THE NOISELESS SPIDER
Vol. V No. 1 Fall 1975
Stephen J. Bennett
The sudden death of Steve Bennett this summer has
left the New Haven academic community deeply gi'ieved.
At the time of his death, Steve was dean of continuing
education at Quinnipiac College, but he had also been dean
of faculty at the University of New Haven from 1958 to
1967. Those who knew the man — his searching mind, his
enthusiasms, his invincible heart — know the full dimen-
sions of our loss. In memory of the things he did (and
dreamed of doing) during the years he spent among us,
this issue of The Noiseless Spider is dedicated to Steve
"And this slow spider ivhich crawls in the moonlight, and
this moonlight itself, and I and you in the gateway, ivhis-
pering together of eternal things-must not all of this have
been there before? And must it not all return and walk in
that other lane, out there, before us, on this long dread-
ful path? Must ive not eternally return?"
in Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Published by the English Club of the University of New Haven
® 1975 The Noiseless Spider
Interview with Phil Berrigan
Love Song VII
Abdullah Thabit Sabur
Paul 0. Williams
M. Marcuss Oslander
Li Ao. Poet
Henry Miller and
Statement of Editorial Policy
The editorial board of The Nuiseless Spider agi'ees with
Henry Miller that the pangs of birth relate not to the body but
to the spirit. It was demanded of us to know love, experience
union and communion, and thus achieve liberation from the wheel
of life and death. But we have chosen to remain this side of Par-
adise and to create through art the illusory substance of our
dreams. In a profound sense we are forever delaying the act.
We flirt with destiny and lull ourselves to sleep with myth. We
die in the throes of our own tragic legends, like spiders caught
in our own web.
INTERVIEW WITH PHIL BERRIGAN
On October 5, 1975, Father
Philip Berrigan and twenty
other persons were arrested in
Hartford and charged with "dis-
orderly conduct and criminal
trespass i)i the first degree"
when they protested what they
termed ''an exhibit of instru-
j -sT*^ ^j/KHk^^JibZ ^'^ents of death" at Pratt &
W ' ' ^^^^ :J^^H^H ^f^^^'*^^y's ^^^f^ Anniversary Air
Show. Their protest took the
form of pouring blood onto the
cockpits of fighter planes on dis-
play at the show. Earlier in the
year, Fathei^ Berrigan had been
invited to give a lecture at the
University of New Haven by The English Club. The following
interview ivas given to members of the editorial board of THE
NOISELESS SPIDER shortly after Berrigan's lecture before
a UNH audience of nearly two hundred people.
Philip and Daniel Berrigan walk-
ing ai*m-in-arm at the Federal
Correctional Institution at Dan-
Spider: Since you're here as a guest of the university's English
Club, perhaps we could start by asking you a literary question.
First of all, are you doing any writing at the moment? Are you
working on anything?
Berrigan: Not at the moment, no. The latest book is the book
on my prison experiences, Widen the Prison Gates, which should
be out in paperback before too long. Other than that, there are
a few short pieces I'm in the process of finishing but nothing as
ambitious as a book.
Spider: Which of your published books has given you the most
trouble? P/'/so/^ Journals of a Priest Revol utionary seems to be
the most widely read and admired among them. Do you have a
special preference among your books?
Berrigan: Well, Prison Journals required an awful lot of editing.
It was a much bigger, looser, more sprawling book than the
final version. It was written in rather trying circumstances and,
in its original version, didn't have the tightness of a book like
No More Strangers, for instance. But I have no special favor-
ites, really. I regard writing as merely a means to an end. And
I have no patience with editing as such. I'm perfectly happy to
leave that to others.
Spidei': Is it possible, do you think, for a writer to bring about
fundamental changes in people's ways of thinking and acting
through his writings? Are writers taken seriously in this society?
Berrigan: Some wTiters, yeah. My brother Dan has managed
to change two or three minds, I think.
Spider: Is he working on anything new at the moment?
Berrigan: He's been working on a new book of poems, I know
that much. But his health has been pretty bad for a while. I don't
think he's doing much writing right now. He's teaching, you
Spider: What direction do you think American society is taking
now that Watergate has been exposed for all to see? Do you
think we're entering a period of cynicism, of withdrawal from
public concern for justice and equal opportunity? Do you think the
great upsurge of activism of the late 1960's is pretty much a thing
of the past?
Berrigan: There aren't too many signs of that right now.
Things are quiet. And some of the cynicism is certainly not with-
out justification. There are some in our society who ar^ going to
become escapists to an increasing degree. And the cults and the
religious spin-offs and new creations, call them what you will,
are going to be — just possibly — are going to so proliferate that
they'll be impossible to keep track of. And, you know, this is
neurosis. This is lunacy. The leadership at the top of the heap
exhibited, through their own intransigence, a sort of determin-
ism — ^the rigidity that the people exhibited by the fact that
they're running away — they're deep into astrology, they're
running here and there after esoteric and, in some cases, unin-
telligible systems of believing and living. Some of these things
are exploiting our terrors — and can be extremely dangerous.
And it ought to be cited for what it is: it's a narcotic. Those of
us — those of I/O H — who come from activist experience know that
there's almost no public unselfishness left at all — of experi-
mentation with notions of charity and concern. No concern for
victims. You turn sour, you turn deep into yourself.
Spider: Father Berrigan, how do you feel about the prospects for
optimism? Some of us have detected, in all you've been saying,
that there doesn't seem to be much of a sense of optimism.
Berrigan: Oh, I don't know. This gets very, very trite but I used
to know some fellows out of Kentucky and Tennessee who were
in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. I used to preach
in their churches, little Fundamentalist kind of places — if you
want to use a pejorative term, "redneck" churches — in those
two states. And they used to take pilgi'images into the South in
big demonstrations and marches like at Selma, Alabama, and
other places. They were dedicated witnesses — oblivious to the
fact that the odds were against them. They tried to encourage
people — including their Black sisters and brethren — they'd say:
"There's really more faith around than you can possibly handle/'
And so long as you see people privileged to come to grips and
to break out of this mutual design that all of us have to be into,
break out of their enslavement — we're under cultural enslave-
ment today — and when we find people earnestly trying to do
that, that's a great thing. That's a magnificent expression of
hope. It's — well, a kind of statement that they're unbeaten.
They aren't beaten yet.
Spider: You're talking now about a life-style, aren't you?
Berrigan: No, no, not necessarily. That's par/ of it. That's part
of it. But when people are talking to one another and questioji-
ing, and striving to treat one another generously and gently,
and when they're wrestling with the deep question: "How do we
take public responsibility for this terrible shmear that's being
laid on us, iynposed upon us, by the irresponsible ones in this coun-
try?" That's a tremendous expression of hope . . .
Spider: From the tenor of everything you've said here today,
it looks as if you see hope for the future entirely in people and not
in systems of belief or institutions at all — churches and so forth?
Berrigan: Right. My friends and myself, we're not taking much
stock in politicians any longer. And yet we don't write them off
as human beings. Needless to say, some of them have been co-
opted to the obscenities of institutional power. But we're no
longer lobbying. We think we can make a gi'eater contribution
than by doing that. And that's by openly speaking truth to
power — and acfitn/ truth, whenever necessary. After all, com-
mon sense tells us that word and act are only fully human when
they're one. Faith tells us that the profession of life is an unal-
terable resistance to the high and mighty, who pose as patrons
of people while destroying them. Without acting out one's resis-
tance one can't realize humanity in oneself or in others — only
illusion, euphoria, comfort, escape. Resistance always outrages
the high and mighty, who tolerate such behavior neither in
Christ nor in ourselves. Most of us will probably see worse days
before better. And (|uite a few of us will see worse days from a
jail cell. But that mustn't discourage anyone who wishes to keep
hope really alive. I think, personally, that no society is worth
fighting for unless that society e.xists for its weakest members.
Gandhi said it best when he said that a society is most viable
when it exists /o/- /7.s cJiiUlreu.
Spider: But can that kind of society be achieved when violence
and racism seem to be so intrinsic to human natui-e? And not
only the kind of white racism that we find here in the States
and in South Africa, but among the Black nations as well. Do you
have any ideas, for instance, on African racism and the fact that
it's so generally ignored? For example, when the white colo-
nialists left, or rather were thrown out of Africa, they drew up
the borders of the countries down there on the basis of split-up
tribes, such as in Nigeria. They put in the Ibos, who consisted of
about a third of the country, with a tribe whom they were ex-
tremely hostile to. The result of that was the Biafran War, in
which it's estimated that close to a million people were mas-
sacred. Why is it that this seems to be generally ignored by
the political Left in America?
Berrigcui: Well, I think because that kind of racism, as you call it,
is — although terrible — really ))iiniHcnle in comparison with the
kind of racism I was talking about earlier in the day. None of us
would support racism in any form, whether it be Black or white.
But we can't very well compare white racism with Black — in in-
tensity and pervasiveness, even in quality and in terms of his-
torical weight, we can't!
Spider: Why not?
Berrigan: Well, I'll leave that up to ijou. (Smiles. ) You try to find
out. You try to find out if in this society or in the Union of South
Africa or in southw^est Africa — you know, we of the West have
made racism one of the really )))ajor institutions of our society.
What you were talking about earlier — the Biafran War — that's a
question of political disputes. It's ascribable to a complex politi-
cal-cultural climate. And you know very well we run into a certain
amount of Black racism from Black Americans — but it's got to
be miniscule in comparison to the constant pressures and traumas
which our society has )nstitutio)ialized — in an unofficial way, of
course. There's the paradox. There's no comparison between
the two, all right? It's like a State Department apologist saying
to me or to somebody I work with: "You never speak about the
atrocities committed by the Viet Cong." Well, there's really an
utter lack of proportionahty in a question like that. The fire-
power ratio, for example, is about a thousand-to-one — if it isn't
}nore than that! So we're supposed to talk about atrocities on
people who are in a position of being helpless mice in an experi-
ment. You see, there's a bias there.
Spider: What's your opinion of President Ford's amnesty pro-
gram for draft resisters — in one sentence? Or tw^o?
Berrigan: I can give it to you in one word: it's 2i farce! An out-
rageous and immoral farce. It persists in regarding the coura-
geous few who have put their lives on the line to bring an end
to an obscene war as criminals, as law-breakers. Whereas it's
really the architects of that war who are the criminals. The re-
sisters who stood up to illegitimate power are pretty clear in
their own minds about the criminality of the government. And
shouldn't we all be? If we had any true charity, we would wel-
come those young people back with open ai'ms. And the next
step would be to figure out ways of forgiving those who drove
them out of theii' own country against their wishes. And then
get down to the business of solving some of the country's prob-
lems. But this won't happen today. Or tomorrow. And that's
one of the reasons why there's now so much of that apathy we
were talking about earlier. Students, especially, are deeply dis-
illusioned about the lack of human feeling which the older gener-
ation has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate.
Spider: But what can be done to change all this? You call yourself
a "priest revolutionary." What's your solution? Do you advocate
violent social upheaval? Do you advocate revolution"!
Berrigan: I happen to think Mao Tse-tung is right in calling for
perpetual revolution. But I think he's wrong in his reasons and
in his means. People have got to accept personal and social rev-
olution in order to become fully human. But the means of revo-
lution are much more profound and modest than anything his-
torical or contemporary. For example, insuring that a few less
children die. Or go hungry. Perhaps if Americans learned to
build nonviolent communities of resistance, concentrating on
the essential rather than the grandiose, they might in time
learn how to hold leaders accountable for peace. They might
learn how to throw open their prisons, to break down cor-
porate monsters to manageable size, to dismantle their war
machine. The power of God — as well as true political power —
starts with tiny beginnings. The Kingdom of God begins like a
mustard seed. True power begins in Christ's cleansing of the
Temple. Liberation begins in Gandhi's handful of salt.
— hiterview given o)i the UNH campus
on Fehruarii U, 1975.
LOVE SONG VII
to be the water
bending to receive you
containing your total self
but not restricting your movements
touching and stimulating every inch
of your being altering and adjusting
my form to the conformity of your
spatial sculpting never losing contact
at any point always supporting every
point twisting when you twist curving
where you curve active in your passivity
passive in your activity changing in
form but never in property
holding you but never restraining you
active in soothing and cleansing you
in my passivity
to be the water
— Abdullah Thahit Sahnr
In a quiet time of life, many many years before today, there
lived a small tribe of Indians called the Deer tribe. True to their
name, they were a graceful, peaceful, and quick-of-both-foot-and-
wit tribe. Their land lay in a valley of tall green grass. So full
and green was their gi'ass that many an Indian child would im-
agine it a river while crawling thru it so that soon the name of
their valley became the River of Grass. Surrounding and tower-
ing over their River of Grass valley were four mountain peaks,
to the north, south, east and west. Their valley was protected
on all four sides by the mountain of rock. They lived snugly secure
as if within a fortress, but a fortress of natural beauty created by
nature not by man.
On the night of a new Deer's birth, all the tribe would gather
around the mother's tepee, building a fire for warmth and sing-
ing strong songs of joy for inspiration. On such a night was Soar-
ing Eagle brought into this world. But a strange event occurred
on this night which was to mark this young Deer's life forever
and make him different from his tribe.
As was the custom, Soaring Eagle's mother brought him out of
her tepee and walked with him to the center of the tribe where
a cradle was placed for his small life to lay and be seen by all. It
was then that a sudden stillness fell over the people, as if an in-
visible hand was pressed to all their lips at once. During this
(juiet of quiets it happened,
Hying down within the center of the hushed cu'cle of Deer, an
eagle perched above the cradle and locked his hard clear eyes
upon the resting child. The cat-eyed moon poured down stain-
glass light as the eagle stared into the innocent face. Deer's
Chief, Tall Shadow, sat crossed-leg ten feet away from the
great bird and knew in his heart what this omen meant. He
knew the eagle had chosen this child to carry out some plan the
gi-eat bird wished completed. As he watched the silent sight
of the bird and boy, the Chief understood that deep within a
kernel of the child lived a secret, an e.xtraordinary secret which
would wait there inside him until the time was right for it to
surface, like the slow surfacing of a sliver in the finger. Just
as the seeds in the earth await their ow^n special rain song be-
fore they dance their way up to the sun and blossom in fra-
gi'ance for us all.
As suddenly as he came, so the eagle left in slow strokes of
pow'er rising high into the night and out of sight. The tribe
stirred and crowded round the child to see one small feather
on his pillow which he curled round and went fast to sleep.
Seeking some meaning to it all, the Deer tribe turned their eyes
to Chief Tall Shadow who now stood like one of their mountains
tow^ering above the sleeping child. The Chief gently lay his
hands over the mother's strong young shoulders and spoke:
"From this day on, we will call your young brave Soaring Eagle.
He will one day be teacher to us all as he has been marked for
this tonight." At the moment these words were spoken, the sil-
ver clouds skated away from the moon and light streamed down
on the Deer tribe as they one and all returned to their tepees.
From a child to a boy took Soaring Eagle only seven years.
Within those years were the bonds of friendship to last his life-
time. All who knew him loved him for he was kind in both word
and deed and would do anything for a friend. His presence was
felt in all the lives of the Deer tribe but especially so in the
hearts of Dandelion and Running Cloud, his two best fi'iends.
Dandelion had sunny hair and with sky-blue eyes she would
spend hour after hour watching the movements of all the ani-
mals and stand very still as the wind played thru the brightly
colored flowers. When very small, while exploring a beaver's
flam, she watched the beaver so long that the sun went down
and the moon rose over her tiny shoulder before she realized
how late she had stayed. Since she had never before been out-
side the tribe's tepee circle after dark, she soon lost her way
and grew frightened as the cold and dark swept over her like
a black cloud. Even at an early age Soaring Eagle seemed to al-
ways be awake to the first hint of danger, as his eyes never
stopped roaming and absorbing like a sponge all that went on
in the Deer tribe. So it was Soaring Eagle who at the first sign
of sundown went out in search of Dandelion and found her many
hours later shivering with fear and cold.
Running Cloud was a very shy young brave who spent his time
daydreaming because he was afraid to make friends. He wanted
to make friends with those of his tribe but he feared they would
laugh at him if he told them of his dreams which meant so much
to him. But one day Soaring Eagle came over to him and sat
down telling him the most wonderful dream he had ever heard.
"I dreamed I was a castle in secluded woods of peace where
deer sit company and cardinals come to drink from my moat sur-
rounding me. I felt the animals and birds fill me, their touch upon
my walls, and all their many-colored eyes looking inside my
window^s where small sparrows flew in and kept my floor clean
with their tiny beaks. It was all so colorful with the hundreds of
different furs and feathers costuming my many rooms. I awoke
when the magician living inside my castle tow^er came down and
stood on my balcony spreading his arms like bird wungs and all
of me curled up inside his magic robe and went away with him."
When Running Cloud heard this dream, he knew^ Soaring Eagle
would never laugh at his dreams and they became best of friends.
So with the bond of shared experience in their hearts. Soar-
ing Eagle explored the River of Grass with Running Cloud and
Dandelion singing and humming as they went. All around them
were secret places to run and play. Trees wagged their branches
in the wind like the tails of dogs. Elk and fawn made their bed
of leaves beneath the trees. Small puddles held rain water re-
flecting their three faces and they would laugh seeing themselves
this way. The days melted together this way like cotton candy
sweet on their tongues, and one day as they were singing, mak-
ing up the words as they went along, they made up the song
which would be handed down from child to child throughout the
Thru grass and trees
We skip to nowhere
On hands and knees
We play games everywhere
We love the sunshine
It turns our skin gold
Like grapes on the vine
We're good we are told
So we run with the deer
Until day turns into night
Then thru the dark ivithout fear
We see our tepees thru moonlight
Crossing laughing streams
We jump with happy hearts
To our beds and dreams
As the eagle overhead darts
Worn at the back of his head band, the eagle feather from his
night of birth held a special power for Soaring Eagle, or so the
gi-eat Deer Chief, Tall Shadow, told him. The Deer Chief asked
him what he was thinking, often, such as when the geese flew in
a V pattern overhead. Tall Shadow felt Soaring Eagle could
give him a sign, a deeper meaning for what was on the surface
A lone rider appeared one day in the Deer camp seeking the
Chief. Though the rider was in war paint, the Deer tribe held
no feai' against nor harm for the Indian because peace had been
constant in their tribe and they chose to live this way forever.
The Chief welcomed him to his tent with food and drink. They
were a long time together before the rider left. The Deer Chief
stayed alone in his tent until sunset when he called for Soaring
Eagle. The Chief spoke slowly and intently to his young brave:
"The lone one riding into our circle today was a messenger from
the bordormg tribe of Crow, our brothei-s to the east. The mes-
sage was from theii" Chief, Red Sun. He is in gi'ief over his
daughter, Little Wings, who went out walking late yesterday
and nevei' returned. Red Sun is blinded by his gi'ief and believes
we have captured her! His war messenger said that if his daugh-
ter was not released by sunset tomorrow, then he would attack
us and take her by force. He will not talk more on this, he has
made words and will shower arrows if they are not heeded.
Soaring Eagle you must do what I cannot myself. You must go
in search of her and find her before sunset tomorrow. The peace
of our people lives behind your eyes. Be all our eyes, Soaring
Even though the moon was rising when Soaring Eagle left the
Chief's tepee, he went in search of Little Wings, taking nothing
but his desire to return peace to his people. He combed every
secret place he had ever been with Running Cloud and Dande-
lion, running and stopping and searching. The hours slipped by
like fish thru a stream and still he had not found her. He then be-
gan the climb of the northern mountain, hunting every cave and
ledge. During his climb, twice he lost his grip and sliding like an
ice cube over ice, lay on a ledge battered and bloody. But he kept
on long after- the moonlight turned to lemon glow^ and sunrise
spread like a lotus over the sky.
At the base of the southern mountain, bone-tired and aching
from strained muscles, he crawled into a cave at the lip of the
mountain to rest a moment before climbing the rest of the way.
Just before his eyes had closed, he caught sight of a flash of color
drawing his attention like a magnet. It was an eagle! He had
crawled into an eagle's den! Fear raced thru him like fii-e as his
eyes grew wide taking in the terrible size of the great bird. To
run now was all his mind seized upon, yet the fear of being caught
in mid-stride froze his body where it lay. As the eagle stepped
back into the cave's shadows Soaring Eagle saw a sleeping girl
where the great bird had stood before. His heart pounded like
a drum at the sight, it could only be Little Wings! He awakened
her gently, careful not to startle the closely hovering wings of
the eagle. At fii'st sight of him upon waking, she cowered back
into the shadows in fear of the strange Indian boy. In her sud-
den movements she brushed against the eagle's huge wings
which caused her to cry out and shoot hke an arrow to Soaring
Eagle's side. At that instant, Soaring Eagle noticed the same
eagle feather which graced his own head band graced hers as
well, and suddenly he realized what had happened and remem-
bered the words his Chief had spoken about a secret.
Soaring Eagle told her not to fear the gi^eat bird. When in
answer to his question that she was Little Wings, she nodded
yes, he then asked her if an eagle perched upon her cradle at
birth. She again nodded yes while deep awe swam into her deep
brown eyes. He put his hand on her trembling shoulder saying,
"The feather in your head band is the same as mine and they
both came from this eagle. I am Soaring Eagle ft"om the Deer
tribe and my name came to me on the night this eagle came
to my cradle. My Chief, Tall Shadow, told me of a secret begin-
ning on that night, he didn't say what secret, but this I now^
know is it. We are both chosen by this majestic eagle. After
prayer to him, we'll walk thru our River of Grass and on to the
peak of our valley w^here your sad-eyed father Red Sun awaits
your return and he wall hear our story from our own lips." Little
Wings had been listening as if in a dream and on his last words
she broke down and cried for him, a broken honeycomb pouring
sweetness down his brown-skinned neck.
That night in the Deer circle were new faces golden from the
firelight as Crow and Deer became one family. Deer songs and
Crow songs joined the night together with serene stitches har-
monizing on the air and the many -colored beads exchanged to
one another shone around necks like the surf around the shore.
That night a new^ name w^as born for these tw^o tribes who had
joined into one, the Eagle tribe. Peace grew wade aw^ake in the
Eagle hearts like their rainbow-colored flowers waking up in
the morning in the River of Grass valley.
— Wayne Welch
John Downing' wheels hivS wagon up the walk
between the rows of peonies and vines.
He rings the bell. She opens up. No talk
or smile. Business. She inclines
her head in a dismissing nod, enshrines
herself beneath a giant hanging bowl
of plastic daisies. Since it's noon she dines
on lukewarm chicken soup, a puffy roll
with jelly, cut in quarters, swallow^ed whole.
Mrs. Martin's house is done in cat
and pink. She gi-eets him robed in smoke. Her face
is ruddy, swelled. A Persian cascades fat
and fur across her arm. She shows a trace
of mustard on the finger pointing to a place
beside her manx for him to leave the bread
and cookies. By the tab he takes a case
of empties, leaves the full. Little's said.
She smiles, pats his arm, returns to bed.
John mounts the knobby side-porch, feels the sag
of tired boards, accepts the mongrel's nose.
He bangs the drooping screen, the plumpish bag
cocked on one hip. Three ears of corn expose
their silk beyond the rim. Slow steps. He goes
inside, pulled by the mouth of Mrs. Link,
w^hose eyes and lips, miilh-spread, deep-cut, disclose
her age and gold. And leaning on the sink,
she asks him to sit down and have a drink.
— Paulo. Willianis
(photo: Thomas Victor)
I am a poet. My teachers are other poets, American Indians,
and a few Buddhist priests in Japan. The reason I am here is
because I wish to bring a voice from the wilderness, my con-
stituency. I wish to be a spokesman for a realm that is not usually
represented either in intellectual chambers or in the chambers
I was climbing Glacier Peak in the Cascades of Washington
several years ago, on one of the clearest days I had ever seen.
When we reached the summit of Glacier Peak we could see al-
most to the Selkirks in Canada. We could see south far beyond
the Columbia River to Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson. And,
of course, we could see Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. We
could see across Puget Sound to the ranges of the Olympic Moun-
tains. My companion, who is a poet, said: "You mean, there is
a senator for all this?"
Gary Snyder, TURTLE ISLAND. Copyright ® 1971 by Gary Snyder. Re-
printed by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Unfortunately, there isn't a senator for all that. And I would
like to think of a new definition of humanism and a new defini-
tion of democracy that would include the nonhuman, that would
have representation from those spheres. This is what I think
we mean by an ecological conscience.
I don't like Western culture because I think it has much in it
that is inherently wrong and that is at the root of the environ-
mental crisis that is not recent; it is very ancient; it has been
building up for a millennium. There are many things in Western
culture that are admu-able. But a culture that alienates itself from
the very ground of its own being — from the wilderness outside
(that is to say, wild nature, the wild, self-contained, self-inform-
ing ecosystems) and from that other wilderness, the wilderness
within — is doomed to a very destructive behavior, ultimately
perhaps self-destructive behavior.
The West is not the only culture that carries these destructive
seeds. China had effectively deforested itself by 1000 A.D.
India had effectively deforested itself by 800 A.D. The soils of
the Middle East were ruined even earlier. The forests that once
covered the mountains of Yugoslavia were stripped to build the
Roman fleet, and those mountains have looked like Utah ever
since. The soils of southei'n Italy and Sicily were ruined by lati-
fundia slave-labor farming in the Roman Empire. The soils of
the Atlantic seaboard in the United States were effectively
ruined before the American Revolution because of the one-crop
(tobacco) farming. So the same forces have been at work in
East and West.
You would not think a poet would get involved in these things.
But the voice that speaks to me as a poet, what Westerners
have called the Muse, is the voice of nature herself, whom the
ancient poets called the great goddess, the Magna Mater. I re-
gard that voice as a very real entity. At the root of the problem
where our civilization goes wrong is the mistaken belief that
nature is something less than authentic, that nature is not as
alive as man is, or as intelligent, that in a sense it is dead, and
that animals are of so low an order of intelligence and feeling,
we need not take their feelings into account.
A line is drawn between primitive peoples and civilized peo-
ples. I think there is a wisdom in the worldview of primitive
peoples that we have to refer ourselves to, and learn from. If
we are on the verge of postcivilization, then our next step must
take account of the primitive worldview which has traditionally
and intelligently tried to open and keep open lines of communi-
cation with the forces of nature. You cannot communicate with
the forces of nature in the laboratory. One of the problems is
that we simply do not know much about primitive people and
primitive cultures. If we can tentatively accommodate the pos-
sibility that nature has a degree of authenticity and intelligence
that requires that we look at it more sensitively, then we can
move to the next step. "Intelligence" is not really the right
word. The ecologist Eugene Odum uses the term "biomass."
Life-biomass, he says, is stored information; living matter is
stored information in the cells and in the genes. He believes
there is more information of a higher order of sophistication
and complexity stored in a few square yards of forest than there
is in all the libraries of mankind. Obviously, that is a different
order of information. It is the information of the universe we
live in. It is the information that has been flowing for millions
of years. In this total information context, man may not be
necessarily the highest or most interesting product.
Perhaps one of its most interesting experiments at the point
of evolution, if we can talk about evolution in this way, is not
man but a high degree of biological diversity and sophistication
opening to more and more possibilities. Plants are at the bot-
tom of the food chain; they do the primary energy transforma-
tion that makes all the life-forms possible. So perhaps plant-
life is what the ancients meant by the great goddess. Since
plants support the other life-forms, they became the "people"
of the land. And the land — a country — is a region within which
the interactions of water, air, and soil and the underlying geol-
ogy and the overlying (maybe stratospheric) wind conditions
all go to create both the microclimates and the large climactic
patterns that make a whole sphere or realm of life possible.
The people in that reahn include animals, humans, and a variety
of wild life.
What we must find a way to do, then, is incoi-porate the other
people — what the Sioux Indians called the ci'eeping people, and
the standing people, and the flying people, and the swimming
people — into the councils of government. This isn't as difficult
as you might think. If we don't do it, they will revolt against us.
They will submit non-negotiable demands about our stay on the
earth. We ai'e beginning to get non-negotiable demands right
now from the air, the water, the soil.
I would like to expand on what I mean by representation here
at the Center from these other fields, these other societies,
these other communities. Ecologists talk about the ecology of
oak communities, or pine communities. They are communities.
This place — this Center — ^is of the order of a kiva of elders.
Its function is to maintain and transmit the lore of the tribe on
the highest levels. If it were doing jts job completely, it would
have a cycle of ceremonies geared to the seasons, geared per-
haps to the migi'ations of the fish and to the phases of the moon.
It would be able to instruct in what rituals you follow when a child
is born, when someone reaches puberty, when someone gets
married, when someone dies. But, as you know, in these frag-
mented times, one council cannot perform all these functions at
one time. Still it would be understood that a council of elders,
the caretakers of the lore of the culture, would open themselves
to representation from other life-forms. Historically this has
been done through art. The paintings of bison and bears in the
caves of southern France were of that order. The animals were
sj^eaking through the people and making their point. And when,
in the dances of the Pueblo Indians and other peoples, certain
individuals became seized, as it were, by the spirit of the deer,
and danced as a deer would dance, or danced the dance of the
corn maidens, or impersonated the squash blossom, they were
no longer speaking for humanity, they were taking it on them-
selves to interjjret, through their humanity, what these other
life-forms were. That is about all we know so fai- concerning
the possibilities of incorporating spokesmanship for the rest
of life in our democratic society.
Let me describe how a friend of mine from a Rio Grande
pueblo hunts. He is twenty-seven years old. Pueblo Indians, and
I think i)i"obably most of the other Indians of the Southwest,
begin their hunt, first, by purifying themselves. They take
emetics, a sweat bath, and perhaps avoid their wife for a few
days. They also try not to think certain thoughts. They go out
hunting in an attitude of humility. They make sure that they need
to hunt, that they are not hunting without necessity. Then they
improvise a song while they are in the mountains. They sing
aloud or hum to themselves while they are walking along. It is a
song to the deer, asking tlie deer to be willing to die for them.
They usually still-hunt, taking a place alongside a trail. The feel-
ing is that you are not hunting the deer, the deer is coming to
you; you make yourself available for the deer that will present it-
self to you, that has given itself to you. Then you shoot it. After
you shoot it, you cut the head off and place the head facing east.
You sprinkle corn meal in front of the mouth of the deer, and
you pray to the deer, asking it to forgive you for having killed it,
to understand that we all need to eat, and to please make a good
report to the other deer spirits that he has been treated well.
One finds this way of handling things and animals in all primi-
— Gary Snyder
Arrangements for the inclusion of PuUzter Prize-ivinner Gary
Snyder's ''The Wilderness" in this issue were made by the
spider's roving editor, John Perry.
You're just like every other
mechanical electrical wizard
making the world
warming the crisp white coffee cup
with smoking Hps
oiling the typewriter keys
with peppermint promises
soothing the xerox
then coming home
unzipping your pants
and plugging it in.
— M. Marcuss Oslander
(d la Aesop)
I lived in a beautiful house my father built across the summer
palace gi'ounds of the Sultan, on a wide but unpaved street in the
little town of Nicodemia, nestled in an ampitheatre of gently
sloping hills dotted with clumps of quite ordinary houses for a
population of maybe ten thousand.
Father had a lot of imagination in building this house — ^in a
more modest way, he copied the massive ii'on gates turned
green in time, which led to the carriage way into the summer
palace grounds. Ours was painted a pale green and on one side
of it, he planted a climbing wild rose tree — it had four slender
trunks and the mass that was draped over the door bore beauti-
ful, white roses. It was, with the door, our prize possession.
The town boasted, too, a young man — about sixteen at the
time, and he was the enfant terrible of our street, if not all of
Nicodemia. He had a beautiful, strong singing voice and almost
every early evening, just after the sun finally disappeared, he
would stand on his rear balcony and serenade his true love who
lived somewhere on the hill. It was a stentorian voice as he
sang but halted every once in a while to yell, "/ love you, An-
taran, I love you!"
Onnig — that was his name — walked up the street every once
in a while and stood right in front of our iron gate and with knife
in hand, would threaten to cut down our rose tree. Mother hu-
mored him with words, but more often the humoi'ing took the
form of some goodie he was. offered to go away.
He also made kites — big, beautiful ones. And here he comes
with one of these kites flying, holding the string and walking it
up the street. There I am, a little boy of eight or so, sitting on
the steps in fi'ont of the gate. He is now abreast of me, still
holding the string of that beautiful kite and Mother is looking
out of the open window to mediate whatever crisis Onnig will
Madante, he yells, / will not cut your rose tree down today, if
you will buy my kite for your kid. Mother agrees and now that
monster is handing me the string and there I am, sitting down
and flying the kite. A few seconds — just a few — Onnig is mak-
ing a little pass, sort of pushing the kite string with his body
and disaster! The string in my hand is but a short piece floating
to the gi'ound and th§, kite takes off into the limitless blue sky,
past the top of the Sultan's clock-tower dii'ectly ahead, as I
whimper softly in utter fear of offending the major domo of
delinquents of that time . . .
— Garo Ray
LI AO, POET
Note: Li Ao, noted author, critic, and editor of Wen Hsing, the sup-
pressed intellect iial magazine in Taiwan, was imprisoned for undis-
closed reasons, in 1971. Currently in Chingmei Garrison Command
Camp near Taipei, it is rumored that he is dying from the lung infec-
tions so common among the over-crowded camps throughout "free
Li Ao, poet,
Publisher of broadsides,
Editor of suppressed magazines,
As one thin ribbon of incense
In the wind.
Twelve unpublished books
And sunlight on the sides of heavy seas
Under skies like rice paper. Typhoon coming
From the South,
Even within the barbed wire,
The pressure of the moist wind.
The smooth bamboo of your brush
Is still warm.
AND STIRNERIAN OWNNESS
Henry Miller is more properly referred to as individual than
literary artist. Certainly, Miller is as literary as any zealous
critic would care to make him. But to achieve an accurate per-
spective on Miller, the hterary zealot is at a disadvantage. The
disadvantage is due to the fact that the literary zealot presup-
poses a literary perspective in his interpretation of Miller. But
Miller is an individual, a man, who has chosen literature, with a
small "1," to express himself. He is not an individual who aspired
to literary distinction so as to make his contribution to the
massive field of Literature, with a capital "L." Miller is an in-
dividual who struggled to create for himself a region of self-ex-
pression, an outlet for the tumultuous and meandering energies
within him. Miller has imposed himself, as individual, upon Lit-
erature. That is to say. Miller has inverted the hierarchy of
values. Usually, the wTiter presents himself as a means to the
elucidation of sensibilities and ideas. He is a vehicle of enlighten-
ment for some gi'eater mode of Reality. But Miller transforms
Literature into "literature," i.e.. Literature becomes the vehicle
for Miller to elucidate himself.
In this respect, Miller shares a kinship or affinity with Max
Stu'ner. In Stu-ner's most notorious publication. The Ego and
His Oum, a philosophy of extreme and thoroughgoing individual-
ism is propounded. Stirner, a precursor of Nietzsche, ascribes
ultimate reality to the individual ego aspiring to realize his own,
i.e., the individual creating a world of his own making, in which
he can prevail. The Stirnerian ego cannot tolerate any thing or
situation which would be assigned a greater reality than the in-
dividual ego. Abstractions are merely linguistic devices. Terms
such as Man, Truth, Good, Evil. God, Literature, Science, Art,
etc., are convenient hypostatizations which are in no way meta-
physically prior to the individual ego. They are words and titles
which exist solely for the individual's purposes. The Stirnerian
egoist is an amoebic individual perpetually ai'rogating himself
new situations, ingesting them and transforming them into
sustenance for himself. The individual ego's advancement is the
sole justification for any action.
In the literary world, many writers have held Literature it-
self as the supreme value which must be maintained at all cost.
That is to say, Literature as a reality of greater magnitude than
the individual writer must be aspired to as a consummation.
This interpretation is also applied to the individual writer's
work. The novel, play, poem, etc., is viewed as the final or
most complete statement of the artist. The end product or work
of art is seen as the significant factor in the entii'e artistic en-
terprise. The individual artist has served his muse well and pro-
duced the absolute, immutable artifact. In other words, the
artist's own work is not really considered his own, but rather a
brilliant elucidation of that which always was but needed a lit-
erary vehicle for display.
Miller, in Stii'nerian fashion, makes himself the inexorable
reality to be displayed and, as such, places himself in the role
of the prime mover with fi'eedom to alter the literary vehicle
as he chooses. Miller indulges in blasphemy in the eyes of lit-
erary critics who would impute to him a high seriousness of pre-
meditation. Miller goes on to reveal the casual manipulation
with which he created his literature and transformed the act of
writing from a process of vertical elucidation of static Ideas into
a horizontal dynamic of coordinated, subjective meanderings.
The conclusion of a book ivas never anything more than a
shift of bodily position. It might have ended in a thousand
different ways. No single part of it is finished off: I could re-
sume the narrative at aiiy point, carry on, lay canals,
tuiniels, bndges, houses, factories, stud it with other in-
habitants, other fauna or flora, all equally true to fact.
I have no hegi)nting aiid no oiding, actually. Just as life
begins at any moment, throiigh an act of realization, so
the work . . . that I plunge in anew each time. Every line
and word is vitally connected with my life, my life only . . .
Like the spider, I return again and again to the task, con-
scious that the web I am spinning is made of my own sub-
stance, that it will never fail me, never ru)i dry.
Miller makes the point of stating that the "web" he is spin-
ning is made of his "own substance." This is a significant state-
ment and one which must be examined carefully.
If that which Miller is creating is "made of" his "own sub-
stance," then Miller is re-creating himself with each new liter-
ai\v endeavor. All the "webs" that Miller "spins" are for the pur-
pose of securing and expanding his region in the world. In no
way is Miller attempting to discover substances that are alien
to him; to do so would place him in the position of bridge or
reporter between his readers, who are not, as separate individ-
uals, of his "substance," i.e., the not-him. Miller's whole literary
dvTiamic is founded upon the process of creating that which is
within him and ingesting that whch iswitho^f him, i.e., mak-
ing that which is external and alien to him internal and familiar.
Anything which could not be incorporated into Miller's dynamic
was dismissed or relegated to a status inferior enough to war-
rant being discarded:
/ began assiduously examining the style and technique of
those whom I once admired ayid worshipped: Nietzsche,
Dostoievski, Hamsun, even Thouuis Mann, whom today
I discard as being a skillful fabricator, a brick-maker, an
inspired jackass or draught-horse. I imitated every style
in the hope of finding the clue to the gnaunng secret of how
to write. Finally I came to a dead end . . . I began from
scratch, throwing everything overboard, even those whom
I most loved. Immediately I heard my own voice I was en-
chanted: the fact that it was a separate, distinct, unique
voice sustained me. It didn't matter to me if what I wrote
should he considered bad. Good and had dropped out of
my vocabulary. I jumped with two feet into the realm of
aesthetics, the nonmoral, nonethical, non utilitarian realm
of art. My life itself hecame a work of art. I had found a
voice, I was whole again.
In Stirnerian terms, Miller was faced with the prospect of
remaining subordinate in his reverence for literary ancestry, or
being bold and audacious enough to finally discard that literature
which was the others' own and struggling to achieve Miller's
own. As Stii'ner maintains, true ownness only occurs when the
individual ego has obliterated all reverence for the past by
transforming alien substances into a familiarity which is used
as sustenance for the individual ego.
The "not-me" which Stirner refers to is simply, m Miller's
writings, those whom he "admired and worshipped." Those
great names that Miller finally discarded were representatives
of Stirner's "hard diamond of the not-me," that is to say. Lit-
erature, or ultimately Culture. Miller achieves ownness by creat-
ing a literary style based upon his own immediate subjectivity.
All the people and incidents of his daily life ai^e declared more
real than traditional, literary constructions:
/ am a patriot — of the Fourteenth Ward, Brooklyn, where
I was raised. The rest of the United States doesn't exist
for me, except as idea, or history, or literature . . .
To be horn in the street means to wander all your life,
to he free. It means accident and incident, drama, move-
ment. It means above all dream. A harmony of irrelevant
facts which gives to your wanderirig a metaphysical certi-
tude. In the street you learn what human beings really
are; otherwise, or afterwards, you invent them. What is
not in the open streets is false, derived, that is to say,
literature . . .
The boys yon worshipped ivhen you first came down
into the street remain with you all your life. They are the
only real heroes. Napoleon, Lenin, Capone — all fiction.
Napoleo)i is nothing to me in comparison with Eddie Car-
ney, ivho gave me my first black eye. No man J have ever
met seems as princely, as regal, as noble, as Lester Rear-
don ivho, by the mere act of walking doivn the street, in-
spired fear and adni iration . . . Johnny Paul was the living
Odyssey of the Fourteenth Ward; that he later became a
truck driver is an irrelevant fact.
Here Miller bases his literary aesthetic upon sheer emotive re-
sponse. Logical and analytical constructions, which are mani-
festations of traditional Culture, are discai'ded. The very subject
matter itself of Miller's writings defies the well-bred and sophis-
ticated. Their tastes would be for the very things which Miller
claims ai'e fictitious.
A final consideration to pursue, after having observed Miller's
views on Culture, is his interpretation of Knowledge. If Miller,
like Stirner, ascribes reality only to the individual ego, what is
the status of epistemology in Miller's outlook? Here is the way
Miller states his ease in The Cosmological Eye:
Just as literature swings at ti))ies fro}n the poetic to the
prosndic, so nowadays we have the swing from the physi-
cal disorders to the mental, with the inevitable emergence
of new types of geiiius cropping out among the mental
healers. All that the creative personality demands is a new
field for the exercise of its powers; out of the dark, i)ichoate
forces, these personalities will, by the exercise of their crea-
tive faculties, impose upon the world a neiv ideology, a
new and vital set of symbols. What the collective mass
desires is the concrete, visible, tangible substance . . . which
the theories of Freud, J ting, Rank, Stekel, et alii, provide.
This iheif can pore over, chew, masticate, tear to pieces, or
prostrate tJionselves before. Tyranny always works best
under the guise of liberating ideas. The tyranny of ideas
is merely another way of saying the tyranny of a few great
This is Miller's ultimate epistemological statement. Usually,
knowledge is construed as a massive collective enterprise
which possesses coherence and is added to by the learned in-
dividuals who become )nembers of this enterprise which is
greater than themselves. Miller, in Stirnerian fashion, inter-
prets knowledge as the imposition of one individual personality
upon one or more others. There is the storm and stress of in-
evitable clash and the dominant personality, having succeeded
in imposing his set of symbols upon the others, is now free to
proclaim his own set of symbols. Revolt and holocaust are the
cornerstones of Miller's technique as a literary figure.
Just as Max Stii'ner exhibited that a "drab and inconsequen-
tial reality was compensated for by an assertive philosophy
concerned with limitless human possibility," so Miller trans-
formed what he interpreted as the inertia of all traditional cul-
ture into the fuel and energy for his own vehicle, his own realm
of the possible. Albert Maillet appreciated Miller's life stance,
which became a literary stance, when Maillet wrote that he felt
he was "in the presence of another intellectual giant, dominat-
ing our world from an inconceivable height, far ahead of our
times, solitary, in the virgin spaces of the future."
— Robert Paglia
A major symposium on the
topic of Women in Our Time
will be conducted on the Uni-
versity of New Haven campus
in the late spring of 1976. In
conjunction with this event the
Spring 1976 issue of the
NOISELESS SPIDER, Vol. V
No. 2, will be devoted entirely
to writing by and about wom-
en. See following page for con-
SPECIAL WOMEN'S ISSUE!
The Spring 1976 issue of The Noiseless Spider will be
devoted entirely to writings by or about women. We in-
vite everyone to submit entries for publication to Mrs.
Louise Allen, Room 214-A, Main Building. A cash prize
of one hundred dollars ($100) will be awarded to the best
piece of writing, prose or poetry, submitted by a cuiTently
enrolled UNH student.
Dominic Anthony, Editor-in-Chief
Professor Srilekha Bell
Wayne Howe, Secretary-Treasurer
Professor Camille Jordan
Professor Bertrand Mathieu, Faculty Advisor
Professor M. Marcuss Oslander
John Perry, Editor-at-Large
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