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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1940

The Salamanca Salient

page 33

The Salamanca Salient

It is no Good Looking at Salient like a critic looking at art, because Salient is not cracked up to be art, and it is no good comparing it with other journals either, because this year at any rate Salient has been like a freshly dug piece of ground, full of raw material. It is a cyclo-styled University paper which for the present, on account of previously incurred debt and the increased cost of printing, has been denied its habitual dignity of print, but which from the force of its necessity has retained its vitality and colour, and it is full of blah and hooey.

The blah and hooey is the expression of the underground inarticulation and half-born ideas of a section of this country's youth, at least. We know New Zealand is new and isolate. There is no tradition, and there are no ties, except in the economic world, but these are not felt truly in the people. The only feeling of tradition is a sort of stimulation from our parents, something which exists, but not in us, and which is giving way to the rising stimulus from within. This rising tide of thoughts and emotions finds its safety-valve in Salient. They are indications of this country's state of mind, in this time. Half-baked they may certainly be. Is it normal for anything but a half-baked idea to be generated in an immature individual? And is it normal for an immature individual to believe that his idea is anything but baked to a turn? Earnest vitupuration of this paper is wasted. It does not warrant it.

You can lie and blah and sneer, you can deceive yourself and others, but underneath this is the cause, and that is the truth. Salient as some suppose it to be, is not a menace to this city, or country, but is one of the purest publications of the state of mind which in the future will inevitably influence this society. The truth behind the leaders and articles, the letters to the editor, the literary columns, the sporting, tournament, and extravaganza reports, cannot lie. Salient is full of living importance.

This year it has been chiefly concerned with war—with peace, propaganda, pacifism, conscription, with the reaction of these upon the college. Running through it have been two threads—the new, clear and strong, though rough and unrefined, and the old, full of flaws, worn, now breaking.

An example of University expression might be cited in a writer signing himself R.L.M., who opened ground for controversy at the beginning of the year with his article "For Freshers Only," Maybe it was his attitude that antagonised so many into retaliating with letters to the editor. In this article the psychological reaction to its author's addressing himself to freshers was to deceive him of his own maturity and solidarity. To a certain extent the article is R.L.M.'s personal opinion of himself, as it cannot very well help, but at the same time you would have to be pretty fresh and green indeed not to see that what he says in the beginning of this is only the truth, existing independently of R.L.M. himself. It was his attitude, that of the bad writer, which freshers and others took aversion to. But if the tone of the article is according to the writer's own self, he should perhaps be congratulated in that, because of his ineptitude, he did not resort to the devices of more clever writers, who adopt sheep's page 34 clothing in order to win believers . . . . . .

Besides many more articles which were similar to this one, as well as many letters to the editor, all of which did, or did not, as the case might be, echo the tone of the editorials, the Salient of the past year has known some new Literary Columns. Last year many students doubted that these would draw game. But they have and it is wild game. It is not to be trifled with like tame stuff, either. You have to leave it alone, to lie low, and wait. These columns are a happy hunting-ground for the psycho-analyst. To any literary person intending to read them the advice is—don't. Although of course there has been an occasional verse show its head. But it has attracted little attention, probably because it smacked too much of earlier days when poetry was.

It is plain to see that although there has been a tendency towards closing down on expression, the lips of Victoria have remained pretty well free, through Salient. Probably, like a steam-boiler, the University must have a safety-valve to prevent its blowing up. That might cause a bit more trouble than Salient.