Defending a Masterpiece

I have noticed over the years a shrinking of the best classics in English and French on Brampton’s library shelves. This has concerned me because I have slowly come to appreciate some of the truly great books and authors in the history of literature.
The most inspiring source of my literary “dabbling” in the past two decades has been Eleanor Wachtel’s amazing literary interviews on CBC Radio in her Sunday afternoon program, Writers and Company. She is, I think, the best literary interviewer on the Planet.
What took me by surprise in May was the shrinking of of the library’s adult French section. This is because I was looking for Madame Bovary in French, as a result of Wachtel’s interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard, the brilliant Norwegian, who described Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as his “favourite book of all time.”
I wanted to borrow the original French version. (I thought I would respect the years Flaubert put in to meticulously completing, in 1857, his first and most famous novel that changed literature forever.)
The librarian could not find the adult French section. I located it by accident in June.
She did check on the computer and said Madame Bovary was not in any of the library branches of this city of over half a million people.
And I’m shocked that Wikipedia’s article on Brampton does not even contain the word, “French.”
I, an anglophone of French/English/Irish descent raised in Montreal, with no “axe” to grind, am saddened to see this, and to find that nowhere in any Brampton’s eight libraries did a version of this first modern novel ever written exist in French.
So I requested it in French and waited until May 23 when it was delivered from the library in Acton, Ontario, population 9500, now amalgamated into the Town of Halton Hills.
French is not my first language and I spent the first three weeks getting through Thierry Laget’s brilliant preface, while listing listing the many words I had to look up. Then I noticed that, having been borrowed from another district, it was not renewable. I brought the book back on its due date and was again helped wonderfully by the person who served me. She renewed it on her own initiative for a week.
The Brampton Library has agreed to add more true classics like this to their shelves.
You can purchase the book and support Toronto’s Librairie Mosaïque  here.
This unique, deep, and shining masterpiece should be widely available across Canada and the world.
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I now own the Thierry Laget paperback edition and will treasure it always.

For Our Grandkids

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Granite Ridge, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

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Head down. Bum up.

A delightful, irreverent, Aussie phrase for unthinking submission to the status quo, blind faith in the “experts.” I got the expression from a great CBC Ideas Podcast called It’s the  Economists, Stupid on the scary B.S. and hubris of this pseudo-science.

Sometimes I picture a worker bending over in a field… or something more bawdy… The powerful like us that way.

Come on folks! We owe some difficult work to our grandkids. We all must do more than trust the “news” fed to us by any mainstream paper, radio station or channel to be accurate. Should we trust respectable sources like the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the Guardian? The CBC? PBS? BBC?

Hell, no! We need to use alternative sources of news.

Why alternatives? While the traditional sources will point out some negatives about political figures and policy through their token liberals, on some of the huge issues of geopolitics (like, for one, the US/NATO/Ukraine/Russia debacle) even the most respected media are presenting the neocon-approved side almost all the time. They were wrong in unison with Bush and Cheney on Iraq’s WMD; only Canada’s PM, Jean Chretien, was brave enough to disagree publicly in 2003. And there are many more abject failures that most of us aren’t aware of – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Honduras, etc.

Not to do some fact-checking as an elector is failing to fulfill your duty as a citizen – your duty to your grandchildren and future generations.This is because our democracy is on life support.

Never before in history has so much been asked of the average citizen.

Check my blogroll for some of the truly alternative news and opinion sources.

The respected MSM are all singing essentially the same tune as the tabloids – though the harmonies may be more complex – a few more flat 9ths and a smattering of augmented 5ths, perhaps. They distract us with cute human interest stories, advertising, endless repetition of items sanctioned by the powerful and  not even daring to mention other key viewpoints on hugely important issues. They serve the tiniest fraction of the population: the 0.0001% who corporately control all US presidents and everything else on our planet.

Many billions are spent every year on false news to keep the corporate ball rolling.

In the U.S. they offer Americans the choice between Democrat and Republican, which really means “You can have your choice of two candidates in November, neither of whom will rock the deadly neocon destroyer skippered by the super rich.” Significant differences are basically imaginary. Neither  the erratic Donald Trump nor the closet neocon, Hillary Clinton, will make the world a better place. You can have strawberry or vanilla, but it’s ice cream only, folks, and there are only two flavours.

And Justin Trudeau just may turn out to be on the wrong side of the two biggest issues, for me, in Canada: punitive trade deals like the TPP (bad) and true Proportional Representation (good).

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What politics do I read?

  • Tweets and their linked articles. Following the Arab Spring got me started.
  • Following the farcical, phoney, Dutch-led, America-run (let’s face it), investigation into the MH17 incident devoured my time for over a year and still brings me back to Twitter. Ukraine, one suspect of the shoot-down, has a veto over what gets published!
  • Robert Parry, via consortium news.com. Parry won awards in the 80’s when he exposed Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal and one in 2015 from Harvard for distinguished investigative journalism. He still has CIA contacts who give him the scoop on stuff.
  • John Kerry… just kidding…
  • Noam Chomsky. In the 80’s I discovered him on US exploitation of its Central and South American back yard.
  • Naomi Klein of no-logo and BDS fame, and a recent convert to environmentalism.
  • The New Republic, thought-provoking for more than  century (since 1914).
  • Lots of other stuff.

 

To what do I listen? CBC podcasts, particularly three:

  • Writers and Company, the wonderful in-depth interview skills of Eleanor Wachtel interviewing so many of the great writers.
  • Ideas, on every night from 9 PM until 10, hosted by the great Paul Kennedy
  • The Sunday Edition, with its illustrious, long-time host Michael Enright.

These three, at their best, almost make me feel guilty, glancing sometimes over my shoulder in fear of the Orwellian thought police. Try them; you’ll like them. The link to CBC Podcasts is also in my blogroll.

 

What do I watch on TV?

  • Almost nothing. It is not the best, or the healthiest, use of my time (it makes me curse). Mainstream TV news is entertainment and, much worse, propaganda, increasingly styled à la WW II.

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So for the sake of your grandchildren, get off your intellectual ass and find alternatives to the easy stuff. We OWE our descendants a better chance at survival.

 

 

 

 

If Europe Really Cared…

Acropolis from the Plaka Hotel, October 24, 2011
Acropolis from the Plaka Hotel, October 24, 2011 … Hey, is THIS for sale???

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Europe has never been asked what happened to what they gave Greece. They simply didn’t control it. Why not? Because Germany and France have done good business.

Petros Markaris

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Petros Markaris is a very popular Athens-based, Greek author and playwright who has created a series of novels based on an Athens police detective called Costas Haritos. Markaris was born in 1937 in Istanbul to an Armenian  father and Greek mother. The family moved to Athens when Markaris was 17. He went to university in Vienna and can write in German, Greek and Turkish. He has lived in Athens for four decades. He is a candid lover of Greece and an astute observer of its politics.

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Continue reading “If Europe Really Cared…”