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May 08, 1970 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1970-05-08

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Friday, May 8, 1970


Pro, Fi

rue iv




son of


Peter Handke, KASPAR AND
OTHER PLAYS, Farrar, Strauss
and Giroux, $4.95.
Peter Handke, a young (un-
der thirty) Austrian writer who
has attracted attention through-
out the European continent, is
still relatively unknown in the
United States. In addition to the
play Kaspar, Handke's first full-
length play, this volume com-
prises two sprechstucke: "Of-
fending the Audience" and
"Self-Accusation." They have no
action, but are confined to
words. They do not employ the
usual theatrical devices: there
are no props, no costumes. In
a sense, it could even be said
that there are no actors, for the
speakers do not attempt to rep-
resent another reality. The
speakers have no fixed lines,
nor any fixed order in which to
In the notes prior to the
pieces, Handke states that they
are "autonomous prologues"
seeking to make the audience
aware. He seems to have suc-
cumbed to the temptation to ex-
pound his theatrical theories.
Handke explains his plays to the
audience before the plays are
seen, instead of writing in such
a manner that the audience
would be able to fathom not on-
Edward Banfield, THE UN-
HEAVENLY CITY, Little, Brown
and Co. $6.95.
The statement with which
Edward Banfield opens his pref-
ace to The Unheavenly ity is
also proferred by the book
jacket. So for those who may
never get to either: "This book
will strike many readers as the
work of an ill-tempered and
mean-spirited fellow. I would
not mind that especially, if I
did not think that it might pre-
vent them from taking its argu-
ment as seriously as they should.
I should like therefore to assure
the reader that I am as well-
meanring-probably even as soft-
hearted-as he. But facts are
facts, however unpleasant, and
they have to be faced unblink-
ingly by anyone who wants to
improve matters in the city."
What follows is an appraisal
of current American urban prob-
lems from a policy-oriented
viewpoint, but underlying the
analysis seems to be a senti-
ment which strikes me as a- kind
of "academic backlash." The
liberal sympathy which gener-
ally permeates urban s o c i a 1
scientific inquiry has hardened
into a crusty stance which asks
us to swallow our anathema for
short - term freedom -infringing
action, and question our faith in
much current planning dogma
in favor of long run gain.
Banfield begins by pointing
out the relativity of our urban
problems. He insists that the
crises our cities face may be due
as much to social perception as
to more absolute objective meas-
ures. Problems exist largely be-
cause our rising standards and
expectations define t h e m into
e x i s t e nce. Unfortunately this
concern for relative values and
qualitative judgment is missed
in much of the rest of the book.
The author blinks some facts
out of the picture. Esthetic, eco-
logical, and cross-cultural ar-'
guements are ignored in favor
of explanations in terms of eco-
nomics and social class.

It is around Banfield's some-
what unorthodox treatment of
social class that most of the dis-
cussion hinges. Rather than use
social status, political power, or
economic position as a defini-
tion, he chooses to isolate class
on a psychological basis. An in-
dividual is assigned to a class
depending on his orientation
toward the future. The upper
class individual is most future-
oriented; he sacrifices present
satisfaction, investing rather in
the improvement of the future
of himself, his family. his com-
munity. or mankind. Middle and
working class individuals are in-
creasingly less future-minded
and globally provident, while
the lower class person is essen-
tially present-oriented, living for
Today's writers -. -
Edna M. Dubois is Chairman
of the European Studies Dept.
at Alliance College, Cambridge
Springs, Pa. T. Anand received
an M.A. in English from Co-
lumbia and presently resides in
Ann Arbor. Jack Eichenbaum
is a Doctoral Candidate in Ge-
ography at the University.

ly the meaning of the play, but
also the theatrical devices and
the reasons for their use.
"Offending t h e Audience,"
originally published in 1966,
initiates the audience into a
type of participation. While ex-
plaining his theories of theatre,
Handke forces the audience to
become aware of its own func-
tion. By equalizing the lighting
in the theatre with that on the
stage, Handke does not allow
the audience to eavesdrop from
the security of darkness. Lines
are directed to the spectators in
order to force them into mental
participation. The stage is mere-
ly a stage and time there is the
same as time in the audience.
"Offending t h e Audience"
would have been a daring rev-
olutionary piece in pre-Godot
days, but now it appears more
like a weak summary of thea-
trical progress during the past
fifteen years. If the audience
leaves offended, as the title in-
dicates that it should, it will
not be due to the mild invectives
delivered, but only because the
audience will be sophisticated
enough to grasp Handke's thea-
trical theory and devices with-
out elucidation.
"Self-Accusation," a piece for
two speakers, simply relates the
story of a human life. Begin-
ning with the statement "I came
into the world," the piece fol-

lows the normal growth process
into a stage of rebellion. The
piece is composed of short terse
sentences, t h e overwhelming
majority of which begin with the
pronoun I. As with Beckett's
character, Krapp, that unre-
lentless recorder of his own life,
recollection provides the sole
In the introduction to Kas-
par, Handke stresses again that
the stage is merely a stage and
represents no other reality. The
props are not props in the tra-
ditional sense, for they do not
represent an object, but simply
are what they are. Handke, who
obviously doesn't like to leave
much to chance, reminds the
audience that Kasper means
clown in German and even sug-
gests that the introductory notes
be read over and over to the
audience before the play be-
gins. Didacticism is Handke's
weakest point. If the spectators
were allowed to discover the
meaning and draw conclusions
themselves, the impact would be
The protagonist Kaspar is an
autistic sixteen-year-old who
speaks only one sentence. With
this one sentence, to which he
attaches no fixed meaning, Kas-
par attempts to express every-
thing. His autism is destroyed
by off-stage prompters who
brain-wash him with language

sometimes logical, sometimes il-
logical, often droll, and occasion-
ally frightening. After Kaspar's
one sentence has been destroyed,
the prompters begin the creative
process. Kaspar is taught the
names of objects and then the
association between the name
and the object itself. He is
taught Isentences and t h e n
taught to act in accordance with
the sentences. Finally he is able
to manipulate both objects and
language. His life develops order
and harmony. The prompters
have accomplished their task:
they have given Kaspar model
sentences with which he can im-
pose order upon chaos. However,
Kaspar grows beyond the stage
of obedience. He begins tb have
self-confidence and rejects the
teaching of the prompters
through advocating freedom.
Kaspar has reached the point of
no return. He must be destroyed.
Kaspar will undoubtedly have
great appeal to the young as
well as to anyone who has to
some extent rejected societal
teaching. This play does not
make exciting reading because
of the preponderance of stage
direction. Dull reading, however,
can make excellent theatre, and
Kaspar is a novel play, well con-
structed, with a worthwhile
message for the modern audi-

Aleister Crowley, THE CON-
GRAPHY, edited by John Sym-
onds and Kenneth Grant, Hill &
Wang, $14.95.
His father was a fine old
crank who toured the country
handing out tracts, proselytiz-
ing for a sect called the Plym-
outh Brethren. The important
articles of this profession were
an insistence upon the author-

that recalls Shaw more than it
does Nietzsche.
"Twelve copies contain the
portrait of me by Haweis and
Coles, subsequently reproduced
in volume II of the vellum edi-
tion of my collected works."
.. . . .
"Another disquieting incident
was as follows. Tengyueh was
supposed to be in direct tele-
graphic communication with Pe-
king. One of the most absurdly
characteristic arrangements was
that the observatory at Peking


Crises: Target practice

the moment, impulsively attend-
ing to his bodily needs, "(espe-
cially for sex)."
While they are not inferable
from the definitions, an array
of other characteristics are also
attributed to these classes. Up-
per classmen are expressive,
tolerant, violence-abhorring and
bigotry-deploring. Middle class-
men are success-minded, cultur-
ally conforming and a little less
violence-abhorring and bigotry-
deploring. Working classmen are
neat, clean, authority-respect-
ing and dig a little violence.
Lower classmen are self-effac-
ing, anti,- social, authority - re-
senting; they groove on violence
and are paid to vote.
Ensuing chapters unfold the
gamut of America's glaring ur-
ban ills--race relations, unem-
ployment, p o v e r t y, education,
crime, and riots - and relate
them to social class. Crime is
blamed largely on the present-
orientedness of juveniles and the
lower class; rioting is generally
blamed on animal instincts and
a taste for action; education is
presumed basically incompar-
able with the lower class out-
look. In supporting his notion
that the lower class syndrome is
responsible for much of our woe.

Banfield continually draws on
material which defines the low-
er class in more conventional
terms. The connection between
the lower class individual of
the psychological definition, the
lower class individual of the at-
tributed characteristics, and the
lower class individual of urban
problems is never justified. And
when the author speaks of re-
pressive action against 1 o w e r
c I a ss individuals, tentatively
suggesting semi - institutional
care for adults and massive ex-
tra - familial socialization for
children, even he is extremely
The recurring feeling that the
tenuous social class analysis in-
validates many conclusions and
policy suggestions is a little dif-
ficult to shake. Nevertheless, be-
yond this, Banfield sometimes
makes much sense. He is bold
enough to challenge doctrin-
naire, liberal, u r b a n medicine,
and offers alternatives. He gives
considerable rationale for lower-
ing minimum wages and fore-
shortening compulsory educa-
tion, as well as some insightful
critiques of other present poli-
But the final chapters. which
are concerned with the feasi-

bility of more severe proposals
end on a sour note. Banfield
finds that most of the measures
which he considers as leading to
the amelioration of urban prob-
lems will run counter to public
opinion: they are generally pun-
ative or run counter to the no-
tions of self determination and
individual freedom. Predictions
for the future are seen to be de-
pendent on the directions of
subjective public opinion (we
may begin to unperceive certain
problems and perceive new ones)
and the potential impact of the
burgeoning planning profession
on directing opinion. In any
event, he doubts whether gov-
ernment policy will have any
significant effect and looks to-
ward c o n t i n u e d economic
growth and upward social mo-
bility as built-in alleviation.
Another earnest urban opus
has entered the academic arena,
this one more conceptually based
than most, but at the same time ;
more limited in finding scape-
goats. There will be many who 1
will be more than a little disap-
pointed that corporate capital-
ism, defense expenditures, taste- +
less architecture, urban pollu-
tion, and an anti-urban cultural
heritage are not considered.

ized version of the Bible as the
exact, literal words of the Holy
Ghost, and the terrific immi-
nence of the Second Coming.
The son grew up in a house per-
meated with the reek of Christ-
ian eschatology: so much that,
coming in one morning and
finding no one downstairs, he
thought the Lord had come and
made off with everyone but him.
That is to say: he was edu-
cated at home. Later he went to
public schools and up to Cam-
Crowley's sun is in Libra.
What does that mean?
It means that while small, he
decided he was of the devil's
party and identified himself
with the Beast of the Apoca-
lypse. From there his life fol-
lows the pattern of myth: es-
cape from the father's religion
into the world; exhaustion of
experience; the blundering-into
the Call) ; resistance; accep-
tance: (self-) apotheosis. The
determining event (the Call)
happens in Egypt when he's
twenty-nine. His wife puts him
in touch with AIWASS, an in-
telligence who dictates to him
The Book of the Law. Like
Yeats' poem, this text proclaims
the end of the Christian era
(worship of the Father). A new
Aeon of Horus begins (worship
of the terrible Child). Leo was
on the horizon when Crowley
was born. What does that mean?
It means the Law of Thelema,
the ethical keynote of the new
age, is the individual creation of
value. "Do what thou wilt shall
be the whole of the Law." In the
Confessions this is explicated
("We have a sentimental ideal
of self-sacrifice. . . .") in a way
telegraphed to us daily the cor-
rect time. Now at Yunchang
there was a relay and, as often

telegraphed to us daily the cor-
rect time. N o w at Yunchang
there was a relay and, as often
as not, the telegraphists would
be engaged in smoking opium
for three or four days at a time.
Consequently a whole bunch of
telegrams would arrive late one
evening telling us that it was
noon at Peking."
* * *
Crowley was one of those fin-
de-siecle figures who couldn't
decide whether he was more in-
terested in the cultivation of
cultural values associated with
the aristocracy (hierarchical or-
der), or in their subversion (pro-
miscuous "experience"). B u t
then the Borgias were popes
and patrons by day, murderers
and voluptuaries by night. In
either case life was conceived
as art, consciously selected (di-
rectly counter to the life of the
He presents himself through
a series of masks: rock-climber,
sage, mystic, traveler, sexual
eight-day cyclist, and the only
English poet of his time. The
narrative voice is much like
those Nabokov can create, super-
cilious and pedantic, coming
from somewhere off center.
He was fend of creating and
assuming false identities in the
literal sense of imposture, e.g.
Count Vladimir Svareff. If the
mask represents an "exposition
of a personality," it also, it
goes without saying, conceals a
"more intimate self." For the

professional Aesthete. schizo-
phrenia is an occupational haz-
ard. Megalomania is constantly
dissolved in the gaze of the
Other. Perhaps his peculiar fear
of being pierced-struck or cut,
but not pierced! -helps one un-
derstand his insufferable insist-
once on his own greatness.
* * *
So far, so good. But every so
often, carefully prepared by a
couple hundred pages of flawless
work, a crack opens. There is a
certain hilarious pathos when
the man of whose talents Yeats
was envious, and seven years
after the publication of-his first
volume of verse. tells us a con-
versation "led to my endeavor-
ing to put a certain vividness
of phraseology into my poetry.
The Eyes of Pharaoh' was my
first attempt to give vivid and
immediate images. I chose my
similes so as to strengthen the
main theme." But there's also
the feeling one has when de-
scending stairs in the dark and
finding one step more or less
than expected: a quality of con-
fusion that makes the life, the
book, something special.
As we receive it, the Confes-
sions is a collaboration between
Crowley and his editors. One's
reminded most of "certain con-
temporary works" (like Pale
Fire) : Crowley's tone (one
doesn't want to say he's merely
in self-deception): the two in-
troductions in which the editors
struggle over the carcass; notes
which gloss the initials "p.d.q.";
illustrations in which the bearer
of the word Thelema is shown
performing "a yogic technique of
breath control" seated upon a
leopard's skin, his nakedness
covered by a fig leaf... .
* * *
... ghazals, purporting to be
by a certain Abdullah Haji
(Haji, with a soft 'h,' satirist, as
opposed to Hai with a hard
'h,' pilgrim) of Shiraz. I caused
him to flourish about 1600 A.D.,
but gave to the collection of his
ghazals the title Bagh-i-Muattar
(The Scented Garden), which
implies the date 1906, the value
of the Arabic letters of the title
adding up to the equivalent of
that year of the Hegira. I also
invented an Anglo-Indian major
to find, translate, and annotate
the manuscript, an editor to
complete the work of that gal-
lant soldier (killed in South Af-
rica) and a Christian clergyman
to discuss the matter of the
poem from the particular point
of view of. ...."

where you're
going ...
- c
and no one s
offeri ng you
any good

you want
to do.. .

The Grove Press
conspira'"cy '




I ili



The Little
Red White
and Blue
The Great
Fi I


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