This blog is a random collection of information, partly in support of my quotations web site (note: relocated to new URL, June 23/09). Other topics include wine, military news, economics, history, libertarianism, and other random things which happen to strike my fancy. Backup site is at (if there are no posts showing, hit the backup blog for explanation). Comments have been turned off, as the spam was getting too much to handle. Comments can be posted on the new site (still under construction) at, where I'm cross-posting most items as of July 10th.

July 17, 2009

QotD: CanLit

To mark Dominion Day (as you’d expect a squaresville loser like me to call it), the New York Times asked 11 Canadian expatriates to write on “what they most miss about home.” The cutting-edge funnyman Rick Moranis riffed on toques and beavers and the lyrics of God Save the Queen, raising the suspicion he’d simply recycled his beloved Dominion Day column of 1954 — which is not just environmentally responsible but very shrewd given New York Times rates for freelance contributors.

But thereafter the expats got with the program. The musician Melissa Auf der Maur, after years in the “American melting pot,” pined for “the Canadian mosaic.” But the great thing about the Canadian mosaic is that it engages in “a national conversation about literature like a big book club,” so the bookseller Sarah McNally said she missed “the pride and simplicity of a national literature, which probably wouldn’t exist without government support. We even have a name, CanLit, that people use without fearing they’ll sound like nerds.”

Multiculturalism, government books, using phrases like “Canadian mosaic” with a straight face, hailing the ability to say “CanLit” with a straight face as a virtue in and of itself . . .

[. . .]

Canada has done everything David Rakoff, Sarah McNally and Melissa Auf der Maur want—not least in their own fields. It taxes convenience-store clerks to subsidize books and writing and publishing and that wonderful “national conversation about literature like a big book club” in which everyone’s membership dues are automatically deducted from your bank account whether you go to the meetings or not. And still Mr. Rakoff and Ms. McNally and Ms. Auf der Maur leave. They applaud the creation of a “just” and “equitable” society, and then, like almost all the members of the Order of Canada you’ve actually heard of, they move out. Despite commending the virtues of a social “safety net” for you and everyone else, they personally can only fulfill their potential somewhere else, without one. Usually in a country beginning with “Great” and ending in “Satan.”

Mark Steyn, "Why do you leave the one you love? Our ‘funny creative people’ adore our social safety net, not that they stick around to use it", Macleans, 2009-07-16

Posted by Nicholas at July 17, 2009 12:04 AM

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