Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 18. September 20, 1939
"Rostrum" — Mule in the Grain
Mule in the Grain
At the end of the last term we received the first issue of "Rostrum," published by the New Zealand Students' Association.
To begin with Aldous Huxley naturally assumed a large portion of this publication. He has become a stock part of University diet and remains, needless to say, very seriously illdigested in several cases.
If H.W.G. were not inclined to burble so unwisely and publicly, he might conceal a little in himself and so keep us guessing as to his actual potentiality. But as it is in his burbling state we cannot help finding him in, "Is There Any Hope?" to be, as it were, caught in underwear full of extremely awkward holes . . . . The question "Is There Any Hope?" is in itself a vast rent which cannot possibly be repaired with any of the unreasonably inadequate rags he pulls out of his bag. H.W.G suffers from what in these days is the very contagious disease of too many pretensions.
In "Technique of Reaction" we find something of pure inspiration in, "A loud accordeon successfully awung Annie Laurie through the rye." That is clever, Quite a little of this confused article is clever. But Ronald L. Meek forces himself further to make his style crude, even triumphantly grating, while the substance of both his writings points to a young man gaining his feet and more or less advertising this difficulty In his verse (which has, however, some poetical likenesses). In a year or two he ought to be steady . . . For the present he is only interesting as the legs he stands upon are fairly wooden, and he is forced to lean rather heavily on Mr. Aldous Huxley, and others.
The Mulberry Bush
In further articles the propagandist, the advertiser, the quack, the "new religion," God and Britain are all taken severely to task. This may appear to indicate that "Rostrum" is a true university production. These are the vital things which must be dealt with! But it rather points to the danger of our treading round and round in a circle like the mule that threshes the grain.
The articles themselves are well written. "The New Religion " and "This Advertising Racket" are two especially which take a very capable grasp. But not one of these articles gives us anything new, they break no new ground, and they come to no new or forceful conclusions. We have all taken part in these sort of discussions ourselves round club- and cafe- tables. It Is for this reason that they are chiefly what journalists, always vulgar, call "rehashes," that they fail. Now, if ever, is the time for revolutions in the university. But the mule, the mule . . .
We do not require to be told again that "the crux of the matter is that these strange teachings are approached emotionally rather than reasonably." ("Some Charlatans") . . . The writer of this, though a perhaps promising enough thinker, must surely have been in the vicinity of a recent shower of rain. There are other writings which we find highly embarrassing in their raw-boned youthfulness.
"But," someone has said to us, "you are not to expect anything mature or original from a university student."
"Then," is our immediate reply, "in this case why trouble to print 'Rostrum' at all?" Of what value is such a collection of work? It may be interesting as a testimony to those outside the university of our immaturity showing that Just at present too much is not to be expected of us. But it is bad for us Inside the university in that by it we are taken in by our own pretensions and cleverness. Again, we cannot presume to believe that we are telling anything to anybody. We are not.
But it must certainly be said that the fundamental intention of "Rostrum" was good, and that alone is admirable, when so many are bad.