Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 12. August 15, 1957
Why are we women such slaves to fashion? We say that we emancipated ourselves from long skirts so that we could enjoy free activity but we now enslave ourselves in tight skirts, and find that in our sedentry occupations we do not need clothes that allow a great deal of freedom. So what is the advantage of wearing short skirts in winter, is it just exposing our legs to show them off?
I suggest we girls of V.U.C. show our intelligence, in planning our winter wardrobes for next year let us think about getting skirts that reach just above ankle-length, and thick socks or stockings. They could be very attractive. We may start a fashion. If we did, we should be doing a service to all those poor girls who waste their hard-earned money on nylons; to those who suffer from chilblains; and to those who have not got very nice legs.
Already, dear Sir, you have produced eleven issues, most of them six pages. This mountain of printed paper, religion, politics and off jokes, has been produced at my cost, from my Students' Association fee. At least, last year we were only plagued for half a year. Could you not kindly desist publication and refund the suplus moneys to students, who may like to buy some of the many learned journals now available?
Down the Line
Is there any connection between the appearance of the title of "Salient" in the left-hand column, and the left wing editorial policy which has become more and more obvious in recent issues? Because "Salient's" religious views have been pretty much upside down, doubtless the title will soon follow.
—Straight and Narrow.
It is with interest that I have watched "Salient" head block sidle down the left hand column, is this a symbolic reference to its plunge into the red in politics and ideas?
Off the Line
I wonder if "Partisan" (author of the article "The Party Follows in the Church's Footsteps" in your issue of 30th May) could tell me whether, in the midst of the "confessions" by deviationists that have been going on in China, someone on the Central Committed has been allocated the monopoly of selling indulgences? The takings, over and above reasonable profit, could be rediverted into party funds and cut the rate of dues paid by members.
Mr. Bollinger's letter amazes me.
Johnson did deplore Milton's bad influence. Eighteenth Century verse is greatest when it partakes of the Augustan prose virtues—as in Prior. Swith, Pope, Johnson himself. Goldsmith, and Crabbe—where words state exactly what they mean, and weak—as in Thompson, Dyer. Youing, Akenside and the rest (to sink no lower)—where poets were influenced by Miltonic verse in which words do very little work and preen themselves in being. Johnson, the greatest critic of Eighteenth Century verse recognized this and this assumption is implicit in his criticism of Eighteenth Century verse. Consider his Life of Gray where he censures the weaker poems and praised the Elegy which is a triumph of Augustan taste. Johnson recognized Milton's greatness and his praise grudging preciealy because of Milton's bad influence on the poetry of Johnsons time. Johnson wrote as a poet and not as a scholar.
Mr. Bollinger's quotation is the one good word Johnson has for Milton after three paragraphs of measured and deliberate censure. It refers to his use of melodious words. Precisely. Milton's words are too often merely melody. Johson is quite explicit about Miltons influence four paragraphs later. Milton "is to be admired rather than imitated."
I boggle at Mr. Bollinger's suggestion that in the 1936 essay "Eliot's real argument with Milton is that he finds him 'unsatisfactory' as a thinker." It is just not true. Eliot begins his essay by noting that Milton is antipathetic as a man and "unsatisfactory" as a thinker. Hut he goes on "the doubts which I have to express about him are more serious than these" and. "the serious charges to be made against him (are) in respect of the . . . particular kind of deterioration to which he subjected the language." The charge that Milton was a bad influence is repeated no less than live times in the course of the essay. Did Mr. Bollinger read beyond the fourth sentence?
I won't be drawn into a controversy on the merit and position of Eliot, but leave Mr. Bollinger's remarks to stand for what they are, a gratuitous red herring, and not a very nice smelling one, either.
It won't do to try and lump me with. Dobree, a feeble critic at the best of times. And if his case was "really scholarly" how can it have been "adequately knocked on the head" by Grierson and Smith?
L. P. Smith might have thought that "Milton's syntax and diction enriched the poetry of Keats." Keats himself seemed unaware of this. He says "The Paradise Lost though so fine in itself is a corruption [Real's spelling] of our language. . .. I have but lately stood on my guard against Milton—life to him would be death to me" (Letter 1727 Sept., 1819) and "I have given up Hyperion—there were too many Miltonic inversions in it . . . English ought to be kept up." (Letter 21 Sept., 1819).
As for Milton's being "one source of the splendour of our great Romantic Movement". Mr. Bollinger might like to compare the vague sludge of Wordsworth's public sonnets ("Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:") with, e g., the exquisite personal tone of "Surprised by joy, impatient as the wind".
Mr. Bollinger finds Milton "one of the great intellects of our literary heritage". But L. P. Smith, in the defence of Milton which Bollinger quotes approvingly, says this: "Milton's mind was not that of a Comprehensive thinker." ("Milton and his Modern Critics, p. 49.)
Jorn Milton is a great poet historically. His relevance to the present day is limited. Attention is paid to him mainly by Professors of English who, like Johnson, read Paradise Lost as "a duly rather than a pleasure."
And his influence on English poetry was pernicious.
For battle to take place at all, noise must emanate from at least two directions. Mr. Powles is, therefore quite wrong to infer from what I said in "Spike" that I assume that all the big political dust-ups at V.U.C. have been "engineered" by the Left. in fact, nearly all of them have been the flotsam and jetsam of the tides of history which insist on flowing on outside our ivied walls and don't seem to be able to help having some effect within. Sometimes, as I remarked, the issues on which battle has been joined look a bit unreal from the perspective of a few years, and assume a pathetic similarity to the battle between the chivalrous old gentleman and the windmill. But the ultimate issues were real enough—issues that were dividing the world outside, the sort of issues which have been battled over at universities for as long as there have been universities.
Which brings me to the second assumption which Mr. Powles ascribes to me—that the championing of good causes by the Left is "a matter of far-seeing doctrinal policy." I have never considered the question in just that form. But I know it is true that it has been the organised groups of the Left which have espoused these causes, and while they have won support for the causes themselves quite outside the organised left, it must remain a sterile question whether, if there were no organised Left, these issues would ever have been raised at all—because the existence of an organised Left has been determined by the nature of the University and of our tunes as much as by anyone's conscious act.
Finally, some points of fact. There was in my article no "studied repetition of the name 'O'Brien it occurs exactly (and necessarily) twice in five pages. Nor did I (as Mr. Powles docs) suggest that the opposition to the Left manifested by that dynasty was prompted by a "vindictive" spirit. Kevin and Maurice O'Brien were both very able student administrators, and I am sure their political views and activities were always perfectly sincerely motivated.
I should like here to apologise to the Social Democrat Society for the misstatement that it did not have a quorum for its 1957 A.G.M. This was based on a misunderstanding of a report concerning the Free Discussions Club, whose A.G.M. (quorumless) was held the same night.
There is also a misprint in the third line from the foot of page 43, where "Society foreign policy" should read "Soviet foreign policy."
—C. V. Bollinger.
Undeterred by a request (Mr. Devine's letter in "Salient" of 30th May) that my last letter should be my Last [unclear: les] I up my pen again.
What moves me is the demand of my conscience that I protest emphatically against your unspeakable political bias. Last issue you (l) devoted the top of your front page to "the Labour Party's election programme, (2) opened your letter columns, in accordance with an offer I was astounded to read in the new sectarian broadsheet "Left Review," to discussions on that dead horse "Socialism." and (3) have the [unclear: effontery] to cite as a source of material in an item appearing elsewhere on your front page, the mysterious initials "P.V.," by which I am given to understand you mean to refer to the Communist weekly rag, "People's Voice."
I would express the trust that next issue you will devote similar space to the National Party's programme, discussions on free enterprise, and excerpts from United States information Service Bulletins. But I know you are too blooming one-eyed.
(All articles to which "Rightwing" refers were contributed. To date, no contributions along the lines suggested in his last paragraph have been received. The "offer" in "Left Review" was a quite gratuitous piece of advertising.—Ed)
Why, Oh Why
I don't think that your columns are quite the place to reel off a list of the election promises of the Labour Party where the intention is to plug a "Vote for Labour" at the end. If a Labour campaign is being activated at the College I think its election propaganda should be kept out of the columns of "Salient". And why put it on the top of the front page?
—D. G. Jamieson.
(The article in question was sent us as a letter. A similar letter from other quarters would be published with equal willingness. It was placed on the top of the front page merely for convenience in layout.—Ed.)
|letters should be as short as possible.
|They should be written legibly, or still better, typewritten, using one side of the paper only.
|Preference will always be given to letter bearing the writer's signature for publication.
"Little Men . . ."
The recent edition of "Spike" is a successful publication, and the editor is to be congratulated for his work with the magazine.
However, one particular article in the edition seems out of place. I refer to the article appearing at the beginning of the section of the magazine dealing with V.U.C. institutions, titled "The Noise of Battle." In this particular article, the author has, with no shortage of verbage, written on the activities of the Socialist and kindred bodies (the title "Communist" the writer understands is not now in vogue as it fails to impress), in our University College. Such an article, although of considerable length, has its appropriate place together with other club notes on the back pages of the magazine; unless it is of more importance than these other clubs, such as the drama club or law faculty club, which is not likely. It depicts nothing more than the rise and fall (rather heavily it seems) of the leftist clubs in the college (Ave Atque Vale).
It may be that the voice of this particular section of the University is loud, thus "the noise of battle," but it would seem a rather empty noise as the participants are unable to form a quorum at their meetings.
Leftist club notes cannot in any way justifiably fill the position of an article on political activity in the University, as the article appears to do. If the only political activity is that of one particular club, a special article on its brief history is not at all warranted. The club should write its lament as stated before at the back of the magazine where notes on other clubs may be found.
I think it distasteful to find such an article appearing with those concerned with sport in the University and Weir House, although it would be perhaps well suited for the front page of your newspaper or for a leading article in the new series of pamphlets with green covers; Left View.
Little men who handle tools,
Wage-slave and belly-laughing fools,
Mean men who try to think or who scowl at happy children in schools,
Down-trodder men who trot
To every meeting on the dot,
There to quibble and drivel rot
Until the air about them is stinking hot—
Why must they with bumptious pride,
Coaxed out by the cunning of their side,
Spout and shout the loudest and the longest
That their principles are the best by test,
Apart from some trivial unrest,
Which is not in their book of rules—
Is it that they will otherwise be forgot?
[When consulted, the author of the article referred to said: "Well, well."—Ed.]
I fear that M.H.H. is mistaken in thinking he saw the Slotted bagsnatcher on a recent tramping trip, as this bird is only found in Inner Mongolia. I suspect that what he actually saw was the Double-barrelled gimlet.
(P.S.—Is his Throllope a variety of the local Trollope?)
In July, 1955, Mr. Conrad Bollinger, "with avuncular affection." wrote that he had to "keep taking ('Salient') to task. Last time it was for inaccuracy—a serious fault in a student newspaper."
Is this gentleman the same as who has this year been actively writing for "Salient"? in which case has his avuncular interest been aroused by the "misprints, misproofs and mis flips" in every issue this year?
Finally, is he now co-editor? And if so, does he continue to be "uncle"?
(Since 1955, Mr. Bollinger has discovered a genealogical error. He is in fact a child of 'Salient." His interest is therefore not "avuncular."—Ed.)
Doors Wide Open
If I held the views M.D. does, and I wanted to form a religious club. I would form it outside the College. I would not be sufficiently conceited to think that any exclusive coterie of which I were a member was entitled to be subsidised by the student body.
The arguments M.D. adduces to the contrary are so infantile that I wonder what the level of university entrance can be falling to. His fears that an "open doors" policy might lead to people who are ruled by "prejudice and passion" entering may be set at rest by the fact that a "closed doors" policy will let in nobody except "people who are ruled by prejudice and passion." if a few came in "for destructive purposes reflect student opinion? It reflects the only" it would all add to the spice of life, and help impress on the prejudiced and impassioned chosen that they might, after all be wrong.
M.D.'s example about Communists in the Watersiders' Union in 1951 is the sheerest fiction, garnered no doubt from the pages of "Freedom." For the record. I would point out that as far as the waterfront was concerned, the 1951 dispute was a lock-out, not a strike; the union's cause was as clearly just as that of the Hungarian workers in their recent general strike; and there was only one Communist of any consequence in a leading position in the union anywhere in the country—well overshadowed by a host of Roman Catholics, Labour Party moderates. Freemasons. Irish nationalists, and so forth.
V.U.C. clubs have a tradition of lively debate and clash of opinion of which M.D. seems to be unaware. Heretics' clubs, free discussions clubs, student Christian unions, charter societies, and the rest have always flourished in the heat of argument—and by not being prepared to accept that background, the Christian Science outfit brands itself as alien to the College and foredooms itself to either an early death or a rarified living death us an incestuous mutual bum-tickling circle.
The constitutional amendment carried at the A.G.M. licensing clubs to lock their doors must be recommitted and thrown out at the earliest opportunity.