
tions arose in the Russian Com-
munist Party. Right from the be-
ginning, Radek was a loyal and
active member of the Left Op-
position. In 1928 he was exiled to
Siberia. Finally in 1929, for his
own peculiar reasons, Radek
capitulated to Stalin, denounced
Trotsky, and for the next seven
years played what he (Radek)
and others considered to be an in-
strumental role in the Stalinist
In 1936 he was arrested. Alex-
ander Orlov, a former senior of-
ficial of the NKVD (the Soviet
secret police), has written in his
book, The Secret History of Sta-
lin's Crimes, that Radek not only
insisted on rewriting his own con-
fession but also suggested em-
bellishing the confession of the
former Soviet diplomat, Sokol-
nikov. According to Orlov, Sta-
lin was so pleased with Radek's
'sense of the ridiculous' that
from that point on "Radek be-
came personal consultant to Yez-
hov (the current head of the
NKVD) in the task of improving
the legend of the conspiracy and
perfecting its dramatic and liter-
ary quality." It wasn't enough
for Radek to play the role of the
'Good Soldier Schweik,' he de-
manded a promotion to 'Field
Marshal Schweik.'
Radek, as always, gave a com-
mand performance at his trial.
In summing up Radek declared:
And therefore the conclusion:
restoration of capitalism in the
circumstances of 1935. For
nothing at all, just for the sake
of Trotsky's beautiful eyes-
the country was to return to
capitalism. When I read this
I felt as if (I were in) a mad-
house . . We had to put up
with Trotsky when he gave us
directives from abroad, but in
this case we were to become

a g e n t s of foreign fascist
states." (Lerner)
Radek was sentenced to ten
years and according to a recent
publication of the Soviet Com-
must Party died in 1939.
Is it possible to render a final
judgment of such an enigmatic
man? This is how Lerner con-
cludes his biography.
For all his frivolity, Radek
cared deeply about his place in
history. Though he confessed to
all sorts of exotic charges of
crimes against Stalin's regime,
he never confessed to any acts
against the cause of world revo-
lution. In his final plea he stat-
ed with uncharacteristic ser-
iousness and pathos: "I have
not the right to speak as a re-
pentant Communist; neverthe-
less, the 35 years I worked in
the labour movement, despite
all the errors and crimes with
which they ended, entitle me
to ask you to believe one thing
-that, after all, the masses of
people with whom I marched
do mean something to me."
And there were those who be-
lieved him. Even AngeIica
Balabanoff (the first Secretary
of the Executive Committee of
the Third International), nev-
er at any time Radek's admir-
er, wrote after his trial: "I feel
about Radek . . .that though
he was capable of anything
within the confines of the revo-
lutionary movement, he would
never sell himself to the ene-
mies of the revolution. These
would be his enemies too."
Today's Writers ...
Neal Bruss, a graduate stu-
dent in English literature, is a
familiar writer and reviewer for
the Daily.
Robert Bernard will be a grad-
uate student in American his-
tory in the fall,

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