Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 16, No.4, 2017
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
Lynda Renée
Gary Olson
Howard Richler
Oslavi Linares
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
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Mady Bourdage
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Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
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Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

there's a certain slant of light



David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist (Random Walks) and author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity and Hear, O Israel! (Mantua Books). His editorials appear regularly in PJ Media. His monograph, Global Warning: The Trials of an Unsettled Science (Freedom Press Canada) was launched at the National Archives in Ottawa in September, 2012. His debut album, Blood Guitar, is now available, as is his latest book, Reflections on Music, Poetry and Politics.

In Laurence Sterne’s extraordinary postmodern-before-its time novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Walter Shandy says of his brother Toby, who is contemplating marriage to the Widow Wadman, “he will never . . . be able to lie diagonally in his bed again as long as he lives.” To sleep diagonally in one’s bed is a form of nocturnal freedom not to be easily surrendered -- it leads to fascinating dreams. Similarly, in James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, after a crucial conversation between its two main characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, Stephen “beveled off” -- he had much to think about. (Italics mine.)

One recalls, too, J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter novels -- in particular The Chamber of Secrets -- where apprentice wizards can purchase out-of-the-ordinary objects -- wands, spell books, owl treats, charms -- that make life magical and interesting. (Speaking of nocturnal freedom, Diagon Alley gives access to Knockturn Alley -- another significant mondegreen.) Such divagations from the “straight and narrow” form the theme of the not-to-be-missed Alexander Payne movie Sideways in which a one-week wine-tasting trip leads to an unforeseen life-changing experience. It is the tangent that proves decisive in the enrichment of life, the tilt that rights the balance -- or in the film’s vocabulary, the pinot noir that “can only grow . . . in tucked away corners of the world” replacing the cabernet sauvignon “which can just grow anywhere.” The title of the protagonist’s novel, The Day after Yesterday, considering his state of mind, is an elliptically evocative way of saying “today.” Even his given name, Miles, implies the longish, unplanned, sideways journey he has undertaken.

There is much to be said for living one’s life on the principle of the diagonal, a line from point A to point C, involving a slightly longer journey than a direct A-B path and allowing extra time for reflection and flanking awareness of the surrounding milieu. The shortest distance between two points is not always the best distance, considering what one may see and learn in steering an oblique course through life. In this regard a zigzag may be even better, although the leisure required to plot an anfractuous trajectory is always constrained by limits of time and the necessary degrees of efficiency and obligation. Moreover, the zigzag has a distinct downside; it is all too frequently an evasive tactic or a sign of indecisiveness.

We might say that a diagonal suggests, paradoxically, a circuitous route that is neither roundabout nor meandering. It is not a detour but the elongation of a direct journey, neither the shortest nor the longest distance between two points, but in many respects the most profitable. All in all, the diagonal represents a feasible compromise between waywardness and responsibility.


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By David Solway:
The Birds and the Bees
Free Speech Vs. Hate Speech
The Shaping of Our Destiny
The Scandal of Human Rights
Reconsidering the Feminine Franchise
A Melancholy Calculation
Canada: A Tragically Hip Nation
The Ideal of Perfection in Faith and Politics
The Mystery of Melody
The Necessity of Trump
Dining out with Terrorists
What About Our Sons
Identity Games
The Hour Is Later Than We Think
Caveat Internettor
Why I Like Country Music
We Have Met the Enemy
The Obama Bomb
Don't Apologize Dude
Winners and Losers
Why I Write
Praying by the Rules
Age of Contradiction
Snob Factor Among Conservatives
Islam's Infidels
David Suzuki Down
Infirmative Action
The Education Mess We're In
The Intelligence Potential Factor
Gnostics of Our Time
Decline of Literate Thought
Galloping Agraphia
Socialist Transfer of Wealth
Deconstructing the State
Delectable Lie (Multiculturalism)
The Weakness of the West
When a Civilization Goes Mad
Deconstructing Chomsky
The Multiculti Tango
Utopiah: Good Place or No Place
Palin for President?
The Madness of Reactive Politics
Liberty or Tyranny
Shunning Our Friends
A Culture of Losers
Political Correctness and the Sunset of American Power
Talking Back to Talkbackers
Letting Iran Go Nuclear
Robespierre & Co.
The Reign of Mediacracy
Into the Heart of the United Nations
The Big Lie
As You Like It
Confronting Islam
Unveiling the Terrorist Mind



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Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
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