BOW WILLIAMS Automobile and General Insurance Budget Payment Plan Strong Stock Companies 624 LAMAR, AUSTIN GReenwood 2-0545 Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! The Miracle Business BANISTER RANCH, EDWARDS PLATEAU Miracles are hard to get at. very hard; hard-found, hard-cornered, hard caught, hard held things, hard to come by and trap as freedomor a wolf. Snares are necessary. Baits must be used. Cagesthere is no need of cages, for possessing does not follow upon catching miraclesas with five-card flushes, political offices. being drunk, in love, in hate, in fear or any passion and all like things of sturdier construction. Still, there is almost always a moment of having, after the chase and the catch, which is measurable in certain dimensions: the life of bubbles blown over stubble, the width of cobweb, the leap of hearts, the strike of snakes, the stoop-time of hawks, the dive-time for home-hole’s sane tuary by things pursued. We got into the miracle business when the boy was very small five, I guess, or maybe it was six. He is aware of the hunting and the catching and the swiftgone-clean-away holding. But I do not think he is yet aware of the uses of him for the coming of all these awful things. I make use of him. I bait for our miracles with himsetting out in the snares his black-black. obsidian-black eyes, his sweet fresh scent, his boy’s body of green-bendy bone, narrow nerve, transparent tissue; his boy’s mind of tumbled-in-air thought, justnow-shaping dream, not-yet-lost hope. I use him. I have to use this bait. Sometimes I think he knows miracles will not draw near to me without him and does not mind the use I make of him. So, in another land, in another time, in another fabled place, innocence drew unicorns into drowsing in the laps of maidensor so it is said. Our store of specimens is not yet large. But it grows. For we have trapped to hold for the length of an eye’s wink many things. THE WAY WE DO in the miracle business is to leave the rock ranch house when the sun, to our backs in the east, is a sleepy pink, nodding and yawning somewhere beyond the Sabine. To the west as we walk, looking over the ridges we do not see anything between us and New Mexico maybe, even, the Western Sea but grass and cedar and oak and dove weed and mesquite and the shine of water in the draw and it is so green it makes the eyes ache. The doves explode from under our feetangling sharply up and away from us in a rattle of wings, even before their sentry bird opens his throat with his thrill of warning. To our left hands there is a rustle of a five o’clock breeze, the dawn breeze, wandering over us from among the brush in the south, fragrant-blowing, asking us to help it decide should it ease on down another four hundred miles or so to Matamoras and the blue Gulf, or should it fool around another day or two right here in Edwards County. We do not tell it what to doand it nips more sharply at us for our attention as the sun comes higher up to warm the back of our necks. To our rightin the north there is no man or man’s track or trace to be seen all the way to the bend of the sky into the horizon, and probably beyond that, even, to the Plains country. There is a rawly-felt sickleedge to the wind now. It is blowing from the north, having decided where it shall go. We shiver it good-bye, meaning come back in rain a little later for the good of all we can see here. We are at the base of the rocky ridge now: stone upon stone, worn by water, worked by wind, ground by one another, splitting each other as living cells split to make two where there was but oneonly slower; slower than crawl of worms through the earth the rock will be. Within the rock are creatures that were: shells, plants, fern, leaf, insect, fish lives caught and held in stone. We collect some, more than we will carry all the way back to the house. He wants binoculars so he can bring the doves into his lap and into his hands. He wants to count the feathers in the wings, watch the darker bird hunting among the cow droppings for life-to-beeaten-for-life-to-be-lived. I promise there will be binoculars the next time we walk this way among the birds. There is a morning star visible now. We squat to fix it more steadily in the eye. This is uncomfortable. We sit. We are hungry, too, now. We eat what we have brought with us to eat, scattering the crumbs for the bird hunting after the cattle. He wants to carry the rifle not to shoot it, but to carry it. This puts him in mind of going to hunt. He thinks of horses and saddles and knives and other men’s trappings. Then he thinks of wars, because he is carrying the rifle and because of his thoughts of men going to war as dragoons with tall leather hats and brass fittings all over their leather belts and straps and saddles and fittings. WE ARE ALMOST on the pile of brush when a fat buck deer snorts, starting us to our feet. We stand frozen, but the deer knows we are near. He throws up his head, stares our direction for a long second or two. Then, he takes off, leaping over brush, running, running, running along the fence, then soaring over the wire and off into the draw cutting the middle of the next pasture. A small furry animal, made fearful by us or the deer, scurries out from under a rock ledge, worms through the fence and out of our sight. What was he? We talk of what we think he was. Now we are over the ridge and out of the brush. It is flat here and treelessnot a stick big enough to shade a grasshopper. We kick up dust as we walk. We see deer tracks: There, a buck pawed. There, a doe led her fawn to water and to graze. There are odd little paw prints, too, like small human feet. We try to think what these may be. We decide ‘coons passed this way en route to the adobe water tank over the hill, on the way to water and wash their food. We find a flint scrap. Is it an arrowhead, lost as a Comanche warrior rode east along the Great War Road to harry at the settlements of white men flowing as a flood water into the land of the Indians? Was it once flung as arrow tip from a bow string to lodge in the hump of a buffalo? Did it slash at the life of a deer? Did it slam into the ribs of a man, to lay caged in his chest until he was gone into this earth we walk on? We like the last of these ideas and we will keep the arrowhead and tell its story to others. NOW THE WIND is rising. We walk up a rise of ground, look southeast into the wind. It is a wind from the Gulf. The sun is two hour’s high, but it grows dark. To the east, we can see the storm coming, see the sullen front of its rain-swollen belly moving toward us, silent and swift as a buzzard’s shadow. It will be a public rain, a rain that is a rain, a grass-bender, a gully-washer, a frog-strangler, a goose-drownder. Now, it is upon us, pelting at us as we run back toward the cedar-shrouded ridge for the shelter of the trees. We are wet before we have gone 50 feet, soaking wet, but warm from the .run. There is dry wood under the cedars and under the outcropped rock. We will have a fire. We shave the dry wood, build us a tepee of shaved small sticks, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, edited by Dr. Harry H. Ransom; the University of Texas Press, Vol. 1, Number 1; $1.00 AUSTIN The University of Texas was gearing for a mammoth intellectual blast-off before Sputnik. Last year, longfused, careful plans began to form for the 75th Year, a 1958 occasion coinciding, incidentally or not, with the International Geophysical Year. The 75th Year is a project of vast scope and revolutionary intent. One can almost hear its educator-planners, in their particular muscular idiom, talking about “cutting away the fat,” “cutting out the waste and duplication,” getting new programs off the ground, and getting old fogeys off their seats. The 75th Year is a forwardlooking, enlightened attempt to cope with the modern world through education. It is “realistic”: it is, in part, an attempt to get people to value the University enough to put out the money the University needs to grow. It involves plans to be more selective in enrollment. But it has not lost sight of educational ideals. Said University vice-president and provost Dr. Harry Ransom at the kick-off of the 75th Year: “In the education of the individual student we must not let the noise of crash programs drown out the single student’s claim to serve society in his own way. If we ‘retool’ younger students who are potentially great physicians, lawyers, business leaders, economists, psychologists, engineers, writers, research scientists or theologians to one pattern, we will have gained nothing on Russia. In 1956, more than 42 per cent of Russia’s graduates in higher institutions were in the arts and education, less than 30 per cent in technology.” “In new values,” Ransom went on, “or more accurately in values which are as old as Athens but which have been busily ignored for yearsthe image of the University emerge. This university must provide binding points between past and present, between this present and our uncertain future. … There is no way of shirking the task of keeping the University in regular communication and steady concert with the local community, American society, and the modern world.” Minds at Work In February, the University launched a literary satellite of its own, its new quarterly magazine. edited by Ransom and plainly destined to carry the balanced, modern, “hard-nosed” thinking of the University into intellectual spheres. As Ransom steered volume 1 copy 1 of the new publi cation into orbit, he phased it in with University objectives at large as he said: “In a time pre occupied with outer space … for a magazine the most important area is still that which lies be hover over its top, nursing our ‘matches. It burnsand we steam in our wet clothes. And we laugh, not at anything said, but at what we feelsloppy wet here in the brush on the thin soil over the fossil rocks alone, all alone, in all of Texas, alone together in the quarter of a million square miles of Texas. tween the human ears.” What lies between the covers of The Texas Quarterly? Overall, a promising array of articles which show advanced minds at work on everything from Baudelaire to the structure of the nucleus. Ransom’s image of the university “in concert with the … modern world” is reflected throughout. The tone, the approach. the density of the Quarterly, as well as the quality of contributors, are pretty well demonstrated by the first article, which jumps right in and tackles nothing less than the “Natural and Supernatural.” Psychologist C. Judson Herrick looks Winston Bode unblinkingly at the “spiritualphysical” problem. “The inpenetrable wall which traditionally separates the ‘physical’ from the ‘spiritual’ man is breaking down. We know as surely as we know anything in science that every mental experience is a bodily act, not the adroitness of a mystic anima that can flout the laws of the physical world. … We have at present no acceptable evidence that natural processes are influenced in any way by unnatural agencies. That naturalists, accordingly, have no interest as naturalists, in the supernatural. But if a naturalist or anybody else wishes to speculate about what may lie beyond the range of possible human experience, that is his privilege. No scientist can object to it provided these excursions into transcendentalism do not invade his own domain. It is legitimate to extrapolate from the known facts into the unknown but not to reverse the procedure.” The magazine by and large haz this clarity and simplicity about it; only occasionally, in some of its “literary” articles, does it get murky and fancy. In general, there is little of the posture and idiom of intellectualizing, few examples of those mental contortions, academic bends, which some writers get when they rare back, knit their brows, and attack an intellectual problem. But, alas, on p. 101 we do find Columbia’s William York Tindall weaving mental pretzels as he gets underway on literary criticism: “The criticism of criticism of criticism is absurd. Therefore I limit myself to the criticism of criticism. Indeed, even less general than that, my theme is some of the troubles with some of the criticism of some fiction. This theme is complicated by the announcement of a fallacy, and after that, by a moderate proposal.” More humble in tone is a limpid, vibrant appeal from “chemical anthropologist” Roger J. Wil liams for an empirical study of man, using all the measurement techniques of the scientific method. In the Quarterly’s considerable range you find novelist Stark Young’s reminiscences of violin-playing, “disturbingly sen The storm is pastwhipping itself at El Paso. We laugh again, still having said nothing laughable to one another, but knowing that we have come this morning miles and milesand that it cannot be but a mile or two to the tail end of the whole wide world. We have never been there, but we’ve been near to it. We’ll go there next time, or the next, or the next. “Hey,” said the boy, “you know what? It’s not so hard, is it, this ol’ miracle business?” LYMAN JONES sitive”-faced Mussolini … a fine tracing of poetry to its present state by Herbert Read … T. V. Smith’s study of the irreconcilables, Hamilton and Jefferson, with a try at defining Hamilton’s ideal of honor … a potent essay by Harvard English professor Howard Mumford Jones on the need to reconcile two other opposites in these times: Ulysses and Telemachus \(the wandering individualist and the stay-at-home You have,. in something of an anomaly, Hines Baker of Standard Oil giving a picture of Labor and Management, with some obvious rigidities of mind. These possibly will be offset by the Walter Reuther article the magazine has scheduled. … There’s poetryfrom Jimenez’s Platero and I from Conrad Aiken … a story on architecture … a fascinating accountwith clear implications for the presentof the 16th Century Spanish controversy over whether, among other things, Aristotle’s doctrine of natural slavery should be applied to the American Indians. Not Regional Each issue of the magazine will include a supplement of unified material about the length of a small book, the supplement later to be issued separately. The supplement in the first number of the Quarterly is a Baudelaire feast, a collection of texts delivered at the 1957 Centennial Celebration of Les Fleurs du Mal. Yale’s Henri Peyre has provided a forward. University of Texas Romance languages scholar Roger Shattuck edited the supplement. The Quarterly is interested in fiction, short or longish, but at latest report hadn’t found any that suited the staff. The review had its eye on the “discerning g e n e r al reader.” whereever he may be; as the contributions indicate, is in no way “regional.” W. H. Auden and Robert Graves are scheduled to appear in upcoming issues, so is A.
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