Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 9. June 5, 1952
Plato in Trouble
I do feel that your critic "Plato" Who reported the Staff. Student debate has chosen a somewhat inapt name. From my scant knowledge of Greek I understand that Plato in the original has a remarkably lucid style and an extremely logical air. It may have been that "Plato's" appetitive self was nursing a smouldering duodenal ulcer, or perhaps merely a bad liver at the time of the debate. If so, it appears to have continued long enough to prevent his writing style from rising above that level of turgidity which he so readily attributes to the debate.
He is of course, is entitled to his own opinion about the merits or demerits of the debate (though perhaps he shares his namesake's that there is only one correct's truth). I for one would agree that the debate did not rise to the heights which have been achieved in the pant two years. Nevertheless. I would take issue with him on a few points.
The first is his peculiar statement that the debate was not welt attended. One can only conclude either that he came in at five minutes past eleven, or that he (again like his namesake) believes surface reality to be merely a shadow. By an official count at nine o'clock there were 163 people in the hall. True, this is a small proportion of the college; II is also a larger number than a number of recent general meetings have beet) able to collect. I confess myself unable to fathom his reasoning. Maybe "Plato" subscribes to some Pythagorean system or mathematics which is beyond me.
Nor can I follow the peculiar reasoning which enabled him to overlook the brilliant debating speech which was judged first by Dr. Williams.
My own impression was that Mr. Milburn's winning speech was better than anything we have been graced with for the last few years—yet Mr. Milburn came in for no mention. His speech was, on the Judge's verdict, sincere, logical. Hell presented.
Mr. McCreary is also [unclear: assaried] for failing to do more than make "a semi-serious threat" to refute Mr. O'Brien's argument on truth. I behave that the extreme solipsist or Berkleyan view which Mr McCreary mentioned is a sufficient answer. Moreover. I assume that the speaker would prefer it because a rather larger number of people in the audience, not professional (or Stage II) logicians would be able to follow that argument than would follow the equally valid argument which "Plata" mentions Again I find him somewhat inappropriately named.
Your critic appears to have been considerably more exercised in airing his own opinions about the subject rather than in commenting on the debate. Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking that he is writing his report from what someone else told him of the debate: he knows so little of what went on.
The only attribute which (I as, sume) enables your critic to borrow without other justification the name of a rather gifted philosopher in his distrust of equalitarian democracy. But in this case he should have been consistent enough to deplore, not the fact that there were too row, but that there were too many, at the debate.
It is with some trepidation that I subscribe myself.
[Salient apologises that reportorial difficulties made it impossible to publish a word for word, blow for blow report of the debate. Rather than let the Staff Student debate pass without some, mention (for It is a rather Important event in the year) it was decided to print "Plato's" impressions which we admit were rather inadequate.
Tally Ho, S.C.M.
When I was first at this college your correspondence columns used to be full of very intriguing arguments about God. As this has not been the case during the past two years, I can only presume that "Junior Atheist" and "Veritas" have made their separate ways to their respective heavens. Without wishing to appear to be reviving a dead issue, I should like to blow some of the dust off that old bone of contention. You sec, I have Just read Aquinas ("Veritas" quoted him so much I wrote his name down in my little booh of "People to Read," and I have just got down that far), and the complete lack of logic in this gentleman's cerebral processes worries me.
Particularly worrying I find Aquinas' statement that something must have made the universe, therefore it must have been God. Forestalling the enquirer who wants to know who made find, ho says an infinite number of creators would he absurd, and therefore the sensible thing to do is to presume God and stop there. Would it not be Infinitely more sensible to presume the universe, which we can see and feel, and stop There.
A Poet Writes
I am intrigued by E. H. Bel." fords letter in Salient defending his review of a poetry reading in the "Evening Post." The "Evening Post." like most of our culturally inert press, lends the blanket of anonymity to a reviewer at such times, and it is quite beyond me why anyone should want to claim authorship of the review in question. That this young man does so suggests such inordinate pride in his work that it is best not left unchallenged.
Mr. Belford is not a critic, but a poor reviewer. By any standard of aesthetic judgment he is simply unqualified to assess an art work, and those opinions which he puts to paper as criticisms are scarcely worth uttering.
You may be interested to learn that several of the poets concerned with the reading reviewed by Mr. Belford met together to discuss the advisability of protesting against his review to his editor. It was decided to let the infontile review go unchallenged; but the proud claim of authorship made in Salient should be taken up. Though I have not seen your H's comment. I would thank him for any corrections made to the "Post" review.
Both in his letter and in his review. Mr. Belford refers to Edmund Spenser as Spencer. Bad Journalism.
Then makes odd points about the "locals" holding their own with him and Shakespeare if "they go in for a few more local touches." The question is scarcely any longer whether or not Mr. Belford is right but how much longer is our "responsible" Press going to pass off this sort of thing as criticism or even as reviewing?
Mr. Belford has no right whatsoever to assume that the poetry readings are put on for "a theatre audience." or that, since this is an attempt to get people to hear poetry, that the poets are perversely out of touch with society. Mr. Belford is only speaking for himself. Mr. Belrord makes a further plea for poems written from "Aral hand experience." What does he think that he is getting? Once again, all that he can say is "this is not my experience."
His most breathtaking touch though, is surely the comment that Salient's reviewer could do better with the space given him! Mr. Belford could hardly do worse with his own make!
Having been subjected to this kind of thing many times myself, and having known others to be equally riled by the pinpricking Press, may I claim this as one of those privileged, critical moments on which I can cover my face and remain merely
One of the Poets.
Speaking as a resident or the institution which you describe as an interesting social phenomenon in last week's issue, I would like to take a firm stand and, cudgel in hand defend the honour of this fine establishment; It is time, that such cross libels as that in last week's issue were stopped. Enough damage has already been done by the irresponsible elements of Wellingtons back journalistic society.
Weir House as shown in the photograph last week does not stand darkly menacing against the sombre sky. The sky isn't sombre: it is blue with white cumulus clouds reliably estimated by a meteorological expert of my acquaintance as not more than three-tenths. Anyhow, the house was probably suffering from a generalised morning-after depression at the time that the photo was taken and I therefore submit that it does not give a fair representation of the position. Moreover, you accuse the inmates of being half-beasts. However true this assertion may be, none of us desire to see half a RSPCA inspector coming up the bill to inspect the living conditions as a direct result of your interfering hack journalistic efforts. Besides., this inspection might have serious effects on the management-committee as some of them might be prosecuted for maltreatment.
Now we don't want that, do we? It might lead to even more serious results such as a disastrous rise in board.
I therefore remain (for the sake of the child allowance)—
Mother of Five.
[Of course, there are different opinions on Weir House, and its inhabitants. We would be only too pleased to hear from other with different views