Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Dear Hypergraphia

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I am trying to picture you as a I respond. Perhaps I shouldn't look for a demographic as I often do, because I am visual.

Yesterday a photographer came to my house to take my picture. We talked about the world of journalism where we both work, and where it overlaps with the world of advertising. She told me her mates chided her for wanting to watch the inauguration speeches. I said, "Oh I know, they are cool guys with black glasses frames and it is so hip to be cynical."

Are you a cool guy with black glasses frames?

Neither Obama nor Utah are cynics. They are/were both believers. They articulate that we need something to look forward to in order to keep on living, to keep on believing that the human race even belongs on this planet. As a mother and grandmother I have no choice. I can't afford to be cynical.

I realise, Utah realised, and I think Obama realises we have no future without faith. Faith involves calling the human community together. It is not about one but the one in the many, the understanding we need to assimilate in order to transcend the "archives of terrible sadness," which are the records of our failures and not just the story of one man.

(You could get Ondaatje in on this argument. I'd be interested to hear if he thinks I mis-quoted. Don't throw away those glasses. Use them to find his e mail address.)

That is what Utah meant by "the justrice of moderate needs." It is, in my mind, a universal statement about fundamental human rights, which Utah, Obama and those who choose to follow his doctrine of pragmatic fairness urgently require all of us to comprehend.

1 comment

Dear Linda,

With all this talk of numbers recessing and the value of good craftsmanship dwindling, with all this talk of hands being obsolete and technology being our new appendages, with all this talk I've been tardy in my reply, my apologies.

Not being a 'visual' person like yourself and seeing words first, it would be easy to gather from this personalized post that criticism doesn't come easy in this little nook on the internet and my authored post must be held by a "cool guy with black frame glasses."
If it's a picture you want, I can provide you one with the words I'm more comfortable in, as opposed to pixels; still unsure as to why my aesthetic will validate or invalidate my response. I wear glasses, they're brown and wobbly from being left everywhere, with a lion on the temples and a cream coat inside. My earth-tone knit wardrobe isn't entirely considered 'cool,' by most modern day standards. Here's the shocker: I'm not a "guy," by prescribed gender definition and "gal," would be more fitting from that frame of reference.

Cynicism is often confused with two things: pragmatism and criticism.

Hitler was a believer, Napoleon a believer, hell Stephen Harper has began speeches with "I believe," and you chose Obama to draw comparison with Utah. You chose the single most recognizable political personality to the majority of people to compare to someone who was a self-defined "anarchist," first. Politicians and anarchists seems to be the perfect oxymoron in comparison, but I digress. [Anarchism being defined as "a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider compulsory government unnecessary, harmful, or undesirable."]

I can't throw away my glasses, I wouldn't be able to read and reply to articles I both agree and disagree with, as for Ondaatje I think he has better things to do than hurl stereotypes as insults in lieu of questions of his or someone else's work.

I can see the similarities your attempting to draw, however it seemed a reaching and a convenient way to draw a sketchy comparison to serve a post with a confusing direction. Glasses on or off, it's an opinion --that's all.


Not cool nor black-framed glasses wearing.

MR. BLOCK by Utah Philips

"Please give your attention, I'll introduce to you
A man that is a credit to "Our Red, White and Blue";
His head is made of lumber, and solid as a rock;
He is a common worker and his name is Mr. Block.
And Block thinks he may
Be President some day."

[No intent to imply an Obama comparison, just the opinion of one Mr. Philips and American presidency]

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page