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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 11. 1962

The Little Magazine

The Little Magazine

Dear Sir,—"argot"—subtitled less diffidently "A Literary Magazine."—is the archetype of the little magazine. It appears so inherently defenceless that one is loath to attack it. Pick it up: examine its trail, white pages— its almost consumptive frame. In content, and in size it is similar to all the other little magazines that have over appeared.

Generally, it is not the content that needs to be attacked "argot" is to be commended for serving a very useful function in Vic. It will be it is hoped, breeding ground and constant encouragement for the few hardy souls who try to write creatively. "argot" so for has contained some interesting work and some pretty slip-shod still. But all of it has been stimulating in one way or an-rather frighteningly emotional study short story and Norm Bilborough's 'rather frightening emotional study were both raw, but definitely an excellent start. The poetry has generally been sincere and communicative.

What can and must be attacked in the faint niggling of archness, the annoying suspicion that argot and the Contemporary Arts Society may become the sort of avant-garde in-group society that becomes not so concerned with revolt and proselytization as with mutual self-esteem and smugness. Smugness is a word which is just as much a sin of literary clubs as the "average Kiwi" they so contemptuously berate.

Such an argument can only be based on one article but a remarkably offensive little work it is, Mr T. H. Beagle-hole's comment on just the sort of superior archness that "argot" must avoid "Some thinking" asserts Mr. Beaglehole, "needs to be gone on what contemporary art is" Mr. Beaglehole taking up the shield and girding his loins in defence of that greatest vagary of all abstracts, the artistic standard, then sighs that "inexplicably"— a nice touch picture the raised eyebrows and weary expression— "Inexplicably we wasted time with McGonigal." Mr. Beaglehole may have not been able to explain it, but some who were there rather thought it was because the audience was enjoying it so much In his own way McGonigal, divinely inspired poet, satirised neatly the more pretentious forms of poetry— and it is just as easy as it ever was to be poetically pretentious, Some of the student poetry illustrates that very well

"Jazz I suppose" says Mr Beaglehole "is a contemporary art form," How deliciously snide that "I suppose" is! Our crusader pats jazz nicely on the head and tells it that if it is good it can come to contemporary art concerts Perhaps it is too much to hope that the Jazz Club one of the most admirable and refreshingly original in groups will take the hint.

But Mr Beaglehole excels himself in his contempt—charmingly British and restrained still contempt—for the "scoffers" who were restless while Mr. Maconie was slinging the Boulez. He again supposes that the no-nonsense Kiwi attitude has its value but tut-tuts at complacent ignorance, Kiwi! See for yourself how easy it is to say it with a sneer. Should become nearly as good an Aunt Sally as 'Victorian for the little magazines in a few years, and just about as hazy too Kenneth Tynan (please excuse a Kiwi for having heard of him) once said that lust was just as valid an emotion as tears or joy. Perhaps boredom is, too. In another time and another place, Mr. Beaglehole undoubtedly knows, audiences expressed their ennui by tearing out seats and hurling them at the performer. A remarkably attentive and enthusiastic audience was rather strained beyond the limits of credulity by Mr. Maconie's arrogant and perhaps elaborate unconcern— Boulez was a sort of musical slap in the face, a deliberate attempt to antagonise the audience. Thank goodness for "no-nonsense Kiwis" that they were antagonised.

In conclusion let us hope that no more of this superficial attitude will be heard from "argot" or conarts. It has a function—an admirable one—and it can achieve a lot by having some consideration and a sense of justice for its small, but genuinely interested audience.—Yours

Robert Laking