The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 3B
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, Novemher 15, 2012 - 3B
"These eyes have seen a lot of love, but they're never gonna see another one like I had with you."
greatness o R'Gatsby
Les Voyageurs chop their own wood for use in the cabin.
From Page lB
an hockey team.
Just like home
of love and its drivers. The book
shows how more often than not,
Like in the salons of 17th we love ideals instead of realities
and 78th century France, (green lights, Daisy, money, chil-
this weekly installment dren). Its characters are driven
toward false images of happiness
will feature two Daily Arts in order to fulfill needs resid-
writers discussing the finer ing in their pasts, it's not only a
points of mediums beautiful concept, but a painfully
farts relatable one as well.
from at least 70 years ago. Other points of contention.
exist, and that short paragraph
probably did 'little to quell the
There are certain books that haters, but still, against it all,
sit on most every high schooler's "The Great Gatsby" thrives on its
bookshelf: a faded "Catcher in sense of feeling. Even if certain
the Rye," an annotated "Brave scenes seem contrived, or char-
New World," perhaps some acters overbearing, underneath
Hemingway and, of course, the it all is a heart of truth which
ubiquitous "The Great Gatsby." embodies romantic, and gross,
These were (or should, have parts of humanity.
been) staples of a young per- Is "The Great Gatsby" one
son's literary diet, and while one of the greatest books of the
could certainly look back and last century? Probably. Does it
find trifling problems with most have flaws? Of course. But what
of these germinal titles ("Catch- doesn't? Fitzgerald resided in a
er" is just #firstworldproblems period of American history tar-
set 50 years ago, Hemingway is nished by excessive greed and
sexist and hates bulls, etc.), it's self-interest. Within this moment
much more difficult to harangue in time, he sculpted a modern
against Fitzgerald's timeless tragedy of Shakespearean pro-
masterpiece. portions. "The Great Gatsby" is
The magic of Fitzgerald's writ- wonderfully written, heartbreak-
ing in "Gatsby" is that it perfectly ing and insightful; a novel that
balanced a sense of feeling with a should be on every person's shelf.
sense of story; to explain, every -MATT EASTON
sentence has a poetic feel without
being weighed down by indul-
gent tendencies. If you were to
read through "Gatsby," seeking to I once fell in love with a com-
eliminate unnecessary sentences plete buffoon: someone shallow,
or to inject needed meaning, indifferent and flighty. He was
you would find the task utterly the male equivalent of Daisy
impossible. That's how excellent- Buchanan: pretty, and with the
ly Fitzgerald was able to connect emotional understanding and
his prose with his intent. Concise range of a slow clap. Perhaps I'm
and kinetic, poignant but never jaded. Maybe I'm biased because
cloying, "Gatsby" is a poem in my own failed romance ended
novel form, all while being almost about as well as Myrtle Wilson's
absurdly readable. life. But each time I sat down
That being said, it isn't usu- to read "The Great Gatsby," I
ally Fitzgerald's style that annoys couldn't get past the frailty of
those who hate his work: It's the human sacrifice and the flaws
"inanity" of is plots and char- behind the characters' reasoning.
acters with the central figure of There are plenty of novels that
derision being Daisy. For exam- benefit from exposing human
ple, why would Gatsby love a nature: In fact, most respected
woman like Daisy (as if we our- authors spend years trying to
selves were pinnacles of human pin down the exact expression of
decency)? Fitzgerald's depiction humility and emotional vulner-
of Daisy/Gatsby is an example ability in their writing. In that,
of his profound understanding Fitzgerald does a spectacular job.
Each character is fantastically
flawed, human and imperfect. If
you didn't dislike each charac-
ter at some point, you've done an
injustice in reading the novel.
My unhappiness stems from
the overtly ungratifying depths
to which the characters sink
in the name of love. No doubt,
I've been a fool while muddling
through feelings. But it seems
difficult to imagine a scenario
in which, after witnessing my
ungrateful, unfaithful true love
run a person over, I would sit back
and take the blame. It's difficult
for me to imagine a time in which
I would take a mistress, find her
struck dead and promptly take
my wife on a vacation to rekindle'
People are irrational. They
are fearful and uncertain, but
more often than not, the imme-
diate need for self preservation
kicks in. Furthermrnr, the desire
to have and to own supersedes
the desire to please. Had Daisy
chosen Gatsby, I'd understand
his reaction. Had Daisy not
slept with Gatsby, I'd under-
stand Tom's reaction. But I can't,
and the novel feels incomplete:
like something that had all the
workings to be phenomenal, but
instead falls right before the big
jump. It feels like a cop-out to
watch Gatsby die without con-
fronting Daisy. It feels wrong to
watch Nick be a casual bystander
who doesn't interfere, but has all
The novel, as a piece of lit-
erature, is phenomenally writ-
ten. Fitzgerald is a master of
language, and it shows in each
sentence. But the rationale, the
logic behind the novel, is inher-
ently harder to understand. It
doesn't have to be cut and dry.
I don't mind analyzing motives,
I don't mind accepting that cer-
tain characters are more flawed
than others. I do mind making
excuses for characters: witness-
ing them make mistakes that
Is "The Great Gatsby" worth
reading? Absolutely. Is it worth
loving as much as every teenager
seems to love it? Perhaps not.
is a 25
is all a
dents who want to be a Seated before the crackling
f the society start the pro- fire, it's hard to tell whether
y attending Sunday pot- Alexander's face is lit by the
the society's weekly event. flicker of flames lapping at logs
eal usually attracts about or her thoughts and memories of
eople, including actives, her fellow LVs.
and friends of LVs. Dinner "It's like a family that once
es a savory assortment of you have it you can't imagine not
made dishes adorning the being a part of it - you just gel,"
wooden dining room table. Alexander said. "For some rea-
erward an educational son we attract people who are
rtation begins, organized easygoing and interesting and
vice-chief, which is typi- we just all really like each other
pecific to outdoor-related and support each other. It's pret-
ts. Past presentations ty warm."
by University professors Along with friendship, eter-
ed monarch butterflies nal love for the outdoors is cen-
renteering. tral to the society.
oved it because it's just a But Alexander noted that Les
of people who love going Voyageurs is not a backpacking
e; it's a very cool group of club. Social gatherings around
Bonadonna said. the fire, sitting around at the
dinner table and a strong sense
Out on their own of brotherhood and sisterhood
distinguish LVs from traditional
y six new members were backpacking groups.
ed this year - more than Three active LVs, including
for Les Voyageurs - in a Alexander, currently live in the
ceremonial process mem- one-bedroom bungalow -- a
re forbidden to discuss. room that takes up the entire
induction took place two second story, its walls lined
ago over the course of a with closets and bookshelves
md, filling the cabin with while mattresses cover the floor,
s, inductees and shams Bunks often appear out of neces-
ame back for the ceremony sity when more members move
e 50 people in total. in throughout the year.
:ugh she declined to com- Despite the lack of privacy
on the details of the pro- everyone kind of has their own
lexander emphasized that space - bookshelves serve as
ing occurred. makeshift walls separatingbeds.
e can acknowledge that Though the cabin was empty
ts but we don't. tell any- at the time, special events attract
hat we do," she said. "It's active LVs over the Broadway
et thing, but it's really bridge and through the woods to
Ve just don't talk about it Habe Mills Pine Lodge.
se we want it to be a spe- Old Timers' Night brings peo-
xperience for the people ple back to the lodge, honoring
o through it, and it usually Les Voyageur alums with din-
ner and usually involving a lot of
more than potlucks and storytelling. The Huron Hustle,
tations every Sunday. For a canoe race from the cabin, up
ers, the community and the river to the dam and back,
ship found at the cabin along with. ski weekends in
sured and can't be found Northern Michigan are a few of
ere else. the annual LV expeditions.
has this feel of exclusiv- Bonadonna also mentioned
cause we're so hard to get Thanks-caving, a November
lexander said. "People event where LVs go caving for
raid of coming down here the weekend.
se they think we're in the On a larger scale, The Paul
e of nowhere." Bunyan Ball has historically been
e Alexander, Bonadonna a large event for Les Voyageurs.
the distance separating "It was typically a square
bin from Central Campus. dance with callers," said Jim
like going to the cabin McNair, an Ann Arbor native
se it's like a getaway," she and Les Voyageurs alum who
It's a completely different still attends meetings every Sun-
day. "We'd decorate the place in
haps it's because the cabin Paul Bunyan-style, with Babe
i-minute walk from cam- the Blue Ox, a real plaid shirt
ecluded from the rest of event."
ollegiate world. But the Before Les Voyageurs became
th of friendships tying Les a co-ed society, the ball gave LV
eurs together is tangible. men an opportunity to bring
LV tenet is etched across women to society events. When
g mantle that reaches the McNair was an active in the
ore of what Les Voyageurs early 1980s, the ball was held
bout: "Here let the fire of on campus in a Union ballroom,
ship burn forever." Above drawing a crowd of more than
s a framed cloth flag, with 200 students.
royageurs" stitched neatly Now, the ball is somewhat
d block letters. This flag smaller, but everyone still dress-
d with the first team of es up and has fun, Alexander
ers to the South Pole - said..
ling a former member of Last week, actives met to -
ciety, Laurence McKinley package the LcE Voyageurs 2012
Annual. The little black book
a student society at the edited by the Keeper of the Leg-
rsity, it's not surprising ends is essentially a yearbook
ere are several famous LV for the society and has recorded
. Now deceased, former the last 100 years of the society's
ers included Mike Mis- projects, stories and updates.
, who went on to become Every year, current LVs send
'er and worked closely to out annuals to more than 500
isoners in the Bay of Pigs alums around the country and
nt of the 1960s; environ- abroad.
list and Earth Day pioneer This year's edition includes
d Jordahl; and Red Beren- updates from alums and actives,
he current coach of the as well as poetry, stories and
photos. Flipping to the back of
the book, LVs can find a geo-
graphically organized direc-
tory of all living alums, the
current actives and new mem-
bers inducted that year.
"If you're ever traveling, you
can take this along with you and
look people up in the back and
see who's in what city," Alexan-
Into the future
The 2012 annual includes
significant updates on the cabin
itself, which recently received
$130,000 worth in renovations
funded by LV alumni. Completed
last summer, renovations includ-
ed an expansion of the entire
cabin to create more floor space
accompanied by new hardwood
floors, new heating systems and
a brand new kitchen.
McNair was a huge compo-
nent in the renovations. He is
one of the two members on the
society's advisory board, over-
seeing the officers and providing
support with upkeep of the lodge
and ensuring the continuity of
When the lodge transitioned
from serving solely as a meeting
house to becoming a home for
members, indoor plumbing and
an indoor kitchen were 'added,
but those were the exceptions
- the cabin hadn't really been
updated since it was built in
1926, McNair said.
The alumni-funded renova-
tions hearken back to the prin-
ciples former LVs supported as
actives, many years ago.
"Les Voyageurs is not some-
thing you do for four years and
then graduate," Bonadonna said.
"You're a voyageur for life."
From financial contributions
to tutorials on how to use a com-
pass properly, LVs are always
McNair is still very active out-
doors, and sees alums at many
LV events who he has kept in
"We want to maintain a huge
family," Bonadonna said. "If you
need somethingthey're there for
The everlasting, idiosyncratic
friendships specific to Les Voya-
geurs are felt when members
come together, especially when
alums are around, Alexander
"It's one big friendship," she
said. "We'll have people come
back who graduated last -year
and also people who graduated
in 1960 and we get along so well,
Bonadonna has no doubt that
she'll keep in touch with fellow
LVs and probably travel with
them in the future.
"We have this thing that con-
nects us," she said. "And we
always can come back to the
cabin, it'll always be here."
After Alexander, Bonadonna
and other Les Voyageurs gradu-
ate, the traditions that glue the
society together will continue.
They'll come back as alumni
for Old Timers' Night and teach
actives the skills they learned
when they were at the Univer-
And just as they did before
every meal together, they'll sing
the same song that's been sung
for more than 100 years.
Long live les voyageurs stead-
fast and true,
loyal to old Michigan and the
yellow and blue.
And may thesejoyous hours we
prove as bright shining lights
in darker hours.
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