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January 17, 1942 - Image 11

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1942-01-17

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'PERSPECTI VES

Page Elt -

BOOKS ISEASON

ION Goren
(Cotinued from Page Five)
OF COURSE Arnold was undiscerning
or he would not have changed uni-
forms in the first place. If he had been
capable of analyzing his situation he
would have forseen that the British he
joined would'have no more respect for
him than the Americans he deserted.
A man who could be bought once could
be bought twice. Therefore, when Clin-
ton sent him on a raiding expedition
in Virginia in 1781, he also gave secret
instructions to two under officers to
watch Arnold, and if anything unto-
ward happened they carried dormant
commissions to succeed him in the com-
mand. After the war was over Arnold
never held another military command.
The fact that he was not trusted by
British army men was not borne home
on him for several years. When he fin-
ally became convinced of it, the realiza-
tion probably hastened his death. He
knew then, at least, what a blunder he
had committed.
Yet the old stories that Arnold died
in poverty are difficult to believe after
counting up the "wages of sin" which
Mr. Van Doren computed. Arnold re-
ceived £6500 for his treason. In pur-
chasing power today, Mr. Van Doren
'est'mates this sum is equal to $100,000
to $120,000. Then he received the half
pay of a British colonel, £225 per year,
the rest of his life. Peggy received a
pension of £500 per year, minus com-
missions. And each of their children
also received a pension. Actually, says
Mr. Van Doren, no American made as
much money out of the war as Arnold.
After the end of the Arnold conspir-
acy and the failure of large numbers to
follow Arnold's example, the British be-
gan to lose confidence in the appeal of
bribery. Then suddenly, early in Jan-
uary, 1781, their hopes were revived by
news of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania
Line. Here at last was the breaking up
of the Revolutioiary army, the general
collapse that Arnold had predicted.
Clinton anxiously sent two spies into the
Pennsylvania camp with offers of Brit-
ish gold and plenty of food and clothing
But as soon as the two spies made them-
selves known, they were promptly
hanged! "We're not turning Arnolds,"
the dissatisfied men growled. And there
was the situation in brief. Arnold's de-
sertion had actually strengthened the
rebel cause. The Americans had found
themselves outraged at his treason, and
conscious of their emotion, realized that
they must have some sense of national
honor, or nationality. Arnold had tried
to betray a cause that these people now
understood was a unifying priciple. The
British, having failed in their plot with
Arnold, could never succeed again.
Arnold sailed to England with Lord
Cornwallis after the latter's defeat at
Yorktown. Although the war cabinet
was not overthrown until March, 1782,
everyone could see that the war was fin-
ished with Yorktown. The British still
held New York and Charleston and Sa-
vannah, but hardly dared move outside
of those cities. A tired British public
would not suffer another army to be
raised and equipped and sent to Amer-
ica. Arnold had bet on the wrong side,
and America was no longer safe for him.
With his unlamented departure, Mr.
Van Doren closes his book.
None of the minor plots of which he
treats are as dramatic as Arnold's story.
For this reason he might have produced
a more fascinating book to read by
limiting himself to the one grand con-
spiracy. One reads the other chapters
with some impatience to get on with
Arnold's adventure. But Mr. Van Doren
did not set out to write a "thriller." He
was writing a history, an account of all

3 ;gar ur m m; re

THE WISDOM OF THE HEART,
by Henry Miller,
HE INEFFABLE Henry Miller
has had published by New Dir-
ections, Inc., another of his
'books, this being entitled "The
Wisdom of the World" and concerning
(suggestively enough) the wisdom of
Henry Miller. Miller, some of whose
other works have been denied publica-
tion in the United States by censors,
identifies himself with the world and
the world with himself and, I suppose
largely on principle, would consider it
frightfully unwise to state his aesthetics
of the confused paradox in more com-
piehensive terms. For Mr. Miller is a.
man who lives and will die by the para-
dox, delighting in the problems which
it propounds, inexplicable, mystical,
faintly libidinous, much, indeed, like
Mr. Miller himself.
So magnificently concerned is he with
the nature of the modern "artist" and
his relation to the society in which he
lives (but of which he must not, ap-
parently, be a part) that, upon run-
ning the eye down the table of con-
tents of this book, one discovers that
Mr. Miller has only incidently remem-
bered to write about matters other than
himself. The longest story in this col-
lection of essays and stories, "The Aco-
holic Veteran with the Washboard
Cranium," is composed entirely of the
rather tedious conversation of a drunk-
en veteran (of whose true personality
one can never be certain) and Mr. Mil-
ler's evaluation of what has been seid.
Other stories, among them the seduc-
tively entitled "Mademoiselle Claude,"
concern Mr. Miller's life with a w---e
in Paris and, in general, Mr. Miller's
attitude toward life and art. Even in
"Raimu," an essay on the French film
in which the main thesis seems to be
that American actors cannot act and
that anyway America is rotten, Miller
finds room to defend his own Paris exile
(about ten years late) and propose a
system of values which contrasts with
those which he has presented in other
essays in the same book.
BUT THEN, as I have said, Mr. Miller
becomes jaded with consistency, not
because he has any real objection to it
but because Mr. Miller cannot be con-
veniently consistent himself and-as
Mr. Miller himself writes-what Mr.
Miller intuits becomes by its very ex-
istency "art".

On the whole it is difficult, and even
impossible, to state the aesthetic theory
toward whose expression Miller was
apparently working in this book. For
Miller himself is an ultra romantic who
would contrive to construct a higher
reality from his own instincts than may
be discerned (or even patterned) in the
outer world; and yet, not satisified with
this, he maintains that "truth is the
aim of the writer." He will state also
that by "creating art" a man "realizes
his own limitations" and, later,,"The
artist's dream . . . is simply the result-
ant of his inability to adapt himself to
reality."
I will not attempt to spend as much
time directing you toward what ap-
pears to me to be an absolute confusion
as Mr. Miller has done. It is naturally
difficult to attempt a critical summary
of this collection; for there is no fixed
pattern with which one may work. Mr.
Miller is like the black-face unfortunate
at the carnivals who earns a living by
poking his head through canvas back-
drops, avoiding balls thrown at him
by the customers. And even if you do
hit Mr. Miller (whom you cannot knock
out) that will not force him to a direct
rebuttal; for it is much easier for him
to continue his unpredictable weaving,
his frantic whirlings and jerkings which
make him in a sense impregnable in
the world of art but impregnable much
the same as the black-face-impreg-
nable because he won't stay in one
place long enough for you to let one go
at him.
THE ROMANTIC ERROR of self in-
dividual was, it seems to me, dissi-
pated conclusively as long ago as the
Parnassians. An artist's job is something
more than self expression; it implies
creation which will transcend the in-
dividuality and certainly propose values,
if only those by which its own existence
may be justified. If Mr. Miller will ad-
mit of no truth apart from the general
belief in what is true he'begins an ar-
gument whose logical resolution is this:
that the job of an artist, whether he be
working with words or forming a so-
ciety, is to contrive a pattern valuable
as much for its own existence as for
any other special merit it may possess.
Mr. Miller, though, writes, "I am not
establishing values: I defecate and nour-
ish."
And perhaps restating that will be to
meet Miller on his own ground.
-Gerald E. Burns

The '1ie'al
(Continsued fromn Ten)
coffin. It' was heavy, a ,c' shoulder
strained at the task. W'th the other
granddaughters, his siste; ctered bear-
ing the floral decoruo.-s from the
house. Grandfather had asked them t
sit with their parents. "..e wanted t
that way." Uncle Wil. however, had
shoved the immediate ...y into te
front pews, and the ch..ren, when
they entered, found roon only in the
back. It would look be-; o the spec-
tators, Will decided, and ; t was what
really mattered.
The eulogy was brief nu (roe. "She
has fought the good iht. Amen."
Minnie Gebhardt with o other mem-
bers of the missionary so 'ety, all fifty-
year members like her whom they
mourned, sang Abide Wita Me. "It'
more fitting," thought Uncle Will.
"that they should sing than that young
Martha" Kind of puts on the finishing
touch." And he did not care that the
relationship would be displeased.
THE SERVICE at the grave was short.
The wind flapped loudly the canva,
canopy erected over the oa;Ve, and (at
times) the words of the ..inister were
lost. Alone in a car at. the edge of the
plot sat Margaret, the aunt of the dead
woman. She had been parried from
her invalid's bed for the funeral, but
her nephews decided that she had bet-
ter stay in the car at the cemetery. She
heard naught and saw but the back.
of people. Aunt Mag was very old;. her
friends had died long ago. She sat in
the car, alone, helpless with age, and
wept not for her dead niece but for
herself alive.
When the boy saw his grandfather
drop a few small flowers in. the open
grave, he knew that the service was
over. He was not curious to see the
casket lowered; indeed, he wished only
to escape from these strange peopl
with reddened eyes and damp-balled
handkerchiefs who looked at him as if
to accuse. "Why are you not sad also?
You could, at least, pretend to cry."
She was his grandmother; the mother
of his father, but he could feel no sor-
row and pitied only his grandfather.
"It was a nice funeral," Uncle Will
said to his wife as they walked in the
soft ground of the graveyard to their
car." I made it an occasion people won't
mind remembering, if I cry so myself"
WHEN the old man entered the par-
lor of his house where had been
placed previously the casket of his wife
he noticed something missing. The vio-
let plant in the corner was gone. The
helpers of the undertaker had thought
it part of the funeral display. The old
man was upset and started crying in
the peevish voice of age, "What did
they do with it? What did they do
with it. That belonged to her, not to
them." When the relatives finally un-
derstood what had disturbed him, they
quickly went to the church a'd rescued
the plant before the flowers were dis-
tributed to the sick of the neighbor-
hood. Even with the violet plant be-
fore him, the old man wa'frightened
lest someone else should take it. He
watered it carefully from the bottom
of the container. Looking over the
green leaves, he discovered a new bud,
and the mind of the old man returned
to his grivance against the doctor.
"It wouldn't of hurt none to let her
see the buds," he complained to him-
self. "She'd of rested easier about it if
he had left her see how my watering
made it grow." And he :recunted the
buds on his fingers to sake certain of
their number before he replaced the
plant on the stand in the corner.

teater3
When God and Satan game the stakes are high,
The domination of the earth and sky;
But 'tis no use for Satan to deceive,
For God has a fifth ace hid up his sleeve.
-John Ragsdale

the secret operations of the British in
this country. The picture was not com-
plete without including the more routine.
intelligence operations of British head-
quarters.
The University of Michigan can take
pride in this book because most of the
source material on which it is based is
here in the William L. Clements Library.
The book's success is excellent publicity

for the resources of the University. It
ought also to suggest something to those
students who come here because of the
Hopwood Awards. Historical fiction,
historical essays, and biography are cer-
tainly acceptable in that contest, and
rich source materials are right here on
campus. Yet so far, Hopwood contest-
ants have overlooked them.
Howard H. Peckham

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