Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 18. July 30, 1968
Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor
'Luke' brutality unmeaningful, a mystery . . .
Sir—the in Salient by M. J. Heath was perceptive but made an unwaranted value Judgement in marking 'Luke' up as "the finest film of the year, so far".This is nonsense! I will say however that it is one film this year that has made me surprisingly exasperated. The film is extermely evocative: the brutality portrayed is unmeaningful and thus a mystery; Luke is un-communicable and thus very much an 'otherness'. but it all fails to convince and relate to the viewer or a total situation. The questions of "Why" are never really put, and certainly they aren't answered. Now I'm not asking a film producer to give the answers to these sort of questions, I'll turn to the philosopher and theologian for that, perhaps, but. the artistic integrity of the film is mared by the failure of the 'gaps' to make that shocking, convicted individual impression that silence and action in such a personal media can achieve.
Two or three possible view points for such a film. Firstly, the elaborate searching for symbols and a pattern, possibly of a iconographic variety. The gaps frustrate this although the impression of that possibility remains on one's consciounsness. Second, the existential act of will in a meaningless situation. Certainly an attractive view, and still quite fashionable, but the questions are still not put and the gaps still frustrate. Finally we can have the old hack and not very popular view in a socially hidebound society of 'art for art's sake". It doesn't work, art can be more attractive without having our sensibilities hurt by a nightmare.
Perhaps all that can be said is that the film is really very fine because it's so very evocative of our own personal response to society and also it is like those nightmares and phantasies into which we sometimes fall and from which we can (happily) escape into reality. Yet that fault remains, the great possibilities of such a method were not realised. A pity.
Message of goodwill
Sir—On behalf of the Student -Christian Movement, I would like to say that I strongly support the policy of allowing overseas students to attend New Zealand universities. We believe that this is, or could be beneficial to both New Zealand students and the overseas students themselves. On an individual level we believe that increased contact between students of different countries and cultures can help to create mutual understanding and ties of friendship. On a global level we believe that it is a matter of economic, moral and political necessity for the richer nations (of which New Zealand is generally regarded as one) to help the poorer nations to raise their standards-of-living, and help their people to develop their fullest potential.
For these reasons, I formally extend to all overseas students a message of goodwill and friendship, and hope that a closer relationship can be achieved in the future between overseas students and members of the S.C.M. I remain.
Sir—I wish to bring to your readers' attention what must surely be one of the most flagrant cases of predatory profiteering ever. It concerns a hardback textbook which was written by three members of the academic staff of this university and made a compulsory text. The book. which was published and printed in New Zealand, contains 468 pages of text and sells at the tyrannically imposed over-inflated price of $14. As a comparison I have drawn up the following table of other hardback text-hooks on related topics:
|Where printed||Pages of text||Price|
I hope that there exists some form of organised resistance against this academic extortion which threatens to relegate us all to a state of poverty.
For fear of recrimination from these and other staff members who exult in their ready made world of obligorchial rapacity I am compelled to remain,
[Anonymity is permitted only in special circumstances—ed.]
Sir—Students at Victoria are often heard lamenting the condition and lack of progress of the peoples in Asia and the Pacific. So much of this is worthless and insincere if it is not backed up with some conscious effort to assist in some way. So many students have a desire to do something yet lack a suitable avenue.
Perhaps one of the most direct and practical ways any one person can help is by serving for a couple of years in the region, under the Volunteer Service Abroad scheme. Most students do not think seriously enough of V.S.A. and the help they can be, and moreover the real benefits they can gain from working in a developing country. Too often the students concept of volunteering is a narrow, negative one, concerned primarily with the loss of finance and of early training in their chosen career. The experience to be gained, which is completely different from any to be hald in New Zealand, is invaluable and can not in any way be equated with loss of earnings at home.
Students, speak to V.S.A. returnees, (there are over 15 at Vic) and question their experience.
There is a lot to be done and a lot to be learnt in Asia and the Pacific.
Sir—I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me as to the meaning, intention, or message supposed to be conveyed by the abortion of a picture in the library depicting a pregnant sparrow ever motionless above the little outhouse (church perhaps?) which is adorned by this inscription.
"The Word Of God will be preached here each Lords day at 3 p.m.
If The Lord Will" Does the feathered vertebrate perhaps represent God or is it a phallic symbol?
If the former is the case, then it is appropriate, with respect to the mystereious ways in which God reveals himself to man, that one be reminded of the verse in the book of Proverbs which proclaims that
"A little bird was flying by And dropped a message from the sky.
An angry bishop wiped his eye . . . ."
On behalf of the society for the proliferation of birdturd and bullshit.
P.S.—I'm still waiting anxiously for the poor creature to lay an egg—L.F.
I am etc.,
Sir—The latest piece of wisdom from the famous P. J. Kelly (letter to Salient) shows as one might expect, that his racial prejudice is based on ignorance. His fear of the "seething millions" in Asia is based on the old Malthus theory of population (". . . increased population as a result of the improved living standards") which has been somewhat discredited for over 100 years now. Population growth does not just depend on economics, but also on complex social and cultural forces—often a decline in birth-rates has accompanied a rise in incomes (e.g. Japan). The best way to avoid the international instability which Mr Kelly seems to fear is for the West to help poorer countries to raise their economic growth rates above population growth rates. Making prejudiced emotional statements about Asians studying in European countries will have the opposite effect.
Sir—I have a strong disposition to think that there is always something in what your correspondent Mr M. C. Mitchell has to say. But his recent attack on your Art Reviewer, Helen Kedgley, is, I fear, unfounded.
Take, for example, Miss Kedgley's contribution this week. There is a photograph of what to me appears to be a diagonally shattered black square with two right angle lines and a prong sticking into a white background.
But. alas, I am mistaken. This, says the accompanying review, is an example of the artist's assimilation "of Pasmore's influence into his own personal vision". Aghast, I learn that "In contrast with Pasmore's.characteristic quality of transparent lightness, Peebles animates the static forms of his constructions with strong carefully chosen colours".
This is great stuff.
J. R. Wild.
Sage of Kelburn
Sir—The Sage of Kelburn (alias Owen Gager) is to be congratulated on a scintillating expose of the devilish schemes of the pseudo-radical student and the wicked import-substituting capitalists in Salient 9.
May we humbly request for that gentleman's next scinillating expose a description of the whereabouts and nature of the "trade union radicalism" that "finds no echo in university branches".
I am etc., Pseudo-radical, import-substituting capita list-student-conspiritor.
J. D. Morgan.
Sir—I feel I must protest strongly at the treatment accorded Prof. Buchanan by amongst others, lames Mitchell, in his article "Bluff your way with degrees". If James Mitchell chooses to criticise Prof. Buchanan on the grounds of not being academically impartial he would do well to reflect on the one-sided viewpoints expressed by many of the International Club's guest speakers. I have long felt that overseas students, particularly those from some of the Colombo Plan countries are not a truly representative selection. This being the case they would naturally prefer any of their own nationals who share their opinions in preference to those with whom they disagree. Yes, there are two sides to every story and from James Mitchell we are hearing only one.
Whatever criticism may be levelled at Prof Buchanan it could never be that of not being truly humanitarian—in fact a man with stronger humanitarian convictions I have yet to meet. Thus I applaud his refusal of the International Club's invitation— how many others would have blithely accepted? — for by doing so he nas demonstrated that the convictions moulded by a particularly intimate study of Asia are more than strong enough to withstand any criticism by the uninformed.
Sir—There is a malicious rumour circulating on the grape-vine. It is to the effect that a pressure group is being formed who call themselves the Rationalists. Their proposed modus operandi is to examine issues rationally, determine a logical and reasoned cause of action, publicise it within the Student Boay, amend it as a result of constructive criticism, produce it as a consensus of student opinion, and pursue it through significant channels.
What are we coming to? We are members of an era where such actions must be condemned and vilified as contrary to all we hold dear. Revolution, not evolution, must be our cry. After all, everybody else has the message. and who are we in New Zealand to do anything but follow the line of those mighty nations where student power and militant protest has proved successful? Let us not be deterred by public opinion, editorial comment, political criticism, trade union denial or the law. Let everybody be against us and let us be glorious in our isolation. That apathetic non-pressure group, the public, are a mess of nobodies. They need us to show them the way, and after their initial reaction of disgust, shame or pity, they will be enlightened. We are a minority group and must be vociferous to draw attention to our minority views. True, it will not be easy. We will be despised and called names. We will lose whatever public support we had. But we will be noticed, talked about, we will be Somebodies.
Students Unite! Solidify! Ir-rationalise! Up the Revolution!
One of many
Sir—I trust that this is only one of many leters disagreeing with Mr P. Kelly's views on our overseas students here and I hope that other "serious-minded white students" were shocked to read these views (whose sincerity I cannot unfortunately doubt) as I was. To those overseas students who have sent Mr Kelly's letter home, suggest that you cut out the whole page and see it within this context. If you are now unsure of yourselves and wary of your fellow-students, please be tolerant and remember that this is only one student's views. It was enlightening to find, having spoken to him, that Mr Kelly does not, in fact, despite his 3½ years at University, know any overseas student personally and seemed genuinely unaware both of their situation and problems and of the effect his letter would have.
It is a great pity that there is not more open support and encouragement both on a governmental and individual level for more extensive inclusion and integration of all races in New Zealand especially in our Universities. Perhaps Mr Kelly's letter will shame us out of our own relative 'apathy' in accepting and including our overseas students in University life and may act as a catalyst for open declaration of support and desire for the racial integration which we too readily assume exists.
It would be contrary to the personal freedom and the spirit of internationalism for which education attains, if this issue became a personal and bitter feud between Mr Kelly and overseas students for we are all involved and concerned here.
Helen M. Ross.
Sir—I can't sympathise with Mr P. J. Kelly in his failure to prod "some students into examining" the potential danger of Asian expansion into the countries of the Pacific for the simple reason that I doubt his sincerity. His original letter contained nothing about Asian economic problems, about the modern Malthusian fear, about the possibility of New Zealand land being used to feed the starving millions. On the contrary, Mr Kelly chose to attack "Asian and Indian" students (perhaps he meant Fijian Indians.?) for, presumably, studying here. He censured the N.Z. government for encouraging them to attend N.Z. universities in the first place; and he reprimanded the student body for putting up with all this. The only "rational" argument he gave was that these aliens, by communicating in languages other than Mr Kelly's English had thereby forfeited their rights to coexist with other human beings.
But now we are told that Mr Kelly's intentions were not at all what they seemed, that he never meant to incite racial hatred, that be is more an Enoch Powell than a George Wallace. Mr Kelly, an English honours student, either didn't know how to handle his own language, or is trying to cover up his deplorable prejudices with the cloak of economic rationale. In either case, he doesn't deserve anybody's sympathy.
I for one cannot help thinking that he is shedding crocodile tears. His choice of these two words—"arrogance" in the first letter, and 'gratitude", in the second, reflects his true position in the political spectrum. Again and again we hear these moans over African ingratitude coming from European conservatives who still regret the hay days of white imperialism. Mr Kelly obviously doesn't want to repeat their mistake, so he determines to keep the inferior races where he thinks they rightly belong—in the depth of human existence. I need not point out that there is a fundamental difference between this kind of attitude and the genuine concern over the steady flow of immigrants into England over the last 20 years, which has been causing serious social problems in that country. It is one thing to try to safeguard national social well-being, and another to maintain one's sense of racial superiority and moral self-righteousness.