Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 12. 1967.
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Benson Trying to foist preconseptions—Boyes
Sirs,—Mr. Benson's interesting review of Blow Up makes several good points, and is an honest presentation of his reaction to this intensely personal film.
I am pleased to see him puncture this myth about Sarah Miles being Hemmings's wife in the film; and I quite agree that much of the criticism has been carried out in terms of people's preconceptions of what Antonioni is after.
However, I feel Mr. Benson is guilty of foisting his preconceptions on us with reference to his confusion of Antonioni and Fellini, two distinct and very different film makers. I have only seen La Notte and Blow Up of Antonioni, and four Fellini films; but there seems to be nothing in common between the two. Both seem to deal with the world they know, and this has often included artists, writers, etc. But to claim that this "reeks of intellectual snobbery" can only be seen as inverted snobbery —and to drag Bergman into this picture is to confuse the whole issue.
Fellini is pre-eminently a man of life — his films are bursting with life. La Dolce Vita is a down-beat presentation — but still with much humour, and a great deal of 'cinematic inventiveness — 8 1/2 is one of the funniest films of all time, a landmark in film (history for its technical brilliance and its presentation of humanity. To compare these films with Antonioni's coldness, is to misinterpret the essence of both, men's films.
I found Blow Up easier to take than La Notte. because the coldness — admittedly present — is not so constantly reinforced by the dialogue, and the character's behaviour seems much more credible. I could wish that in Mr. Benson's search for "the implications of this detachment," he had tried to make some distinctions a little more clearly.
Mr. Benson replies:
I Realise That in Mr. Boyes's pantheon of directors, Fellini is God and Lester is Jesus, but his haste to dis-avow any similarity between The Deity and Antonioni is misplaced.
Although the fact may leave him benumbed, it is nevertheless true that some people have been as unmoved by Fellini's later films as they have been by Blow Up and La Notte — Pauline Kael, for instance, whose brilliant analysis of these films in I Lost It At The Movies is worth locking up.
It seems to me that insofar as themes are concerned valid comparisons can be made between Blow Up and, say. La Dolce Vita. Mr. Boyes may regard this as a "misinterpretation," but it is a view which I shall continue to hold and expound. (For the information of these interested. Miss Kael's illuminating review of Blow Up will be found in The New Republic, Feb. 11. 1967— Periodicals Room. Vic Library).
Varsity show of low standard
Sirs,—I have just spent one and a half hours listening to the "Varsity Show" on 2YD and I am appalled at the low standard of the programme. Not that it had anything wrong with it as a programme. It was simply 2YD's normal variety music programme, interspersed with the inevitable adverts and occasional bits of news flogged from Newsheet.
Must we be represented by such humdrum mediocrity? Can't we offer something more worth while than "canned" music and toothpaste ads. Why not debates, discussions, lectures—even readings from Winnie the Pooh? Or is the NZBC scared of anything that might be controversial?
The blame doesn't lie entirely with the NZBC (although they only give the programme a pittance to run on) they are desperately short of material. Whatho, student apathy rears its ugly head again. There are (or should be) nearly 5000 feverishlyfestering minds here at Victoria—surely all this rampant grey matter could produce enough material to fill a miserly one and a half hour weekly programme.
There are a great number of clubs who could give something to this programmeDebating, Labour, National, Law. Film Society, Anarchist. Geography students' club and all the other science clubs—in fact damn near every club should be good for 15-30 minutes' worth at least once a year.
This could be the chance for the newly-elected Executive to break tradition and do something . . . anything, as long as they organise some sort of positive and worthwhile University Programme or forget the idea and don't have a programme are, all and slide further into the abyss of apathy and procrastination.
David John Fergusson.
Sirs,—As one of the organisers of two previous student demonstrations in 1948 (against conscription and against the Dutch attack on the Indonesian Republic). I would like to congratulate the present generation of students for their magnificent demonstration against the American emissaries of war.
I think this represents the highest point of student political activity yet reached in New Zealand.
It restores to Victoria the proud reputation of leading in progressive political action, a reputation established in the depression and anti-fascist struggles of the thirties and forties.
Contrary to the comment on 2YA that evening, my impression of the march was of its serious, reasoned and determined character. I felt many students were somewhat surprised at their own temerity in challenging in serious political struggle the forces of the state and money power in New Zealand.
In this splendid patriotic activity to keep New Zealand out of the grasp of the warhawks of America, the students are not only safeguarding their own lives against conscription and war; they are expressing the conscience of New Zealand outraged by the horrible spectacle of the mechanised might of America waging its war of aggression against a peasant people struggling to be free.
R. J. SMITH, M.Com.
Rice most important issue
Sirs,—Shortage of rice is the main issue at present that catches both the public's as well as the students' attention.
As we all know, since the time when New Zealand Government curtailed the import of rice resulting in its shortage, the impact, of this policy has greatly affected the Asian students for the simple reason that rice is their staple food. As a result of this shortage, the price of rice soars sky high; the shopkeepers in some cases are taking undue advantage over the situation.
To make the matter worse, some of the Asian students are unable to buy any rice at all. This means that they have to change their pattern of diet, a process which some of them feel hard to undergo since they are so used to eating rice. To acquire new eating habits, therefore, is the problem that faces some of the Asian students—a problem that arises out of acute rice shortage in New Zealand.
The problem was recognised and the new International Affairs Officer, Rose Booth, organised rice supplies for the Asian students, selling it at cost price in the cafe. Different people view this move differently.
However, Mr. Corkin in his letter to Salient (July 28 issue) misinterprets the idea behind this move completely. The nature of the content of his letter clearly calls for a clarification if not a rebuttal.
In the first paragraph of his letter Mr. M. T. Corkin contends that Rose Booth has been organising supplies for "needy Asians" and selling it at cost price in the cafe, what does he mean by "needy Asians"? Does he refer to all Asians that are in New Zealand, i.e. does the term include not only the overseas Asian students but also those who have acquired New Zealand citizenship as well, or does the term "needy Asians" refer to the overseas Asian students only?
If he means the former, he is totally wrong in asserting that Rose Booth is organising rice supplies for the Asians because she did not, in fact, undertake such a business; if he means the latter, then Mr Corkin should make his intention clear.
In the second paragraph of his letter, Mr. Corkin confuses himself for the fails to distinguish between "staple" food and delicacies. This is evident when he suggests to supply frogs for the French. He also suggests fish, chips and "free" beer for the unemployed pakeha students. The implication of this statement is that the overseas Asian students are getting free supply of rice from the Inter national Affairs Officer.
However, here, he contradicts diets himself for in the first paragraph of his letter he mentions that rice was sold at "Cost Price." His implicit allegation that the Asians aregetting free supply of rice can be dismissed.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Corkin does not know what is short in supply and great demand and what is not Surely Mr. Corkin should recogrise that such things as what is not and what is in frogs, pasta, haggis, etc., are not in short supply, nor is there any demand for them. Moreover, chips and beer are not short in supply. To bring this sort of thing into his letter, Mr. Corkin not only confuses the issue but also completely misses the point at issue.
Sirs,—Forum has disappointed me throughout the year. I have never been to Forum.
Forum is held on Tuesdays between 1.10 and 2pm. So is a lecture of mine. So are hundreds of others' lectures. Therefore we are disappointed with Forum; not with its content (which is inexperienced by us) but with its timing.
Of course a minority of students must necessarily miss, out whenever forum is held. But when it is held only once a week, and when its timing is not changed during the year, hundreds of students cannot participate at all.
Surely it is not impossible to occasionally change the time of Forum to another day, or another hour, or both. Even if the change were only termly, hundreds (although possibly not all) of the students who at present do not attend and participate, because they cannot, would have this opportunity.
I believe that every student should have this opportunity To constantly deny an accountable minority the right of regular Forum is unjust.
It is necessary?
Mervyn P. Judge.