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September 07, 1995 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-07

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10- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 7, 1995

Howl
Allen Ginsberg,
HarperPerennial
It is slightly disarming to find a
subtitle such as the one which graces
the HarperPerennial edition of Allen
Ginsberg's poem, "Howl," for it is by
no means poetic or even prosaic; it is
encyclopedic: "Original Draft Fac-
simile, Transcript & Variant Versions,
Fully Annotated by Author, with Con-
temporaneous Correspondence, Ac-
count of First Public Reading, Legal
Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibli-
ography." Nonetheless, it is the con-
tent of what is described here that
makes this (in)famous reissue of
Ginsberg's 1956 poem so very enter-
taining. Indeed, "Howl" and Related
Topics, as it could be called, does
what few books can claim to do: Not
only does it present a poem, it locates
the work in a social and literary con-
text.
To be sure, this edition of "Howl"
is not without its flaws. Unfortunately
perhaps for the poet, most of them
have to do with the presentation ofthe
poem itself. As Mr. Ginsberg puts it
in one of the book's appendixes,
"'Howl' is an affirmation of indi-
vidual experience of God, sex, drugs,
absurdity, etc. Part I deals sympa-
thetically with individual cases. Part
H describes and rejects the Moloch
(according, again, to Ginsberg, "the
Canaanite fire god, whose worship
was marked by parents' burning their
children as propitiatory sacrifice") of
society which confounds and sup-
presses individual experience and
forces the individual to consider him-
self mad if he does not reject his own
deepest senses. Part III is an expres-
sion of -sympathy with C.S. (Carl
Solomon, a friend of Ginsberg's) who
is in the madhouse, saying that his
madness is basically a rebellion

against Moloch and I am with him...
The poem ... is therefore clearly and
consciously built on a liberation of
basic human values." That, in es-
sence, is "Howl."
If this is confusing to you now, it
will only be more so when you at-
tempt to wade through Ginsberg's
various preliminary drafts as pre-
sented by Mr. Miles. The editor pro-
vides clean-copy text on pages fac-
ing the "Original Draft Facsimiles"
of Ginsberg's typing which attempt
to make sense of the poet's cross-
outs and penciled-in marginalia.
These clean-copy pages are, at best,
poorly organized, at worst, inaccu-
rate, and in general they do little but
confound the reader. The Facsimiles
are very interesting in that they chart
the poem's progress-the evolution
of the staccato groupings of ideas as
they are smoothed by the author into
a polished final product. Miles's tran-
scriptions, "meant to illuminate the
poet's creative process" (a task which
the Facsimile Drafts accomplish on
their own with more clarity), should
simply be discarded.
The real fun starts when one
reaches the "Author's Annotations"
and the "Appendixes." In the former,
Ginsberg offers a multitude of foot-
notes on all the varied allusions that
he draws in "Howl." There we learn,
for example, that line 60 of the poem
("Who drove crosscountry seventy
two hours to find out if I had a vision
or you had a vision or he had a vision
to find out Eternity")describes some-
thing which, "To author's recollec-
tion," Neal Cassady (the model for
the character of Dean Moriarty in
"On the Road") may have actually
done in order to "compare recent
illuminations and despairs" with Jack
Kerouac. Other snippets of informa-
tion concern Ginsberg and others on
the burgeoning San Francisco Bohe-

mian scene or background on the tech-
niques used in writing "Howl." The
section describing the employment of
a concept that has been used in both
art and literature wherein two juxta-
posed images are presented, allowing
the reader's mind to establish its own
connection, is particularly fascinat-
ing, though too complex to be ex-
plained here.
Most notable within the "Appen-
dixes" is an amalgam of letters both to
and from Ginsberg to his various con-
temporaries, among them Kerouac,
William Carlos Williams (who wrote
a preface for the original "Howl and
Other Stories" that was published by
City Lights Books in San Francisco)
and the critic Lionel Trilling, under
whom Ginsberg studied at Columbia.
Taken as a whole, they form a chrono-
logical summary ofthe reception that
"Howl" received in America and
among the literati. There were many
among both groups who objected
strongly to what they considered to be
Ginsberg's unnecessary use of vulgar
words and images. The publisher of
the poem and proprietor ofCity Lights
Books, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was
even taken to court on obscenity
charges. In handing down his deci-
sion, Judge Clayton W. Horn of the
San Francisco Municipal Court stated
rather succinctly (and perhaps under-
stating the matter for subsequent gen-
erations) "I conclude the book 'Howl
and Other Poems' does have some
redeeming social importance, and I
find the book is not obscene.
"The defendant isfoundnotguilty."
And luckily so, for a less favorable
verdict may not have allowed us, those
of the subsequent generations, to be
provided this glimpse, on behalf of both
Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Miles, of the
world that is "Howl."
- Matthew Benz

Allen Ginsberg's classic group of poems entitled "Howl" Is finally reissued.

Nan Sea
Sex
Spirit Script
Actually, the title of this pocket-
sized masterpiece is "Sex: A Spiritual
Guide for the Youth of Today," but
any title with the word "spiritual" in it
seems to turn off more college stu-
dents than the idea of Michael Jack-
son and Lisa Marie Presley shacking
up.
What makes sex so complicated
today are the social fears and stigmas
now attached to the act. Questions and
moral stances ofwhento have sex, with
whom to have sex, how to have sex,
pregnancy and diseases and the like
have taken an act so simplethat anyone
with the sense God gave salt could do it
andmade itso complexthat people can

actually get Ph.D.'s studying it.
In this darling little book, Sea isn't
trying to force people into some self-
defined belief of "proper sexual eti-
quette." Rather, she is amother of two
daughters and a spiritual (not neces-
sarily "religious") person who scoffs
at the way people try to act as if sex
doesn't even exist.
Sea is very blunt in her book - a
welcome change from the more
commomplace attitude of avoidance
Americans tend to hold to. She doesn't
discourage sex; rather, she urges us all
to figure for ourselves when we feel
comfortable with sex, not when some-
one else feels comfortable sexing us.
She stresses the values of love and
respect, both for yourselfandyourpart-
ner (or "partners" in many of our cases,

though Sea doesn't condone that) by
saying "We must first recognize love
in ourselves so that we may see it in
another." She remindsusthat sex is not
just a physical thing; it is highly emo-
tional. And if you treat is solely as a
physical act, eventually it will come to
haunt you. "Give your body freely
without intent ofheart and mind, and it
will be valued less until the 'you' in
yourself has lost its meaning."
Much of what is said in "Sex"
we've heard before from our par-
ents, religious leaders, sex education
teachers and, for a small minority of
us, our friends. However, the beauti-
ful witticisms found throughout the
book and the use of drawn flowers,
which emphasize the mood of each
passage of the book, do a spectacular
job of reintroducing the old ideas of
sex, the second oldest physical activ-
ity (the little-spoken word which got
Surgeon General JocelynElders fired
was probably first), in a refreshing
and very interesting way.
"Sex" is so simple, a young child
learning the truth of the "birds and
bees" for the first time could under-
stand it, yet it is such an impetus for
soul-searching that anyone at any
level of sexual experience and (as in
my case) expertise could benefit from
its profound lessons. All people of
all sexual backgrounds and orienta-
tions should take a look at "Sex." No
matter how much you think you
know, there are still a few things it
could teach you.
_ Eugene Bowen

Kristen Kammerer &
Bridget Snyder
Wisdomfrom the Walls
Boulevard Books
In any public restroom you'd ex-
pect to find toilets, sinks, soap (some-
times) and of course, graffiti. Some of
us have written a wise, witty or just
plain stupid saying on a bathroom
wall or stall before; every one of us
have read them. Now, you don't have
to search the world's bathrooms over
to find some ofthose cute scribblings.
Authors Kristen Kammerer and
Bridget Snyder have done that for
you.
"Wisdom from the Walls" is no
complex read. But, what the book
lacks in complexity it makes up for in
humor.
Profound statements on war
("Fighting forpeace is like screwing for
virginity."), politics ("If voting could
really change things, it would be ille-
gal."), religion ("Why do they bury
Mormonstwelvefeetdeep? 'Causedeep
down they're good people."), sex
("When a man talks dirty to a woman,
it's sexual harassment. When a woman
talks dirty to a man, it's $3.95 per
minute.") all have their place in bath-
room wall history.
"Wisdom from the Walls" also fea-
tures wise words from men on women
("Don't trust anything that bleeds for
five days and doesn't die.) and equally
profound retorts from the ladies' point
of view ("If it has tires or testicles,
you're going to have trouble with it.").
"Wisdom from the Walls" is the
perfect book to place in your bath-
room for constipated household
guests. Only, don't be mad at me if
this book inspires them to leave a
smattering of written wisdom on your
bathroom walls.
-Eugene Bowen

RECORDS
Continued from page 9
Pro Cantione Antiqua,
Palestrina
Canticwm Canticomm
Salomonis
hyperion
Giovanni da Palestrina once said
that he "blushed and grieved" over
writing music for love poems. Critics
called him a hypocrite. This was the
composer who gave up a prestigious
choral position in the pope's chapel
because he wouldn't conform to the
rule of celibacy. In any case, an excel-
lent new recording by Pro Cantione
Antiqua features Palestrina's settings
to the passionate and sensuous (but
biblical!) Songs ofSolomonthat prob-
ably lured even the least religious to
Sunday services.
The talented Palestrina, a 16th
century composer, set the standard
for multi-voiced church music. Many
later composers unsuccessfully at-
tempted to imitate him, but in this CD
the ten man choir, under the direction
of Bruno Turner, succeeded in cap-
turing his style.
Palestrina's counterpoint is bal-
anced by an uncorrupted harmony,
and the singers capture the natural
elegance. Much of the notes' move-
ment is stepwise, but the larger inter-
vals are perfectly controlled. The
melodic line is arched, and evident
rhythmic freedom is also reminiscent
of earlier chants. Several of the pieces
feature recurring motives.
Although all 29 of the poems are
well recorded, some are better than
others; the first, ninth and 27th tracks
are particularly beautiful.
The sensual poems inspired the
composition, but don'tlet thembe too
distracting. Pro Cantione Antiqua has
turned out an outstanding recording
of Palestrina's music.
-Emily Lambert
Brian Nelson featuring
Musica Del Chorus
The Reconciliation
Musica Dei, Inc.
Brian Nelson, a Wisconsin native
and a University of Michigan alum
(Who'd ever think that someone
would graduate from this school reli-
gious?), has produced a 10-song col-
lection of chant-like music meant to
soothe the soul.
But, not everything does as it is
"meant" to do, now does it?

In terms of composition, this CD is
highly confusing. The packaging and
wording infer a type ofEastern Ortho-
dox chanting will be the focus of this
CD. But, the types ofmusic presented,
the oftentimes overbearing piano
sounds and the un-Gregarian chant,
country hickness that sometimes in-
vades Nelson'svoice temporarily star-
tling whatever sense ofcalm he tried to
instillcombine to produceacacophony
ofsoundsthattake away fromNelson's
original intent (whatever that may be).
Unfortunately, when listening to
this CD, it's sometimes hard to tell
whether or not you're listening to a
chant ("Tears"), a musical ("Vision of
Night SnowinWhite Light"), anopera
("On the Shore") or just a bunch of
mindless humming where singers for-
got their lines ("Therefore Are They
Before the Throne of God").
"The Reconciliation" is without a
doubt a flop of a classical CD.
-Eugene Bowen
Josquin and Ockeghem
realized by Kathy
Gelsler
Christmas Tapestry
Well Tempered Productions
I really like electronic music, and,
thanks to my music history professor,
I have become a devoted fan of the
Renaissance composers Josquin de
Prez and Johannes Ockeghem. Unfor-
tunately, Kathy Geisler's electronic
version of these Christmas masses by
des Prez and Ockeghem is not that
impressive. The more I listen to the
recording, I better appreciate elements
of the "sculpting" technique Geisler
used to create an ensemble ofcomput-
erized voices. Still, my first impres-
sion persists.
Ockeghem and des Prez, born
around the years 1420 and 1440 re-
'spectively, were masters of the tech-
nique of counterpoint. Geisler's in-
peccably precise computer created
voices make it easy to distinguish each
partduring measures ofcomplex coun-
terpoint, imitation and canon.
Yet what I love about computer
music -the fascinating effects that
can be created -isn't here. What I
love about Renaissance masses-the
feeling of wonder and grandeur -
isn't here either. The computerized
interpretation isn't wacky enough to
be cool, but it's too bizarre to be au-
thentic. Geisler's "virtual ensemble"
is interesting, but the overall effect is
somewhattedious. The recording fails
to live up to its potential.
- Emily Lambert

Wild Swan Theater's production of
Winnie the Pooh
Audition date: September 12,6-8 pm
Bring a resume and dress to move!
Prepared monologues are welcomed-

PERFORMANCE DATES:
Nov.10 10am, 1 pm, 7:30 pm
Nov.11 2 pm,4 pm
Nov. 12 2 'pm
Dec. 2 time TBA
actors are paid per performance

WILD
SWAN
THEATER

416 W. Huron, Ann Arbor 48103 " (313) 995-0530
Rawlinson Photography
Presents:
A Bridal Faire
Wednesday, September 13, 1995
6:00pm.
At:"
The Mayflower Meeting House -.-"
499 South Main Street * Plymouth, MI 48170 -:
Tickets are $4.00 in advance $5.00 at the door , -
* Fashion Show -" --"-:-
" Exhibits -
* Prizes--
fret egagement -otran of A %Wcdg couples in Attendance"
Call for Ticket Information: 453-8872

c
eBagels *Pasta Salads
*Muffins *Soups
*Frozen Yogurt eVegetable Salads
(Gise-Glace) eFruit Salads
*Deli Sandwiches
715 N. University

According to a

recent survey:

A t'k4VCL*1 K

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