The Duke of Steiermark was laughing over WhatsApp. “I cant believe it. Twitter is three things: a website, an interface for IOS and an interface for Apple. That’s it. And this took 7,500 people? It could be overmanned at 500. Elon told them they all had to work and they quit. He will have the place running like a well oiled sewing machine in a few months”.
The Quebec I see bears almost no relationship to both how Quebec’s political class portrays it, nor to the image that English Canada has of it because of the propaganda of the political class. What I see daily is an industrious society growing crops, driving trucks, making cheese and ice cream, fabricating steel snow plows, logging, cutting granite: in short, a busy and productive place. New cars are everywhere. Steel and wood buildings are being erected in many places to house the massive amounts of farm equipment needed to cultivate huge farms. Empty lots that had been left undeveloped from the 1970s and 80s are being built on. Activity is everywhere. People are working and prosperous.
Yet none of this activity seems to penetrate the consciousness of the political class. You would think, if you read nothing but the tweets of the Heritage Minister, that Quebec’s biggest obsession is controlling the Internet and subsidizing the arts. You might think that Quebec is obsessed with constitutional issues, if you listened to the Premier.
Perhaps the busy rural Quebec I see is the same as the busy rural Ontario or Saskatchewan where I do not live. Maybe this busy-ness reflects the rural-urban divide. It really does not matter. What I see is a systematic misrepresentation of a place, through its media and political class (same thing really) for reasons that make less and less sense. Psychically and economically, Quebec has left its dreary past behind.
Stereotypes would not be useful if they were mostly untrue. The reason they are useful is that they create a certain predictability in intercultural exchanges, at least for the first few hours before the person’s unique traits start to show thtough the cultural carapace – which is the stereotype. Now here is a useful political stereotype for your amsuement,
9:30-10:30 – Join family in the drawing room, look over the mail, read family letters and occasionally listen to a novel being read aloud
10:30 – noon – Work in the study
noon -inspect plants in the greenhouse and then walk further, but still on the property, for a specified number of turns around the gravel path
Read the newspaper.
3 pm – rest and nap, smoke cigarette, listen to his wife read a novel
4pm – walk
4:30 pm – back to work
5:30 – read novels
6:30 pm – dinner
After dinner – two games of backgammon with Mrs Darwin
10 to 10:30 – retire to bed
“What rescued Darwin from the indolence that might so easily have settled upon a man with a good wife, an ample income, and a chronic illness were the daily discipline and the methodical habits of work – virtues he said had been instilled in him on the Beagle. Darwin must take his place alongside Anthony Trollope and the other great Victorians whose creativity has been impugned by their methodicalness, on the supposition that genuine creation can only be erratic. Unlike Trollope, however, who was methodical in work so as to be prodigal in leisure, Darwin’s methodicalness had no other intention than to extract from the day a few good hours of work.” – Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb