Thursday, July 8, 2010
'We live on the edge of the world'
Stephen Marche, in the Literary Review of Canada: Writing matters more in small countries, and Canada is a small country. Literature has to be a national affair. And we belong to Canada, which is a very peculiar nation in a very peculiar position. Perhaps even in a unique position. Canada exists between the United States and the North. By the United States I mean... the global capitals of money, culture, power and technology... and by the North I mean the impossible nothingness...
We are stuck between the devil and deep blue sea, between the world and all its demonic temptations, sex, music, the transmorphic power of money, and the North, which is death, which is the wasteland, which mocks New York. You cannot pretend in the middle of a northern storm when the snow seems to cover the entire surface of the earth that the new Vampire Weekend matters. You must face, in a way that most cultures other than desert cultures never have to face, the reality of total death, ultimate death, the evidence of meaninglessness that extends everywhere to the horizon, the oblivion that attends on all human action.
Canadians are broken between these two realities. Politically this situation can be, at times, disastrous. But in writerly terms, it is luxurious. We live on the edge of the world. It gives the best view... Our brokenness in time and place is our greatest strength.
Image from CBC's 'The seven wonders of Canada'