Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 24, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, October 14, 1970 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD f Book Reviews Lethbridge Is Missing Out In Art "Canadian Art Today A Studio International Publica- tion; Distributed in Canada by M. G. Hurtig LW. 300 il- lustrations in color and black and white. Biographical in- dex. TN this book of plate and text published in London, William Townsend and David Thompson, both involved pri- marily with the English scene, look at the state of Canadian art development with optimism and excitement. Mr. Townsend, Professor of Fine Arts at the University of London, has been closely asso- ciated with the Canadian scene for many years. In his fore- word he outlines the major in- fluences of the past and the factors which have contributed to development of Canadian art to its present more sophisticated stage. David Thompson art critic of the London Times, remarks in his "thoughts of an outsider" that Canada's impact on Euro- pean art circles is becoming noticeable, particularly in Lon- don. Reflecting on the exces- sive modesty prevalent in Ca- nadian art circles even now, he says that Canadian painters continue to ask themselves, with "implied competitive- Is Canadian art good enough by international stan- dards? Nowadays, he believes "international standards are of two kinds the real kind, wiiich is only set at any one time by the individual achieve- ment of three or four particu- lar artists of major stature; and the artificial kind, which is a matter of juries, awards, motley and power politics. The latter kind has swollen to pro- portions in the last few years which are luckily beginning to show signs of its own collapse; Given enough foresight on the part of its own official pro- moters. Canada might well find itself in the enviable position of being the first country since the'War to have a cultural eff- lorescence on its' hands which is best served by opting out of cultural power politics." Even though Canadians might find this statement chim- erical, Mr. Thompson's enthu- siasm for the present and his faith in our future is infectious, encouraging and totally lacking that patronizing attitude we have come to expect from art critics of his stature. Other contributors to the text include Dennis Reid who talks about Toronto painting, and the effervescent Harold1 Town who exhibits his remarkable talent 'for putting the Philistines where they belong in an article entitled "the art boom that was a trifle flat chested not a complete bust." Town is a showman in text and on can- vas. There, are brief articles, extracts from diaries, letters, and so forth from other author- ities, all of them illuminating and explanatory unfortu- nately space requirements pre- vent mentioning all of them here. Reproductions both in color and black and white are gen- erous and of excellent quality although this is not a preten- tious production. It is a broad survey of what is going on in Canadian art centres from Floraison coast lo coast, with emphasis on the established painters. Brief reference is made to the forerunners in an article by the curator of the National Gal- lery of Ottawa Dr. R. H. Hub- bai-d, but generally speaking the emphasis is on the here and now. Unfortunately, and perhaps due in part to the fact that this Reproduction of a painting by Alfred Pellan. Oil 71 x 42 inches. Original is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. M. Pellon, a Montreal painter of international reputation, has had a powerful influence on the development of modern art in Canada. He was the subject of a biographical work.by the late Donald Buchanan of Lethbridge and Ottawa. book was edited by an English- man, albeit one who has been closely involved with the art scene in Canada, and also be- cause it is intentionally a broad survey, there are wide gaps. Some sections of the country have been totally ignored. The Maritimes, for instance, re- ceive no attention. One would be led to believe that Manitoba has produced nothing worthy of notice either in the past or at present, although I'm told Ous is not the case. Vancouver is given space for an article by Doris Shadbolt, and a re- production or two, but the Van- couver Island group, an active exciting lot, are left out. Having said Hint Hie book has its limitations I must hast- en to add that I welcome it as a lively publication of general interest, excellent quality and reference value. In essence What it has to say in text and reproductive photograph is that Canadian interest in the arts, particularly in sophisticated contemporary work is on the upswing, that 'Canadians no longer need to go abroad for instruction and inspiration as so many of them have done in the past, and that we are in fact in the centre of an art ex- plosion. One can only hope that the fireworks will reach the small- er centres of Canada like .Lethbridge, before too long. This city is deprived as it should .not be. Art circuit shows available to other centres are not seen here because there is little interest or understanding of what they can contribute to the enrichment of local, cultural life. There is no suitable place or funds provided for available exhibitions and the citizens hav; shown no appreciation for the small collections which have been given by generous and discerning collectors like the Buchanan brothers. There can be no understand- ing of the meaning and the message transmitted from can- vas to onlooker without expos- ure to works of art. The more frequent the exposure the keen- er the appreciation. I confess I look with envy at the listed collections in this book, some of .which could be available here if only local interest de- manded it. Must this city continue for- ever, satisfied with its parks, its playgrounds, its TV and its movies, isolated from the live- liness of the provocative forces puking through the national scene of the arts? JANE HUCKVALE. Publications On Pollution Proliferating "Terracide: America's De- struction of Her Living En- vironment" by Ron M. Linton (Little, Brown and Company, 376pp., 50.75, distributed by Holltager "The Crisis of Survival" by the editors of The Progres- sive (Morrow, 261 pp., S8.75, distributed by George J. Mc- JLeod, "The Doomsday Book" by Gordon R a 11 r a y Taylor (Thames and Hudson, 335pp., 56.50, distributed by Oxford University r'YNICS might be inclined to say the latest form of pol- lution is the proliferation of pub- lications on pollution. There cer- tainly are a great number of them, as this group bears wit- ness. A great deal of information on the abuse of the environment in the United States has been ga- thered together by Ron Linton in the first book. The 15 chap- ters read like articles that ap- pear in newspaper magazine supplements. They are livened cxpresion that is mocking in the context by specific il- lustrations drawn from all sec- tors of the U.S. Unfortunately, the book is not well or, at least, not clearly organ- ized. The second book has no dis- cernible organization at all. It is a collection of 20 articles that appeared in The Progressive. Some of the articles are highly Informative while others are not much more than rhetoric. Among the authors are such well known persons as Ralph Nader, John Lindsay, Kenneth Boulding, Paul Ehrlich and Sen- ator Gaylord Nelson. The sub- ject matter is more wide rang- ing than that of the first book. By far the most comprehen- sive and most readable is the third book by Gordon Rattray Taylor. He covers the world and all that is wrong in it: Well might he call it The Doomsday Book since its impact is so gloomy. Mr, Taylor says he thinks mankind will act to save itself from impending destruction but several of his observations be- lie this confidence. In his dis- cussion of nuclear hazards he notes the continued "devious- ness, amounting to deceit, dis- played by the business inter- ests involved (to which one is resigned) and by public auth- orities." Where is the hope in that observation? Speaking of the need for discouraging large families, he says Ms guess is that "governments will shilly- shally about taxing children." In another place he laments that governments never act on chemicals until it is too late. Mr. Linton's contribution to hopefulness about averting dis- aster is made in his final chap- ter where he writes: "We will have to destroy the national security mystique that causes us to siphon off the vast major- ity of the federal budget (ia Uie U.S.) to perpetuate economic waste in the guise of national defence." There has been pre- cious little indication that this is about to happen. Some of the writers in the second book Senator Nelson, for instance are certain that the level of affluence and num- ber of creature comforts will have to be reduced. This is ob- vious when it is known that world resources could support a population of only half a bil- lion at the current U.S. stan- dard. But, as Harold Sprout says, there is little evidence The Black Community Worlds Of The Mind "Dreamt i g c r by Jorge Luis Borgcs; (E. P. Button and Co. Ltd.; 95 pp; 52.35; distributed in Can a d a by Clarke, Irwin and Company fORGE Luis Bnrgcs is per- haps the foremost Spanish- language poet and general au- thor in the world and through his translated works, is one of the more interesting writers anywhere. In Dreamtigers, originally ti- tled El Hacedor (The Maker- he gathers for poster- ity a collection of his most per- sonal thoughts, prose and poe- try in one of the most in- teresting and (in its own spe- cial way) thought provoking books ho has published. Borgcs uses the worlds of the mind to reflect on the realities of the eyes. He travels on wings of his phenomenal imagination into a world Hint wntches ours and offers our world the com- passionate underst a n d i n g it often needs. Through imagination, direct- ed by an infinitely keen grasp of human psychology and phil- 'osophy, he looks through and behind each man's eyes, to see and describe the essence that is what the man wants to and then Borges adds descrip- tion of the obstacles that make the man what he really is in- stead. And a step further: he anee- dotally takes life apart, and sorts through the rubble to de- scribe the foibles that make mankind what it is. One wonders how different the metaphor and the distilla- tions might have been if Borgcs had been born in North instead of South America but per- haps therein lies an even more- interesting occupa t i o n than reading Dreamtigers for what Borgcs meant it to be. JIM WILSON. "The Walls of Jericho" by Rudolph Fisher (Arno Press and the New York Times, 293 pages 53.95, distributed by George J. McLoed, WHILE reading the first chapter of Fisher's short novel, which was originally published in the late 1920s, I became aware that a 1940 re- cording by Duke Ellington's or- chestra on the record player paralleled almost exactly the book I was reading, in terms of artistic merit. The music was a Second World War song about "a slip of the lip can sink a ship." Cer- tainly not Ellington's finest re- cording, except for a Johnny Hodges solo, and by no stretch of the imagination an immortal set of lyrics. But relevant to the social situation at the time the recording was made. Even halfway through the first chapter of the book it was clear that a main interest was the light shed on the social si- tuation in Harlem in the 1920s. I wondered at the time if there would be anything comparable to Johnny Hodges' solo something that transcended the limitations of a "sociological" work. As it turned out there was. Fisher's dialogue sounds quaint today because most of it is in terms that are no longer cur- rent (there is a glossary in the back for the uninitiated, and it comes in but the cha- racters come through well. Fisher has managed to put just about every stereotype in the black-white scene into the book, but even though they are type characters (or have be- come so since the '20's most of them have enough vitality or charm lo make themselves real. Fisher docs a particularly good job with Miss Agatha Cramp. In tracing the develop- ment of this typical white lib- eral, from her first-awareness of the "Negro problem" through her involvement with her black neighbors to her final rejection of them and a turning away to a new Fish- er's considerable gift for satire is shown to excellent advan- tage. Besides the beautifully cut- ting satirical touches. Fisher exhibits an unusual flair for de- scription. Unusual in that it seems, in this book at least, to be restricted to describing var- ious streets. An image of Court Avenue, an aging but dignified street, as a spinster is particularly ef- fective. Of special interest to the stu- dent of sociology will be the keen observations Fisher makes about class structure within the black community. The General Improvement As- sociation ball, for example, provides a microcosm of the black community neatly dis- sected and laid open for all to see. Whether the book is basically a love story (the hero does get the girl and also overcomes the villain) with sociological over- tones or a sociological treatise hung on a love story frame- work can be left to the indivi- dual reader to decide. It is a good book to sit and read just for the story. And students of black-white. rela- tions can find. considerable in- sight into the problem from the black's point of view. HERB JOHNSON. Canadian Unifier Vanier" by Robert Spcaight (Collins, 479 Philias Vanier, while relatively unknown to western Canadians until his appointment as governor-gen- eral in 1959, in a very brief time became one of 'our na- tion's most beloved citizens. His biography, written by good friend Robert Speaight at the request of Madame Vanier, is a detailed, warm account of this noted soldier and diplo- mat. Speaight himself is not Cana- dian, but has spent many years in Canada. He became a friend of Vanier's when the latter was ambassador to France, and later when he served as governor general or Canada. Spcaight is an intellectual with a formidable educational background in some of Eng- land's top schools. Ho has pub- lished five important biograph- ies William Poel, Hiiaire Belloc, William Rothenstein, Eric Gill and Teilhard de Char- din. To Canadians, however, his story of Vanier will be regarded as his most important work to date. It is written in a friendly yet scholarly manner, bring- ing the details of Vanier's in- teresting career back to mem- ory. The details of Vanier's life do not need to be recalled here, but it must be said that if one thing stands out more than all others of this interesting per- sonality, it was liis determina- tion to unify Canada. Although essentially French-Canadian, he had no use for hyphen-type na- tionalism, and his attempts to tear down prejudice and bias will long be remembered in his- torical and political segments of our society. MARGARET LUCKHURST Focus on the University By J. W. FISHBOURNf Matriculation An Absurdity TN the past year or so, this column has meandered through quite a va- riety of topics, most of them having some connection with education. (A bit tenuous at times, perhaps.) In this grab-bag of ramblings one of the few things that should be clear is that I am no lover of the existing educational system, on this continent, in this province or at this uni- versity. Indeed I am not. From time to time, I have attempted to point out some of the things I see as wrong in our educational system, but sim- ple criticism has its limitations. It may be fun, and often it has a useful cathartic ef- fect. It may even stimulate change, on occasion. But while it may identify the shortcomings of a particular edifice, crit- icism alone doesn't do much toward shap- ing a new one. So while wincing a bit at the thought that anyone might apply the term "constructive criticism" or any such banality I have a couple of ideas to put forward. My notions all apply at university level, and the first concerns admission policy and my idea is "scrap Just like that. Current policy with regard to admission at a university, here and elsewhere, is a curious amalgam of bureaucratic nonsense and game-playing with, I suspect a touch of fraud thrown in. It appears to be based on a curious belief that knowledge, of which universities are the custodians, must be made available only to certain selected people who qualify for this "privilege" by performing at a prescribed a se- ries of examinations, which are conduct- ed on a province-wide basis, .deal with arbitrarily selected subjects, and are graded by techniques and procedures rem- iniscent of a factory assembly line. The results are graded, scaled and fitted to statistical curves; they are raised or low- ered, chopped and changed, to fit a set of preconceptions arrived at by "experts" in the Provincial Department of Educa- tion. Finally, numbers emerge from all this manipulation and become the sacred symbols which are examined by universi- ties in order to determine who shall be admitted and who shall not. To simplify this task, it has been de- creed that anyone whose set of numbers includes one below 50 or anyone whose numbers total less than 300, is incapable of absorbing any university education at all. Of course, the. formula has a number of complexities, but that is the basis of it. By applying it carefully, we can ex- clude a would-be engineer, because scores 49 marks in French or reject a would-be musician for having 49 in Math- ematics. And this we call policy. But the case for change need not rest on the absurdity of the present arrange- ment, staggering though it is. There cogent arguments on the positive side. Consider for example, the performance of those students who on an experimental basis have been admitted to university without all these mystic numbers. There are a few hundred of them, scattered across the province, who for one reason or another never completed the customary matriculation ritual. (They are not simply either; one I admitted had gone no further than grade 8, and that 40 years ago.) The average performance of these so-called mature students has con- sistently equalled or surpassed that of "normal" high school matriculants. There is another obvious benefit to abandoning the nonsensical notion that only the present matriculation pattern can adequately prepare a student for univer- sity-level studies. By scrapping that idea we would remove from the high schools the most oppressive and stultifying in- fluence that now encumbers their curri- culum. We would free high school students from the odious elitism that makes second- class citizens of those not in the matricula- tion stream. Surely that would be worth The foregoing deals only in practical con- siderations. I think a word might be said about principles, too. While there is no uni- versally accepted definition of a university, it is generally agreed1 that it is an in- stitution having to do with acquisition, de- velopment and dissemination of knowledge. Who is entitled to that knowledge? Should it be only those who get the right num- ber of marks in the right set of examina- tions? I think not. So, if I were overhauling the educational system, I would start by scrapping the present university admissions policy, con- signing the whole matriculation program to the garbage heap, and decree that uni- versity education is for those able to ab- sorb it. And if you think that sounds a little heretical, read the next couple of columns in this comer. The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLEY that any large number of people are yet ready to pay the- price to avert doomsday. These are important books. It is unfortunate that their mes- sage might not be heard and then- warning might not be heeded because they have to compete among themselves, and with other books not mentioned, for readers. DOUG WALKER. "Bring Us Together" TJIS Commission on Campus Unrest has addressed a poignant, desperate plea to President Nixon: "Bring us Together." The President has replied with a letter to 900 university administrators and trustees urging them to restore "order and disci- and disowning any blame for the campus mess. Both pleas are futile. Men will come together for two reasons faith or a charismatic leader and the two are not unrelated since a leader is always a product of his times and its thinking, thrown up like the foam on an ocean wave. Nixon does not answer the definition of a charis- matic leader by a long stretch of the im- agination, while for this generation faith is struggling to be born. Not many years ago most people in the West believed in God and fewer years still, believed in science, democracy, and nation- alism. "God is trumpeted Nietzsche and Freudian psychologists and even a horde of secularist theologians echoed the cry. In this country at any rate democracy was idolized. In every speech its virtues were extolled, men dedicated themselves to its cause, cursed its foes, and devoted them- selves to its ideals. In the tumults and ten- sions of our time the old certainty has col- lapsed. The decline of nationalism is one of the most startling phenomena of West- ern Europe. The thousands of youth who wander over Europe witness to that A dec- ade ago science was worshipped. If any- thing were done scientifically, it was well done. The only valid approach to a prob- lem was "scientific." Had not science made a new life possible for mankind? Men loft- ily said they were "too scientific" to have religious faith, ignoring the faith of the greatest scientists. But how different it is today when one encounters everywhere thousands of disillusioned believers of yes- terday. Faith has been replaced by fear. Men are disillusioned with reason itself. Ancient alchemists are reviving their mys- tic, magical rites and voodooism, witch- craft, sorcery, spiritualism, astrology, and Eastern religions are finding their way into psychology. Freud and Jung, especially the latter, have had much responsibility for Inis. Jung's studies on Zen Buddhism and alchemy being famous and influential. Afri- can religions are having a tremendous ef- fect on Christianity today. As anthropolo- gists tell us, savage religion is not so much thought out as danced out. The ritual of the dance is apparent in Western culture. Feel- ing and emotion arc stressed in the cur- rent ar.ti inteiiectunlism of which Zen Buddhism is an example. The President's Commission on Campus Unrest believes that the heart of the prob- lem is the emergence of a youth culture in rebelion against militarism, materialism, competition, and depersonalization, and eag- er to extol life, nature, love, and individual- ity. They are opposed to war and racial in- justice. They bitterly resent the imperson- ality of the universities and of the society that perpetuates these evils. One wishes he could be so sure of the idealism of these young people. When one sees the vicious destruction in Bermuda these days, the senseless burning and bomb- ing of lovely places, the fear of people to walk the streets at night keeping residents and tourists hiding behind doors, it is not easy to be complacent. Especially is this true when you know it is a world wide pattern of violence. The kidnappings in Que- bec, the bombings in Montreal, the racial violence in Britain, the Irish civil religious war, the bombings and killings in Italy, the slaughter of the Ibos by the Nigerians, the terrorism in France, the belligerence of German youth the kidnappings in Latin America, the rioting and terrorism of the Naxallites in West Bengal spreading into Nepal, the utter chaos of Calcutta where police seized a cache of chemicals suffi- cient to make bombs, the Red riots of Japan, and the fearful conflicts of the Middle East, all tell of a brutal degrada- tion and animal behavior driven by only one creed of lawless violence. In such violence youth has had excellent tutors in their elders. When Ford wanted to establish a factory in Russia, which would have been an excellent breakthrough of the cold war, permission was refused on the ground that the trucks to be manufac- tured nu'ght be needed in Vietnam. Since the trucks would not have rolled off the assembly line until 1975 it appeared that the U.S. plans to be at war in Vietnam in 1975! If so the disintegration in Ameri- can society will be fearful to contemplate. Little wonder that the late "Che" Guevara exulted, "We must have two or three Viet- What a triumph that would be for Communism, what a fatal disaster for dem- ocracy. Yet in the ferment of our times there is ample evidence of the emergence of a faith as tiio one field which will guide man's loyalties and aspirations, unifying his di- verse activities and humanizing his tech- nology, ensuring the survival of faith, hope, and love.