Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

March 13, 1989 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Michigan Doily - Monday, March 13, 1989 - Page 9



Cries of injustice

IN Spanish, "Pregones" means the shouts that
come from open marketplaces or from what
translates in English to town criers. Friday and
Saturday night, Pregones shouted, cried, whis-
pered and sang its messages in its productions
Voces de Acero/Voice of Steel and Mi-
grants!/Cantata a los Emigrantes.
Voices focused on the psychological trauma
of Puerto Rican political prisoners in a
maximum security experimental prison in
Kentucky. Through repetitive pantomines of the
prisoners' frequent searches, Pregones showed
the torture inherent in the maddening routines.
The prisoners were submitted to a torture called
"a room and a bed" in which they were confined
for the length of their sentences to small
completely white rooms without windows. The
prisoners were isolated with the arrangement of
the set into small grey platforms on the floor as
loci of activity, each one a small stage.
The music was simple - percussion and a
synthesizer - but it was woven into the
performance as more than accompaniment. It
almost became a character, adding authority to
the characters' expressions through its
The show was over half in Spanish, and its
most effective monologue played with the lan-
guage so intricately that it was untranslatable.
This detracted from its message for non-Spanish

speakers; it wouldn't have carried the same im-
pact read from a leaflet in the program.
Members of the troupe have expressed
concern about the language problem.Voices is
a work in progress; part of the creative process
of the troupe is to consult its audience and
restructure its performances around constructive
criticism. The troupe plays to many different
audiences with varying degrees of understanding
of Spanish and English and faces the problem of
many Puerto Ricans in communicating with a
foreign culture. However, considering the
greater possibility that members of the audience
would not speak Spanish, the bilinguality
should have at least been mentioned.in the
Migrants! was about half in Spanish, and as
such was also partially inaccessible to non-
Spanish speakers, but the actors conveyed the
meaning well through their actions and inflec-
tions. The story, like the history of Puerto
Rico, was fragmented and told of oppression and
imperialism. It was interspersed with scenes of
New York Puerto Ricans in the winter gradually
empowering themselves through interaction.
Music was again an important part of the
show, in the traditional style of Puerto Rico,
representing the culture that the Puerto Ricans
maintained in the face of foreign rule.
The play mixed humor and horror to express
the Puerto Rican experience, most notably in
the first scene, in which Juan Gonzales, the

interpreter for Juan Ponce de Leon, the
conqueror of the island' testifies at a royal
hearing to determine if he deserves the rewards
he requests of the king. The witnesses burlesque
the pomposity of the Spanish nobility with a
hilarious slapsick routine. Juan Gonzales stands,
heroically as the witnesses tell of the massacres
he led of the Taino Indians.
In the fourth scene, "The Circus Comes to
Town," Pregones transcends the language barrier
with an allegorical representation of a circus led
by a ringleader, representing the U.S. govern-
ment, who enthralls all but a few Puerto Ricans
with his money and amateurish magic tricks,
making them perform for him. The humorous
spectacle is overshadowed by the atrocities it
represents, and leaves the audience with a strong
Latin America has a great tradition of com-
munity-based theater, informing people who
might not otherwise be educated about issues.
Pregones brings this tradition to the United
States mainstream audience and furthers under-
standing of the Puerto Rican experience in the

PREGONES will be performing TIHE EM-
BRACE, its show about AIDS, Monday night
at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on
Washtenaw at 8:00 pm. Admission is free.

Perusing the white

(male) pages

LAST week, while reading next
term's list of graduate course offer-
ings in the University's English
Department, I came across the fol-
lowing explanation as to how a par-
ticular professor, purporting to teach
a Contemporary Fiction class, man-
aged to come up with a syllabus of
all white men:
"...these particular writers have
been chosen not on the basis of their

sex (all of them happen to be male
partly because strong female and
ethnic talent did not surface in this
country until the Seventies and
Eighties), their race, or their religion
but because they are generally con-
sidered by critics and scholars to be
the most important writers of the
There are, as I would hope any
reader of contemporary fiction im-
mediately senses, some rather
strange things about this statement.
The exclusion of all the fiction
written in the last 19 years from a
definition of what is "contempor-
ary." The apparent ignorance of
numerous women and people of
color who, even within his (need I
add that a white man wrote this
description?) prescribed time frames
-1945 to 1970 - are excluded.
But the professor has an answer
to both of these objections. Litera-
ture written before 1970 belongs to
literary history. There are, presum-
ably, less value judgements involved
in teaching such works - novels
that have passed the test of history
with flying colors. Everyone agrees
they are classics. Just ask his "critics
and scholars," who, presumably,
would dispense with the second ob-
jection by claiming that those works
deemed great by "literary history" are
indeed great. Case closed.
But wait a minute. What critics
and scholars? And what does it mean
to say that novels by Norman
Mailer, Saul Bellow, and Jerzy

Kosinski are "generally considered"
to be the "most important," to be
"classics"? Important according to
what criteria, and what group(s) of
people? And just what is a classic
anyway? Not only are none of these
questions answered, but given the
way this course description is
worded, they cannot even be asked.
For statements such as the one I
quoted - and others like them refer-
ring to writers "who have become
established and widely recognized"
- consistently employ the passive
voice to obscure the issue of who is
making these judgements, and why.
Until we question who defines a
classic - and the way they define it
- white men will continue to
choose white male authors as those
deserving of both the label "great" as
well as a secure place in the annals
of literary history. Until we question
prevailing definitions of literary his-
tory, classifications excluding novels
written in the '70s and '80s - as in
this case - will marginalize all the
Toni Morrisons, Maxine Hong
Kingstons, Gloria Naylors, and
Leslie Silkos.
But even within this professor's
own time period, who decides that
novels by Mailer and Bellow about
affluent white male intellectuals who
cannot adjust to, .and consequently
perpetrate violence against, women
are necessarily "better" than Paule
Marshall's Brown Girl, Brown
Stones (1959) or Tillie Olsen's Tell
Me a Riddle (1962) or N. Scott
Momaday's Pullitzer-Prize-winning
house Made of Dawn (1966) or
Toni Cade Barmbara's Gorilla My
Love, the work for which started
appearing in 1959? And, since this
professor allows himself non-U.S.
authors like Samuel Beckett among
an otherwise all-U.S. cast, what
about Christa Wolf and Wole
Soyinka and Clarice Lispector and
Camara Laye and Doris Lessing, to
name a few?
I am not, for the record, suggest-
ing that this "contemporary fiction"'
class be censored. But I am suggest-
ing that it is at the very least naive
- and more likely intellectually
dishonest - to hide behind anony-
mous scholars' supposedly "expert"
opinion as a way of justifying ges-
tures of sexual and racial exclusion
that are both overt and comprehen-

sive. I am suggesting that there is
something inherently wrong in a
course that claims to represent the
"best" of contemporary fiction with-
out ever defining the criteria by
which "best" becomes equated with
ten white male authors, many of
whose supposedly best writings -
such as Mailer's An American
Dream - are so sexist as to be bor-
derline pornographic, detracting from
whatever redeeming features they
might have.
And I am, most of all, suggesting
that the very idea of the "classic"
fosters myths about literature and the
arts as somehow better than and re-
moved from the political and
historical contexts in which culture

is made and contested by real people
for specific, material reasons. Art
does not exist in a vacuum, and to
the degree that we create one around
it - designating one work as a
"classic," placing another in an im-
posing museum designed to intimi-
date rather than teach - we con-
tribute to the fragmentation of expe-
rience afflicting our culture. And we
drain art works of what makes them
exciting: not their "form," not their
"style," but rather the ways in which
both of these manage to convey a
particular message and impact upon
a particular historical context.
See Canon, Page 10

Beer for Pauts
Monday 1/2 Price Pizzas (Pizza for Peanuts, too) and $2.50 Pitchers.
Tuesday Six Molson Canadians for only Six American Bucks.
Wednesday $1.75 buys you a Whole Pitcher of our Featured Beer.
Thursday "Soon to be World Famous" Pitcher Night. All our Pitchers
are $1.00 off.
Good TimE * Drink Special Start at 9 p.m.
. Imagine the thrill of fly-
ing a jet aircraft! Air Force
ROTC offers you leadership
training and an excellent start to a ca-
reer as an Air Force pilot. If you have what
it takes, check out Air Force ROTC today
m m Ma - -w-l
w . m n m
Lea&-xd ip Ev~enlewe Starts Here

Soul archivist Roland Gift's (center) smooth crooning is the most
distinguishing characteristic of the Fine Young Cannibals, and makes
the three-years-in-the-making The Raw and the Cooked worth the wait.
Fine Young Cannibals
The Raw & The Cooked
I.R.S. records
As sweaty as he got during all those tricky (lance steps, as much hair as he
.threw around, the cognoscenti still dismissed Terrence Tr nt D'Arby as
"designer soul." Heaven knows the extremes they'll go to.-trying t'shrug off
Cannibal crooner Roland Gift, with his carefully pressed suits and his razored
hairin.baie.hleing a big mistake though, because Gift possesses a
smoth, sharp, and yes, soulful voice that makes The Raw & The Cooked
one of the most pleasing pop records to come along in recent memory.
"She Drives Me Crazy," the first single, is already in heavy rotation on
MTV. A polite funk number, it showcases Gift's gift for phrasing. a lyrit.
Effortlessly, he shifts from an Al Green whisper to a Sam Cooke growl and
back again. Some credit belongs to producer David Z. (Prince, The Jets,
Sheila E.) for providing the Minneapolis-flavored backdrop that could have
saved the Cannibal's lukewarm debut (and some belongs to Ex-English Beat
members Andy Cox and David Steele, for whatever they do) but Gift is un-
deniably the real star.
Squeeze's Jools Holland fumrishes a spiffy piano solo on "Good Thing'
which made its first appearance two years ago in the barroom sequence of the
Danny DeVito/Richard Dreyfuss movie Tin Men. A sweet, well-executed
sixties soul throwback, it almost makes you wish they had settled on an en-
tire album of period pieces. But they do everything so well, that even the
disco-fied tunes go down easily.
- The finest moment for the Fine Young Cannibals closes out the second
side of The Raw & The Cooked. The Buzzocks' "Ever Fallen In Love"
(again, a cut that first reached these ears in a motion picture from two years
ago, Jonathan Demc's masterpiece Something Wild) is a wicked, rocking,
hyperactive-but-cool reroasting of a punk rock chestnut. Being the only
cover on the album, it makes me wonder what would happen if the Canni-
bals lay aside their songwriting pens for good. It certainly would eliminate
another three-plus year wait between albums. And besides, haven't enough
songs been written already?I could get into Gift's taking on some other
lesser known pop/punk compositions. Or vcn the telephone book, for that
mnatter. -Mark Swart
The Asian Studies Student Association
Mohd Anis Md Nor
U-M Doctoral Candidate in Performance Traditions of Southeast Asia,
Southeast'Asian Studies, who will present his unique perspective
on a topic of great current interest
Tuesday, March 14
7:00 p.m.
200 Lane Hall
(on the corner of State & Washington)
For more infornation, please cal995-1341 or stop by 49 Lane Hall
Coming next month: Music of Indonesia

The Asian Studies Student Association is open to all students with an interestinAsia. ASSA.moets
every other Thursday (next onO March) at 5:00 pm in the Lane Hall Commons Room



This summer,
you could once
again get the
same old
boring, just-
money job. Or
a job that's so
much fun, it has
an amusement park built
right in. A job at The Point
Cedar Point

areas of the
park. We'll
pay you well,
and you'll
have the
opportunity to
earn a bonus. We
have a great hous-
ing and recreation pro-
t gram. And it'sjust steps from
a terrific Lake Erie beach.
Make friends for life and


A.a...tmnnt -;-- tho - A.............. ....... I..n-

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan