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Simon Jodoin August 24, 2012
Original French text: http://voir.ca/chroniques/theologie-mediatique/2012/08/22/culture-politique/
What’s astonishing about this election campaign is that, while a few weeks ago Quebec was vibrating with colorful demands from students, artists and intellectuals from all over, education and culture seem to have been left by the wayside. We have moved from a state of effervescence and constant creation that everyone wanted to be part of, if only by playing their casserole, to total radio silence.
The various debates that the politicians are engaged are strictly financial. Who can knows up from down in this ocean of numbers where they balance our percentages and totals for us; emergency wait times, family doctors and other calculations whose presumptions and methods are unknown to us? Very few of us, in fact, can even understand or verify all this gobbledygook. The political commentators masquerading as analysts are just as lost and often make due with a few strategic general points, taking up the arguments put forward by one protagonist or another. It’s understandable. If each of the findings that we are surrounded by daily had to be explained in detail, the newswire would have to be suspended for days at a time…
The politicians addressing us know that full well. In some ways this is a flood of circular arguments and argumentum ad nauseam. We’re being drowned in findings and propositions that must be accepted as proven facts simply because of who made them.
If, by chance, a brave soul aspiring for power moved forward onto the cultural terrain, he or she would without a doubt still limit him or herself to numbers, to talking about the sums given to this or that subsidy program for the fine or performing arts. Again, we wouldn’t be allowed anything other than the discourse of budgets and wallets pure and simple. The words “cinema” and “music” may be traded for “family doctors” and “collective agreement” with none the wiser.
So, even the rare times when culture becomes the subject of discussion during an electoral period, they’re not really talking about culture. They’re talking about the economy and the management of cultural products. Only the results seem to have a definite value, never the pursuit of them.
But what’s most fascinating is that even while creation finds itself completely missing from the politicians’ discourse, they never stop talking to us about “another kind of politics” (politique autrement) and “change”… As if these plans – if that’s what they really are – for reinvented politics, curiously enough, included no questioning, no risk, no ingenuity. The “other kind” (autrement) that we are told of at every opportunity is consistently taken from the movement that it presupposes. In the fog of numbers used to knock us out, the destination is like a lighthouse, indisputable evidence toward which we should direct ourselves. Yet, “another way of doing things” (faire autrement) is, among other things, to question the facts.
Again, only the destination seems to matter… It’s never a question of looking for it and definitely not of asking how to get there.
However, in the “change” that everyone claims to represent, the result is less important – most often unknown – than the evolution of thoughts that lets us imagine it.
And if we honestly ask ourselves if this fog hasn’t been created from nothing in order to make the faintest light in the dark seem like a trustworthy beacon?
I have already written here that the politicians desperately lack poetry. Far from dispelling my disappointment in this regard, this election campaign has only added to it. But maybe poetry – and here I’m not talking about the simple work of poets – also lacks itself when it tries to embrace political questions. Maybe even the artists, intellectuals and creators have fallen for the game of purely managerial discourse.
A few months ago, they were numerous in borrowing the words of Miron for their slogan: “We have arrived at what’s beginning”….
… A pretty turn of phrase that illustrates well enough that the search for the creative impulse in our current state of affairs is in vain, such that the words of the recent past must be rejuvenated for us to move forward.
Because it’s possible we’re going nowhere…
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.