Copernique Marshall


Cette page contient le chroniques numéro 1 à 10 (du 16 janvier 2012 au 21 mai 2012)

Série suivante

Retour à l'index  

Note : les chroniques de Copernique Marshall sont rédigées en français ou en anglais.


001 - 2012-01-12 - Googling Around...

Dredging my mental silt, the other day, I couldn't help but think how my great- grandfather, «Le Grand Marshall»,  foresaw the 21st Century compared to his contemporaries who seemed to have spent all their lives in the 19th having not even thinking about what was to happen in the 20th. I came to that conclusion by reading the semi literate stuff they relied upon to sort out the information that came their way as opposed to my great-grandfather who, in a way, Googled just about anything that crossed his desk, linking science and religion, fashion and design, art and environment (a word he practically invented). 

Yet, - one can read this in almost all his writings - he wasn't satisfied with his googling. What he wanted was a mechanical method of classifying information in a way where everything would be available without having to go from the ground  floor where his office was to check up something on the floor above where his immense collection of books was located.

I supposed he would have been very happy today where practically everything is available instantly on the Internet. Or would he ?

My father, his grandson - not a shrinking violet, I assure you -, was telling me the other day, that he would probably have been as frustrated as he is, at times, when he has to go through hundreds of Internet pages in order to get to the one he's interested in.

« Go ahead, he said. Try to find out what a "leg-over situation" means. - If you're like me, you'll go ballistic. » (Told you he wasn't a shrinking violet.)

Anyway, this is where, I believe, grandfather-son-grandson is all about : continuity. But how far can one go in any direction ?

Which brings me to the question I'd like to raise in connection with librarians, IBM, Microsoft and Google :

Obviously, librarians never saw IBM coming, nor did IBM guess the influence Microsoft was to have on computers and now that Google is about to overtake the world, what's next ?

I'll tell you what's next : gurus. Not the type that sits in a cave just outside the Bhaktapur Valley in Nepal, dispensing advices that nobody follows but the unselfish kind, no. I'm thinking more along the lines of those who will invent, create, write some sort of a program that will remember who you are, what you know, your interests in life, etc. and produce, every time you're looking for something, the information that you really want (need) by having previously organized knowledge in such a way that everybody, from the absolute beginner to the ultimate master, will never have to waste a minute to look for - what was it ? Oh yeah : the definition of a «leg-over situation »...

Come to think of it, don't you find it odd that footnotes where, usually, the information you're looking for can be found, are invariably written in small characters ? - Is this a way to prevent elders to read it ?



002 - 2012-01- 30 - A Good Reputation ...

I was working on an algebra equation last Tuesday when I got a phone call from an old friend of mine asking me if I would have lunch with him that day. Having not seen him in a while, I curtailed my algebraic activities and walked to Le Dragon Basané where I hoped he would pay the bill as I always happen to be relatively short of the illusive stuff at this time of the year.

I found him in the company of a rather statuesque (I was about to say "Hollywoodian") figure who seemed to have a remarkable absence of intellectual endowment. Fortunately that was compensated by physical attributes the likes of which would have launched several thousand ships had she been around at the time of Homer. [*]

[*] Which reminds me of an intellectual joke. - Ever heard of Mini-Helen whose face would have launched A ship?

Her name was Sofia (" With an 'F' ", she insisted) and she wanted to know if she could hang around a bit to learn what it was to be a teacher.

Seems like she had been offered a role in some off-beat movie that was about to be produced later this year in which she would play a nuclear physic teacher to a bunch of nitwits in some Deep-South college where dorm scenes would occupy three quarters of the action.

She didn't know the names of the producer, the scenarist, the director, not even the name of the men (boys?) she would have to play with or against.

Long lunch.

Finally, she go up to powder her nose. - Who does that nowadays ? - Anyway, I asked my friend :

- Why, in God's earth, did you bring her to our university ?
- Your great grandfather.
- My great grandfather ?
- Yes : your great grandfather. Always said : «
For education, only the best.»
- Are you mad or what ?
- Did you take a good look at her ?
- Well I did and did not : didn't think it polite to stare, nor look for that matter.
- Isn't she stunning ?
- Well... she's certainly... how should I say... remarkably remarkable...
- Well that's it : had I brought her to any other university, she would have been hired on the spot.
- I see. - And you knew that, here...
- You wouldn't know what to do with her.
- That's a relief. What's next ?
- Exhausted as I am ? I'm bringing her back to her natural habitat.
- Which is ?
- You don't wanna know.

I did not.

The whole episode brought to mind one thought : we do have a good reputation.


P.-S. : Did he pay lunch ? - Of course he did.


003 - 2012-02-13 - On Boredom ...

I was in Paris last week to attend the funeral of a would-have-been-somebody- had-he-tried but still friend of our family and who decided to cash in his chips at the unjustifiable old age of 54, something which is totally out of the norms statistics have laid down for us to observe (*), not having cared, in the process, amongst various other things, for certain religious customs (he died on a Sunday).

(*) Oscar Wilde.

Following a miserable overnight flight and an half-of-hour delay to pick up my luggage, I walked to l'Aréoport Charles de Gaule's famous taxi stand, waited in line another half an hour hoping that the traffic wouldn't be as bad as usual (which it was), to finally sit back in «a voiture» where I was asked where I wanted to go. And this is where everything went down-hill.

Simply put, I couldn't remember the name of my hotel nor the street it was on. - Jet-lag, etc. - Near boulevard Saint-Michel, of course, but at what intersection ? - The street, I remembered later, was «rue Auguste Comte». - It separates, if you care to know, les Jardins du Luxembourg in half. - Why couldn't I remember its name that day, I'll let you guess, but what I DID remember was that Auguste Comte was the father of positivism (and other loony philosophical stuff) so, like an idiot, that's what I said to the driver : «Vous savez.. le père du positivisme...» - Turned out he knew Leconte, his father having been a good friend of Georges Canguilhem who had studied under Émile Chartier (Alain) who had had a run-in with Henri Bergson, one of Proust's teacher, the Proust, the one who is well known for a series of books he wrote under the general title of «À la recherche du Temps perdu», a semi-autobiographical novel which was partially published posthumously... (are you still with me?)

Anyway, so there I was listening to this nail-biting egghead stuff, stuck in the traffic, trying to figure out why, of all the taxi drivers in Paris, I had to fall on this overeducated windbag that couldn't stop talking as if his entire life was meant to enlighten the intelligence of every passenger that would be unlucky enough, when he was in service, to drop in his cab. - I tried diverting the conversation to general stuff, you know : traffic, taxes, whatever, but every time I came up with something, he had more information to blab about : statistics, growth, history, even the name of the fellow who invented lights at intersections and taxi meters. Couldn't stop him.

When we finally arrived at my destination, I asked him point blank what he was doing driving a cab in Paris with all that knowledge he had on everything. His answer was simple : "I hate boring people."

Well that made two of us that day.

Come to think of it, he may have meant that he liked boring people,,, to death.


P.-S. : The hotel ? I won't tell you its name because it's not that great and horribly out in the middle of nowhere but the waitress at the bar is so impolite that she doesn't expect any extra gratuities so you get four drinks for the price of three.


004 - 2012-02-27 - Does God Really Move in a Mysterious Way ?

Do the following names mean anything to you ?

Ben Klassen, Hulon Mitchell, Jr., Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Ron Hubbard, Ivo A. Benda, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, Chris Korda, Dwight York... - No ?   Not even Ron Hubbard ? - What about Joseph Smith or the entire the Yaohnanen tribe ?

All right, let me give you another hint : John Travolta. - Got it ? - Right : The Church of Scientology, just one of the religions associated with the above people.

Ben Glassen, for example, was the founder of the Creativity Movement, formerly known as the World Church Of The Creator a white separatist religion... well, not a religion, really (all its members were atheistic) and nothing to do with a «God» as such but the Creator of this movement which happened to be the members themselves. - Glassen died in 1993 and was replaced by the Pontifex Maximus (High Priest) Matthew F. Hale, now in prison for plotting the assassination of a federal judge...

Hulon Micthell, Jr. ? - He is now known as Yahweh ben Yahweh and is the head of the Nation of Yahweh, an African-American religious group which is an offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Their goal is to return African Americans, whom they see as the original Israelites, to Israel, in that blacks are “the true Jews” and whites, you guessed it, “white devils”. - I wonder what sort of greeting they'll get from the people of Israel when their ship lands.

And then there's Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, the founder, with his wife, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (sic), of a neo-pagan religion, inspired by a fictional religion , The Church of All Worlds, first heard of in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land written by Robert A. Heinlein. - End of story ? - Of course not : Zell-Ravenheart recently founded The Grey School of Wizardry inspired in part by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school in the Harry Potter novels.

Are we there yet ? - No way !

Think of Chris Korda - ah-um : Reverend Chris Korda -, head of the Church of Euthanasia - yeap, you read correctly : eu-tha-na-sia : “a non-profit educational foundation devoted to restoring balance between Humans and the remaining species on Earth.” In other words : you join this church, you kill yourself and that's it. Your contribution to universal balance. - Just how long this chuch will last, your guess is as good as mine. - Reminds me of the Shakers or, as they called themselves the brothers and sisters of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.You can read about them (the Shakers) on Wikipedia. Only problem they had is that weren't allowed to have children nor marry. How do you think you can spread your belief if you have no followers ? - Last I heard, they were down to three elderly members. - Great museums, by the way. One particularly : that located in Hancock, Massachusetts.

But la crème de la crème has got to be the religion practiced by the Yaohnanen tribe whose members live on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. Their god is Prince Philip... yes, Mary : THE Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit who traveled over the seas to a distant land to marry a powerful lady and who will, in time, return to their island bringing wealth and prosperity to all. 

And, I suppose, you never heard of the St. John Coltrane Orthodox Church... - They have a site and are eagerly waiting for your donation (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, you name it.) - It started of as John Coltrane being a “One Mind Temple Evolutionary Transitional Body of Christ.” - Great musician, by the way but for that, speak to Paul Dubé, our disc jockey.

Why am I telling all this ? - One reason and one reason only : the next time you might find Jews a bit strange for still waiting for their Messiah or Muslims kind of unreal because they kneel seven times a day towards the Mecca, say to yourself that they're not as mad as they might look.


P.-S. : A Joke ? - Of course, I like jokes. - One of the pope's servants comes up to him one day and says : «I've got great news and, well bad news...» - «What's the good news ?», asked the pope. - «Jesus Christ is back !», said the servant. - «That's not good news, said the pope, it's the greatest news of all time. What could be the bad news that came with it ?» - «Well, replied the servant, He's now living in Salt Lake City.»


005 - 2012-03-12 - Dead Poets Society

Why has everybody forgotten the anagram fodder name of Osgood C. Goodell, the Nineteenth Century poet who wrote zillions of verses on everything from how to write obituaries to the gentle art of polishing silver including no less than six poems on how to treat that dreadful of all diseases known, at the time, as housemaid knees and... twelve on the various ways to go from the City to the West-End ? - As a writer, he was on steroids, well before anybody knew about steroids.

No photos nor paintings exist of him. According to his contemporaries, he was a pencil-munching short fellow with thick glasses and frayed cuffs as well as the owner of eye wrinkles the size of saucepans. No big surprise there, with him writing all night and all day like that, which is most likely what he did. - Rumors abound on the six years of minutiae he spent writing the definite (1 066 verses - what else ?) description of the battle of Hastings. But there was more : 2 400 verses consisting in a rewrite of Isaac Newton's works (for women readers), 1 600 more verses on solving the mystery of mallard's "quacks" not being echoed in wilderness, and so on, and so on. - Talk about going from bad to verse (sorry for the pun).

Reading on further, I learned that he was the cause of not one but two failures (today, we would say bankruptcies) of an as-well anagram fodder named Tupper G. Putter - talk about coincidences ! - who happened to be, when he was not publishing, the owner of several coal mines in Wales (which explains why he could afford to be our friend's editor). - Story goes that, when transportation problems occurred in Wales and strikes were proliferating in Scotland, he did manage to sell the unsold copies of Goodell's books as a fuel substitute. Boffo success.

I guess some talents should be outlawed (sorry, Simon, that should have been one of your lines) but then, one could write unbelievable novels on characters such as Goodell or his friend, Sylvanus Silliman (*) . (Now who would want to invent names like that ?)

Anyway, looks like he never went beyond the jugular-vein literary reviews that was all the fashion at the time... to rise, like that, from obscure beginning to become a poet-writer that sank without trace in the history of literature.

But there is a coda :

I happened to stumble on his diary the other day ; a four thousand page manuscript, in verse, of course, which he bequested to my great grandfather, le Grand Marshall. - Seems like the two meet each other briefly sometimes in the late 80's (1880's that is). Why ? - Don't know. - Perhaps to discuss the great Anthony Trolloppe (1815-1882) who wrote such masterpieces as "The Macdermots of Ballycloran", "The Kelly's and the O'Kelly's", "Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite" and other ("geddit ?") major works.

Had enough ?

Just let me quote this out of one of Trolloppe's riveting novels : "None of us is untouched by the swirl and maelström of serendipity..."

Ah ! the stuff that drives human endeavors !


(*) Sylvanus Silliman is, for those of you who might be interested, the one that designed a method for folding paper so that, if you took one sheet, the other would pop up or down. So, the next time you use a Kleenex or a paper towel.


006 - 2012-03-26 - Individuality Mother Lode

I know this might sound a bit improbable but individuality was not something that was encouraged in my family. I believe I wasn't allowed to use the vertical pronoun at the beginning of a sentence until I was six or seven and even at that : parsimoniously, at best. "We" was better until my grandfather noticed that the "We" we were using (no pun intended) sounded a bit too royal. - It had something to do with developing a sense of being part of a whole, of a family or a community. I guessed it worked because we're still a tight-knit family but when Mr. Perec asked me to start writing a column in this newspaper, I didn't know what to talk about until, three, four weeks ago, when my father asked me to take a look at his grandfather's papers and see if we couldn't get everything scanned and subsequently electronically archived. This is, for those who wanted to know, how I got involved in Osgood C. Goodell in my last column.

Now I don't know the size of Mr. Simon Popp's e-mail box but he told me last week that, on his worst days, he got ten, twelve letters, never more. That came as as shock since I had, in the days that followed my little essay on Goodell, to empty my mail box twice ; and not to get rid of fans and followers: most wanted to know what I was doing commenting (and reading) an obscure writer like that. "I know dozens of ne'er do well, hypocondriac workaholic scribblers, wrote a professor from Long Island, who would be better served by your talent than this self-centered pompous know-it-all, etc. etc." - I of course thanked him for the talent bit, but somehow, I think he missed the whole point.

Let me sidetrack a moment and mention two of my favorite people :

The first one is Will Rogers who once said that "he had never meet a man he didn't like". Certainly not one of his best remarks but quotable because of that which was said afterward by my second favorite person : W.C. Fields who replied : "He obviously hasn't meet a lot of people..."

...which brings me back to individuality. - I'm fleeceable when it comes to certain types of personalities, off-the-wall characters, unconventional sort of chaps. Eccentric, I guess, would be more appropriate. Not that I've begun to like Goodell - matter of facts, I find him boring as a door nail - but I can't help thinking that he must have been an interesting fellow. Let me tell me more about him and you tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree :

First of all, his handwriting is as small as can be. I'd say something close to our modern six or seven points. Not being rich, he was obviously trying to use as little paper as he could. And then, not a single trace of hesitation such as words superrimposed on one another, crossing-outs and the likes. Every line a verse. Rhymes vary a lot and are not in the best of tradition but the rhythm remains constant. - He must have talked that way. Can you imagine someone you have to meet every days spitting rhymes, after rhymes, after rhymes ? The worst I meet in that category was a real bad pun artist who was no picnic. We used to call him "Attila the Pun", something he overheard but never could understand.

How about page numbering ?

Must have decided every day how many pages [of his diary] he was to write. Say : six pages. He would then take out three sheets and number them 1, 2, 3 and in reverse order, on the back, 4, 5 and 6. Simple enough but on the odd days (five, three or seven pages), the reverse number of the first page was used as page number 1 of the following day. - That, in itself puts him in the top row of my gonzo list and, thank God nobody seemed to have dropped the five boxes in which his 4000+ pages diary is contained !

Subjects ?

Declining how many pints of ale he drank in a day, how many steps he had walked from his house to his favorite spot, the sort of material he would used to protect himself from the next flood, eleven pages about a public house squabble concerning the side a door should open, why it seemed to rain on every other days during certain weeks of the year, and so on.

No striking marks of original genius (ok : talent). He seemed to have snitched a lot of other people's ideas but isn't that, what I mentioned above and what I mentioned last week what made him remarkable ? Perhaps even, in his own way, remarkably remarkable ? (*)

Anyway, he somehow survived to die in his own bed in spite of everything his doctor could do (which was very little), received absolution (for all the bad verses he had written ?), loved and hated equally.


(*) Not as remarkably remarkable as the Jones Brothers of Wheeling Pennsylvania who, jointly, wrote a six volume history of the city of Bethleem (West Virginia), a nine volume essay on the use of rubber and a twelve volume encyclopedia on gears...


007 - 2012-04-09 - Braggadacio and Venality

Got caught, the other day, in one of those demonstrations that seem to proliferate in that pot-holes infested suburb of Napierville what calls itself "La métropole du Québec" (after having lost its status of "La métropole du Canada" years ago). I was told to turn left, turn right, drive the wrong way on one-way streets and use some back alleys I didn't know existed (and redirected twice to where I had started from). Must have lost a hour going from point A to point B, a six kilometer trip to finally meet a very obnoxious fellow whose middle name was and, I am sure, will remain for his lifetime most likely "argument".

Didn't listen to a word I was saying. Correct that : listened to every word but immediately started proving I was wrong on everything.

"You should have used public transportation", he said. - I tried to explain that I was driving my car to a dealer for a well needed inspection. "Dealer ? You shouldn't go to dealers : they charge an arm and a leg for a job you can do yourself..." - "But I use my car only once a week." - "Well consider yourself as someone who is responsible for one seventh of the pollution affecting our planet..." and on and so on. He argued about every subject one could think of : book sorting jobs, lousy cello players, chocolat box art, hopheads, squeegees, gays, matching seat covers and curtains, loonies, unbuckled swashbucklers, etc. Down to the Perrier I was drinking. "Nasty thing, he said. Only French would think of drinking bubbly stuff."

No run-of-the-mill pontiff, here, not even one of those bar-room lawyers ; this guy could have out-John-Cleesed John Cleese himself.

O.k. : I was sitting in a bar slightly east of the end of civilization which, for an English speaking gentleman is, as you know, Bleury and Ste-Catherine street, in Montreal. (Did I mention I was in Montreal at the time ? - Sorry. I forgot.) - You should have been there. - I left after a while for greener pastures. Using public transportation, of course. Westbound.

Started me thinking :

I wondered what could have happened to a fellow like that, had he been sent to one of those colleges in England where levity is considered as a mortal sin, whose purpose is to spread culture according to high moral principles and where, every morning you're served oatmeal pudding [*] in lieu of poutine.

He would have gone bonkers. - Well maybe he did.


[*] Read : "Lukewarm, half cooked, dyspepsia-producing mush ."


008 - 2012-04-23 - B. S.

"You're the specialist, told me Mr. Perec, a week ago. Would you please answer this message we received the other day concerning Alexandre Dumas' Musketeers." (See my answer to Mr. Anthoni van Leeuvenhah in this week's Le courrier.[*])

[*] «D'Artagnan ? - Vous vous référez sans doute à Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan (né vers 1613, mort en 1673). Non, il n'a jamais rencontré les trois "autres" (Athos, Porthos et Aramis) ni le cardinal de Richelieu, mort depuis 18 ans l'orsqu'il devint mousquetaire.» (Note de l'éditeur)

Problem is that I'm not a specialist. I may be skeptical on a lot of subjects, occasionaly fussy when it comes to facts but certainly not what anyone would call a specialist, not even a technician nor "une personne bien renseignée".

Just that I can't stand and couldn't stand, when I was young to be told that the moon was made of green cheese or that there was such a thing as a sandman. - Enough that they had me believe in Santa Clause until I was three.

Which is why I don't go to movies anymore. Particularly to see "historical films".

No, David Crockett did not die fighting at the Alamo : he was executed after the battle.

No, stirrups did not exist at the time of Attila the Hun : they were not introduced in Europe until the 7th century and did not become popular until the early Middle Ages.

No, flags and uniforms did not exist at the time of the Merovingian Kings, they came into existence (in battles) sometimes in the late 11th and 12th century and weren't commonplace until the 14th or 15th (some even say the 16th).

I'm glad to see, however, that the telecommunication device that Captain Kirk used in the sixties are now commonplace. They're called portable telephones.

So :

The next time you see James Bond, without a parachute jump off a cliff in a motorcycle and "fly" towards an airplane, open its door, throw the pilot out and miss a mountain, tell yourself : "It's a movie."

And that's how I managed NOT to comment on Alexandre Dumas' Musketeers.



009 - 2012-05-07 - So You Wanna Write a Book ?

I was sitting, the other day, in one of those - what are they called? - "IN" coffee house, reading a chapter of an obscure book that dealt with an even more obscure XVIth Century manuscript written by a nobody. This is what one does in such places, I hear, when one has been left with the bill or check by someone what blames everybody else for his (in this case a "her") shortcomings : an ex-employee of ours. - (Long story :  imagine someone imagining living in an imaginary world and having no clue how to deal with people living in the real word, particularly those with no imagination. - She was one of those. Nice legs, though.)

Anyway :

The manuscript, sorry, the book I was reading about the manuscript (which was more boring than the manuscript itself) was an attempt to describe misunderstandings and now they affected the course of human relationships ; a sort of Proust before Proust, I suppose, but it reminded me that the reason I was reading it is that I am, indeed, interested in oddballs, eccentrics, extravagant or definitely original people. - Salt of the earth. - Without them, this world would be as dull as dishwater. And to prove I'm right, let me introduce you, this week, to Charles-Marie Savile, a half-French, half-American writer, born in London (of Belgian parents...) at the end of the before-last century and who spent part of his life in Italy, South America and Canada.

Like all exciting marginal people that ever lived in the academic world, very little is known about him except that he most likely moldered in dusty sections of libraries a great portion of his life (his card at McGill says so) looking into cobwebbed books to which he eventually made a stellar contribution by writing his own obscure material including a translation in Greek of the Sakauntala, an ancient epic written in Sanskrit which he proclaimed - in a 300 page introduction - to be so accurate that it could be translated back into Sanskrit without a single loss of meaning, spirit or intention. Captivating stuff which lead me to think about :

Isaac Asimov, the only writer twho has a book in every subdivision of the Dewey classification system. Except that Asimov seems to have been able not to take himself seriously. He said, in one of his may souvenirs, that when he obtained his Doctorate degree in Chemistry (which he did), he knew that his thesis would never interest anybody and, in an attempt to prove that it wouldn't, he inserted a $100 bill into the copy that was deposited in the library of the University where he had studied and went back every year, for ten or more years, to find that it was still there, his $100 bill, that is. - It was.

And then there was this lunatic (*), born in the late 1880's who believed that cars or automobiles would never work because of a missing section in Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (how did one remember a title like that before the Internet ?), a section which should have dealt with axles and gearboxes. - His name was Charles Dewitt and, in 1912, he drove (sic) from his home town of Columbus (Ohio) to Detroit (Michigan) to explain to Henry Ford that, with his Model-T, he was working against nature and that his entire factory would explode by the end of the year. - His car broke down in Toledo.

That obscure book I was reading ? The first of a four volume essay which started off brilliantly by saying that what the author (a certain Christopher Lipsing) was about to say what he had discovered in obcure manuscripts...


(*) Lunatic ? - The name comes from a group of marginally interesting people (as well) who meet only on nights there was a full-moon so they could get back to their home without loosing themselves. (Moon... Lune...Lunatic...)


010 - 2012-05-21 - What Is Being Modern ?

I was thinking the other day about interior decoration, arts, science, education, computers, central air conditioning, abundance of food, Medicare (well in most countries)... pondering why, for a good portion of the world we, North Americans and most Europeans, have barely a slightly better reputation than dreadful with our power, knowledge, wealth, free speech, democracy and other - it seems - similarly dangerous lunacies, spending oodles and boodles of euros, pounds, dollars helping out other countries, getting rid of dictators, raising (well... we did for a while) living conditions, etc. or, to put it briefly, trying to convince everybody that our way of living is the greatest invention since sliced bread. Obviously, I said to myself, we're doing something wrong. Our philosophy - strike that : use "our ideas" instead - seem to go over like lead balloons.

And then I got back to my first thought : interior decoration.

Mind you, I am not against interior decoration (as long as I don't have to change everything in the house every two years), I'm just appalled at the stuff we, North Americans, have been accumulating in the past 50 years and the number of gadgets we keep adding practically on a daily basis to help us do this or do that ; and I'm not against that either but the way we're using our stuff and our gadgets....

You know what ? I keep looking at our automatic dishwasher, our over-sized TV sets, our wireless land line phones, cell phones, computers and I keep thinking we had just about cleared the fifties (that's the 1950's) and were slowly entering into the second half of the 20th Century, having missed by a mile the arrival of the 21st.

Look around your house. Tell me what pictures you have hanging on your walls. They're probably of the kind that were modern 50, 60 years ago. Look at your books : most likely rehash of literature invented 100 years ago (after all, how many ways can you write a biography or a detective novel ?) As to your music, well it might help you to remember that Mahler died in 1911, Brahms in 1897, Beethoven, in 1827, Mozart in 1791 and, if you really into real modern music, well you might notice that most of your Miles Davis date back to the fifties and that your big band albums were popular in the thirties and forties... - Popular music ? What have we added since drums were introduced in the 20's (1920's) ?

How many apps do you use on your intelligent phone ? What else do you use your computer besides the Internet and the occasional letter ? And what do you use your automatic-self-diagnose-no-maintenance car except to travel to work and pick up your groceries ?

That's what I'm worrying about. We've invented thousands of gizmo's to live just a bit faster that we did, idea-wise, a hundred years go. - Our education system hasn't changed in 200 years : we're still teaching kids how to read and write as if the only way to communicate knowledge was through books or electronic readers (notice the irony). As to our God, well, for most of us, he's been around for 2 000 years...

And this is what we want the rest of the world to accept as the only possible world ? - You know : the greatest invention since sliced bread...



Série suivante

Retour à l'index

Retour au Castor™ - Édition courante

Autres sites à consulter :

Webmestre : France L'Heureux

Webmestre : Éric Lortie

Webmestres : Paul Dubé et Jacques Marchioro

Page révisée : 2020-09-26