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Author Topic: Yann Martel encourages Stephen Harper to read
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 19 April 2007 12:08 PM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
See GIVE THIS MAN A BOOK in the rabble book lounge:

http://www.rabble.ca/reviews/review.shtml?x=58686

Here's to author Yann Martel who told Stephen Harper this week that he needs more stillness in his life, for reflection, you see. And that he needs to read: "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."


From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
marzo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12096

posted 20 April 2007 09:54 AM      Profile for marzo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have only read 1 of Yann Martel's books,'Life Of Pi' and I thought it was an entertaining bit of weirdness. Martel said that this story of his would 'make you believe in God', but nobody is going to change their opinion about 'god' because of this dream-like fiction.
It does seem presumptuous for Martel to select Harper's leisure reading, but if Harper likes Martel's choice of literature then he will be too involved with fiction to pay attention to his job, he will alienate his supporters, and lose the next election.

From: toronto | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
M.Gregus
babble intern
Babbler # 13402

posted 23 April 2007 07:27 AM      Profile for M.Gregus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by marzo:
It does seem presumptuous for Martel to select Harper's leisure reading, but if Harper likes Martel's choice of literature then he will be too involved with fiction to pay attention to his job, he will alienate his supporters, and lose the next election.

Fingers crossed that Harper gets distracted by the books sent his way by Martel! If it works, that would be a brilliant act of subversion.

When he's not busy with PM duties, it looks like Harper is busy working on his own book.


From: capital region | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
M.Gregus
babble intern
Babbler # 13402

posted 02 May 2007 04:19 PM      Profile for M.Gregus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So, the next book that Yann Martel sent Stephen Harper was Animal Farm. I don't know, that seems too obvious.
From: capital region | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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Babbler # 4019

posted 02 May 2007 04:24 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, Yann Martel is kind of a lousy writer, with to much of a taste for the preachy and melodramatic. It's a neat gimmick, but just imagine what Mordecai Richler would give Harper to read...
From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
M.Gregus
babble intern
Babbler # 13402

posted 02 May 2007 04:42 PM      Profile for M.Gregus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, preaching and melodrama aside (though his letters to Harper provide fine examples of both), I thought the first choice of book, The Death of Ivan Ilych was interesting and suggestive of a leaning toward subtlety. It made me curious about his intentions and the potential parallels drawn between the book's themes and aspects of Harper's character, actions, behavior, and so on. In contrast, the second selection is like a hammer over the head.
From: capital region | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Iggy
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Babbler # 7779

posted 02 May 2007 06:01 PM      Profile for Iggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by marzo:
I have only read 1 of Yann Martel's books,'Life Of Pi' and I thought it was an entertaining bit of weirdness. Martel said that this story of his would 'make you believe in God', but nobody is going to change their opinion about 'god' because of this dream-like fiction.

My interpretation of this story was that you HAD to believe in God in order to accept the atrocities that humans commit to one another. Don't want to believe that humans will devour one another? Make a story - and use animals in place of people. That would justify the desperate acts committed on the Tsimtsum. When there is something so awful that you can't accept it at face value, turn to something fictional that can help you rationalize things. Hence, religion. A higher being. A figure that can make things better, or at least you hope.

Anyways, loved the book. And decided I did not believe in God. Instead, I believe that "the Taiwanese sailor is the zebra, his mother is the orang-utan, the cook is... the hyena - which means he's the tiger!"

Heh...


From: Toronto | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
laine lowe
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Babbler # 13668

posted 02 May 2007 06:49 PM      Profile for laine lowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Iggy:

My interpretation of this story was that you HAD to believe in God in order to accept the atrocities that humans commit to one another. Don't want to believe that humans will devour one another? Make a story - and use animals in place of people. That would justify the desperate acts committed on the Tsimtsum. When there is something so awful that you can't accept it at face value, turn to something fictional that can help you rationalize things. Hence, religion. A higher being. A figure that can make things better, or at least you hope.

Anyways, loved the book. And decided I did not believe in God. Instead, I believe that "the Taiwanese sailor is the zebra, his mother is the orang-utan, the cook is... the hyena - which means he's the tiger!"

Heh...


I interpreted the book the same way Iggy. I really enjoyed it and put off reading it for many months thinking that it would be hyper-religious.


From: north of 50 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Dean Brooks
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posted 03 May 2007 05:23 PM      Profile for Dean Brooks     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have a somewhat less favorable view of Yann Martel. This quote is from the article he wrote about the 50th anniversary ceremony in the House:

"Do we count for nothing, you philistines, I felt like shouting down at the House. Don’t you know that Canadians love their books and songs and paintings? Do you really think we’re just parasites feeding off the honest, hard work of our fellow citizens? Truly I say to you, there are only two sets of tools with which the rich soil of life can be worked: the religious and the artistic. Everything else is illusion that crumbles before the onslaught of time. If you die having prayed to no god, any god, one expressed above an altar or one painted with a brush, then you risk wasting the soul you were given. Repent! Repent!"

Here's the problem. What Mr. Martel ultimately wants is something impossible. He wants the state to pay for the arts, and even to pay homage to the arts, but not to interfere with them. He wants praise and attention but no demands made on him in return. He sees a Utopia in which there is funding without censorship.

There is something in this whole stunt of sending books to Stephen Harper that resembles a resentful child crying for attention. In what society has there ever been an unending river of grant money and nothing but smiles at what it produced? How many hundreds of artists and writers have died or been imprisoned, struggling to get some government to STOP passing judgment on what they do? How would they view Mr. Martel's condescending letters to the Prime Minister?

Mr. Martel is angry and offended that there wasn't more of a celebration. Frankly, I'm glad there wasn't. Stephen Harper's lack of interest in the arts (if that is what it was) is not a sign of some impending totalitarianism of the illiterate. In the end, whether art in Canada succeeds or fails is not up to him. It is thankfully up to the artists. They have to find support from Canadians as individuals, they have to win people over with their vision one by one, or they will fail. Government money and elaborate ceremonies in Parliament are not a substitute.

It is perhaps a symptom of how far the arts in Canada have fallen into codependency that the only possible role Mr. Martel sees for himself is to pester and tutor Stephen Harper. He MUST have Harper's respect, and not just some rote allocation of money. He MUST prove that the arts are worthy, by winning over higher authority.

I say grow up, Mr. Martel. Accept that the first principle of art is choice -- the choice of the artist of when and what to create, and the choice of the audience of when and how to participate. Quit trying to use government to rope your audience into participating or applauding your work. Please show us all a little more respect.


From: Port Moody, BC | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 05 May 2007 03:18 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Awesome first post, Dean. Welcome to babble.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
siren
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7470

posted 12 May 2007 02:54 PM      Profile for siren     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
An unlikely response from the desk of Harper.

quote:
'Dear Yann, thank you so much for the Tolstoy. My old copy was très fatigué'

By TABATHA SOUTHEY
Saturday, May 12, 2007 – Page F3

From the desk of Prime

Minister Stephen Harper

Dear Mr. Yann Martel,

Thank you for your kind gift of The Death of Ivan Ilyich -- and the Guerney translation, no less. I applaud your taste. (While I certainly have no desire to embarrass her, I admit that it was Rona Ambrose's rather surprising ownership of the Constance Garnett translation of Anna Karenina that finally forced me to replace her as minister of the environment. I was surprised to see it on her shelves.)

As someone often accused of being "humourless" and "unlikable," I sense in you, Mr. Martel, a kindred spirit. And now you vow through your What is Stephen Harper Reading? campaign to deliver a book to my office biweekly as a gesture of advocacy for the arts, just as I vow to stand each week in the House and denounce Elizabeth May.
...............



From: Of course we could have world peace! But where would be the profit in that? | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sarann
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posted 15 May 2007 06:17 AM      Profile for Sarann     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So Yann Martel pokes a little satirical fun at a politician in a good cause. They could all use a little bit of that. It's not like many of them don't take their money and refuse to be answerable to those who provide it. Better that situation in the arts than in government.
From: Fort Smith, NT | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
500_Apples
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posted 15 May 2007 06:32 AM      Profile for 500_Apples   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sarann:
So Yann Martel pokes a little satirical fun at a politician in a good cause. They could all use a little bit of that. It's not like many of them don't take their money and refuse to be answerable to those who provide it. Better that situation in the arts than in government.

I'm not that much of an artistic mindset.

But I think it's fair we have public funding for the arts, and I think your post is somewhat unfair. A lot of arts projects are answerable first of all. Do you think when festivals apply for grants and grant renewals their past performance is irrelevent? I highly doubt that.

There`s a certain strength to a society which supports its museums, its festivals, and its artists. Historically, that meant public funding for the building of temples and places of worship. Things have changed now. We also (somewhat) support the olympic team and our athletes, which we should.

Also, government could do something (in both the arts and science) that the private sector never will - support avant-gard, high risk projects. In the arts, the private sector likely sticks to tried and true formulas, hollywood being the key example. You need to have some backbone for people trying totally new things. Even if 98% of these efforts are failures (high enough private money will never support it), those 2% that succeed will prove invaluable.

As for Yann Martel, I`m not fully aware of Harper`s arts policies, I thought they were good, so I`ll reserve judgment. At the very least though, he`s proving effective at raising national awareness, due to all the attention he`s drawing.

[ 15 May 2007: Message edited by: 500_Apples ]


From: Montreal, Quebec | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged
mayakovsky
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posted 15 May 2007 05:06 PM      Profile for mayakovsky     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I would have thought as a Canadian writer making a cause for Canadian artists that Martel might have sent some Canadian books!? Bully up the cause you know! Concerning his choices well as Andrew Potter said on his blog if he sends Joyce next then......!Link: http://forums.macleans.ca/advansis/?mod=for&act=dip&pid=47082&tid=47082&ref=rss&eid=22

siren, Harper dismissing a minister for owning a Constance Garnett translation now that would show true literary accumen!


From: New Bedford | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sarann
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posted 17 May 2007 06:36 AM      Profile for Sarann     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
500 ASpples

You misunderstand me. I am in favour of supporting the arts full steam. I live in a small isolated town with a wonderful museum which enriches our community and we have lost funding for our summer students through this government's policies. A great loss to us and also to the students of this community. We don't have tons of cultural opportunities.

As for funding the Olympics, well considering the drug problems, the fact that the Olympic Committee has been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and the fact that this same small isolated northern community has an arena which is falling apart, if I had a vote I would not vote to spend the money on a few elite athletes but on the bringing of satisfactory facilities to all Canadians.


From: Fort Smith, NT | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 18 May 2007 02:32 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
siren, that article is hilarious. Thanks for posting it.

Sarann, welcome to babble!


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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