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September 17, 1956 - Image 48

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Michigan Daily, 1956-09-17
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Obge Two


September 17, 1956

September 17, 1956


~~~ag~~~~~w~olTE IHIAN DILSeIemeR1. 96Petebe 7,196THMIC IG N DAL

MOVIE ADS: STILL ABSURD-Our researcher discovers
they've always been improbable. Page 5.
THE DREAM THAT COOK BUILT-A portrait of one of
the University's most famous donors. Page 4.
OF EGGHEADS AND MR. LUCE-A probing analysis of
the campus intellectual. Page 6.
AN AGELESS ARTIST-Tenor Roland Hayes remains a
foremost singer. Page 7.
NOTEBOOK ON A TOWN-An intimate journal about
the "autumn city of the autumn west." Page 8.
THE BALLET LESSON-A look at the dancing work Sylvia
Hamer is doing in Ann Arbor. Page 10.
REVIEWER'S CONFESSIONS-Our man explains why all
the books aren't nice and sweet. Page 12.
new French novel, "The Red Room." Page 12.
A DOUBLE VISION-Kenner and Pearce explain their
views on education, poetry. Page 15.
PICTURE CREDITS-Page 5: left, Daily photograph, right, courtesy
The Detroit News; Page 7, Daily photographs; Pages 8-11, Daily
photographs; Page 15, Daily photograph.

Kenner and Pearce Will Be Teaching A Select Group<
With An Eye to the Future.

REGIMENTATION-Photographer Harding Williams numbers this shot of
straight lines and army discipline among his favorites.




Daily Staff Writer
KENNER is stealing Pearce away
from the University, a student
remarked last summer. Indeed,
students complained (contentedly)
that if "Kenner isn't in his office,
he's in Pearce's, or vice versa."
They were talking about former
University English Professor Don-
ald R. Pearce, now teaching at
the Santa Barbara division of the
University of California, and Pro-
fessor Hugh Kenner, new five-
year head of the English depart-
ment there.
Kenner, visiting English lectur-
er here last summer, when con-
fronted with the "stealing" state-
ment, laughingly w i d e n e d his
brown eyes, commented about his
critic friend: "Mr. Pearce is cap-
able of taking advantage of op-
portunities when he has them.
"Besides," he shrugged his lean
shoulders, "you just don't steal
rational human beings except with
big black cars," using a cliche
(which Kenner does often, not be-
cause he can't speak in any other
form, but because this points up
the peculiar brand of ridiculosity
in cliches).
Pearce explained his departure
from the University as the be-
ginning of a new enterprise, "not
theft, b e c a u s e that implies I
haven't any of my own volition."
Asked what factors stand out most
in the move from Michigan to
Santa Barbara, Pearce parried:
"Simply getting my family there
in one piece and helping them to
like the change once it's made. We
have all been profoundly at home
in Ann Arbor; and any uprooting
is certain to be a period of strain."
Mrs. Pearce, who once spent
two years in California is less wor-
ried: "I think our three children
will flourish there-at least I see
no reason why they shouldn't."
Kenner, who is the father of
four children, agrees-"My family
has never complained of their life
in Santa Barbara. And I expect
that Pearce will find lots of stimu-
lating work confronting him in our
rising new college."
At Santa Barbara, a small group
of English teachers, largely asso-
ciated with Washington and Lee
University's Shenandoah, "most
lively literary magazine in years,"
are going to teach superior stu-
dents with an eye for "what they1
will, at the age of 40, be glad to
h a v e learned, as distinguished
from catering, you see, to their
immediate needs," Chairman Ken-
ner says.l
The two men are also antici-
pating Santa Barbara's happy lack
of a graduate school. The near-
est one is 200 miles away. About
this Kenner cracks: "We'll be free1
from the peculiar pressure a grad1
school puts on a college of exam-e
ining everything new to see if it
will be useful in preliminary ex-
ams." And Pearc: "Most grad
schools are intellectually timid,T
self-deprecating, and, even n
ashamed. What the answer is, I1
don't know, but I think it's found
in Coleridge's 'Rime of the An-S
cient Mariner'."
And in the story Coleridge tells,
lies Pearce's major concern with
today's world. He remarks that
somewhere in the course of the
last 200-250 years, the capital "I"
intellectual ceased being a citizen
in the fullsense, and deliberately
deserted the arena of public affairs
and of comprehensive action. The
Intellectual's job, Pearce says, is to
reunite himself with other Intel-
lectuals without losing intellectual
"entitas or communitas."
Referring to the Mariner, Pearce
says the Mariner as captain of his
ship should have been in his cabin
or attending to the welfare of his
crew-"Instead, we find him on the

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. * "what they will, at the age of 40, be glad to have learned."

aft-rail, taking in the scenery,
(like Wordsworth) or playing with
a crossbow, a gadget, like the
Cartesian man. Well, he shoots the
white-flying Logos (Greek word
meaning today, 'spiritual nucleus
of our culture'), the albatross, of
our society." Pearce r e s t s his
hands on top of his head, contin-
ues: "So the crew curses him, calls
him egghead. They're right in that
-he let them down."
Most Intellectuals today become
"lonely, compulsivb babblers" like
the Mariner, Pearce accuses.
Making Peace .
THE solution, which Kenner and
Pearce hope to deal with "in
our limited area, is make peace
with that kind of agony." They
will try working out orientations
for themselves and students, ex-
cluding despair, and producing
opposites to the Ancient Mariner.
In Pearce's practical criticism
class and Kenner's contemporary
poetry class, students heard ideas
and exegeses differing from those
of the "new critics" school, and
particularly on poet William But-
ler Yeats. Kenner, who has writ-
ten four books, on Wyndham Lew-
is, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and
G. K. Chesterton (is now work-
ing on a T. S. Eliot book), will
remark about the Yeats book
Pearce is doing: "I think Mr.
Pearce is taking care of Yeats
very well." This is Pearce's first
In class, both unite Yeats' ear-
ly, middle and late works, giving
biographical notes; for instance,
effect on Yeats of the death of his
friends, Lionel Johnson and Ma-
jor Robert Gregory.
Yeats' poem, "In Memory of
Major Robert Gregory," Kenner
says, begins by echoing an earlier
poem, "The Wild Swans at Coole."
Yeats wrote in it of several people
who had died, and who symbolize
certain developments, having been
driven toward destruction. Yeats
adds the Major as summary of all
Books by Kenner: "Paradox
in Chesterton" (1947); "Poetry
of Ezra Pound" (1952); "Wynd-
ham Lewis" (1955); "Dublin's
Joyce" (1956). Essays: on T. S.1
Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Pound, Wil-
liam Carlos Williams, Marianne
Moore, etc.
Essays by Pearce: on Dante,
Keats, S w i n b u r n e, Ibsen,
Wyndham Lewis, W. B. Yeats,
Franz Kafka, others on the as-
pects of western drama and 1
problems of modern criticism.t

of them with the aid of a back-
ground of Elizabethan virtues:
calling him 'Our Sidney,' and con-
sidering it a "discourtesy" for
death to come to him. Yeats also,
according to Kenner, was writing
about a type, like S h e r l o c k
Holmes, who was capable of every-
thing and possessed encyclopedic
knowledge. "In other words, Yeats
is trying to bring back into poli-
tics a character who is good in
everything. A lord mayor today
thinks he ought to be popular with
'people instead of the people think-
ing they ought to be popular with
him," Kenner quips.
The Recorders*. . .
ALONG the same line, Pearce
will say, adding to his Ancient
Mariner-egghead theme, that so-
cial scientists as recorders, will
not improve our culture and may
themselves be first to admit that
re-creation of culture has to come
from humane discussion, and that
the poet is at the nucleus of this.
"Poets project the emotional and
mental orders which philosophers
later paraphrase and hand down
to the social ordering politician."
Pearce flicks his no n-f ilter
tipped cigarette-one of his and
Kenner's differences, as Kenner
smokes filters - and adds t h a t
where a poet no longer t h i n k s
freely and violently, "culture is in
danger of disintegrating." Usually,
he says, a new poem is a message
from "the forward edge of the hu-
man battlefront, which is why it
is often obscure."
Yeats is the only poet since
Shakespeare who for some things
compares at all with Shakespeare,
Pearce says, never averse to arg-
"Yeats is a big and complex old
bird, who recreated the English
lyric-he made it think, not wit-
tily, sentimentally, pathetically, or
moony-junie, and he articulated a
node of thinking as well as of feel-
PERHAPS IT IS similarity ofa
background-both teachers are
Canadian-or perhaps it is a sort
of "mental telepathy" that Pearce
and Kenner frequently approach
diverse materials in remarkably
similar ways. And if summer
Pearce-Kenner students check
notebooks on July 9, they will find
an instance of this tendency:
Speaking of Yeats' poem, "The
Phases of the Moon," Kenner said
in it, Yeats tied up all of nature.
There is not a recognizable na-
ture here, Kenner says, sitting on
top of his desk, characteristically
crossing one leg over the other
periodically, and "the moon has to

be intellectually created. Yeats is
sitting up in a tower writing about
This is, partly a heroic, partly
a whimsical solution to the prob-
lems of the romantic poet-"the
English romantic poet was oper-
ating in a tradition which placed
before us an enigmatic nature,"
Kenner asserts. The figure in the
tower - Yeats - is pouring forth
emotional responses; at the age
of 35, he is about ready to quit
Yeats' Poems . .
'EATS IS trying to abolish the
Newtonian nature: Newton's
universe gives you atoms, gravity,
so the romantic poet can't think
about nature, he has to feel about
it, says Kenner. Newton opened an
interest in symbolic and diagram-
matic nature, which was found in
any penny astrology book, tradi-
tionally cheap way to observe na-
"In 'The Wild Swans at Coole',
where Yeats describes a u t u m n
trees as part of a certain point the
earth reached in its journey about
the sun, he says the lake mirrors'
showing the laws of Newton in
operation," Kenner tells his class.
"Yeats uses 'are', a dead verb. And
he counts exactly 59 swans, since
this is the only kind of informa-
tion Newton can deal with."
"The Wild Swans at Coole", be-
lieves Kenner, is where Yeats is
most interesting and at his most
ambitious. Yeats was "trying out"
something (this was in 1919), and
using a very common theme; he is
anchored, while the birds can go,
and they never die. This is like
Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale, but
Yeats went farther than Keats.
A later Yeats poem, "The Double
Vision of Michael Robartes" shows
forces curiously frightening and
impersonal. The first stanza is
one sentence, and Yeats' mind's
eye is working; "there is no mir-
roring as in Newton, just feeling.
The sphinx in the poem equals
knoledge, and gazes at the uni-
verse he knows; the buddha equals
love, and gazes at the universe it
loves. Neither notice the girl danc-
ing between them. Here, time is
vanquished," Kenner interprets,
and you no longer feel like its
helpless victim. You forget youth's
emotion-that doesn't matter any
more (as it did to Wordsworth
and other romantics).
"Yeats said that the Newtonian
view and poetic view must be held
!WITH THAT, Kenner abruptly
left the room -- he always

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