Thursday, March 04, 2010

What Is Stephen Harper Reading?

As visitors know, I am not a fan of Prime Minister Harper. I throw up in my mouth a little as type his name with the head of Canadian government. Ew. I am not a fan of programs, or traffic laws or public money spent on government offices and redecorating or limos. (I feel civil servants should ride bikes to work or take public transit as part of their job description...and meet in coffee shops instead of office buildings...allowing the current government offices to be reclaimed for low-income housing)

I think Canadian writer Yann Martel has made a brilliant pet project regarding Harper.

If you've ever read the fantastic novel Life of Pi you might be interested to know that it's author, Yann Martel, sends Stephen Harper a book every two weeks.

Here is Yann Martel's website where you can see the list of books he has sent so far plus the following sort of "mission statement"...

“The Prime Minister did not speak during our brief tribute, certainly not. I don’t think he even looked up. The snarling business of Question Period having just ended, he was shuffling papers. I tried to bring him close to me with my eyes.Who is this man? What makes him tick? No doubt he is busy. No doubt he is deluded by that busyness. No doubt being Prime Minister fills his entire consideration and froths his sense of busied importance to the very brim. And no doubt he sounds and governs like one who cares little for the arts.But he must have moments of stillness. And so this is what I propose to do: not to educate—that would be arrogant, less than that—to make suggestions to his stillness.
For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.”

7 comments:

Stagg said...

All of this reminds me of when Norman Mailer "met" Ronald Ray-Gun...he never met ANYONE who was so self absorbed..we all know it takes some of that to be a political leader type...but we also know when it grows out of control!!

STAGG

mister anchovy said...

What a great idea!!I wonder how many of the books actually get into Harper's hands, past the various levels of security geeks?

Candy Minx said...

Yann Martel's idea not only is a terrific and generous act...but his letters and web site serve as a fantastic resource. I've read a few of the letters he's sent with the books and they are so far, all really good...for example about Northrop Frye's "An Educated Imagination"...

"I should explain why I have never until now read Frye. It wasn’t intellectual sloth. It was rather a conscious decision. Frye, as I’ve just said, was a literary critic. He looked at literature, he looked through literature, seeing in it recurring symbols, underlying structures, overarching metaphors. All of which is no doubt fascinating—but not to the young man I was when I started writing. Self-knowledge is often a good thing—it teaches you your limits—but too much of it too soon can ruin the incipient artist in you if it gives you the sense that you have no original core, that you are just dough in a pre-established mold. Then, as now, I just wanted to write, to create, to invent. I wasn’t interested in being told what I was doing, whom I was repeating, what convention I was adhering to. Why become self-conscious if it meant I wouldn’t dare to write? So I avoided literary criticism, those words and books that might snuff out my wavering creative flame. Trope was tripe to me.

However, right after being asked the question by the person with the lovely Acadian accent, I was presented by her with the book in question, Northrop Frye’s The Educated Imagination. She thought of it because of the small book club you and I have going. She wondered if you might not enjoy it (you may be interested to know that I get suggestions of books to send you all the time). I felt it would be rude not to read so considerate a gift. And surely, with three books completed and a fourth one nearly done, I could withstand a literary critic suddenly turning a mirror on me."

Four Dinners said...

Yann Martel is 'taking on' the politicians.

I have no idea who he is...come to that I have never heard of Stephen Harper which shows how much Canada is registering on the Dinners radar lately..;-)

Ahhh! I know why. Curling and the Winter thingy...Olympics..that's it...I sort of went to sleep...

However.

Anyone who tries to fuck with the politicians is a hero to me.

I demand a t-shirt to replace my old Che Guevara one!!!

Gardenia said...

I read the Life of Pi and am trying to get Sage to read it. If I were to have a child now, I would not allow TV or Video games - kids do not want to read anymore. I loved Pi if for nothing else but his interaction with the Tiger. I certainly need the Prime Minister's list - I'm up for practicing stillness.

Wandering Coyote said...

I read about this a while back...in McLean's I think...There was an article in there about it. GREAT idea! Of course this is falling on deaf ears, but the concept is brilliant, and so is documenting it all on a web site for everyone to read!

Anonymous said...

I like his impulse to avoid literary criticism in the letter about Frye... I feel that LOL...

-andy