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July 30, 1983 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1983-07-30

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The Michigan Daily - Saturday, July 30, 1983 - Page 11
Le Carre creates tale of duality

The Little Drummer Girl
By John le Carre
Alfred A. Knopf, 15.95
By David Levine
Smiley's people are finally dead.
They are as dead as the gray of their
beloved Berlin Wall.
They didn't leave us much. Their
codes of duty had the airiness of the Boy
Scout Handbook. Their dreams were
filled with images of a beardless Castro
and a U2-dotted sky. Did they ever grow
up?
E. B. White once said that John Ken-
nedy died of exposure. The same can be
said about the way Smiley's people
died. John le Carre exposed them in his
novels. Freeze supporters exposed the
senselessness of their nuclear arms
policies (some of the first). And they
have exposed themselves (most recen-
tly in Michael Straight's After Long
Silence).
So who will take their place? In the
pages of The Little Drummer Girl, le
Carre's latest, there is someone to
replace Smiley - Kurtz (a.k.a.
Schulmann, Gold, Marty). Enter Kur-
tz's people.
Kurtz is like Conrad's Kurtz in the
"Heart of Darkness." Like Marlow in
that story, we follow Kurtz into the
overheated and piecemeal cultures of
modern life. He shows us, in particular,
the contortions of the Mideast. He
overwhelms us with his stories.
But Kurtz simultaneously uncovers a
mystery. The mystery is like
macadamia nuts on a table in a hotel
lobby - free, pleasurable, but not real
memorable. In short, the mystery is not
A selection of campus film highlights
Breathless
(Jean-Luc Godard, 1959)
A breathtaking achievement. Godard
doesn't waste a frame in this frenetic
tale of a happy-go-lucky, amoral, man
about town. The recent remake was a
fine film in its own right but lacked
the impact of the original's visceral
editing style and loosely structured
plot. (Saturday, July 30; Lorch Hall,
7.(K1 10-05n

over clever; le Carre has written better
ones.
But le Carre has written more than a
mystery novel. When Kurtz is more of a
guide than spy, when he shows us both
the trash and substance of modern life,
the power of le Carre's writing comes
out. At these moments le Carre is a first
rate tociologit.
Le Carre seems to be saying that we
live in an age of the dispossessed. We
see dispossession in all the countries
through which Kurtz leads us. The
Germans have been separated from
their monstrous deeds; the British from
their empire; the Americans from their
pre-Vietnam self-confidence. We also
see the zero sum balance of
dispossession: at the moment when the
Jews regained their homeland, the
Palestinians lost theirs.
Further, the result of dispossession
has been our generation's self-made
amnesia. We have blocked the
disgraces of history from our lives like
so many nightmares. We have distan-
ced ourselves from some unmen-
tionable past and so from something
concrete. To make this last point le
Carre brings in the "Drummer Girl,"
an unsuccessful English actress named
Charlie.
Kurtz asks Charlie to become an
agent on his team. Charlie accepts his
offer even though she hates Zionists;
she thinks they conspired to make her
life uneventful. The magpies of
revolution explained it all to her. The
railroads came first. Then came
Bechtel and megasized armies and
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"Life with Father" (the last was for our generation, our anchorlessa nd
purposes of mind control). The Zionists fatigued generation. She moves as we
jumped into the conspiracy at this move.
point. G.K. Chesterton wrote, "We shall
But then again, she wonders, maybe never have a common peace in Europe
even the magpies lied. Maybe her till we have a common principle.
politicial saviors - Trotsky and Writing in the late 1800s, Chesterton of-
Guevara, to name two - never led her teni c ut its conutson atayed through
out of the wilderness. But if they re theicntyTodasitliedearibgt
wrong, who's right? the century. Today, his line describes
Without a single link to anything the confused Charlies and, to the near
stable in the past, Charlie moves left and far right of them, the confused
aimlessly. She swings right with the Charlies armed with Kalashnikov
imntsy. he athen left with Arafat rifles.
Zioniata one day,enlef theraf Like Chesterton, John le Carre un-
the next (the pendulum theory of deratanda the confusion of hit timet.
politics?). Le Carre now makes his cen- Because he it a writer of immense
tral point embarrassingly clear: aent, le Carre maket us see that con-
namely, that Charlie is an example of fin. too

Carnal Knowledge
(Mike Nichols, 1971)
An episodic portrait of sex from the
'50s to the '70s. Jack Nicholson and
Art Garfunkel star as two college
chums who are initiated into the
magical world of carnal knowledge by
the same woman. As the years
progress each responds differently to
the frustrations of their libidos. With a
sparse script by Jules Feiffer.
(Saturday, July 30; Michigan
Theatre, 7:00, 11:00).
New York, New York
(Martin Scorsese, 1977)
Scorsese and DeNiro team up with
Liza Minelli in this colorful musical
fantasy. He is an under-rated sax
player trying to make it big in the big
band era; She is a multi-talented
singer destined for success. Naturally
they fall for each other. Including
some of the best musical sequences in
film since the '50s. (Sunday, July 31;
Michigan Theatre, 9:30).
-compiled by Richard Campbell

SUN-1:103:105:107:109:10
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