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August 07, 1970 - Image 4

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Page Four


Friday, August 7, 1970

Friday, August 7, 1970







many ways




AND POETRY 22, ed. by James
Laughlin, New Directions
Paperback, $2.25.
In 1944, the yearly New Di-
rections in Prose and Poetry
was responsible for publishing
some of the first English trans-
lations of Pablo Neruda. Re-
cently, this same anthology in-
cluded Rafael Alberti's series
of poems "Concerning the An-
gels," and a fragment by the
novelist John Hawkes, whose
bizarre imagination one recalls
from his earlier works, The
Cannibal, The Goose on the
Grave, The Owl and Second
In 1964, New Directions print-
ed Alfred Jarry's superb, black-
ly comic novella, The Super-
male. The same volume
included three short works by
the creative-ecstatic Raymond
Roussel, a pianist, crack pistol-
shot, and chess champion (Tar-
takower acknowledged his con-
tribution to chess theory, a
formula for mating with knight
and bishop), who died by his
own hand. Roussel was praised
by Proust as long ago as 1897,
and Gide touted his masterpiece,
Impressions d'Afrique, at the
time of his death in 1933. He
was to be claimed as a precursor
by the surrealistes, but, in fact,
there is not much upsurge of
unconsciousness in Roussel. His
apparent irrationalities may
have seemed dreamlike, but with
the appearance of Comment
J'Ai Ecrit Certains de mes Liv-
res, we know them to be elab-
orately calculated. Roussel re-
mains a brilliant and infuriat-
ingly difficult author, one to
whom Robbe-Grillet has long
acknowliedged literary debt as
the Schoenberg to his Webern.
Thus the New Directions 22
volume comes highly recom-
mended. As always, when one is
presented with an almost per-
fect product, the temptation to
criticize, the Theseus-like wish
to pull the golden G-string off
Art, is strong. The pedant cries:
"Let it be perfect!", the aes-
thete, "Why doesn't it com-
pletely sa tisfym y precis
tastes?" We are dealing with
what is probably America's
finest large-circulation anthol-
ogy of new and rising names in
international poetry and prose.
With so many excellent qual-
ities, it is perhaps churlish and
petulant to inquire why, after
so many years of production,
New Diretcion does not further
devote itself to the translation
of long prose pieces, such as the
brilliant L'Amoureuse Initiation
by the Lithuanian poet, O. V.
Milosz, stylistically heir to Mi-
chel Leiris. Though a new edi-
tion of E. T. A. Hoffman's
works appeared last year (Univ.
of Chicago Press), Achim von
Arnim, an equally important
author of gothic tales, remains
untranslated. If one is unable to
read the German text, only a
small French selection of his
work, prefaced by Andre Bre-
ton, provides an alternative to
total ignorance.
Surely excerpts from such out-
standing works could be pub-
lished, for New Directions seems
delighted to print sections of
mediocre novels and unmem-
Today's Writers.
Felicia Borden is the pseu-
donym of one of Ann Arbor's
most arcane women who claims
to have been greatly influenced
by the writings of John Wol-
gamot. With an M.A. in English
from the University tucked
somewhere on her person, Miss
Borden will be sadly moving
westward this month. An or-
ganist and doctoral student in

Art History, Robert Alan Ben-
son is himself of diversified
talents. Mary Tschudy studied
at the University of Chicago,
Columbia, and the University
of Michigan; she presently is a
social worker at the University

orable short stories by Ameri-
cans, while priding itself on be-
ing international.
The current popularity of
South American and contempor-
ary French literature is largely
a healthy phenomenon which
partially acounts for the bias of
New Directions volumes. But
how does one account for the
poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, that
perennial, undying brown zin-
nia of the Beat, a stale cream-
puff of Kerouac vintage, appear-
ing again and again in this
series? He is represented in this
volume by "The Enigma of Ho
Chi Minh's Funeral":
The photo of Ho seems to be
saying ho-ho hollowly..
I run over my family
Surely this is flaccid, facile
verse. It is all the more unfor-
givable to print such plastic pre-
dictability when there are so
many fine, night-blooming poets
in the small presses of America.
The Yugoslavian poet Vasco
Popa is represented here in five
selections, translated by Steph-
en Stephanchez. The primary
section of "Far Within" closes:
The yards come out of their
And stare after us.
Popa's is a poetry of delicate
balance, not always successful in
its reliance upon the mundane
aspects of existence.
Al Young's poems are rather
unconvincing. "Loneliness" op-
ens by telling us: "The poet is
the dreamer," a message oft-
repeated throughout this po-
em, and one sadly lacking in no-
velty. He is perhaps at his best
in "Birthday Poem"
son of laborer and house wife
it says on the official photo-
not son of fisherman and
child fugitive
from cottonfields and potato
from sugarcane chickens and
On a
Walter Sorell, THE DUALITY
Boobs-Merrill, $15.00
The appearance of a book
which investigates the frequent
diversification of genius in the
arts is a refreshing surprise. The
author's refusal to resort to
current psychoanalytical de-
vices while searching for psy-
chological-or as it wee psy-
chic - motivations b e h i n d
versatility in artistic endeavor
is quite commendable. Indeed,
with regard to the present vogue
of reducing creativity and genial
inspiration either to "doing your
own thing" or to a chemical re-
action, the study of genius from
a purely empirical viewpoint is
almost avant garde. But the
expectations of the liberated
methodology are not fulfilled in
Walter Sorell's book which
proves to be a disappointment.
After an introductory section
in which the author specifies
some guidelines but avoids es-
tablishing clear-cut goals, he
creates several categories of
cross-medial activity. He covers,
among other things, composers
who write; actors who paint or
who turn playwright; dancers
who write, become choreogra-
phers or who paint or do sculp-
ture; and his two major areas:
painters who write and writers
who paint. Both the author and
the publisher insist that the

book is not an encyclopedia of
artistic versatility, that the
author is making a comparative
study of artists' needs to step
out of the security of virtuos-
ity and to explore their creative
urgesn i nther are nf ofnres-

The "Thirteen Poems" by Ed
Roberson o f t e n display taste-
less pathetic fallacies, as does
"The Resignation of Madame
Chairman Succubus," but the
poet also achieves a clear tone,
as in "Romance":
it is not known why the far-
desert that fondling of their
why their wives give up their
to the sly night that ferrets
the moon egg in the trough
from between
the legs of the fence ...
In contrast, Quincy Troupe is
puerile and uncontrolled, caught
in anal, adolescent fantasies, as
in "Flies on Shit." -
"Circe," a verse sequence by
Stuart Montgomery, is a fine
piece on a familiar theme.
Clumsy feet and cracking
led them to Circe's house of
and dressed stone this warm
of the goddess was set in a
zone in the dense folder of
This is stringent poetry, brilli-
antly utilizing language and in-
ternal rhyme.
Ian Hamilton Finlay is one
of the leading concrete poets in
England. It has been said that
he "dislikes experiment, wheth-
er on poetry or animals." One
finds his poems on stone and
sandblasted glass visually un-
lovely and verbally uninspired.
The alliteration of most:
Summer-Mumble Bee
is crude rather than cryptic;
all in all, it is gauche glyptic.
The translations of Ryuichi

Tamura record a fine sensibil-
ity. Tamura is perhaps best
known as the -Japanese transla-
tor of Eliot's 'Wasteland'. He
was also the founder of the in-
fluential literary magazine Are-
chi after World War II.
"The Queen of Sleep," by Car-
ol Emshwiller, wife of the ex-
perimental film-maker, is a
short, stream-of-consciousness
monologue. Through the media
of her husband's films, one is
acquainted with the less intel-
lectual aspects of Mrs. Emsh-'
willer, namely her feat of giving
birth while focusing a sixteen
millimeter camera on her abdo-
men. Perhaps she was at her
heroic best in this previous role.

adox. He is both sides of the
coin, evoking for the audi-
ence a state of constant flu-
The trial of Picalo and the sa-
distic massacre of a pair of
shoes, are later retold from the
eyes of a complete imbecile in
the confessions of Bambalamba,
which becomes the most drama-
tic part of the play. Toteras pre-
sents us with a labyrinthine,
paranoid, oneiric fantasy. It is
difficult to consider this litera-
Some fine, if unusual writing
is evident in Mark Jay Mirsky's
short story, "Mourner's Kad-
dish," a study of a disintegrat-
ing synagogue.


Jane Howard, PLEASE
TOUCH, McGraw-Hill, $6.95
This book, billed as "a guided
tour of the human potential
movement," has received a great
deal of press since its publica-
tion, and it has been highly
touted by most of its reviewers,
to such an extent, in fact, that
one is led to suspect that the
reviewers are aspiring analys-
ands, jealous of the author(ess)'s
progress by less rigorous meth-
ods. The author is, of course,
Jane Howard: Life magazine
staffer, University of Michigan
alumna, fifth generation Mid-
westerner, and thirtyish, single,
White - Anglo - Saxon - Protes-
tant lover of "ice cream, fresh
air, Protestant hymns, and tiny
post offices." Miss Howard em-
barked upon a 20,000 mile od-
yssey, self-imposed and with the
blessing of a sabbatical from
her job, to explore and ostensib-
ly assess the encounter move-
ment as an entity, from Esalen
in the Big Sur to the National
Training Laboratories in Bethel,
Maine; the catalysts for this
endeavor -were ostensibly her
curiosity and her profound dis-
gust with the crassness, deceit,
and hypocrisy of American so-
ciety, a society she encapsules
as plasticized and polluted,
whose members are petrified of
divulging honest feeling and are
thus forced into the ambivalent
position of remaining atomized
yet interdependent.
Critically speaking, ambival-
ence pervades this book. As with
similar books of this genre,
where an author intentionally
experiences a phenomenon and
then attempts to generalize to
an analysis of the phenomenon,
the reader is torn between re-
sponding to the writer as pro-
tagonist so that the writer's per-
sonality b e c o m e s subject to
scrutiny ('That girl has pluck!'
or 'Jesus, what a dope!'), and

trying to tease out factual from
anecdotal material so that the
book becomes more treatise and
1 e s s autobiographical expose.
Miss Howard has obviously suf-
fered from this bind both in
her experience and her writing;
she found herself repeatedly
apologizing for her presence in
groups as a member of the
"media," and, in her book, she
too often reminds us of her
grassroots origins and concom-
mitant pe rso n al difficulties
while chronicling her experi-
The human potential, or en-
counter, movement is essential-
ly a collection of techniques of
applied theory in group treat-
ment. Contrived group member-
ship has, in recent years, be-
come a modish means of self-
improvement, and group experi-
ence is highly varied, dependent
upon the overall theoretical
orientation of the sponsor, the
orientation of the leader if he
differs from the sponsor, and-
a subject of some dispute-the
composition of the group. There
are several factors, however,
which distinguish the h u m a n
potential movement (encounter
groups in all their forms) from
g r o u p psychotherapy, social
group work treatment, individ-
ual family therapy, token econ-
omies, and so on.
The first such factor is the
movement's emphasis on health
rather than on pathology; thus,
for example, group members are
not seen as patients but as
clients who are encouraged to
renew acquaintance with their
feelings and/or senses and/or
bodies in order to reduce the
disparity between manifest re-
sponse and genuine response.
Encounter groups do not deny
neuroticism, n o r maladaptive
behavior, nor do they deny the
etiologies of personal problems;
they do, however, attempt to
train participants rather than
to develop i n s i g h t s, resolve.
transferences as opposed to act-

ing out the feelings associated
with them, or alter specifically
isolated maladaptive behaviors
contracted by all participants
as problematic.
A second factor distinguish-
ing the encounter movement
from other forms of group
treatment is the p r e s e n c e of
highly stylized program. Pro-
gram is group treatment lingo
for what the leader or therap-
ist introduces to serve as a cat-
alyst for what happens thera-
peutically in the group. In psy-
choanalytically - oriented group
psychotherapy, t h e "program"
might be unstructured discus-
sions among group members of
specific individual problems; in
social group work treatment of
sixth g r a d e boys, "program"
might be putting together model
cars from kits. The human po-
tential movement, with its em-
phasis on reintegrating expres-
sions of feeling into the be-
havioral repertoires of the par-
ticipants, uses program along a
continum that ranges from f a-
cilitative through confrontive to
startling. Thus participants are
encouraged to express their in-
ner selves t h r o u g h dancing,
pounding on drums or pillows,
drawing with crayons; to learn
trust and abandon through fall-
ing into one another's arms,
w a 1 k i n g around blindfolded,
staring deeply (known as "eye-
balling") into one another's
eyes or, on occasion, crotches;
to resolve interpersonal inter-
action problems through psy-
chodrama and role play and
verbal confrontation. Whether
the goal be to awaken and
change the individual partici-
pant with a possible secondary
gain that he will perhaps go
forth to change the systems of
which he is part, or to awaken
and change the systems so that
the individuals within them will
change too, specific program
activities are not tailored to the
participants but rather the par-
ticipants must fit themselves in-

to the program.
It is unquestionably ironic,
and Miss Howard recognizes
this, that people should program
for spontaneity. Miss Howard is,
fortunately, an honest woman,
and one of the major features
of her book is her candor in
telling us that she writes about
the human potential movement
as a layman for laymen. As
such, then, one must judge her
book on her terms. She spent
twelve months traveling hither
and yon about the country at-
tending encounter groups; for
the single, for married couples,
for families, for addicts, for bus-
inessmen, for churchmen. She
attended naked groups, clothed
groups, bioenergetics groups,
and nonverbal groups. She uses
her personal encounters with
this panoply of group activities
as a vehicle for illustrating not
only the extent and variety of
the human potential movement,
but its cultism, integrity, and
occasional dishonesty.
Her honesty in assessing what
happened to her, in the 20-20
vision of hindsight, while obvi-

One scene from Demetrius K.
Toteras' play, "Sunday They'll
Make Me a Saint," is represent-
ed in this volume. It is a curi-
ous, disturbing excerpt, follow-
ed by a brief apologia by James
Potts, who suggests that placing
Toteras in historical perspective
is futile. Potts invokes Artaud's
explanation of drama and his
reference to the metaphysical
man as exemplifying Toteras
and his work. Somehow one
feels that it is difficult to grant
Toteras, whose work resembles
the document of a paranoic
schizophrenic, a place alongside
Jarry's Papa Ubu, whom Yeats
defined as "The Savage God,"
much less compare him to Blake,
as does Potts. In construing To-
teras as an advocate of unrea-
son, Potts resurrects an ancient
neo-Platonic fallacy about art:
Toteras . . . is all the actors.
He is the valid and the inval-
id, the statement and the par-

Finally, there is David Har-
ris' translation of Gottfried
Benn's "The Voice Behind the
Curtain," a relatively minor
work by a misunderstood auth-
or. This in itself deserves some
praise, but Benn's brilliant Der
Ptolejnaer, the spiritual and
philosophical counterpart o f
Valery's Monsieur Teste, re-
mains untranslated, except for
a small section.
Benn is best remembered not
as an essential figure of Ger-
man Expressionism's violence
and disguest, but as an intense-
ly lyrical poet. Swift relates
that the emperor of Lilliput
could discern the movement of
the minute hand; Benn could
continuously discern the tran-
quil advances of corruption, of
decay, of fatigue. He could note
the progress of death, of damp-
ness. He remains a solitary and
lucid spectator of a multiform,
instantaneous and almost intol-
erably precise world.

1214 S. University
DIAL 8-6416
Spendl a marvelous evenin-C

m bidextrous

sion. In the end, The Duality of
Vision is neither encyclopedia
nor comparative study. It is a
compendium of quotes, cliches
and sketchy biographical ma-
terial, lacking locomotion and
Sorell has collected informa-
tion about personalities as di-
verse as Leonardo da Vinci and
Sarah Bernhardt, but his means
of selection seems indiscrimi-
nate. He attempts to build a
case on statistical grounds with-
out drawing distinctions be-
tween serious artistic endeavors
and hobbies. Supposedly, by see-
ing Robert Schumann as a crit-
ical journalist, Arnold Schoen-
berg as an a c -eptable but
second - rate painter, or Anna
Pavlova as a figurine sculptress,_
the reader will be overwhelmed
at the extrusion of g e n iu s
through multiple outlets, even if
it is only occasionally succesful.
Besides confirming the fact that
artists-like most people-de-
sire a change of menu from time
to time, the book mainly pro-
duces another stanza in praise
of famous men.
At the same time, the discov-
ery that some artists try their
hands at unfamiliar creative ac-
tivities is not nearly so produc-
tive as an analysis of the uni-
fying artistic principles which
extend into their extra-curricu-
lar artistic attempts. This kind
of analysis remains only at the
most elementary levels in Sor-
ell's work, and in many casesY
completely avoids the real pro-
fundity of certain artists.
A perfect example is Sorell's
insulting treatment of Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe to whom,
in a text of over 330 pages, the
author relinquishes a scant five.
He expounds Goethe's all-en-
comamna re avittand een-

ius by listing the "Olympi
major activities from liter
to agronomy. But not once
he try to extract a unif
principle from these varied
terests, except to mention
everything G o e t h e did
based on experience. The
most a r t i s t i c principle
Goethe's life and thought,
concepts of polarities and
amorphosis, are never sougi
any single expression. The
that one may read Faust o
Farbenlehre and in both dis
er the identical scientific-a
tic unity, postulated on the
iom that t r u t h must
poetically as well as intelle
ally valid, never appears
seems to me that Goe
painting and drawing-cert
ly the least of his accomp
ments and not at all unusua
a late eighteenth-century
tocrat-are neither proof
explanation of his geniu,
activities. Only when the u
and integrity of artistic. tho
can be assessed and apps
ated in a total oeuvre is
multiplicity of endeavor w
Another important point w
misses serious scrutiny in
study of the creative spiri
the moral perception whicl
often determines the applicE
ity of the term "genius." W
a person recognizes and
-fronts genius, he is overwh
ingly s t r u c k - inadverte
humbled-by the manifests
of something Good. The pe
of genius seems to be the e
lyst of some force brililia
superior to iormality, an
his work we perceive simul

artis ts
an's" to romanticize this phenome-
ature non, as Sorell tends to do when,
does in connection with Jesus, Napo-
fying leon, Shakespeare, Goethe and
d in- Leonardo, he quips: "Far be-
that yond their accomplishments,
as man's interest was aroused as
fore- much by the mystery of their
s of secret powers as by the secret
the power of their mystery." This
met- divorce of creativity from pro-
t in duction is perhaps the most ser-
fact ius problem in the book. It is
the confirmed by the complete lack
scov- of relationship between the text
rtis- and the numerous illustrations.
be Sorell discusses briefly the
ectu- evolution of individual genius
. It out of the anonymity of the
the's Middle Ages and he implies
tain- that the nature of this evolu-
lish- tion is bound to personal psy-
,l for chology and social milieu in a
aris- rather coincidental, abstract
nor sense. But other than pointing
s as to the developing "cult of per-
unity sonality" particularly manifest
ught in the High Renaissance, he
reci- never questions why it was that
the around the year 1400 artists
orth suddenly began a conscious pro-
gram of elevating the status of
hich their crafts to the prominence
th.s of what we know as the fine
it is arts. The whole question of gen-
hts ius can be fruitfully evaluated,
ali 0 only in terms of this change in
en consciousness and the new
hn- awareness of man's independ-
con- ence in time and space from his
elm- own source, an awareness which
tion continues to expand today.
rson n the end, even the self-con-
ta- tradictory title of the book-
antly The Duiity of Vision-is aeute-
d In ly revealing. Walter Sorell would
tan- have achieved a great deald
t- more, ahi he recognized and
over considered the real essence of
our artistry: the uncompromising
need unity of vision.

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