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Moving to Canada

Just last week I read that Frank Gehry was seriously considering returning to Canada after years in California. He’s in his 80’s and his anguish must be pretty intense if he is thinking that he might leave this beautiful climate for the cold north. But people always say that: “Oh, I’ll move to Canada”- and in the last two weeks, friends have insisted that if Trump is elected, they’ll pack their bags and hightail it out. 

During the Vietnam war in the 60’s, we actually got our slew of draft dodgers. I was at university and there were protests,meet- ins, teach-ins, demonstrations, marchs, musical emissaries and Timothy Leary and pacifists all uniting against their government’s actions. Most recall potently the use of Napalm, attention elicited primarily by the naked child Kim Phuc who ran screaming through the streets. She was sadly the terrible precursor of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian child washed up on Turkey’s shore after fleeing with his family for his life. The light of the disenfranchised recalled for me,None is Too Many, the Abella- Troper book that chronicled the fate of holocaust victims not allowed to our shores. Images in both written but printed formats stick, provoke, shame and induce the public to put pressure on governmental policies. So frustrated by policy and terror, some victims eventually arrive here, motivated by preserving limb and life. But I truly wonder if those threatening migration will actually take the next step; or is it merely idle jib jab to verbally take a stand. 

(Strangely enough, I chatted with a woman yesterday who told me that fearful of radiation thirty or so years ago, she, young and determined, left for New Zealand, but returned years later to the states. Maybe the 60’s were the years of the zealots.!)

 Watching Borgen, Denmark’s answer to  an intelligent television series, we observe how deals among countries are made. The fictional character Birgitte Nyborg is likely based on Denmark’s first female prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt,although Thorning-Schmidt had not been elected until after the second series of Borgen. Adam Price, the creator of the series, stated, “I definitely want [ viewers] to believe there is a shred of idealism in Birgitte Nyborg that is real”.( Wikepedia) Although Nyborg possesses strong moral incentives, she learns what to trade or what incentives she wants to promote as representative of her Moderates party. She discovers the dirty little secrets, the huge mismanagement of funds, the soft spots of countries and their powerful politicos.. 

I do believe she acts for the best interests of Denmark ( in the show) in demonstrating fairness, thoughtfulness and increasing savvy, exploring, probingand heeding the voices in her country and outside of it. At great cost to her personal life, she dedicates herself to a job,her success due in large part to an image fostered in the news and television. Of course, it is fiction but the series makes us long for the lofty intentions and inspiring acts of a Roosevelt with his new deals or a Kennedy with his establishing The Peace Corps. ( 1961). And although much is created in the media for the candidates in any race towards influence, we long to believe that behind the façade there is substance :that the person in the glossies is more: better, smarter, kinder, more thoughtful and has gathered the crowds and re- instituted a belief that society can be  and should be good. 

Yet unfortunately, we are downcast and as Philip Roth once quipped of one of his literary characters,“ Beneath the surface was only more surface” in political hopefuls.

We hope for investigative and critical news journalists, uncoverers of the truth such as Katrine Fonsmark in Borgen, to dialogue with those who aspire to the highest throne in the land. In the real world, I miss Tim Russert from Meet the Press who really knew how to dig deep beneath the persona of his guests. 

Incurable my harangue today goes to Donald Trump. I scoffed because I recalled Toronto’s crack- smoking , bigoted mayor Rob Ford who was once a fat guy in a non-descript raincoat hanging around the parking lot in a plaza where my husband first indicated that that that guy was running for election. I guffawed. He won. So anything is possible in our world of sideshow mirrors. 

Huffington Post rightly posted Trump in entertainment. Then they recanted saying, 

“Back in July, we announced our decision to put our coverage of Trump’s presidential campaign in our Entertainment section instead of our Politics section. ‘Our reason is simple, ‘wrote Ryan Grim and Danny Shea. ‘Trump’s campaign is a sideshow.’ 

Since then Trump’s campaign has certainly lived up to that billing… it’s also morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics. So we will no longer be covering his campaign in Entertainment. But that’s not to say we’ll be treating it as if it were a normal campaign. 

Our decision in July was made because we refused to go along with the idea, based simply on poll numbers, that Trump’s candidacy was actually a serious and good faith effort to present ideas on how best to govern the country.” 

How do we fathom the television showman whose lack of knowledge, experience and credibility has garnered support? How can we support media that did not immediately cut off his personal attacks on Rosie O’ Donnell at an early Republican debate or refuse to debate in the GOP Iowa caucus? Although some might not see a connection with the right to bear arms in America, I see it as part of the same fabric: of those petulant grown up children who use freedom of this or that for their private disregard of the safety and fair play to others. 

Certainly free speech should not embrace and allow the hateful harangues of spewing hideous garbage  from the mouths of candidates. That the news industry permitted and has provided time and platform for Trump’s antics is inexcusable. 

But that he continues to grow support, most recently in Nevada, makes no sense and should shame all citizens who support his buffoonery. Tragically, the other candidates are no better.A recent article by Margaret Wente in the The Globe and Mail discussed this uneviable state, opining that Hilary Clinton, a manipulate and deceitful politician, must be the victor. 

Here in Canada, especially after watching terrified at the possible candidates who are in the US. race, we must, at least, appreciate Justin Trudeau, for his impetus towards making our world safer.He is young, not an intellectual like his father, but fumbling, learning, in a way that we can respect. 

I’m afraid that moving to Canada is not a possibility for those disenchanted with American politics. And I worry that the disenfranchised can somehow imagine that the likes of Trump will create a better world for them. It is as Alice once fretted, “ it is curious and curiouser. “

And truly terrifying. 


Before the Election

In yesterday’s Globe( October 3)
Ian Brown conjures an interesting picture of Justin Trudeau, impressing me more than when I heard him speak. Towards the conclusion of his article Brown writes “ When everything is performance, nothing is performance: It’s all real.” This statement reminded me of Philip Roth in American Pastoral when one of his characters comments that beneath the surface, there was only more surface. This leads me to my realization that Don Draper from Mad Men, elevated advertisement and consumerism by the lies that billboards boast to make us believe something- is so much better, so idealized than what it is. And that notion has sustained us weary travellers in our desire to think the ideal presented is truth, not just concocted phrases and images to deceive. Playing with our desire for the good and beautiful, charming us into a false state so we can be persuaded and lead -in Draper’s case: so we, as the consumer, the client will buy into and for a product. 

Im not saying that is case for Trudeau.Maybe he is more than I thought. Certainly Brown probing and elegiac article makes me want to reconsider Trudeau as possible leader.( As I publish this, Trudeau has been well elected, proving to his antagonists that he was “ready”, and more than just hair).

 Still, my understanding of the performance statement in regards to any individual is that perhaps the melding of performances in real and professional lives can produce a seamless or so called “ authentic” person. My husband more darkly says , that in fact, that performance is just that, performance, a thin enactment to make us believe that there is substance when really there is none. Again, we try and sort out the meaning of words, denotation and connotation always at odds. We debated our views this morning over bagels. Me, the forever disappointed optimist persisting in my perspective; my husband more realistically , perhaps,unbending in his. Me, wanting to drink coca cola with Draper on the beach in the sun.

 I laugh to think that the words I hear and that are bandied about in 2015 are ones from my doctoral program back in 1996. We spent ages discussing what “ authentic” really meant as everyone of course wants to be  real and authentic and gee, mom, I really am a sweet, corn-husking, lovable type with no artifice.

 Back from a conference, the husband relayed that “ reflective practitioner” was the hot topic for lawyers there too. Ha. Connelly and Clandinin might wonder at why it has taken so long for such terms to be appropriated in the open. Universities and books have been telling students forever to be reflective and with that, the rise of the first person “I” to substantiate  a bias that is built on the thoughtful pondering of who I am when I write something ;and avoid the brashness of first impressions or equally as bad, the omniscient voice that like G-d seems to see, hear and know everything. For ages, journals would not accept the very “non- scientific “evidence that accrued with articles using “I” ,as if statistics and such are not skewed by the I,  the scientist, the researcher who also measures, calculates and hopes to prove his/ her certain thesis with a particular perspective.

 My husband may have also heard “ multiple intelligences” or “ diversity ” bandied about in his session too. I guffaw at how long it has taken for these phrases to enter into professional conversations. And then I lament that when they do, the meaning is warped and changed until the expressions become pieces of overchewed gum having lost their original intent along with their meaning, not to mention their flavor. So it happens when terms go public; they become public property. At least emojis are pretty clear as to their meaning! As always when a phrase or word enters a larger arena, the irony of wanting a thought to be more wide spread is to exert impact on the life of a society, but in doing so, the spin doctors spin it to pieces that have little connection to the intended idea behind it. This bothers me greatly. No longer authentic.😤

 Once -people possessed values of responsibility, hard work, truthfulness. We grew up with these notions. Now they are mere words that describe how we should be, but they are  morphed to fit a variety of molds and occasions, like applied makeup over the real visage.

 I don’t know if we can blame technology , or if it is just change that older people rebel against, wanting and desiring the authentic, the honest, the true- which we know can differ from person to person. I find it troubling. Sometimes I think we are like Alice down the rabbit hole, not being able to discern what is up and what is down, chasing the red queen around the garden.

 For me, it is the arts, the wordless beauty of art, dance and music that stands alone without someone lacquering over what is there. I can see, hear and watch with my own eyes and ears and communicate with the work directly, ferreting out a meaning intended or not by the artist. His/her performance/painting is the thing itself. I, the responder, put my own spin on it, interpreting it as I will. I am not told how to think about the thing unless I chose to read the critic. My relationship is direct. The thing stands for itself.

 But how do we know that the “performance” of a politician is in itself the thing itself, the result of belief and hard work that has not been corrupted by a desire to win, to reach, to be morphed when needed into something else? 

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