This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Marya Mannes discusses her book "Will It Sell." She speaks of being a woman and also of American culture. She contrasts her own personality and work to that of Helen Gurley Brown, author of "Sex and the Single Girl." Noting that Brown teaches girls how to unbutton their shirts while Mannes encourages girls to unbutton their minds. She goes on to talk about the controlling nature of commercialism. She also notes her lack of interest in fashion and appearance.
Next, Morris West is introduced. His novel, "The Ambassadors," details the war in Vietnam. He expresses his shock at the Catholic regime in South Vietnam against the Buddhists, he also notes his surprise at the Catholic press in Australia, his home country, who seemed to justify the actions of the Nhu regime. In reaction to these events West decided to go to South Vietnam to see for himself what was happening. He observes that the country is not at all homogeneous, and that many families who are perhaps Catholic or Buddhist also practice and ancient form of animism, the country is also multi-lingual and multi-racial. He also notes that Vietnam has been occupied for decades by various nations. He then describes how a member of the American CIA asked West to report on his conversations with Nhu. He speaks generally about avoiding the pitfalls that have faced Vietnam - letting a policy become a dogma.
Finally, Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor, speaks. He discusses domestic problems. He discusses technology and "social engineering," including laws that end discrimination. He also discusses labor issues. He speaks of the implications of disparate economic wealth, education, and employment.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71295
Municipal archives id: T940
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Only a few years ago one of the most frequently printed subjects in magazine articles was conformity the writers were usually against it the editors apparently were not they ran that kind of article because everybody else was running that kind of article. Go through today's magazines and you're really find the subject mentioned now there is some question whether this is because the danger has passed or whether it is finally swamped us they think pieces are more properly the worry pieces in magazines today invite us to be concerned of the quite different problem of alienation and in other fields besides politics today's OK what is consensus which is after all not too far in the old from conformity the important thing of course is what one is conforming to and is being eliminated from and the important thing about Marya minus is that she knows what things are important in the confusions and complexities of modern living many of us allow ourselves to go with the drift of things Miss Manners would rather fight than drift. She fights against those forces be they blind or conscious that are acting to turn a living people into Coles to to sticks she fights against the distortion of truth and that it basing of tastes some of the most effective rounds I recorded in two books of essays mourning anger and but will itself in this corner. In our corner Mari must. Thank you Mr Dalmiya Mrs Van Dorn distinguished and ladies and gentleman spite of these kind words I've been wondering for some time why I never really made the grade I guess it all started a few years ago when Squire magazine put out that sort of chart of the literary establishment and I found myself three quarters of an inch from the hot center where Norman Mailer was. Wired three quarters of an inch what was wrong with me some time I thought maybe it was because I wasn't Mary McCarthy. Every writer wants to be loved by intellectuals as well as people and I thought. Well that's one reason I trouble is that an I do admire her immensely and quite sincerely but I would rather have reaped the royalties of the group than have written it anyway. Odd as it may seem I am too inhibited to write what I know it would make Candy look like the Blue Fairy Book. Now I finally discovered really what what is the matter with me and that is that I am not Helen Gurley Brown. The strange thing is that I have been single at times and I have worked in an office at times but it's never occurred to me to tell other single girls how to be double or for that matter HOW to think of a man as something to be sneered like a rabbit. I like men too much as a matter of fact the main difference between Helen Gurley Brown and me aside from a small matter of style. Is that she tells girls how to unbutton blouses and I tell people how to unbutton their minds the former is far more profitable although I should think it was something a girl could have others do for her. Anyway this may explain why I titled my last book rather wistfully but will it still come to the reluctant conclusion. And my patient publishers will bear me out that whatever it was I produced it was not hotcakes it was a last opinion now a man who has opinions is that most splendid of creatures a man of conviction but a woman who has opinions is opinionated. You don't really trust her in the living room black and on housebroken door that's one reason why women who write serious books have themselves photographed on the back cover laughing like Phyllis Diller or. Sprawled all over with kids because you know it makes them look look human failing that you know a plunging neckline can sort of distract from any suggestion of a how shall I say a smoldering intellect. I just try to look harmless you know I shut my mouth so much don't show others might say that I just look square. Especially since I'm in disgrace with the hip world for coming out against obscenity as a way of life for sick comics and writers who can't say what they want to without four letter words. The current Argo of fashion Seriously though I call this last book of mine but will it sell because I have felt that the question was uppermost in American minds for far too long and it was about time it was replaced by the question but is it right because if that is not to be the consuming. Urgent question any idea of a great society is out the window but is it right is the question whether it concerns race or Vietnam. Which I gather I'm going to leave to the next Speaker thank God But will it so I don't know if you know but in the third report of the Peace Corps to Congress. There was a very interesting section and which the reactions of returning Peace Corps volunteers were described and there was I hate to use this word consensus. But let's say there was a fantastic unanimity. In their immediate strong record oil when they got back to the States about commercialism and the brainwashing of Commerce. They see what a lot of us who don't necessarily leave the country. Know some of us know that we're drownded day and night and buying and selling but business pervades and conditions our entire life and the government of business in many ways well more subtle to begin with. And more far more pervasive. Is also or can be more powerful than the government of Washington and is making us into consumers rather than citizens. We may think we are free but we are in reality never free from the relentless pressures to get more to amass more to have more which may indeed have given us the highest standard of living in the world but may not have or may not be giving us the highest standard of being the pursuit of that extra buck is responsible for most of the things impoverished our national life whether it's the pollution of water and air whether it's the incredible ugliness of most of our cities the indefensible slums the defacement of land by cheap housing developments. Relentlessly horribly clogged roads and a level of fundamental ethics that would shock a dope gorilla I'm happy to notice that our president and our Congress are not only aware of these conditions but actually trying to do something about them and I think we should put our entire weight behind the measures they suggest for such alleviations As for crime and violence to get back to the extra buck surely the obsession with money and what money can buy whether it's dope or car or a woman or success. Or simply kicks can push a sick mind to murder for ten cents or to kill for rape anyway these are some of the things that I talk about in my book The Nature of violence the nature of men and women and nature of all Garraty the nature of tragedy and the nature of satire I have. Well when the absurdity of the world really gets too much I resort to verse because I have found it's not necessary to be serious always about serious things and that a very small pin prick a very large pretension. Besides which I'm not educated educated enough and I mean this to be a serious thinker the intellectuals pay little attention to me and this is. An accepted fact I'm quite cheerful about it because I fail to quote enough sources. Bring in enough symbols I don't understand what they are and provide enough footnotes and bore enough readers I'm also miserably weak in the realm of obscurity that cherished quality. In the establishment. Apparently in those quarters clarity of communications is the mark of a shallow mind. You see before me alas a shallow mind and a deep dish. But will it so never enough apparently to hit the bestseller list for that matter I'm not very good at hitting any list I read in not estimable paper the tribute only sprightly call him by Miss Shepherd a. Couple of weeks ago was saying you know asking what women dressed for the question do they dress for the men do they dress for themselves and the Shepherd said no that was not it they dressed as a creative expression. An artist to make of themselves a piece of art and then she took a deep breath and said women like Mary McCarthy marry a man as Jessica Mitford who are quote completely fulfilled in their work are not likely to make the bestseller list but the best dressed list excuse me. Not likely not bloody likely. And he writes you you really I'm glad I know the reason because again I've been worrying for a long time and I wondered for heaven's sake what was the matter with my Lane Bryant small talk. Well you really can't have everything. Personally I'd rather be on this platform with Secretary words and Mr West talking to you than dancing the frog or is it true. With a doctor said Windsor in a disco take Thank you. Miss Manners has made it a bit difficult for any of us to go on and still thinking about the picture of she and the Duchess of Windsor dancing fruit. Two years ago Australia's modest West joined us on the occasion of publication of his novel about change on continuity in the modern papacy the shoes of the fisherman he was knowledgeable and compelling treatment of the challenging female in which his storytellers skills were combined with a profound and personal spiritual quest made this one of the most widely read and discussed novels about time two months from now I will publish Mr West's new novel The ambassador this like the shoes of the fisherman before it is highly topical in one sense and in another timeless it's topicality it's about the war in Vietnam and from its pages readers will gather much needed in clarifying information about that conflict itself the way it has gone and why it has gone that way the religious and secular elements involved its international aspects both in Southeast Asia and in a wider context. The differences in policy viewpoints among South Vietnamese government leaders American advisors military and diplomatic its timelessness is in its depiction of a good man the American ambassador of the title facing the necessity of arriving at an acting upon an agonizing decision a dilemma of choices each with its demands its promises its dangers. We warmly welcome the book and it's often just modest West. Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to tell you today very simply. The story of how this book came to be written I left the United States after the publication of shoes the fisherman and went back to my own country I was then and I still am. Deeply embroiled in. The question of ecumenism the gradual efforts of people of different faiths to come together on a common basis of humanity and godliness I was there for deeply shocked when I heard the first reports of the repressive measures exercised by the Zimmer in South Viet Nam The Catholic regime against the Buddhists by the somewhat outrageous actor and says of Madame new and in the same thing and I was also very shocked by the attitude. Of the local Catholic press in my own country which seemed to publish its comments on the premise that anything a Catholic did was justified by the Almighty which let us say it best is a video is proposition so I decided to go up and see for myself what was happening. I took a plane to Thailand to Bangkok where I spent a couple of days with a friend of mine who is a a Thai deeply versed in Buddhist theology philosophy and Buddhist attitudes generally I found him curiously involved from the situation in South Viet Nam because the Buddhist faith unhappily like the Christian faith is very much divided you know if you're a good Episcopalian you can contemplate with calm the burning of a Baptist in Alabama but if you happen to be the Baptist you take a slightly different view. The Buddhists in Thailand are a national church I use the word church advisedly rather like the Established Church in England the king is the head of the church their. Type of Buddhism is that which is known as the Hinayana the less a way which claims to be more spiritual. More refined and the Majano the Great away the more popular way the way of ritual and. Ceremony. Which is practiced among the Buddhists of South Viet Nam Well this by the way I took plane out of Viet Nam by Air France we flew over Laos Cambodia and we came over the delta country of South Viet Nam Now when you look down on this country which is very mountainous in the north towards China and very very flat in the south this is the outlet of the great river the make all. Which spills out through hundreds and hundreds of channels and thousands of square miles of rice paddies and swamps into the muddy waters of the US to lay bags you look down in the country is a vivid green and you look for towns you don't see them you see villages you see a network of waterways and little clumps of plantations bananas mangoes you name it and you suddenly realize even from this great height that there is no communication with these people except by water and then it is borne in on you. That no matter what you read in the press you know we tend to think of peoples and nations as being large and homogeneous all tied together they will act as one it isn't so in South Viet Nam these people live in the country vastly separated one from another three generations live in one house the statistics say that eighty percent of the people have Buddhists and fifteen percent of Catholics and five percent are other religions but underneath this layer of religions is the ancient animism of Asia the worship of the spirits of the tree the spirits of the pond the spirit of the rice still the Catholic will come the Buddhist will come people may even subscribe they will put rice cakes in the big bowl of the monk but they will also put the Spirit who lives in the tree we dive down towards Saigon very steeply because in this strange war aircraft were being hit by rifle fire from the perimeter of the airfield this is a war which is hard to explain and much harder to understand it is the tag end of a revolutionary war the press sometimes calls it a subversive war it is and it is and it is a civil war brother against brother cousin against cousin. Like the war in spite of Viet Nam is a country which has been occupied and reoccupied through the centuries was occupied first by the Chinese the Viet SAR tribes from southern China like the champs in the commit the Thais and there are Aboriginal tribes they this is a multilingual country a multi racial country there are women who won't be breasted in the mountains of the north and there are women who are as sophisticated and as well dressed as as about one can make them in Saigon nothing is simple all ages rub shoulders together the war is a war which was started during and before the occupation by the Japanese which continued after the reoccupation by the French the French were driven out at this stage left and right wing were fighting together then Zim took over after the defeat of the French in the petition of the country and had to drive out the river pirates and been zillion break them up because they had made a deal with the French and with a puppet Emperor ab