Imaginary Places

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In a violin.


In a violin.

There's the
flavour of a
clamorous dream,
in the light of
a violin: I give
you the digest
and a direct
emotion, I tell
you the truth
while a candle

Francesco Sinibaldi

Francesco Sinibaldi more than 12 years ago

An urbane assessment from a

An urbane assessment from a true literary gentleman. However, the Canada you describe is not quite what I encountered as I grew up in it in the 50's and 60's--it sounds s0 bourgeois genteel the way you describe it--but you have brushed by enough of it to give a sense that people then felt that "something" needed to be done for the arts. At least it had the working-class cache of "improving" oneself.
But not today. Art has joined the capitalist branding for profit parade--what else could it do?--and there is little of the well-intentioned "resistance" you suggest that I can see. Everything stakes out its market territory: even Geist. The result is genre consciousness (a kind of formula) that gives the purchaser what they pay for (or else they won't buy). The whole business is run by image pushers. You can't find a writer worth promoting under any rock unless that rock has labels of contests won and awards given and prizes bestowed stuck all over it.
It is perhaps nice to believe that most people have the skills to recognize what it is they need to do to survive, but I wouldn't stake my future on it.
The bottom line, Mr. Manguel, is that the politicians and public want to eat their cake, and they damn well know what kind of cake they like. It's the same cake the rest of their tribe is eating. And they won't settle for anything less than what has been crowned with the label of success. In other words, something safe, something escapist personal (oh god no, never truly exploratory or political in Canada unless it's been sanctioned as a Good Cause), and something that gets them smack into the middle of the road--which is where Canadians want to get to when they pretend they are crossing it.
Is that why you left for Europe? (I do not criticize, believe me: they tell me there are a lot of books there, some even containing strange ideas that people actually read and talk about.)

Alban Goulden more than 12 years ago

Excellent; typically Manguel.

Excellent; typically Manguel.
One of my recent discoveries in our public library was the CD set of Alberto Manguel giving his 2007 CBC Massey Lectures "The City of Words'. I believe I could listen to this CD set 20 times and not tire of it, nor have learned all there is to learn from it.
Greg Ross

greg ross more than 12 years ago

Critical, yet uplifting! The

Critical, yet uplifting! The defiance in your tone is more admirable for how realistically you assessed the problems. Hopefully it makes people buy a good book from their local shop. Thanks!

Anonymous more than 12 years ago

Thank you for this. A little

Thank you for this. A little hope is helpful.

Anonymous more than 12 years ago