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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 3. March 16th, 1950

Hilltop runs amuck

page 3

Hilltop runs amuck

"A Rachne" is the name chosen for the new "Iiterary, journal" which replaces "Hilltop." Published on behalf of the Literary Society of Victoria. College, Wellington, New Zealand, the, magazine is characterised by a deliberate intellectualism usually described as "arty."

It is significant that the members of the editorial committee named on the back cover of the journal figure largely in the list of contributors on the same page. But the editorial policy is not as obvious as all that A note is added: "The essays in this issue do not necessarily coincide with editorial views. It is hoped to publish an essay soon . . . which citicises and carries further the doctrine of non-possession put forward in the essay on Anarchism." Yet the essay on Anarchism is by a member of the editorial committee! Evidently this member of the committee has no influence in determining the "editorial views."

Many will consider it unfortunate that the editorial committee elected to change the name of this periodical from "Hilltop" to "Arachne" at such a time. "Hilltop" was beginning to be well known. The material contained in it was far better than in the new "Arachne." The name was simpler and more effective. "Arachne" is rather a vague allusion at best and it is not improved by the faltering explanation (I take it to be such) advanced in the editorial Apart from this, Part 2 of an article now appears in "Arachne" No. 1, and there is a note that subscriptions to "Hilltop" are now overdue. All add to the general confusion.

Solid meat . . .

The meatiest material in the magazine is a correspondence conducted between W. H. Oliver and W. Hart Smith. Both these correspondents have something to say—and they say it without excessive verbi age and intellectual Jargon. The result is stimulating, almost provocative, and makes good reading. A short story by Helen Shaw "After the Dark" deserves better company than most of the other articles in the journal.

Eight poems by any poet, printed in succession are always a little indigestible, even when the poetry is excellent. Charles Spear's poetry, I feel, needs to be taken in small doses. The last verse of "Promised Land" accurately predicts the effect of these eight poems on the reader:

"For you shall walk the sheer gulfs brink,
Through glass-blue caves all brittle spars
And flaws. Thereafter you shall sink,
Snow-blind in slush, beneath the stars."

. . . sticky mod . . .

Writing on "Anarchism in New Zealand," Lorna Clendon comes to the conclusion "The intellectual has become an anarchist", . . "New Zealand is full of anarchists in one form or another." In a burst of self-expression she writes: "... man's virtue does not lie in the intellectual field. We cannot expect things of him.... He is a form striving for expression and he gets bogged on the way. The evil is usually bound up with his struggle to free himself. He is forever tying himself to false gods. Occasionally in his freedom, the goodness, or integrity, or perfection of form, is extraordinary (sic) clear." What an excellent editorial! But, all this goes to show that "A doctrine of non-possession would be peculiarly well-suited to a country which will not admit superiors."!

There follows a translation of "The Actor" (Albert Camus) by Eric Schwimmer. Persumably this is of interest to the subscribers of the magazine but it will, I think, be above the heads of most students at VUC. Why two pages of Mr. Schwimmer's diary notes, 1946, are printed is a mystery to me. Mr. Schwimmer is not yet well enough known as a literary figure to warrant this. Possibly they will be or interest to future biographers and editors when Mr. Schwimmer attains that literary eminence which is no doubt his due—perhaps that is the reason for their appearance. Mr. Schwimmer elsewhere writes: "I would suggest that readers of 'Arachne' subscribe to 'Here and Now,' in spite of the exorbitant price," (Last issue "Here and Now," 2/-; "Arachne," 44 smaller p. 2/6.)

One poem by Louis Johnson bears the lucid title "Some held by love to hate, for Benjamin Constant" A pretty pattern of rhyme, alliteration, and balance, perhaps disguise the message of this poet—perhaps a commonplace message but none the Jess true for that. Kendrick Smithy-man'a "Song" rises above, the general level, but he is capable of better. Lorna Clendon expostulates for 14 lines on an arrangement of Shakespeare's sonnets. Evidently she prefers a non-logical arrangement. But she conveys the idea well—if anything, too well.

. . . and a sane mind

A philosophical article—concerning Sartre by H. H. Rex is heavy going. Remember "Arachne" announces itself as "a literary journal." So Hubert Withyford sails in and reviews Pounds "Pisan Cantos." He rather spoils the effect in the introduction where he writes: "A sisely obtuse court has since found him to be insane and he is at present apparently, in a mental hospital." Poor Mr. Pound! Especially when he writes the sanest things. For instance:—

'"and having got 'em (advantages, privilege) there is nothing, (italics nothing) they will not do to retain 'em."

yrs truly Kungfutseu.'

Four pages on the evolution and importance of the South Pacific Commission, by Mary Boyd, are also included in this literary periodical. Then, just to keep the balance square, a series of book reviews and notes.

Much has been heard at VUC in the past about minority groups bringing the college a bad name. I feel that "Arachne" is no credit to VUC, reeking as it does of intellectual snobbery, and perhaps, as at least two members of the editorial committee are no longer members of the Association, and aren't legally entitled (I understand) to be members of clubs this year, the group might well—for the sake of the good name—be discouraged from using "Victoria College" on their cover. I also trust that this review may provoke some comment from those concerned.

Nga Ngath-Fhaceil.