Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 5. 1967.
Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor
Sirs,—Mr. Benson's criticism of Othello (Salient—March 31, 1967) is probably true (in the cinematic sense). He says that Othello "cannot be criticised for being a virtual non-film (in the cinematic sense), since it could claim to be nothing more than a record on celluloid of a stage performance." Having said that he criticises the film for its lack of cinematic merit.
I will, however, ignore this inconsistency. Criticism is mainly pointed at Olivier's style of acting, examples of over-acting. "Over-sized emoting and large scale theatrics," the lack of sets, and a breathing corpse. This criticism presents the conclusion that, in fact, Othello was a record on celluloid of a stage performance—the very thing which Mr. Benson said could not be criticised as "being a virtual non-film."
Further I find criticisms pointing to the lack of sets and a breathing corpse as nauseating. The action and the text are the two important features of a Shakespearian play; not the practically irrelevant sets, costumes, breathing corpse and similar technicalities. These last mentioned items seem to capture Mr. Benson's mind in his search for the technically perfect.
Anybody reading Mr. Benson's criticism would be astonished by the words "or whatever the sobbing, slobbering and gymnastics are meant to indicate." Even a small knowledge of Shakespeare's Othello would enable Mr. Benson to realise; that this was Shakespeare's method of indicating insanity. Perhaps a primitive attempt when compared with the technique used in films such as REPULSION, but equally effective I believe, especially when it is remembered that Othello was written in an age when a totally different approach was taken towards the insane, for people of that age.
Mr. Benson admits he "went to see Othello with some misgivings." It is a pity he went unprepared to give, take, and use his imagination as is so necessary in any theatrical production of Shakespeare, whether recorded on celluloid or not.
J. A. Coleman
Mr. Benson replies:
J. A. Coleman seems to, have gone wildly astray in his understanding of the review, I did indeed point out that Othello lacked cinematic merit, but went on to add that this fact was not of prime importance. What was criticised was not the "film" but the stage performance of the play.
Mr. Coleman mentions the "action and text" as being two important features of a Shakespeare play, implying that neither was referred to in the review. I certainly attempted to criticise the action as staged in this version of Othello. I do not agree that "technicalities" like sets, costumes, and breathing corpses can be dismissed as irrelevant when these items individually contribute to one's appreciation of the production of the whole. Furthermore. Mr. Coleman is assured that I am not engaged in any quest for the "technically perfect"—I don't even know what the phrase means.
Mr. Coleman's contention that "sobbing, slobbering and gymnastics" constitute Shakespeare's method of indicating insanity seems to me quite insupportable. A reading of the play gives no such hint, and the other Othellos on film indicate that Mr. Coleman has confused Shakespeare's method with Olivier's method. Paul Robeson, in his New York performances some twenty-five years ago, was criticised for similar reasons. He, like Olivier, resorted to frothing at the mouth, rather than suggesting Othello's insanity by more subtle means.
Contrary to Mr. Coleman's assumptions, my imagination was working overtime. I was thinking of an Othello with a less crude central performance, better sets, more imaginative staging of the action, non-breathing corpses, and "similar technicalities." Mr. Coleman obviously liked the film, but he has not given his reasons. I fear that all he has left is "the text," something which he could have stayed home and read in peace and tranquility.
Sirs—The suggestion that the New Zealand University Students Association cannot make press statements without a two-thirds majority of constituent presidents approving the statement is incorrect.
This suggestion was made in the March 31st issue of Salient
The two-thirds majority stipulation applies only to matters which are obviously controversial and not covered by Council policy motions.
Considering NZUSA has passed a motion calling for the widest possible base for the issuing of specific statements and in fact deals with an increasing number of remits at each Council, especially in the international field, it is unlikely that the need to consult constituent presidents will arise very often.
Michael King, Outgoing NZUSA Press Officer.
Sirs,—Most of the talk on Geering's denial of immortal life is based on either a completely wrong usage of terms, or a misunderstanding of one of the most central doctrines of the Church. There seems to be a serious theological shortcircuiting, of the form "Geering says .. but I believe that ...," at large. As a result of this we have heard the airing of misinformed speculations and non-Christian hopes.
Let us get beneath this confusion by changing the grounds of the discussion, by turning to the Bible (strangely enough). Regardless of whether Geering has based his position on scientific discovery, the issue with which we are dealing has nothing to do with the relationship between science and Christianity.
Rather it is concerned with the claims of rival philosophies. About 50 AD Paul was faced with the problem of false teaching in his foundling Church at Corinth. Corinth was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire and lay on the crossroads of east-west trade and was a meeting place of east-west religions. It was a centre of Greek philosophy. Immortality is a Greek concept. The Greeks believed that man is immortal; that his soul through its intrinsic merit was assured of eternal life. This notion is completely opposed to Christian teaching.
The end of eternal life is a common theme but here the similarity ends. Christian teaching stresses that man is mortal. The thread of Paul's argument runs through the 15th chapter of our first letter from Paul to the Church at Corinth ... v. 47, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from Heaven ... " The Lord from Heaven who triumphed over death through resurrection ... and is a pattern for all believers ... v. 53. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality ..." Of himself man is not immortal. He may put on immortality through and only through resurrection and thus gain eternal life as a gift from God.
Anyone who likes may retain the label "immortal." May, but he does so at his own theological peril, particularly if he is not clear on the Biblical facts of the case.
Sirs,—I am returning to the United Kingdom after spending 2½ years at Vic writing a doctorate in Political Science I thought it might be apposite to pass on to you a few fairly general comments on the position of post-grads (especially those from overseas) at Vic.
The most obvious starting point is the absence of a postgrad association. At my home university of Sheffield the post-grad association was among the most active, catering for most of the interests of members. Obviously such an association could only be built up slowly at Vic: nevertheless it could provide certain useful services almost at its inception.
For example, it could provide an introduction to Wellington and the university for overseas post-grads; members of the association could have new arrivals to dinner, introduce them to people with similar interests, perhaps give some assistance in flat hunting, etc. Later the association could grow as the number of post-grads increases.
The UGC is trying to promote post-graduate studies in New Zealand. A positive response on the part of the NZUSA might therefore be timely. Would it be possible to call post-grads together at Vic in order to form such an association?
I feel the initial stimulus must come from the organised body, your Association. From that point the post-grads themselves would certainly take over.
Post grads who have not grown up in the Vic system are surely the most isolated sector of the university community. It is surely a fact that as senior (and often married) students, they get less out of the NZUSA than their subscription merits.
In conclusion. I feel a postgrad association ought to be set up following an NZUSA initiative. Ultimatey such an association must come and must be a success: it is simply a matter of correct timing. The provision of post-grad facilities in any university or union extensions would certainly be a good step!
S. J. Ingle
Oh to bastinadoed !
Sirs,—Due only to a mishap did the Hon. T. P. Shand leave the university, after his talk on "Academic Freedom." without being bastinadoed.
Stating that Professor Geering's heresies should not have been taken out of the cloisters, ignores the fact that circa four hundred years ago this was one of the many methods by which Protestantism became an established religion.
Lastly, the argument premissed upon the "taxpayers' sensitivities" does little good. The next time I spot a chauffered Government car waiting outside the pictures for a Minister of the Crown, I shall follow that car to its destination, and I shall put my stout Black Thorn to its best use, and then Cabinet will know what I think of their silly spokesman on academic freedom.
Homosexuality a sin —Theologian wrong
Sirs,—Under the heading "Homosexuality not sinful — theolgian" you published an article by Professor Norman Pittenger, an American theologian, who denies that homosexuality is a sin. This article is a dangerous article because it will encourage those of your readers who are so inclined to indulge in this physical activity by giving them a false sense of "not sinning" as long as the activity is with mutual consent. The Bible is very emphatic that homosexuality is an abomination. In the book of Leviticus chapter 20 verse 13 in the Old Testament we read:
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death: their blood shall be upon them."
And in the New Testament the letter to the Romans Chapter 1 reading from verse 18 to the end we are shown that homosexuality is a result of the turning away from God, "man professing themselves to be wise became fools" and so God gave them over to all the things listed in this chapter which are clearly sins, among them homosexuality (verse 27).
Verse 24 calls this activity unclean and in the book of the letter to the Ephesians we read in Chapter 5 verse 5 that no unclean person had any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
As a warning and a guide I would like you to publish this letter in your column.
J. Gregorius (Mrs.)
Sirs,—Innocuous or not, I trust Dear John enjoyed it as much as what I did.