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October 12, 1984 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-12
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C -oE
C 0 V E

E X"
By Michael E. Moore
The Land of Ulro
By Czeslaw Milosz
Farrer, Strauss, Giroux. $17.95
W HEN I learned, in 1982, that Czeslaw
Milosz would teach a course the
following winter, at the University of
Michigan, I was prepared to meet the
grim-faced old man, pinched hard by
history, whom I had imagined and
thought that I had seen in a photograph.
To my amazement, however, there ap-
peared a dignified gentleman, a lover of
poetry as well as of good Bordeaux,
whose eyes were lit with a deep, hard-
won kindness.
That he had been born in Lithuania
(in 1911) seemed incredible-I studied
the place in a historical atlas that
evening, a place more deeply buried in
Russian frost than Poland, a place with
its own panoply of historical detail that
had simply vanished.
I could not help but see Milosz as
though he were a spirit wandering the
earth. Nevertheless, the man was
there, having survived an upheaval
which he compares to the collapse of
Rome: "As a young man I was struck
by the magnitude of what was occuring
in my century, a magnitude equaling,
perhaps even surpassing the decline
and fall of antiquity..."
The fact impressed upon me how any
tradition can appear to have died, but
suddenly spring to life in some un-
foreseen quarter.
The Land of Ulro is a difficult book,
and fittingly begins with the warning
that: "Dear reader, this book was not
intended for you..."
Published in Polish in 1977, it was
destined only for a small circle of
Polish readers, and hence it includes
many names that are unfamiliar. Here
one is helped by the excellent and enter-
taining notes of the translator, Louis
An even greater help is given by
Milosz's book The History of Polish
Literature, now reprinted (U. of C.,
The name Ulro is from Blake. It
denotes that realm of spiritual pain
such as is borne and must be borne
by the crippled man. Blake himself
was not one of its inhabitants,
unlike the scientists, those
proponents of Newtonian physics,
the philosophers, and most other
poets and artists of his day. And
that goes for their descendants in
the nineteenth and twentieth cen-
turies, up to and including the
The Land of Ulro describes the
spiritual realm which has come to so
predominate our century, the strong-
handed rule that has come to be exer-

cised in intellectual matters by science.
If asked to tell simply and clearly what
the book was about, I should answer in
this way: it is about the rise of the
modern-scientific viewpoint in the 18th
century, and how various thinkers,
poets and prophets attempted to com-
bat its vision of the world,
Milosz also seeks to show how the
strategies of these thinkers failed, and
endeavors to formulate the 'counter-
vailing argument' which might succeed
in their place.
As he remarks, "the scientific truths
fed me by civilization have never per-
suaded me."
These truths have persuaded most
people, however, with the result that
religion has been usurped. It is to
restore the imaginative world within
which Christianity can flourish and be
believed in that Milosz has followed this
intellectual quest.
In fact, however, the book entails
much more than this. As the author
points out, the book is composed like a
mosaic, of interrelated parts which do
not stand on their own. It is possible to
fault the book for its strange lack of
form, though it has the character of a
personal meditation, and it meanders
with the dialectical purpose of a good
One cannot abstract from the work
what are its 'essential points,' since
these points run throughout the book. It
is a book of details, digressions;
veritable alcoves, closets, and
vestibules open up on every page.
One must be prepared to study Blake,
Dostoevsky, Swedenborg, and O.L.
Milosz. The hunt is carried through an-
cient gnosticism, cabalistic systems, as
well as 19th century Romanticism and
Goethe's attempt to guide science into a
different track from that which it has
followed in spite of him.
"Who was I? Who am I now, years
later. . . ?" These opening lines
describe the autobiographical nature of
the book, which traces the many in-
fluences on Milosz's developement, the
links in the hermetic tradition with
which he cautiously identifies.
This project is given an unusual twist
by Milosz's antipathy toward memior-
writing: But not everyone is fated to
compile his memiors, least of all I.
That is because mine is a pained,
bruised, excoriated memory, and I
am fearful of the past, as once I was
fearful of a page in a natural-history
book showing a gyena standing
upright with its forepaws on a
This passage, numinous and
grotesque, is followed by an extended
passage concerning memory and the
moment; and so the book proceeds.
On the one hand, it is meant to stand
as an intellectual biography, but it is
one in which the author himself rarely
appears. There is little direct personal
statement, but a great deal of intellec-
tual history.
Certain of the themes which give
shape to the work as a whole (the
'mosiac' viewed from a distance) can
be traced through several other works
as well.
Foremost is the opposition of
humanity and nature, a theme which
appears in Visions From San Francisco
Bay, and in The Witness of Poetry.
That Blake and Swedenborg figure
importantly in my intellectual life
does not imply any radical reversal

tide of
the right
By Steve Wise
A N F-15 fighter plane recently sat
on North Campus for a few days
and no one seemed to care. Sure, a few
people tried to raise a protest against
what in past years might have been
seen as a blatant - and clearly objec-
tionable - military presence on cam-
pus, but most students did, not even
know about the jet. But it was more
than just apathy working against the
Students' political attitudes are
changing. Protests are no longer a
priority, social issues are losing their
salience and students are apparently
letting go of their liberalism.
"They're becoming more conser-
vative," said Gretchen Morris, co-
coordinator of the Reagan-Bush cam-
pus campaign. "That's not to say
they're right wing, but it's becoming
more acceptable to say your're
Some signs of campus conservatism
are clearer than just a lack of
protestors. The local chapter of the
Campus Republicans doubled its size
last year and is planning meetings and
a publicity drive soon to continue that
growth and capitalize on political in-
terest caused by the November elec-
"They're making a marketing effort
to make sure old members know we're
here and to pick up new members,"
said Morris, chairman of the College
Republicans last year.
The growth is a stark contrast to the
College Republicans of the early 1970's,
a time when the University established
its reputation as one of the country's
most liberal schools. In those years, the
organization not only didn't grow, but it
had trouble merely continuing to exist.
"Back then. . ., if they had a meeting
that was publicized, it was probably
broken up by people who didn't like it,"
said Morris.
"The organization itself was really
falling apart," said Ann Arbor city
councilman Jim Blow, vice chairman of
the College Republicans in the 1970-71
school year. "We'd have a meeting and
only eight or 10 people would show up.
People found out there was no reason to
disrupt the meetings because it would
not cause any controversy."
Another manifestation of the change
in campus politics is the Michigan
Review, which represents a "conser-
vative, free market type of voice," ac-
cording to former Review editor in
chief Ted Barnett. Started two years
ago, the Review has grown beyond it's
original Republican stances, according
to Barnett.
"Some of it was started by

Republican groups that wanted a
Republican forum," said Barnett, one
'of the Review's original staffers. "Once
they started thinking about it, they saw
people didn't just want to tout party
Brent Haynes; current publisher of
the Review, said the publication may go
monthly soon, where before it had
published sporadically, perhaps three
to four times per year. Haynes says the
number of people interested in working
for the Review is growing, and more
significantly, reactions to the
publication itself have been positive.
"The response is encouraging, even
in people who don't have time to work,"
said Haynes. "We get comments from,
'Keep up the good work,' to 'we wanted
something different.'"
That response is one indication of
perhaps the most crucial aspect of the
conservative growth: the increasingly
open acceptance of conservatives and
Republicans by students. The ap-
pearance of a conservative group in the
fishbowl or at a recruiting event like
Festifall hardly raises an eyebrow
today. Years ago, according to Blow,
such appearances regularly prompted
"confrontations," including shouting
matches and the occasional destruction
of a Republican poster.
"The reputation of the U. of M. cam-
pus gave people a fear of being
ostracized if you said you were
Republican," said Morris. "Today they
see that they have friends who join and
are not ostracized and join them."
"It's more vogue to be conservative,"
suggested Mary Rowland, former

Haynes: 'Today's students inherit no legacy from

"It's definitely true that conser-
vatism and the desire for fiscal or
financial security is pulling people into
the conservative camp," said Har-
tman. "They see, rightly or wrongly,
that the Republicans will get them a
Dr. Alexander Astin, who has been
surveying student attitudes for 19
years, also said economic concerns are
driving students in a new direction. But
while his statistics show a growth in

How would you characterize your political views?

Milosz: Won Nobel Prize for poetry i
of previous attachments. On the
contrary, only now do I discern the
thread joining the various phases of.
. . my mind's progress:
Catholicism, Stanislaw Brzozowski,
Oscar Milosz, Hegelianism. . .
Swedenborg, Simone Weil, Shestov,
Blake. That thread is my an-
thropocentrism and my bias against
His allegience to the world of man, to
his law, art, longing for God, is con-
trasted with Nature, a world of deter-
minism, devoid of meaning and
dominated by biological necessity.
The action of science, beginning with
the 18th century, has been to bind the
human imagination to a vision of the
world as a mathematical structure, in
which man is wholly contained. Spin-
ning through a fathomless universe,
mankind is not only insignificant, but
can be viewed as little more than a
biological machine, "as collections of
This point of view gave a challenge to
orthodox Christianity which the Church
could not meet.
The hegemony of the scientific view
has led to decadence, both in our
spiritual life, and in literature, which
has largely surrendered the field to
science. It is this view that has caused
Milosz to hunt for a 'countervailing

argument' in the works of Blake,
Swedenborg, and O.L. Milosz. This
argument takes the form of a
neomanichaean, apocalyptic Christian-
ity, a traditin he finds in each of those
Of his mentor Simone Weil, he says
Weil's Christianity, heavily laden
with dualism, both in its Platonic
and Manichaean versions, is by no
means palatable to all, yet it gains
enormously in importance as the
exact opposite, as the counterbalan-
ce to that new theology which
prostrates itself before the world.
An interesting comparison can be
made between Milosz and St.
Augustine, who ,was an enthusiastic
member of the Manichaean faith in his
youth. As Peter Brown says in his
Augustine of Hippo, Only this group,
Augustine thought, could answer
the -question that had begun to
'torment' him as soon as his 'con-
version' -to philosophy has caused
him to think seriously: 'From what
cause do we do evil.'
Similarly, Milosz was led by this
same question into an analogous
position. Unde malum-wherefrom
evil, or the old, all-embracing
question of whether the world was

1975 ......
1976 ......
1977 ......
1978 ......
1979 ......
1980 ......
1981 ......
1982 . . .. .
1983 ......

For Left


Middle of
the Road



life was e
tant as one
"Now n
and de)
charts, so
"It may
Forces c
also leadi
Morris s
strongly in
of today's
"Our p
to us," she
of the '50s<
Morris a
parents a
changes t
current ge
look at the
whole '60s
from Gros:
the same
parents ar
The fad
another co
the draft
harder to f
seems to
"I remei
was only
history, wl
so young."
While ti
Nam fuele
or liberal
feels less
Haynes sa
their pr
feel they

All numbers are percentages. Source: National Norms for Entering College
Freshmen, published by Office of Research of the American Council on Education
at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Michigan Student Assembly president
and currently local field coordinator for
Senatro Carl Levin, "so people who are
conservative are more active. .
R OWLAND also supports what
seems to be the most common ex-
planation for the growth of conser-
vatism. She believes students are put-
ting money matters higher on their
priority lists.
"It's people becoming more concer-
ned about their economic welfare,"
said Rowland. "Therefore they tend to
have more conservative values which
are less threatening to their economic
Andrew Hartman, president of the
College Democrats, agrees with
Rowland. He said economic concerns
make it more difficult for him to recruit

conservatism and monetary motivation
(see charts), the director of UCLA's
Higher Education Research Institute
said that new direction is not so much
a political one.
"The most important changes are in
values, not in conservatism," Astin
said. "Students are more materialistic
than ever. They're more into making
money and being in college to make
Astin said he sees a parallel decline in
students' social concern. Students are
much less likely to go into social service
careers like teaching, and much more
likely to choose business, computer
science and other financially rewarding
careers than they were in years past.
Astin also said the questions in his
survey about reasons for attending
college clearly illustrate students'

14 Weekend/Friday, October 12, 1984


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