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June 03, 1939 - Image 1

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The Michigan Daily, 1939-06-03
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Robert S. Lynd.
(Continued from Page 4 of The Daily)

n forced upon him by the
of his and, for that matter, all

The feelings of the characters do not
seem to be motivated by the immediate
patterns of their own lives. There seems
to be some transcendent formlessness
into which all patterns submerge and
from which all motivation seems to
emerge. How much of this is Eliot's own
and how much of it is forced upon him
by the Greek mythology from which he
draws his symbolism it is difficult to
determine. In taking over the Greek
mythology he has taken over a fate
which is as undefined as it is inscrut-
able. So used are we to defining the
actions of modern men in terms of
ecenomic and sociological drives that
the misty phraseology of mythology
seemys incongruous and insufficient when
when applied to the actions of those
men. Eliot would answer, of course that
his characters are not modern men but
essential men and that their dilemmas
arise not from the immediate drives of
modern life, but from a chaos that per-
vades all of it. And for his purposes any
symbolism will serve. But what Eliot
would consider they have gained in
philosophical truth they have lost for
the reader in dramatic stature.
As drama The Family Reunion lacks
intensity of action. There is a discursive
quality about it that takes its most
dramatic moments out of the realm of
the drama and into that of cerebration.
We are seeing the climaxes of several
lives but we have no climactic feeling.
Here again an inspection of the source,
The Eumenides, gives us some insight
into a possible reason. The Greek play
was the last play of trilogy which began
with Agammemnon's sacrifice of his
daughter and ended with Oreste's expia-
tion for the murder of his mother. The
first two were independent in that each
was an incident in the course of a
larger tragedy. The last, Orestes con-
sciousness of guilt and flight gained its
great force from the momentum of the
first two. It was great tragedy because
Orestes was brining to a conclusion the
tragic course of events that his father
had started. In The Family Reunion
there is no movement to a conclusion.
We' are presented with a dilemma that
we contemplate coldly and intellectually.
It never takes hold of our emotions.
The verse has the careful and studied
fluidity that characterizes all of Eliot's
verse. Its images are often the refer-
ences to death and decay that are famil-
iar to the readers of The Waste Land.
At its height as in the scenes between
Harry and Agatha it reaches the heights
of the earlier poem. Its shortcomings as
a dramatic medium do not lie in either
the form or the imagry but in the non-
dramatic burden that they must carry.
Earlier the question of the critic's
approach to Eliot was raised. A combina-
tion of the two approaches serves best
here. The Family Reunion fits com-
pletely into the body of his poetic work
but there is the strong feeling that this
is something out of the past, Eliot's
past. What he says here he has said be-
fore and better. This cannot be read
simply as a play of crime and expiation
It is the expression of an attitude
towards life that is, in its essence, no
different from that of the earlier Eliot.
Its problem is posed in the terms of The
Waste Land and is answered in the terms
of Murder In The Cathedral and The
Rock. The feeling grows that Eliot's re-
peated statements of his attitudes and
beliefs in almost their oriiginal terms
have a steadily decreasing validity for
any but those who share his private
world. Eliot may have much to say as
poet but he does not say it here.
-J. E. G.
Thanks are due to the Bookroom and
Wahr's for the loan of books reviewed in

Teaching at all universities cannot
help but reflect the unrealities of social
science research. Students are forced to
run from department to department and
from. course to course in history, eco-
nomics, political science, sociology, phil-
osophy, English and psychology to ob-
tain even an approach to a well rounded
picture. Then only is the student in a
position, if he is not worn out, to unite
the dabs of paint he has gathered into
a composition that looks like his society.
More usually all the courses necessary
for such a process are not available; or,
if available, they are tied up in depart-
mental pigeonholes accessible only on
tiptoe upon the ladder of prerequisites.
It helps to do as Chicago has done and
organize general courses where special-
ists in various fields are brought to-
gether to lecture upon a single subject.
This saves the students' shoe leather.
But it does not touch the fundamental*
problem of the specialist himself.
Lynd is the first to recognize that
"Specialization and precise measure-
ment must continue, for without them
science cannot grow." But he does insist
that each specialist state his problem
with reference to the entire culture, thus
halting the haphazard itemized inven-
tory of human knowledge which never
possibly can be organized.
However, there is another, a far more
important frame of reference that the
social scientist must heed-the prob-
lems men must solve and the decisions
men must make in our present society
if the starved needs of human beings are
to be fulfilled in the future. Lynd men-
tions the "elaborate analysis of 'The
Shield Signal at Marathon' in the
American Historical Review for April
1937," as an example of an unwarrant-
ed "expenditure of scientific - energy."
And a hasty thumbing of the lists of doc-
toral dissertations in preparation in
history and English literature will turn
up many titles of less value. "Art for
art's sake" has become a much ridiculed
phrase in recent years, but few have
stopped to question the industrious
scramble in which mouldy documents
are unearthed for their own sake. Knowl-
edge as an end in itself is a moronic
extravagance in these critical times.
In the classroom the same listless un-
concern with the world of today, not to
mention the world of tomorrow, char-
eacterizes the scholar turned teacher.
The student who hopes to learn the
significance of English literature in 1939
may sleep undismayed through a wide
variety of courses. The same applies to
much political theory and three-quarters
of the courses listed under "History"
and "Philosophy" in the Literary Col-
lege bulletin. Paradoxically enough, the
professors who connect the events and
ideas of their special periods with the
present are concentrated in recent his-
tory and recent literature; here the
relationships are almost obvious. And it
should be pointed out that many of
these men occupy minor faculty positions
and have little hope of "going" further,
especially if they apply this vital philoso-
phy in their published works.
*This brings us to the crux of the
matter-something Lynd continually re-
iterates, but to which he devotes too
little analysis: why do the great major-
ity of social scientists spend all their
time playing buttons on Monroe ma-
chines and recording the energence of
old-fashioned tunes?.
Carl Becker has claimed that "During
the last three hundred years . . . there
has emerged a new class of learned men,
successors to the priests and scribes,
whose function is to increase rather than
to preserve knowledge, to undermine
rather than to stabilize custom and
social authority." This is true; but the
function is not being performed; in fact,
it is not even recognized by hordes of
scholars who are plunging down the
road to academic advancement with

blinders on. Increasing certain types of
knowledge, and undermining tradition
are the "academic epidemics," care-
fully skirted by the professorial mind.

concern is simpler tnan tne psycnologi-
cal explanation that "the strain of ad-
justment to these large and rapid
changes (technological) makes us con-
servatively resistant to . . . change at
other points." Colleges and universi-
ties exist because of the "munificence"
of two classes of donors: successful busi-
ness men and state legislatures; their
continued existence depends upon con-
tinued munificence. The immediate
concern of successful business men, who
have hopes of further aggrandizement,
is the preservation of the status quo;
state legislatures are likewise almost
universally conservative. One may an-
swer as a Michigan newspaper publisher
recently answered similar charges that
his news policy is influenced by adver-
tisers: "I know of not one instance
where a news story (read, doctoral dis-
sertation) was distorted because an ad-
vertiser (read, donor) brought pressure
to bear." But he did not mention the
more subtle and less noticeable type of

-Courtesy London Mercury
the firebrand of modern poetry, who, at
the age of thirty-one is the author of-
some dozen volumes, including three
plays written in collaboration with
Christopher Isherwood. He has been re-
cipient of the King's Medal, war cor-
respondent in Spain and China, and at
the present time is visiting in the United
"influence" that operates when the copy
editor hits the waste basket with a
story that he knows would antagonize
an advertiser. The presence of dona-
tions from business men results in' a
much closer type of scrutiny than could
be exercised by the donors themselves.'
The fear that radical change may be
indicated by the results of certain types
of research serves as a poweiful control
upon the stating of research problems,
lest some obscure state legislator hurl
the charge ."subversive." Here the con-
venient rationalization of "objectivity"
arises to shield the scholar from the
necessity of linking his hidden conclu-
sions about the class struggle in Peru
with strikes and labor "troubles" in De-
troit. As Lynd points out, there is noth-
ing wrong with objectivity: it is a vital
attribute of true scholarship. The trouble
arises when objectivity is used as a
medieval suit of armor to lock the ob-
server away from the world. It saves
the scholar'saneck, perhaps; but it
vitiates his labor.
The economists, political scientists and
sociologists, of course, cannot possibly
neglect the existing culture; it is their
guinea pig. They have, however, two
readily accessible "outs." . They may
cling to pure description, to detailing
conditions of today on the basis of last
year's statistics, whether this be in
recording "The Rise of the Price of
Salted Peanuts in Las Vegas, New Mexi-
co, April 1-May 3, 1938," or in noting
"The Record of Voting by Precincts in
the Annual Election of the County Dog-
Catcher in Chicopee, Mass., 1931-1938."
Or, they may accept the phrasing of

reforms and, by working within the
framework of the existing set-up, as-
sure in advance the production of amel-
orative recommendations. The task of
social science as Lynd sees it is "to find
out ever more clearly what these things
are that human beings persist in want-
ing, and how these things can be built
into culture." "The current emphasis in
social science upon, techniques and pre-
cise empirical data is a healthy one; but,
as already noted, skillfull collection, or-
ganization, and manipulation of data
are worth no more than the problem to
the solution of which they are addressed.
If the problem is wizened, the data are
but footnotes to the insignificant."
In this regard it is pertinent to note
the discussion at the last Spring Parley
where professorial specialist after spe-
cialist arose to suggest changes in his
own field. There must be more govern-
mental control of banking, one said;
eventually it may be necessary for the
goveLL.. lt to take over the credit struc-
ture of the country. There must be
more stringent regulation of the rail-
roads, another stated; eventually the
government may have to run the rail-
roads itself. But when a student arose
and said, "I have no favorites," he was
heatedly attacked on the basis that we
must not question the entire present
framework; we must make minor ad-
vances within the present set-up, the
professors said. Now there is nothing
wrong with this approach once the
present structure of institutions is found,
after adequate examination, to be cap-
able'of fulfilling the needs of the Ameri-
can people; the trouble is that "minor
changes" are advocated without the en-
tire structure ever being called into
question. We may be patching the sail
while the boat sinks from under us. Yet,
this attitude is perpetuated through class
work in which the student is coerced,
sometimes unintentionally, it is true, to
throw back to the professor in examina-
tions and theses the viewpoint he ex-
This is no time for piddling around;
the booted tread of reaction is echoing
throughout the world. The responsibili-
ty for effecting social change resides in
the people; this cannot be denied. But
the social scientists must take the lead
in providing extensive data, so that these
changes, when they come, can be care-
fully planned and controlled. Equally
as important, the professor must en-
courage his students to think indepen
dently and to analyze the problems that
hitherto have been nonchalantly disre-
garded. The implications for American
social scientists of Thomas Mann's letter
to the University of Bonn are not tob
fantastic for a section of that letter to
be repeated here: "The German univer-
sities share a heavy responsibility for all
the present distress which they called
down upon their heads when they tragic-
ally misunderstood their historic hour'
and allowed their soil to nourish the
ruthless forces which have devastated
Germany morally, politically, and ec -
An infinite number of excuses can
be made by the professor on the de-
fensive; Lynd makes some of them for
him. "Like everyone else, the teacher
has given heavy hostages to fortune:
he has a family to rear, usually on a
not too ample salary; his income de-
pends upon the academic advancements
he can win, and these in turn depend
upon 'productive research.'" Thinking
men must laugh at this; they must
laugh scornfully. Humanity has a long
tradition of immortals who died for
less significant principles than those
upon which the scholar must take his
stand today. There are a few men scat-
tered at various universities who have
not let fear shake them loose from their
senses. If a few may dare, so may all.
What is the security of a college profes-
sor balanced against the insecurity of
millions of human beings?

The social scientist must remember
that if he refuses to walk out of his
office and take a look at the world about
him, he may shortly be chained to his
desk while the seniors swingout,in goose-
step below.
* * * * *


University Of Michigan Literar Magazine

VOL. II., No. 5
DEATH -OF- A POET. by Rowland I
Tha felin

,.-A --

T WAS a little after eleven thirty
when he first felt the pain, and it
was unmistakable. He knew as soon
as he felt it that it would be the last
He had been working on an outline
for "Document," but he wasn't very en-
thusiastic about it, as he already knew
it was lousy and doomed to the New
Masses. He had been thinking it over
all evening, about trying Hollywood. The
best of them had gone, hadn't they?
You could always clear out when you
got your pockets full, buy a little place
up in Connecticut, get married, have-
your stuff laid out in neat little modern-
istic volumes by Random House. But
hell, they never did come back, they
stayed. He would stay, too; -he knew
damned well he would.
(Wreathe in the silver-lined hell:
The curse of Prometheus re-visited.)
So for the fourth time since he had
got Bert's letter he decided to forget it.
Still, it was sort of hard to forget .. .
There was that silly dream he had all
through college coming back; with
Hollywood, maybe it wouldn't be just a
dream .. .
Not just a dream out areal cozy log
cabin with a real bear rug on the hearth
and a real Irish setter with silky red
hair beside the real bear rug, and the
real angel, the real chorus girl picked
by dance director (has most beautiful
legs, hips, arms, breasts in Hollywood,
declares), the blonde angel stroking his
hair as he sits deep in the chair. As he
sits deep in the chair smoking his im-
ported Sasieni Dunhill and reads Sons
and Lovers by Hardy or is it D. H.
Lawrence. The blonde angel in the
matted sandals (unclothed save for san-
dals she stood, a pillar of beauty and
desire), breasts like Cleopatra on the
calendar in the barber shop. All the
time stroking his hair and saying, "How
sorreee, how sorreee" French accent
"E am for you, wat you need ees
seempatee. Ah, the world have been
'ard on you, veree 'ard. Come, venez,
let us coucher. Coucher avec la belle
dame aux blonds hairs coucher."
You need sy-ymp: atheee, sy-ymp:
atheee by Rudolf Friml Gott in Himmel.
Log cabin fireplace. Wonder how they
take the brains out of the bear when
they make him rug. Fried bear's brain.
What a tasty dish to set before a king.
Brain food, fish. Poor fish Bob. Type
fishus pooribus, salt of the earth BY
GOD. Poor Bob.
Then, about eleven thirty the pain
came, the one he knew would be the
last. It began as a little tightening
under the ribs, then spread until his
whole damned insides lay heavy with
the dull pain. For a while he just sat
and felt it spread and grow heavier,
thinking . . . now, now there can be
no dream. No dream,
And still not knowing what to say or
what to do next, he began slowly to
undress, turning around and staring at
Bob as he did so.
Bob was working over his board, over
his drawings for the greatest plans ever,
Bob the eighteen-bucks-a-week drafts-
man making plans for the most beauti-
ful five-room house ever (constructed
along purely functional lines), Bob.
humanity deluded
by an awakening dream,
pressing time into a hydraulic press...


That feeling
That frantic
to hold on to
ping, slipping,
side, your fee
cold then hot.
every breath
precious thin
hold of somet
it tight.
cold then h
(In this las
time wher
root of gr
then hot.
Then there
and what wo
Keats say?
Homer? Hei
All the rest of
Draw the
I only reg
Think oni
The world
Life is a
Take care
I have only
the lights Goo
go home in th
God, I'm ho
want to. Life
I am dying!
my hand, Bob
stomach hurts
I forgive you
What woul
poetry, what f
in these few
will now rec
Alfred Lord 'I
But for som
(Fate alone I
could think of
the moonligh
Moonlight ove
dental music 1
over the Cats
ful heavenly s:
of light over
Love in the B
Love in Moor
But goddam
(I held h
at the ma
and said
no moun
Sitting ther
and the feelin
last pages of
tightly crosse
tension, the l
(Poet Gets Di
Outlook on I
Irishman). A
Dark mysterki
Confession. N
long hidden,
Catholic. WI
tch tch they
who would tl
Friday dinner
they really sa
And where's
supposed to I
is it? I want
remember p
lots, watchin
every Sunday


- Howard Whalen

But, no, that wasn't true. New Masses
stuff. Hell, Bob was all right, lived by
rote and the pledge of allegiance, but he,
was all right,
on nights when there was no pain.
Then he couldn't understand. But who
can understand these artists, these
strange tormented minds?_
Bob looked over at him undressing
and said, "Cold already?" (You go to
bed when it's cold in the fourth floor
back room, Fifth Street.)
"It's the pain, Bob, the last time, I'm
afraid," he said simply, with a poetic
simplicity. .
Bob bent back over his board. "You
ought to be a little more careful of what
you eat E--and when you eat."
God! Eat! Food! Careful! What
you eat. When, you eat.

He lay there on the lumpy mattress
and looked at the dirt-smeared cracked
ceiling, and was a little disappointed
when the pain eased. But he still knew
it was the last, knew he couldn't last
the night. Couldn't last the night, a few
hours, maybe the next minute or the
next second. Christ! Oh Christ! Why
haste thou.. what the hell was it? ...
forsaken me?
Tthe pain was still easier, but sweat
broke out on his face, hot burning sweat.
He heard Bob creaking his chair and for
a moment the hum of Fifth Street
traffic, then silence again and the tick
of his waiting brain
as the pain came back, stronger, heav-
ier. He pulled his knees up to his face
and felt them tremble . .
"Bob," he said quietly, "Bob, it is the
last. Oh God, Bob, I can feel it!"
(Again with a poetic simplicity, the
simple word transcended
to dramatic heights on Olympus,)'
critics said of this young poet's
phenomenal style.
He heard the rubbing of a gum eraser
on sketch paper, and no answer. He
spread his hands softly over his stom-
ach. They were cold.

(And these are men,
these the pitiful two billion
that crawl the earth in pain.)

It was hard getting into bed: he was
bent over with the pain, something
would have snapped if he straightened
up. -
(Remembering the nights of struggle
when pain was a buttreses of steel,
and hunger an easy snare:
Ah! Fitful youth!)


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