The cultural ghetto to escape from or to remain in? Smaller ghettos within the vast metropolis. Finding the vastness of the universal within the small and comparatively isolated. Northrop Frye was known for his theory of the Canadian what he termed “garrison mentality. In this reasoning, the Canadian imagination was constructed out of, and the result of, isolated communities, mostly small, coping with both a physical and psychological frontier. It was the inferiority complex- a pale imitation of American dynamism, and the burden of the British colonial yoke- and the oppressed ghetto mentality, though that ghetto stretched out from sea to shining sea. A people besieged by wilderness and cold, yet curiously protected by it, the irony of isolation and engagement.
The fictional landscape that emerges from the literature is often what George Woodcock characterized as “a land of invisible ghettos.” Complex, often psychically dangerous, it is a maze of interlocking microcosms whose real, but invisible boundaries separate their inhabitants from one another by means of a complex set of conventions based on ethnicity, wealth, and class. Read More:http://multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/c2/3
So, there are some complex issues of national identity, and a peculiar symbiosis between the victim or ghetto community and the larger spheres of influence which presumably is the perpetrator and invokes those sentiments of isolation and division; the Canadian mosaic of minorities that are never really absorbed or assimilated in part because there is little perceived advantage in the dominant culture.
But, the photograph below of Conn Smythe captured my attention as emblematic of something at the basic level of , Western culture, and perhaps even further back to antiquity. Canada, despite itself, is part of Western Culture,part of the myth of the new world, and new world exceptionalism; rugged individualism and its often singular and personal ethical code, which means that despite prevailing conventions and mores, moral coercion, will somehow advance the entire structure with a powerful will to meaning, not power, but a meaning which can be culturally transmitted. Its the spirit of the loner who with brains, courage, conviction, moxie and elan, takes some risks in selecting his associations and struggles whole heartedly through an often corrupt and fairly revolting world.The pioneer spirit. From an excerpt in the National Post:…
…On St. Valentine’s Day 1927, they bought the club for $75,000 down, with another $75,000 to be paid within thirty days.
The deal wasn’t big news. It merited a one-column item on page ten of the Star and brief mentions in the sports pages, where OHA games still generally received more attention than professional leagues. A Globe report headlined “Good-bye St. Pats! Howdy Maple Leafs” incorrectly reported that the new sweaters would be red and white. Stockbroker Ed Bickle, one of Smythe’s investors, said there had been higher bids not only from Philadelphia but also from Montreal, which already had two teams.
Most attention focused on the club’s new image. As early as December 1926 an item in the Sault Daily Star had hinted at a sale and argued the name St. Patricks “signifies nothing” and might be changed to Maple Leafs with an appropriately patriotic crest, the better to impress “the uninitiated hockey fans of the American cities.” On February 4, the Toronto Star’s W.A. H
t reported that a reader named J.M. McCormack was suggesting a suitable new sweater would have “a red background covered with maple leaves, red, white and blue collar and cuffs, with a Union Jack on each arm and across the breast.” McCormack thought that would be a good way of showing up the New York Americans with their gaudy stars-and-stripes outfits, which plainly offended his Canadian sensibilities.
…Smythe’s involvement drew little notice. His name did not appear in the news stories and wasn’t among the club’s new list of directors. His low profile reflected the moderate size of his ownership stake, a situation that would persist for the next twenty years. Although Smythe would quickly become the public face of the team, and his authority in hockey matters would never seriously be challenged, he was not the all-powerful impresario he was taken to be as the team grew into a national institution. He had bosses and plenty of them. Right from the beginning his ability to wheel and deal was restricted by financial constraints, a situation that brought out his best instincts as a canny trader of hockey flesh. But the restraints were real and only increased with the onset of the Depression and the costs of erecting Maple Leaf Gardens….
…Nonetheless, he was unquestionably the driving force behind the new team and the tenets that guided its development. This started with the character of the men he’d recruited as its directors, a list that read like a roll call of prominent First World War veterans. The new uniform, the Maple Leaf chosen as the team’s emblem, the military background of the new directors — it was all part and parcel of Conn Smythe’s view of the world, his place in it, and the kind of hockey team he wanted the Leafs to be. He was fiercely proud of his country and its traditions, as devoted to its heritage, history, and British background as he was to its emergence as a growing nation developing a character of its own, and he intended the Leafs to be a reflection of that…..Read More:http://sports.nationalpost.com/2011/10/21/excerpt-the-lives-of-conn-smythe/
“The Maple Leaf, to us, was the badge of courage, the badge that meant home,” he said. “It was the badge that reminded us of all our exploits and the different difficulties we got into, and the different accomplishments that we made. It was a badge that meant more to us than any other badge that we could think of, so we chose it, hoping that the possession of this badge would mean something to the team that wore it, and when they skated out on the ice with this badge on their chest, they would wear it with honour and pride and courage, the way it had been worn by the soldiers of the first Great War in the Canadian Army.”
…Hockey, to Smythe was “total war,” and a good team required the same qualities that went into a sound fighting unit: strong leadership, teamwork, discipline, and a willingness to engage in hand-to-hand combat. “Nobody pops someone on this team without getting popped back,” he once declared. “I’m not interested in hockey players who don’t play to win. You can take penalties, but you gotta play to win.” He would preach that doctrine throughout his career. It was behind his preference for hard-working, self-effacing, team-oriented players over high-scoring, high-maintenance stars, whom he generally viewed as more trouble than they were worth. His best teams would consist of hard-nosed warriors, as skilled with their elbows as they were with the puck. A hockey team, he insisted, should attack on all fronts at all times. If a Toronto Maple Leaf happened to win a scoring title he could expect scant praise from Smythe, who like as not would use it as evidence he wasn’t spending enough time in the corners.
The St. Patricks had few of these attributes. The last match under the old regime served as a metaphor for the state of the franchise — out of gas, out of ambition, and almost out of time. It took place against the Detroit Cougars, played in Windsor because the Olympia, the new Detroit arena, wasn’t completed yet. The papers reported barely 150 people had watched the “home team” Cougars skate to a 5–1 victory over the sad-sack St. Pats. It was a sorry end, and the tide seemed to change with the next game — the first under the new name — as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Americans 4–1….
Reinhold Kramer:This discourse of Canada-as-gap is an important ruse which allows the Canadian writer to begin a story that is not simply an appendage to Europe; Linda Hutcheon, in The Canadian Postmodern, has suggested that the historiographic impulse to address other national histories can be read as Canada’s entry into the world community. The recourse to other histories of production, consumption, power, and ideology may, conversely, be read as a flight from our own historical wastes. Here the metaphor of scatology insinuates itself: implied in every logic of production and consumption – from the body’s to that of all mechanical and industrial extensions of the body – is the logic of excretion; a culture can be known by its waste. The historicizing writer, whether modern, post-, or “After post-,” often destroys gaps by using scatology as a sign for presence. The fouling of Coalhouse Walker’s Model T in E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, for example, becomes a tangible figure for all American gifts to the Negro – the most obvious sign in the systematic oppression of a minority, no matter how elusive history is in the novel. Canadian novelists have relied on similar patterns since at least the 1950s. In The Second Scroll, A.M. Klein’s narrator experiences the ghetto in Casablanca as an intensely scatological place; Duddy Kravitz possesses his land in stylized primate manner by urinating his name into the snow; the constipated narrator of Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers is the anthropological mediating term between native abasement and white colonization of Quebec. Read More:http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/SCL/bin/get.cgi?directory=vol15_2/&filename=Kramer.htm