Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 11. 1961
Sir,—In replying to the article "Dwyer Cut Up" (much more appropriately "Dwyer on top") I would first refer to the premise that Miss Benefield is criticising i.e. "The very concept of Infinity is all-inclusive and absolutely exclusive." Assuming this, Mr Dwyer tried to show that if evil existed apart from God; He was no longer Infinite.
Miss Benefield attempts to prove the premise wrong and thus Mr Dwyer's conclusion as well. She concludes: "Thus beside the Infinite, there is the finite dependent on the Infinite God for its very existence." In other words, she maintains that something occurs outside Infinite God and (horror of horrors) she decides that this existence, while being separate, still "depends on God for its very existence."
Obviously Mr Dwyer has scored because after all her pseudo-reasoned orange peel Miss Benefield merely admits Mr Dwyer's insistence on the existence of orange juice i.e. that God is not Infinite.
What does Miss Benefield then do, but proceed to argue on the basis that God is Infinite, having apparently proved that He Isn't. She then goes on to state that Good emanates from God and evil "does not exist positively at all. It is an absence of Good." What is good? As Miss Benefield is chary of delineating It here I can only conclude that she is referring to the Christian code as manifested by the Church on earth. Can she deny that this Christian morality has varied in the past. One has only to look at attitudes of the clergy in the Middle Ages to see the familiarity with, and tendency towards physical violence that was prevalent in society as a whole and had a general reflection In the Christian morality of the time. Today Christians lay great emphasis on "turning the other cheek"—this emphasis has evolved since the Middle Ages and very probably a different emphasis will appear in the future. What would be the attitude of the Church In the case of war today? The categorical statement "Thou shalt not kill," will merely be passed over.
In her last paragraph Miss Benefield maintains the existence of a consistent Christian morality. She separates this from Its manifestation in the Christian Church on earth by its very consistence. How then does she define it? "A philosophic concept of God's laws regarding creation." Whose concept is this? There is no concept' which is at all generally accepted. There is a whole series of different Individual interpretations, even national interpretations.
How were these different interpretations produced anyway? Obviously the bible is the material from which they came. What is the bible?—Obviously a collection of human interpretations in itself.
To avoid the incorporation of doubtful material in her "philosophic concept" Miss B. would be able to use her bible only in fundamentals, ie. the Ten Commandments. These fundamentals will still have to be expanded before they can be applied to our continually developing way of life. Who is going to expand them? Not one common authority—but many, with the result of a plurality of interpretations.
And this moral code is supposed to delineate what is "good." Miss Benefield can find it to say; evil is merely the absence of good, "positive" good, but she does this allowing only an assumption that, by good, she means Christian morality—a variable and often vague thing which can only be ignored, even by Its exponents, if it comes into contradiction with fundamental national policies.
Simply, It appears that Miss B. only makes a case out for the real existence of evil, by claiming the real existence of good. According to the moral nature of good, it is merely a contrast to evil—on the same plane. Therefore Miss B's claim that evil "does not exist positively at all," is completely absurd. If it does not exist "positively" then neither can good—one could just as well say; good does not exist positively at all, it is an absence of evil.
Immigration: Exclude Irish
Sir,—Glancing idly through the latest Issue of Salient I was amazed at the number of times the name Dwyer appeared.
Who is this head-line catcher? This stimulator or maybe leader of University mental thought. An investigation was set in motion and the facts unearthed.
Dwyer is or was an Irishman, and it appears, not a mad one, though experts from the psychology department and the Otago Medical School refused to comment directly. Oh these lawyer-trained quacks.
Like Joyce (a writer—to those who have not attempted English I) Dwyer roamed far from his native shore (otherwise how would he be here)—whether for the same reason as Joyce is not quite clear.
Like all sane Irishmen Dwyer has a philosophy, actually he studies it, and also like a true Irishman he believes those who can't be seen should be heard, and if they can't be heard they should be read.
Hence it appears Salient has and will continue to carry the thunderings of this second Irish prophet (St. Patrick being the first). Actually after 15 centuries it is about time the race produced another.
The moral to be gained from these top-secret disclosures (even the government doesn't know these facts, yet) is two-fold.
Firstly the notion that the Irish overlook little old New Zealand while spreading their gospel (or whatever Dwyer preaches) is obviously incorrect. Secondly the Immigration laws must be tightened up to Include the exclusion of Irishmen. Otherwise Walter N. and Mr Fintan Patrick Walsh might be exposed to sleepless nights and horrible nightmares as fiery word-consuming challengers from the Emerald Isle enter the sphere of labour as they have successfully done in Old Uncle Sam, and challenged these grand old warriors.
Better Red Than Dead?
Sir,—In your report on the debate "Better Red than Dead?" you have summarised my words as 'He appealed for the West to be calm and to maintain peace until the intellectuals on the other side of the Iron Curtain could liberalise Communist thought." I should like to offer the following alternative summary which I think is closer to the meaning of what I said: "He appealed for the West to be calm and firm for the lifetime of one or two generations, and to maintain peace until the many-sided struggle of the intellectuals behind the Iron Curtain against the powers that he succeeded in liberalising conditions there."
P. G. Elkan.
Sir,—The new radiogram is fabulous but why have it in the Women's Common Room? Every time we play a record the habitual residents look positively agonized, and sooner or later some long-suffering square comes and whispers "Please could you turn it down?" And often: "Do you mind turning it off—we're trying to study!" Now we sympathise and all that—after all, we too occasionally study but why waste a perfectly beautiful radiogram. No one could complain if it were in the Common Common Room and the gift would really get the appreciation it deserves. It would be more logical too as music is stimulating and should be shared: for those who really love music, as we do, it is frustrating to be surrounded by understandably frigid hostility!
I am, etc.,
Slob(and proud of it).
Sir,—So the statue was nearly exchanged with the officers of the Esmeralda for a Chilean flag. How very admirable and ingenious to take in a group of foreigners! And since then it has visited Ngaio Post Office, and returned minus half one foot. Better still.
To suggest that this is hardly the way to treat a gift is perhaps too elementary. There is, however, a more subtle consideration. Many students like the statue. Had this never occurred to those who employ themselves in getting rid of it? These people have taken upon themselves pseudo-representative powers in attempting to dispose of the statue. This energetic little group has been so busy with their self-imposed mission that they have never considered that it was perhaps selfish, childish and irresponsible. What may be amusing to them seems stupid and destructive to those who enjoy the statue.
Sir,—While Queen Victoria's reign produced some of the most hideous architectural and social structures ever erected, Roturies' statement that she was a tyrant is just hot air. I never knew Victoria and it is highly improbable that Roturies did. Consequently neither of us is in a position to say whether or not she was a tyrant.
Advocates of Wellington University are only a few of our bumbling councillors, not the businessmen; the businessmen in addition are the only people to whom our Exec, can crawl to for badly needed funds.
But his "Wu-Wu" makes my blood boll. After seeing the major cities of South Africa and Australia in addition to most of the British Isles, I am in a position to compare Wellington with them. I state, without any qualification, whatsoever, that Wellington is a hole. It's the most dirty and Inhospitable town that I have ever had the misfortune to know. It's a monstrosity, without even the saving grace of a fascination usually attendent on such objects. And in parts it stinks. Literally. Of filth.
I shudder at the thought that, some day, I may carry the stigma of having graduated at Wellington, if this terrible prospect should ever become a near certainty I shall promptly transfer to Auckland University where I may continue my studies in peace, albeit at. a lower standard.
I am, etc.,
Sir,—We wish to take strong exception to an item appearing on Page 1 of Vol. 24. No. 9, of Monday, June 19, 1961. The passage to which we refer is "Auckland University has the same name as the City of Auckland, and the degree of hostility and mutual contempt between University and Robinson's City Council has been extraordinary for years."
During the period when the site of the development of the University was undecided, the University authorities reversed their original decision and decided to carry out this development on the Princess Street site. This brought them into conflict with the City Council, and this conflict extended until the Town and Country Planning Appeals Board rejected the City Council's opposition last year, and cleared the way finally for this development.
During this controversy there was, after a public meeting called by a group of private citizens who included some City Councillors and which was addressed by the Mayor (Robinson) and concerning the inclusion of Government House site in the area, a period when student opinion of these people and their somewhat arrogant tactics was at an all-time low. However, since this time, relations have steadily Improved. Even at its most extreme period, however, this situation could not by any criterion be described as one of "mutual contempt."
Over the past few months the situation has improved constantly. At Executive Dinner, Mr Robinson made a plea for closer co-operation "between Town and Gown," the City Council have recently turned on social occasions for both the retiring Chancellor and for Colombo Plan Students, whilst last week the Mayor attended a concert presented by students of this University. I feel that the fact that he joined some church leaders in a condemnation of the standard of this year's Capping Book and Procesh does not invalidate my claim that relationships between the two bodies are now quite cordial and are showing steady improvement, as many of us were not satisfied ourselves with the standard of wit in either of these two activities this year.
Bob Cater,Man Vice-President Corresponding Member.
Sir,—I wish that clubs in the University would advertise their activities more accurately. I am, of course, referring to the talk on 'World Bank." It was very convenient of the speaker to say that he did not know that the topic he was to have spoken on was "World Bank." It turned out to be Social Credit propaganda. I think that this is a dirty way of getting an audience to hear about something in which they have no particular interest. I wish to warn students who are ignorant of the traps they can fall into—for I wasted one whole hour listening to a talk that was not even rational.
Sir,—It was with amazement that I read Mr Richard Caughey on "Moral Rearmament." It is only too obvious that this gentleman who, on his own admission, worked for four years with this movement, has been so instilled with propaganda that it has clouded his judgment. Typical of his kind, he neglects to mention exactly what moral rearmament stands for, and who provides the money to run It.
It has become obvious that this movement is run by the men whose finance companies actually back the arms factories. This view inevitably follows, as long as Mr Caughey and his confederates continue to scream about the "Red bogey" and propose not moral rearmanent but further nuclear armaments. If readers will cast their memories back to the 1930's, they will remember that Hitler also disguised himself under the banner of moral justification. I am. etc.,
Sir,—Mr R. Chapman appears to have all the characteristics of the past Executive which he criticised. I am puzzled to know why he was not a candidate in the recent elections—and proud of it.
A. T. Mitchell.
[P.S.—On examining the records, it appears that there has not been one full-time student as President of the Association for at least the last 15 years.]
Sir.—.Jancist cannot hope to set my mind at rest (as she attempted to* in Salient 9) by avoiding the question "How did Jancist get a copy?" Did she go overseas as she attempts to infer? And to a country where Lolita was not banned?
Jancist defends the lavatorial humour on the grounds that any family anywhere keeps itself amused with dirty stories. This is a sweeping, general, and I feel, unjustified statement.
The final claim is that the book gets its humour by making the pervert ridiculous. It seems that it is Jancist rather than the judges that should have her sense of humour questioned. Finally, may I repeat my former comment, a legal proceeding is not to exercise the judges sense of humour but to decide whether the book came within the provisions of the indecent publications act.
[In reply to R.J.P.—I did go overseas—as R.J.P. well knows—now just shut up will you?
Let us agree to differ on our ideas of "family jokes." I think that if a survey was to be conducted throughout the world, on this subject, the result would be that there was a certain element of lavatorial humour in the majority of family circles, especially those with young children (heavens, it's essential!)
The exception does not prove the rule.
And just to conclude—maybe I have an unique sense of humour—and I'm proud of it!
Sir,—Is it youthful rejuvenation, or is Salient "in the red?" is It aesthetic appreciation or an Indication of Salient's dubious political associations? Did someone provide a free sample or is it Kinsey's asides that has made those boxes turn that colour?
Sir,—Jancist in her article on Contemporary Music considers that "modern" music presents us with a very insecure foundation upon which to base the art of musical composition. She believes It to be "revolutionary, transitory and experimental."
May I ask her how closely she has studied the works of the contemporary schools that she thus condemnes? I question her right and her ability to expound such an opinion How closely has she examined for example the works of Stravinsky, Bartok or Schonberg (to mention only three of a much larger group)? Perhaps in her haste to condemn them as being unable to teach us anything valuable she has overlooked such vital factors as Bartok's contrapuntal techniques, Stravinsky's fascinating orchestration and word-setting, or again, the exciting rhythmic conceptions of our age.
Can she really justify herself in calling these developments "revolutionary?" I suggest that this word implies far more than what is nothing more than a natural development in the growth of any art. Certainly 20th century composers have reacted violently against the Romantics, but in opening up seemingly new paths in composition. They have, nonetheless drawn from past styles and led quite naturally into the next stage in musical development.
"Transitory?" By no means! Let me point to only one of many examples — Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms"—which possesses elements that will be marvelled at for as long as anything by Beethoven, Mozart or Bach.
"Experimental?" Only in so far as any great artist—if he is truly great will experiment.
Far from being left on the shelf and ignored, therefore, I am certain that contemporary music must play a vital part in the education of music students. The course would be incomplete if it was omitted and it is for this reason that the Music Department wisely includes it in our earliest stages—and in our final year expects us to be writing in its idioms.
L. J. Burns.
Sir.—I have heard around the city that grovels at our feet, that Judge Cunlewis's recent remarks, about free love and loose living at Sydney University, can also be applied to Vic. The other day I was asked which lecturer it is at Vic. that preaches free love.
Fellow—uh—students, we cannot allow such comments to ride freely around town.
Drinkers of the world unite—there is nowhere to go but get higher. Never let it be said that Vic. students need instruction in free love and loose living.
Prof. Comment on "Victoria"
Sir,—I think your article in last "Salient" calls for comment, as it sacrifices accuracy and logic for emotion—like your other front-page articles this year! Must you use your front page like that?
Unfortunately, both sides of this controversy have been badly presented to the University and to the public. In favour of the change we have heard little but brevity and town-gown relationships. Both have some merit in spite of your curious claim that "Wellington University" would not be formally correct; all over the world there are universities bearing the names of the cities in which they are located, and that doesn't prevent them from serving a wider area. But it does let people know where they are! People outside New Zealand don't know (without research) where Victoria University is; their first guess is Australia, then British Columbia. For a third solution, see later. Letters sometimes reach us by strange routes. You claim that "Victoria" in its various forms is distinctive; unfortunately it is the least distinctive name in the Commonwealth for obvious historical reasons. True, "Wellington" might well be second in this respect, but at least this Wellington is probably the best known, whereas that is not true of this "Victoria."
The case for retaining the old name is primarily that it provides a continuity of tradition and would best retain the loyal interest of graduates. This has merit, but is not helped by your exaggerated claim that the name is essential, or that a change would be disrespectful to British royalty. Such changes have occurred elsewhere without the heavens falling.
If the Council decides to retain the status quo, we will follow the same course as the Victoria University of Manchester. Yes, that's its name, but of course it is seldom used, and probably never as "Victoria University* without the "Manchester." For all practical purposes it is "The University of Manchester," and its degrees are indicated by (Mane.) not (Vic.), f Council should decide to grasp the nettle and make the change now instead of leaving it to happen gradually, we should realise that their action is not prompted by malice or by the dictates of "petty businessmen." Let's try to keep any further discussion reasonable.
Pro. H. D. Gordon(Science).
Sir,—The next Executive will not be comprised of the best available students. In some cases the voters were forced to choose between two or more good candidates whilst in others, less competent have been thrust upon them. Can this be described as an exercise in democracy ?
When it is remembered that the duties of an Exec, member extend far beyond the particular portfolio allotted to him or her, the failure of the system is the more manifest.
At the time the system was first mooted I supported it, I only hope my colleagues in error will join with me in admitting short-sightedness.
The only way in which I can see that this system could be retained is to introduce a "policy" committee and to confine portfolio holders to the area of those portfolios.
However, as this "junior executive" would have little appeal, unless it is a pre-requisite for a "policy" position for the candidate to have served a year as a "portfolio" holder, it seems that we shall have to revert to the former shambles as being the lesser of the two evils.
Yours faithfully, Potus et Exlex. [Abridged.]
Sir,—The other day I noticed a portrait of George V which was hidden amongst the dirt and cobwebs above the library door. It occurred to me that amongst all the controversy over the proposed deletion of "Victoria" from this University's official title, no one has noticed that we have not one painting, sculpture, or picture-postcard of the old lady herself displayed, however inconspicuously, anywhere within our ivy-covered halls. Nothing to show why we are Victoria.
We want to retain our traditional title. But let us not forget our namesake; let us give her the due recognition which our name implies she should have. Without this we might just as well be named after a certain Australian State, for all anyone knows or cares.
Pigs is Pigs
Is the common common room meant to be a common cesspool? The floor is covered with waste—cigarette butts and ash. apple cores, orange peels, dead matches, papers and plain common dirt and dust.
Although the frequenters of the room are particularly blamable for their slovenly habits Stud. Ass. is more culpable. After all what can be expected if waste paper bins are not supplied in sufficient numbers, the few ashtrays infrequently emptied and the floors swept only now and again?
If Stud. Ass. have made some cleaning arrangements they are totally inadequate and would appear to be A Reflection of the General Efficiency and Competence of Stud. Ass.
Is it too much to ask for more waste-paner bins and ashtrays, and to nave the common room and the corridors swept out once every 24 hours, five days a week or is there a good reason why this is not practicable?
[Ashtrays and bins are now provided: there are 12 ashtrays in the editorial room—but people still prefer using the floor.]
Sir,—O.K., "Jancist," so I'm still a music student. But look here, I am a genius.
The Necessities of Life!
Sir,—While we revel in the unaccustomed luxury of the new Student Union Building, complete with Venetian blinds, etc., we think that some of the money could have been laid out on less ostentatious but more essential articles, e.g., toilet paper in the cloakrooms. Yours, etc.,