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February 12, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-12

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Saturday, February 12, 2005


aIje fftdiu ttIg

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editor

Managing Editor


44I still can't
Michigan let
me in.
- Arthur Miller, reflecting at age 85 on
his early college days, as quoted by Enoch
Brater in "Arthur Miller's America."

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In 2000, Miller held a public interview with
University English Prof. Enoch Brater. The
transcript of the interview was published by
Brater in a recent compilation of articles about
Miller. Here are two excerpts:
Enoch Brater: Let's begin with Ann Arbor.
Why did you come to study at the University of
Michigan? Why didn't someone like you go to
City College in New York, which would have
been a very logical path in the middle of the
Arthur Miller: Well, I did go to City College
for about three weeks in the evening; I was
working during the daytime. But I couldn't stay
awake, so I decided I'd work for a few years
and make enough money to go to school in the
daytime. I was a little better at staying awake
in the daytime. Anyway, coming to Michigan
was partly because at that time it was prob-
ably the only university in the United States
that had an active interest in creative writing.
At least I knew of no other. There was that, and
there was also that the tuition was so cheap,
and money was difficult to come by. So those
are the reasons.
EB: Did your family think it was odd that you
were coming all the way to the Midwest, leav-
ing New York and all that world behind you?
AM: I looked at it as a kind of adventure. I
thought of it as the Wild West. I was amazed
that in Detroit they had the same cars we had
in New York! For a young guy, it was a great
adventure. People didn't jump into airplanes in
those days and fly off to some place. Moving
around was a good deal more difficult.
EB: When you were a student here, how often
did you get back to New York?
AM: I got back during the Christmas vacation,

and that was about it. I usually had to work
during the spring vacation, and in fact that's
when I wrote my first play. So I got back once
each year.
EB: Tell us about The Michigan Daily. Why
did you stop writing for the Daily?
AM: Well, because I started to win prizes for
my plays, and I wanted to spend more time writ-
ing plays. I lost my impulse to do journalism
because I tended to want to make the stories
better, and that left fact behind a good deal of
the time. I found I wasn't really made to be a
reporter. The only thing about journalism was
that they had a payroll, and that wasn't the case,
in the theater. You were completely on your
own there and could easily starve to death, but I
decided to pursue the theatre because I loved it.
Audience Member 2: My question is this;
Because of your great courage during the
McCarthy era, when you were summoned
before the House Un-American Activities
Committee did you have a certain righteous
indignation? Where did you find the courage
to confront bullies like those who were stick-
ing up for McCarthy and following the crowd
and the prevalent political times? Or did you
have thoughts like other people would in your
position, such as how is this going to affect my
career? What can they do to me? What were
your feelings right before you were forced to
go before the committee?
AM: First of all, I was not dependent profes-
sionally on any corporation or big organization
for my livelihood, unlike people who worked
in Hollywood. The blacklist on Broadway the-
ater in New York existed, but it was very spas-
modic and weak, and I could always go back
and write a play unless they put me in jail. So

there was that. People who are totally depen-
dent on the film studio know that their career
was over if they resisted these investigations,
and that's terribly important. I suppose by the
time 1956 rolled around, which was the time
that I got sucked into it, I'd already felt as I
did for twenty years or more. Professor Brater
earlier read from my testimony and from my
editorials at The Michigan Daily that I was a
confirmed anti-Fascist; and I felt that the civi-
lization could go under if we had dictatorship,
and that was a feeling I had for two decades
by the time I was called. So I didn't feel I had
much choice in the matter. But as I would
emphasize again, I could follow through on
my feelings because I knew I could always sit
down at the typewriter and write a play which
a screenwriter could not do or an actor or a
director who worked on films.
Audience Member 3: I was wondering what
playwrights and possibly screenwriters you
enjoy reading and what people you would rec-
ommend for a young playwright to be reading
AM: If I were to try to educate anybody, I
would start with the Greeks and Shakespeare
and Ibsen and Strindberg, and I could name
probably thirty other people in contemporary
terms, you should know what Brecht was up
to, what some of our contemporary writers
are doing. The British writers at the moment
are terrific dramatists. The variety is endless.
There are many, many ways to attack a dra-
matic problem, and offhand it would be hard
for me to emphasize one over the other.
Transcript taken from "Arthur Miller's
America," courtesy of Enoch Brater and the
University of Michigan Press.

Miller, aside from writing for the theater, was a prolific contributor to magazines and newspapers. While attending the University, he was
a writer and an editor for The Michigan Daily, as well as The Gargoyle. In his later life, even after achieving fame as a playwright, Miller
continued to write pieces for magazines and various periodicals.

On Oct. 11, 1936, Miller wrote
an editorial for the Daily condemn-
ing the vice chairman of the board
of the Chrysler Corporation for
sympathizing with fascist ideology.
We reprint the piece, in its original
form, below.
Mr. Zeder's Talk
"Hitler is doing a great job,
he's carrying on, he's putting
his house in order..." Mr. Zeder
stated. What we need is a re-
dedication to the basic virtues
of "life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness," Mr. Zeder also
Fine! Mr. Zeder, vice-chair-
man of the Board, Chrysler Cor-
poration. We all thank you, our
mothers thank you, our fathers
thank you. Saluta! Mr. Zeder for
saving the liberals of this local-
ity the trouble of convincing the
people that American Big Busi-
ness is Fascist and more treason-
able to the American form of
government than three times the
number of Communists in Amer-
ica today.
Congratulations! Mr. Zeder
and the Chrysler Corporation for
explaining so concisely that it
is Big Business which is behind
the "people's" demand for a big-
ger navy which General Smed-
ley Butler told me had not ONE
Some of us had thought that
when you and the Republicans
you are backing said you were
for a "different way" of han-
dling relief - for "progress
of industry founded on sound
principles," well we thought
that perhaps you meant what

Manufacturers, thank you for
telling us in one breath your aim
to Fascistize American industry
and in the next that you would
enjoy having we college men help
you do it!
We don't know how we can
repay this debt to you - this debt
we owe you for telling the Great
American College Men YOUR-
SELVES that he is preferred
because it is more probable that
with his training in "cultural sub-
jects" he will help his bosses trim
his uneducated fellow workers
out of their just desserts.
But we forget our President
Mr. Ruthven. In our joy we for-
get our President or maybe it was
because his talk is on page 6.
But he has also forgotten - our
President Mr. Ruthven has. HE
has forgotten that heavy indus-
try moguls like our Mr. Zeder
have been and are the richest,
most powerful sect in the coun-
try. He has forgotten that Mr.
Zeder is a fascist. HE has for-
gotten that being powerful they
will not annihilate themselves
- that being the most powerful
sect in our American Democ-
racy they will not annihilate
themselves. HE must have for-
gotten for he says the choice is
not "between Fascism and Com-
munism." Does HE believe Mr.
Zeder's democracy will outlaw
Mr. Zeder? He can't believe that,
for Mr. Zeder told our President
Mr. Ruthven in the Union that he
prefers fascism. Mr. Zeder then,
doesn't agree with our Presi-
dent. For not only is Mr. Zeder
a fascist, but he is a fighter like
Hitler against Communism. Not
only does Mr. Zeder find that
the choice IS Fascism or Com-
munism, but he must therefore
completely disagree with our

In 1953, Miller wrote an essay on
life at the University, both in the 1950s
and when he attended, for the now-
defunct Holiday magazine. Selected
quotations are reprinted below.
University of Michigan
My first affection for the Uni-
versity of Michigan was due,
simply, to their accepting me.
They had already turned me
down twice because my academ-
ic record (I had flunked algebra
three times in my Brooklyn high
school) was so low as to be prac-
tically invisible, but the dean
reversed himself after two letters
in which I wrote that since work-
ing for two years - in a ware-
house at fifteen dollars a week
- I had turned into a much more
serious fellow. He said he would
give me a try, but I had better
make some grades. I could not
conceive of a dean at Columbia
or Harvard doing that.
I earned fifteen dollars a month
for feeding a building full of mice
- the National Youth Adminis-
tration footing the bill - and out
of it I paid $1.75 a week for my
room and squeezed the rest for my
Granger tobacco (two packs for
thirteen cents), my books, laun-
dry, and movies. For my meals I
washed dishes in the co-op cafete-
ria. My eyeglasses were supplied
by the health service, and my teeth
were fixed for the cost of materi-
als. The girls paid for themselves,
including the one I married.
" " "
But political facts were not all I
learned. I learned that under cer-
tain atmospheric conditions you
could ice-skate up and down all
the streets in Ann Arbor at night. I
learned that toward June you could

I left Ann Arbor in the spring
of 1938 and in two months was on
relief. But, whether the measure-
ment was false or not, I felt that I
had accomplished something there.
I knew at least how much I did not
know. I had found many friends and
had respect of the ones that mattered
to me. It had been a small world,
gentler than the real one but tough
enough. It was my idea of what a
university ought to be.
The student will need about a
thousand dollars a year, which is
cheaper than a lot of other places.
He will get free medical care and
hospitalization; he will be able to
borrow money from the university
if he needs it and may take nearly
forever to pay it back; he will use
modern laboratories in the scienc-
es and an excellent library in the
humanities; as a freshman he will
live in new dormitories, and the
girls will have to be in bed by ten
thirty; if he flies to school he will
land at Willow Run Airport, the
safest in the country, owned now
by the university; he will have
radio station and a television sta-
tion to try his scripts, if he writes,
and if he is more literary than that
he can try for a Hopwood Award
in poetry, drama, the essay and
the novel.
He will meet students of many
backgrounds. Two thirds of them
will be from Michigan and a large
proportion of those from small
towns. About nine hundred will be
foreign, including Japanese, 'Irks,
Chinese and Europeans. If he is
Negro he will find little discrimi-
nation, except in a few Greek-letter
fraternities. Most of his classes will
be large in the first few years but his
teachers have regular visiting hours,
and with a little push he can get to
know them. He will not be permit-


EDITORIAL STAFF Jason Z. Pesick, Editor in Chief
Alison Go, Managing Editor
NEWS Farayha Arrine, Managing Editor'


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