Sunday, December 10, 2006

Banalities of the Red Book Headings

I would've written this yesterday, but I couldn't. I was too busy barfing up my guts to get anywhere near a keyboard.

Why, I hear you asking, did EMG spend the better part of his Saturday praying to the porcelain god? Well, I'd like to say that it was because I thought it a more fitting form of worship, to a more fitting god, than the ones presented me by Lawrence Martin in this: perhaps the most obsequious, disturbing piece of garbage* I've ever read. But that would be to suggest a degree of intentionality about my actions that did not--alas--exist in the event. Rather, I was driven to the toilet by Mr. Martin's piece. I had no choice in the matter. This was not protest, it was irreducible and violent rebellion.

And I should very much like to say too that it was only on aesthetic grounds--because they're the most fashionable kind, don't you know--that I had my outburst. That it was all that could be done, with so delicate a sensibility as mine, when confronted with descriptions of "a shimmering young Trudeau," a "bracing Martha Hall-Findlay," "the legendary goalkeeper" Ken Dryden, and a Stéphane Dion imbued at first with "a pale modest glow," then beatified with "a self-effacing nimbus" and "a trace of the mystical." (An also "mystical" Bobby Kennedy is held up as a kind of St. John, the child of promise to Dion's apparent messiah. Likewise Richard Nixon was the "darkness" to RFK's light.) ... It is all patently vulgar, I know. So much an affront to the eyes that it, quite literally, turns the stomach. But given that this must have been apparent to a writer as seasoned as Lawrence Martin, and that he still wrote it anyway, there is the suggestion here of a rather serious moral deficiency too. (In addition, if I'm not being clear, to the bludgeoningly obvious deficiency in taste.)

The problem is: Mr. Martin saturates his piece with intimations, not so much just of the sacred, but of the divine ascendancy of Stéphane Dion to the leadership of Canada's New Jerusalem Party, in an effort to demonstrate that Dion is the clear answer to Ken Dryden's 'thundering' plea that "People don't want politicians. They want people." But--given the painfully obvious correlate to these intimations--while it may very well be that "people" don't want politicians, it is also rather clear from Mr. Martin's relentless metaphor that they don't want people either. If that was something that we really valued, then his little paean should've been written in the language of the people. Sturdy, pragmatic, secular stuff. But it wasn't. The clear suggestion of the piece, rather, is that there is something of the Immortals about the Liberal party under its new godhead. That that is what Canadians desire. They don't want politicians. No. And they don't want politics either.

They want religion.

But you'll notice that Mr. Martin is constantly at odds in naming his anti-Christ; an evil so potent and unbalancing as to have merited Stéphane's Immaculate Election. He points, as I've mentioned, a vague finger at Richard Nixon--surely the most evil man of recent memory--and I guess we're supposed to infer from this that Stephen Harper is his bestial progeny. And he mentions some "crushing iniquities" of "the larger world," which, I gather, are part and parcel of the "ideology" and "military solutions" that he later, with rhetorical obliqueness, condemns. But I assume that you, like me, are having trouble nailing such iniquities down to a Canadian reality. Or--if you are able to do this--trying then to separate them from a reality that wasn't in large part created by the Liberals themselves.

But the Liberals (beginning with Trudeau the Elder (get used to hearing that, by the way), and taking root with Chrétien) understand only too well that "when people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing--they believe in anything." And it is some measure of their effectiveness in unseating any authority that might challenge their own, that the pen-pushing, desk-sucking spectre of (of all people) Stéphane Dion looms large enough in the collective imagination that it might be printed in the Globe and Mail that "during that weekend in Montreal ... a leader with a trace of the mystical, with the potential to change so much, was born."

And he spent his first week as leader of Canada's Divine Opposition comparing the Government to the Nazis. (... Surely, making lepers of men is as miraculous as its converse?)

Ah me! Still, as Dalton McGuinty sang on that blessèd day (playing on Cowper's lyric):
They move in magical and mysterious ways
Their wonders to perform!

*This particular link doesn't get you very far, does it? There's a trick to getting Globe subscriber stuff without actually subscribing ... go here, follow the link, see what happens.