Monday, February 26, 2007

HEMINGWAY ON CONRAD AND TORONTO

I recently read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for the first time, having missed it in high school through the vagaries of scheduling. Heart of Darkness was absolutely fantastic (but more on that later, or not).

Having finished the text I began reading some the accompanying commentaries. The one by Hemingway, written at the time of Conrad's death, is pithy, yet it venerates Conrad and disparages other people and places the way few but Hemingway could:

"It is agreed by most of the people I know that Conrad is a bad writer; just as it is agreed that T.S. Eliot is a good writer. If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad's grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder..."
"Knowing that I could not re-read them [Conrad's books] I saved up four that I would not read until I needed them badly, when the disgust with writing, writers and everything written of and to write would be too much. Two months in Toronto used up the four books."
From: Ernest Hemingway, "Conrad, Optimist and Moralist," Transatlantic Review, Oct. 1924, reprinted in, Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902), Random House: New York, 1999, xxxviii.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:08 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

DECISIONS

Do I get tickets for the match thereby supporting the growth of the game in North America and taking advantage of watching a top-tier footballer play in what is effectively a second-tier league; or, do I avoid the game so as not to associate myself with all of the inevitable replica-jersey clad soccer poseurs and autograph searching celebrity hounds?

Posted by Matthew @ 4:29 PM :: (0) comments

ANOTHER ANTI- PARTY DISCIPLINE RANT

The continuing stream of election speculation is inescapable, which I suppose is to be expected with a minority parliament.

Generally, I am all in favour of elections. They are fun to watch, and much more importantly they are one of the few opportunities for widespread citizen engagement in democracy. I find little sense in the argument that elections should be avoided on the basis of their cost of money and time to the taxpayer - it is a small price to pay for the benefits.

However, the assumption is that there are benefits. The benefit is the opportunity for the citizenry to proclaim their general will, to renew our public representatives by confirming the course they have laid out or approving a new direction. But how often is this necessary with a general election?

It would be necessary less often if our elected representatives were allowed the freedom to exercise their own independent abilities of reason and common sense without being shackled by party discipline. In the last several years of minority government we have witnessed a number of floor crossings - Garth Turner's merely being the latest. I believe this is indicative of the restlessness of our representatives. In situations of a minority parliament especially, if members were allowed a greater freedom to create and vote for the policies they truly believed would benefit the country and their constituents we might get more cohesive, creative and longer lasting parliaments. If MP's were allowed to be individuals and to exercise their independence and intelligence, and be held accountable for such, we might also get more independent and intelligent representatives.

But even one of the newest and most promising federal Liberal can't see past his partisanship. Says Gerrard Kennedy:

“A lot of what I’ve seen and experienced in the time I’ve been focused in the federal realm is . . . the Conservatives and the NDP working together, and I think that’s very unfortunate. I don’t think the public interest gets served that way.”
Of course not. Because it's not the Liberals calling the shots.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:19 PM :: (0) comments