revolution...rock...the doors...jumping jack flash...nietzsche...mayor daley's armpit

If you're a long-time Jim Steinman / Dream Engine fan, you may have already read this article as it's been sitting in the Dream Engine section of this website. If you haven't read it, follow the above link and read it!

In his 2013 speech at Amherst, Jim stated this article was the basis of The Dream Engine; he had submitted the article as part of his Independant Study course, so he decided to turn it into a musical, working with Barry Keating who became the show's director and acted in the role of The Historian.

Jim's article made waves. Or at least, a few ripples. This page collects some of the contemporary reactions to that article as read in the Amherst Student, and one reaction he actually writes about.

A Letter: Pretty Amazing

by '71
Amherst Student

Dear Editor:

I suppose one should start out by paying Jim Steinman the tribute he deserves. His article was amazing. It was masterful. It was perfect. He said without a flaw what a lot of other people had been saying for a long time, namely that our generation is not essentially political. As Steinman put it, "today's rock-drug culture is overwhelmingly Dionysian." Let's face it. We're not Marxists. We don't really care about the war in Vietnam. We don't really care about racism. (Except that we care a little more about racism, because sometimes we have to look black people in the face.) We don't really care about Vietnamese or black people or much of anything else. Don't kid me. Behind us we have the pathetic literature of artificial suffering (could Dostoevski have arisen in France or England or glow-in-the-dark America?) and the pathetic politics of classical liberalism — a botched hybrid of insipid egalitarianism and insipid elitism. Not Marxist (which is nothing but a poor people's Apollonianism), not liberal (which as, except for the rightists, everybody else's Apollonianism), not political (which is boring, de-mythologized Apollonianism). Dionysian. "Has the War of Liberation finally come home? Where it belongs?" Of course, Steinman. You knew that. The War is for our liberation. We all know that. (Unless — perhaps — it is for our escape.) According to Nietzsche, tragedy has to deal with the inherent contradictions between Apollo and Dionysius. Between Lyndon Johnson and Jim Morrison. Between George Wallace and Jimi Hendrix. Between Hoover, Westmoreland, Nixon, Hershey and Clapton, Bruce, Baker, Jagger. An obscene tragedy played out in ignorance in Chicago and at Columbia. And on the tragedy rolls. Apollo and Dionysius, both Zeus-born, locked in Oedipal struggle. And we all know, what will happen. Apollo will win. Dionysius will lie dead at his feet, and order will be restored to the kingdom of the gods. Daley will win. Rusk will win. Mao and Kosygin will win. The Apollonian ape that learns how to wield the jaw-bone (irony!) will win. But the Dionysian foetus emerging terrifyingly with those inhuman eyes to the pounding of Strauss' "Zarathustra"? All things together in the end Eternal recurrence? In the final analysis, tragedy. Inexorable, unknowing, dignity-muted tragedy ascending and accelerating joyously toward the final beauty of tragic resolution. Steinman said all that and more. Much more. Amherst should be proud. If education is measured in understanding, Steinman is educated. It is good to know that someone understands. Some one. On the tragedy rolls. (The word "tumbril" comes suddenly. Why?) And on we lie in our breathing-pocket of jungle, Simon-like, knowing who the true Beast is. Lying there in a plastic heart of darkness, feeling the throbbing terror build, feeling eyes straining open, throats constricting, eyes tearing in fear. Finally we shall be dragged from our terror and murdered by perverse, homosexual Apollonians. And we will welcome the Apollonians — all of them. And throw ourselves at them They will kill us with satisfaction. ("We are not killers. We are Marines.") But tragedy upon tragedy. There will be no meaning, for the tragedy will have already occurred. Simon can never tell Apollo. Dionysius cannot communicate the horror which has obliterated all things. Dionysius cannot communicate his joy. He has tried. It is no good. Apollo realizes that he knows. That is why John Kennedy must die. Why they all must die. Only Dionysius knows, and Apollo must kill him before he himself is killed. Ascension and acceleration until the whirling madness of Dionysius frees him, forces him beyond good and evil to a fearsome height where he peers silently and fatally in one infinitely quiet moment into the calm eyes of Zeus. Apollo, feels the shaking of the ontological foundations, but he himself can never have the passion to achieve such knowledge. The dialectic is destroyed. And I will keep hiding, half-crazed, asking "what's it all about."

   Fred Fischer '71

Source: Amherst Student archives

Admirer of Amherst Shocked by Vulgarity Rampant in STUDENT

Amherst Student

To the Chairman:
I am enclosing a Xerox copy as a sample of some of my correspondence. I wander if you will be able to print it.
    Calvin H. Plimpton

Dear President Plimpton:
Other than being the father of an Amherst graduate (class of 1968) and the brother of an Amherst graduate (class of 1928), I have no connection with Amherst except as an admirer. It is as an admirer that I write.

I have seen the October 3 issue of The Amherst STUDENT. I am shocked at its vulgarity and its evidence of complete disregard of what I would consider proper standards in a publication that is available to the public. I am saddened that this publication, which I hope reflects the attitudes of only a handful and not of the majority of your students, will be taken by some as indicative of the intellectual moral climate on the campus.

For what it is worth, when my daughter was an undergraduate at Carleton College four or five years ago and its undergraduate newspaper became vulgar and either indifferent to or contemptuous of public good taste, the President of the College threw the editorial staff out of office. Somewhere, somehow, sometime, somebody has got to tell the younger generation that it has responsibilities as well as rights. Perhaps you see it as I do.

I remain an admirer and, hope you will forgive me for being an intruder.

  William L Broad

Source: Amherst Student archives

Girl Calls Steinman Piece Disturbing, Dangerous

Amherst Student

A bit of introduction to the following anonymous letter: Recently the Sarah Lawrence paper, "The Emanon", reprinted an particle I wrote in the October 3 STUDENT about rock and revolution, among other things. This letter was sent to the editor of the "Emanon" in response to my article. At first the incredibly gushy cliched sentimentality of the tone is funny, and you know the girl who wrote the letter reads "The Prophet" every night before she goes to bed, listens to Simon and Garfunkel religiously, and prefers sunsets to people because they're more well, more poetic, more beautiful more human.

But underneath the flabby surface of the letter there is something almost sad going on. The girl's sentimentality and need to simplify and label so much that is completely beautiful cheapens so much that she speaks about: She cheapens the Living Theatre by turning it into a simple cure for alienation, she cheapens Bob Dylan by first turning his amazingly human tapestry of colors in "Blonde on Blonde" into an "acid-fantasy" album and then seeing "John Wesley Harding" as being nothing more than Dylan's return to simple folk and blues, in what may be his most religious, complicated, even hallucinatory work. She cheapens Bach, Gregorian chants and Thoreau by refusing to understand their depth or beauty. And, greatest shot of all, she cheapens all life in one swoop by declaring herself for a "reaffirmation of the simple beauty of being alive." Could there possibly be a beauty less simple in all the world than that of "being alive"? Is it fair to ask this girl if she cleanses her soul with Lestoil?

   — Jim Steinman '69

To the Emanon Staff:
"Joy's impregnate, Sorrows bring forth" said Blake in his "Proverbs of Hell."

My participation in three performances of "Paradise Now" by the Living Theatre has given me a new kind of joy which I should like to share with you. To review Living Theatre, however, would be a ludicrously impossible endeavor; You have to go do it, up on the stage, to have any real conception of what it is.

I feel compelled to write about it only because I am distressed by the fact that so many people reject Living Theatre as worthless, refusing to see its value, and also by the apparent inability of many people who attended "Paradise Now," by the Living Theatre, to liberate themselves enough to get involved in it and express themselves in any degree.

Furthermore, I was not only distressed, but saddened and disgusted by Jim Steinman's two pages of obnoxious verbiage in last week's "Emanon," "Revolution Rock Rebellion Expresses Itself in the Musical Medium of Youth."

So disgusted, in fact, am I that I am going to waste your time as much as he wasted mine — and tell you my reasons why I found his article particularly disturbing, dangerous, and pathetic, why I think he is representative of a lot of people who misunderstand and misrepresent everything from Living Theatre to the Doors to Nietzsche — and why he has nothing to offer us except his own pathetic conception of chaos.

Ordinarily I wouldn't bother laying my verbiage on you or bother writing at all I believe that there is too much life to be lived, dances to be done, songs to be sung, love to be made, worlds to be explored that there is no time to sit on my ass analyzing things. But the joys of whirling in this on-flowing continuum of reality are too often punctuated with unspeakable terror and tragedy, making it imperative to speak of the unspeakable. "Joys impregnate, sorrows bring forth."

I could virtually hear Jim Steinman's gasping, intoxicated voice as he proclaimed the coming cataclysmic March of the New Maenads who, pimpled and stoned, lead by Jim Morrison, their fingers gesturing obscenely, their pubescent voices squeaking the hymn of the "Lizard King", together trample in the dust the terrified legions of the over-thirty generation trample to dust every last bayonet brandishing billy-club swinging fascist pig cop and then proceed to the brink of the Nietzschean chasm of oblivion and there, exulting in Dionysian dissonant euphoria, they scream Five to one baby, one in five" ALL FALL DOWN!

The children have done the "Totentanz" around the prickly pear and plunged into the pit from which they will never arise.

Ugh! Disgust! Nausea! Not only is he evoking a really horrible image but one that contains a frightening element of truth. It is obvious that many people today are thrashing around in a chasm of oblivion, brought down there by bad trips, too many decibels at Fillmore rock concerts, sex without love, restlessness and cynicism, fear and paranoia.

But for God's sake (or Apollo's sake, if you will) what use is all Mr. Steinman's verbal shit, or my anger at him, or all of our fascination with Thanatos, all our Lethewards leanings, all this seeking to lose ourselves in what D. H. Lawrence described in "Women in Love" as the Ultimate Black Sensation?

What is needed now is a re-affirmation of the simple beauty of being alive (at the risk of sounding trite); a return to our own respective Walden Ponds. Enough of these drunken word games that ultimately spell nothing but death. (Richard Goldstein, Village Voice Rock Critic, is another one who is forever quietly laying verbal shit on all of us.)

Steinman is telling us nothing new when he says that Nietzsche, the Blood Bath in Chicago, Rock Music, and Marijuana are all interrelated. That has been obvious to me for a long time. The question is where do we go from here?

I'll try to give you some of my solutions. First of all, if you manage to emerge from the Fillmore with your membrana tympani still intact, go put Bach or Gregorian chants on your record player and note the exquisite beauty and purity of the form.

Then go join Living Theatre's "Paradise Now." This is especially therapeutic if you are feeling cold, alienated, un-loved, and de-humanized. You cannot emerge from the human vibrational intensity, abundance of exposed flesh, OM - chanting, ecstatic dancing, brutal closeness of bodies without feeling more deeply and somehow transformed — even reborn.

There are many ways of getting reborn. Everyone has his or her own methods. I think it has to do a lot with going back to simple elemental things; back to the mountains.

Bob Dylan emerged from the despair of "It's All Right Ma, I'm only Bleeding" and his acid-fantasy album "Blonde on Blonde," going back to the original simplicity of blues and folk in "John Wesley Harding" — his archetypal Robin Hood, and the earthy erotic charm of "I'll be Your Baby Tonight."

And, as regards going back to the mountains and Walden Pond, I am going to charter, at the next meeting of the Sarah Lawrence Royal Court (Student Council) the Sarah Lawrence Mountaineering Club.

Source: Amherst Student archives

Alumnus Suggests STUDENT Maintain Its Arty Standards

Amherst Student

To the Chairman:
Keep it vulgar.

  Andrew Goldman '68

Source: Amherst Student archives