HOW TO BE AS WELL INFORMED AS MARSHALL McLUHAN,JOHN EATON,LESTER PATRICK WATSON,
Canada lost its innocence somewhere between the time Gordie Tapp expatriated to do Hee-Haw and Pierre Trudeau discovered we were a nation of bleeding hearts. As if we hadn’t had enough with Vietnam, racism, dope and the economic imperialism of the United States. Which one of us can remember when French Canadians lived quietly in “La Belle Province’’ and Americans were our “friends and neighbors to the south’’? When King Gannon fiddled and Marshall McLuhan taught Kipling? When we all wanted to grow up rich and famous like Stafford Smythe? How can we, that is, how can you, make sense out of it all? Buckminster Fuller wasn’t kidding when he said the real pollution was information pollution. We are, all of us, cast adrift in a sea of information, some of us swimmers, some of us sinkers. Maclean’s has asked some of the country’s better swimmers to tread water long enough to tell us how they keep informed without going under. Sinkers read on.
One of my principal means of “keeping up to date” or of relating to my surround is conversation with people I encounter when I go away to give talks. This also includes the people who come to visit the Centre.
The writing of books compels a very sharp lookout for leads and guides. In the vast new information environment there are no trivial items. We have returned to the condition of the hunter who must alert all his faculties in order to dictate the moving lines of force and changing patterns of energy in the environment of the wired planet. Naturally, a “point of view” is quite inadequate as a means of relating to fast-changing processes. As regards reading materials, I find the daily work with graduate students in literature and many other fields puts me in touch with an enormous bibliography. Some access to materials on a plane, or in a dentist’s office, often serves to provide large evidence of patterns. For anybody who acquires the power of pattern recognition by the study of figure-ground gestalts, the present gives access to at least the next 30 years. That is, the present is in fact the future of the future for those who acquire the power to live in it. The power to live in the present is called “prophetic.” It is given to all major artists in any age. As a student of major contemporary forms, I enjoy a great advantage over those who merely take up a personal point of view. Understanding is not a point of view.
When I lived in the city I read anything I could get my hands on. Newspapers, magazines, books. I picked up on the films and music people were talking about and drank Chivas Regal with my friends. I really dug it because it was part of living in the city. I
took all the information in but only retained what interested me, or to be more specific only that which abetted existing prejudices, that is, reaffirmed what I already knew. There is no way to make sense out of the sum of total information. These prejudices become a device for getting information. I read Kerouac. He taught me how to read R. Crumb’s Zap Comix. Crumb can tell me more in eight frames about dope and anxiety than can the reports of the LeDain Commission or the real dope fiends I know. He talks to me about a way of living. When I moved to the farm the city information apparatus disappeared. But I still visited the city regularly and still drank Chivas Regal with my friends who were still reading the newspapers, magazines, etc., that were no longer altogether available to me. What I get now is the information from those newspapers, magazines, etc., processed through my friends. The information is no longer only verification for my own intuitions. The facts and notions thrown out by the apparatus now come couched in the sensibility of people I trust. The boundaries for the information are human, therefore more convincing. But it’s important to realize that not all my friends read the same things. It seems their intuition told them not to. Yet they know as much as anyone, maybe more. The information is better at your local liquor store than it is at your local library. Maybe that’s what Teddy Roosevelt meant when he said that he didn’t read books, he sent for the author. So information for me is an attitude. Women’s Lib is a big issue in the culture and I find out about it within the space of women I spend time with. When a student of mine who has always been Women's Lib (because she paints pictures, stretches canvases and lives as an artist) takes me to a Helen Frankenthaller exhibit, chances are I’ll see more than the pretty colors. If over some booze with a black friend we get talking about just that, the conversation may very well take us over to Isaacs where we go to look at a particular picture. We look at it for different reasons but the picture then can become the measure of our different reasons. There’s a lot of information in pictures.
When I want real information about myself I go to the studio and work and grad-
ually it becomes all too clear. And when the work isn’t going well and the friends aren’t around and there isn’t enough bread for the Chivas Regal and what information you do get is depressing as hell, I turn to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Because Philip Marlowe is there and he is a man you can trust, a guy who can’t be bought. And when Sam Spade sends the chick over and the story ends it takes just about three more pages in the imagination to know that he’s right and that integrity is safe, here, for a while.
JOHN C. EATON
Chairman of the Board, Eaton’s
I have only read a few books in the past year. These go from a simple “who done it” to Pierre Berton’s The National Dream. I read Time, Life, Newsweek, Maclean’s, Look, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Executive, Playboy, Yachting, Business Quarterly, the three Toronto papers and The Financial Post. On radio, for the most part, the news or just listening to FM background music. On TV, mostly sports activities. Films: M*A*S*H, Patton, Woodstock, Love Story, Little Big Man, Airport, Joe and Cromwell.
Gossip: I would rather gossip with a man who knows what he knows, be it bootlegging, broad jumping or buck-passing, than read Maclean's, the Toronto papers, Esquire or what-have-you. If there is no one to gossip with then I will read the Toronto papers, Esquire or what-have-you.
I will read anything anywhere if it looks interesting, but I subscribe to no newspaper, no magazine, no learned journals. I buy the papers at the box and magazines after thumbing through the index at the stands. 1 would like to think that people who say they read 10 magazines a month, cover to cover, are lying. I fear they are telling the truth and consequently have minds muddled by information. Discrimination is the device of life.
Architecture is an open book. I walk everywhere in cities. Montreal is a blueprint to French Canada’s miseries and fantasies; Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg have the charm of trailer camps. If you look at the buildings in Toronto and Montreal you see that we are ruled by a property aristocracy. Within that aristocracy there is a spiritual poverty at the core. It has simply been a question of putting blocks of stone down on city blocks and calling them mine.
I watch old movies on television. They are as empty as new movies are empty. But the open vulgarity is entertaining. It is like having an uncle who thinks it chic to clean his teeth at table with a gold toothpick. Dennis Hopper is only the Doris Day of his time.
I watch Rex Humbard. The active Bible Belt has varicose veins but the professional slickness of this show puts most television producers to shame. The sermons by the guest preachers tell you more about the po-
litical temper of Mid-America than any 10 essays in the New York Review Of Books. The only other place that the essence of the American dream still lives in such purity of small-mindedness is among Canada’s New Nationalists. Already they have formed into a House Committee of un-Canadian Activities! I know they only want to help but culturally they cut themselves off at the knees and glory in it. Lacking Humbard’s slickness, they are a bore and I have given up trying to read them.
We all have our special interests. For some witless reason one of mine is the Middle East. To have some steady glimmer of what is going on from day to day I read Eric Rouleau in Le Monde, I. F. Stone, Arnaud de Borchgrave in Newsweek, reports of what M. H. Heikal has written in Cairo in the Ahram. And I gossip for hours on the phone with people in Beirut, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
I read a good deal of history and Russian and French literature to be reinformed that such Grand Dragons of the Kiwanis Club as Ben Benson are remembered by no one. It is a way of maintaining perspective among a people who care nothing for literature or painting.
Also, I spend a good many hours talking, gossiping with myself. It is the Canadian malaise, and it is not necessarily informative.
Former President, University of Toronto
Among magazines I tend to range pretty widely, with no reliance upon any one. They include University Affairs, Chronicle Of Higher Education, Encounter, the New York Review Of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Time, Saturday Night and Maclean’s. I used to read Canadian Forum devotedly, but recently have grown tired of its strident tones.
W. L. HIGGITT
Commissioner of the RCMP
I find myself relying, perhaps to too great an extent, on television and radio coverage of important events and debates. In this regard I feel that the various interview programs serve quite a useful purpose. Insofar
as magazines and newspapers are concerned I endeavor to read the local press as best I can and augment this as time permits with selected articles from such magazines as Time, U.S. News & World Report, Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, and so on. Insofar as my professional work is concerned I endeavor to keep up to date by a constant series of meetings, discussions and reading of reports, but operational responsibilities from time to time even make this a difficult enough task.
I don’t consider myself well informed, even under the best circumstances; in order to really be well informed you’d have to devote all your time to it, and that’s death if you’re writing prose, as I’m attempting to do at the moment. However, I do subscribe to Saturday Night, the thing that’s replaced the CBC Times, a bilingual literary magazine called Ellipse, and read other magazines on an off-the-stands basis, notably Alphabet, Canadian Forum, Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Canadian Dimension and Canadian Literature, The Atlantic Monthly, Tamarack and Prism International. Newspapers: In England the Sunday Times and little else; in Toronto the Star and the Globe once in a while, but I’m not much of a newspaper reader. My husband is so I ask him if anything’s happened. Radio: I listen to far more radio than I watch TV, partly because it’s easier to listen while doing other things, such as one’s domestic hobbies (cooking, sewing) and daily chores (eating). I’m a longtime fan of Max Ferguson — and he’s the only thing that kept the country together in the Fifties. Movies: yes. I’ll see anything and have. But movies don’t inform, they misinform; as we know, all artists are liars.
My real source of information is my friends. They act as a kind of filter; I figure if there’s something I really need to know about they’ll tell me sooner or later; also I think I trust people’s personal reactions more than “objective” reporting. News media anyway can only process and refine the raw material; guess I prefer it raw. But I do think it’s tremendously important to increase the scope and intensity of Canadian news and cultural media; better the stuff should be refined and distorted from inside the country rather than shipped out, processed elsewhere and sold back to us. Death, I say, to the Reader’s Digest; no vexation without representation.
GENERAL F. R. SHARP
Chief of The Defense Staff
I am briefed every morning on the activities of the forces. Significant events are reported to me throughout the day as they occur. Once a week I hold a staff meeting with my senior officers where significant problems are described by specialists and decisions are made. My personal staff and I meet about three times a week to discuss information and problems presented to me in writing. I hold a conference of my com-
manders quarterly to be brought up to date on their activities. I am briefed once a month on the effectiveness of the various commands and I read minutes of meetings and reports on selected functions. In addition, I visit bases and commands and discuss their activities; I speak to courses and conferences where I try to obtain the views of the audience. I attend conferences and seminars, where papers on military subjects are presented and, finally, I read professional journals from various countries. I do, of course, have access to military intelligence information.
With regard to events that might have a bearing on the activities of the armed forces in the immediate future, I read, daily, the External Affairs daily summary, the pertinent extracts of Hansard, the Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Ottawa papers. I also read Maclean’s, Economist, Saturday Night, Canada Month, The Financial Post, several service newspapers, Time, Newsweek and The Sentinel. I read only those items which might have a bearing in any way on defense activities. I see the minister frequently, who keeps me up to date on government policies and decisions. The Director General of Information Services keeps me fully informed; I attend meetings of government officials on both a regular and ad hoc basis where subjects of importance to the armed forces are discussed. While I do not read as many books as I would like, or should, these are some I have read recently: The Age Of Discontinuity, The National Dream, The Social Contract, The Foxes Of The Desert, Arms, Men And Governments, Future Shock and Silent Surrender.
I read the three Toronto papers, the New York Review Of Books, The Financial Post, The Financial Times, Maclean’s, Saturday Night, Weekend, The Canadian, the United Church Observer, Time, Atlantic Monthly, Canadian Business, Executive, Beautiful British Columbia, Arts/Canada, Canadian Geographical Journal, Campus, Imperial Oil Review, Canadian Journal Of Political Science, scholarly / continued on page 40
continued from page 39 / publications, Tamarack, Prism, Canadian Literature, Business Quarterly, National Geographic, Publishers’ Weekly, Quill & Quire, Board of Trade Journal, The Structurist, The Canadian Forum, Avant-Garde, Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Chatelaine, Playboy, occasionally The Mysterious East, Canadian Author & Bookman, a number of small literary magazines, a number of dirty magazines and others when I can get my hands on them.
I feel that I am incredibly well informed about Canada, not so well informed about the rest of the world. What am I doing to try to keep even better informed? I can only think of a favorite line from Betty MacDonald’s The Egg And I. She said, “I had so much culture I could hardly walk.” I feel that I have so much information I can hardly walk. I don’t read Reader’s Digest but I would welcome a digest of all the information I am exposed to. I have one great advantage over Pierre Berton. He remembers everything he reads. I have complete non-attention and remember nothing. This gives me the advantage of having an open mind — essential to a book publisher.
I probably read more newspapers (thoroughly) than most: all three Toronto dailies; the two Ottawa dailies, the Montreal Star, Montreal Gazette and Christian Science Monitor, which I think does a remarkably good job of putting these times into perspective. I listen to CBC radio public affairs shows generally. My car radio is always on.
As well as Maclean’s, every major Canadian consumer magazine comes into our home — including Chatelaine. I particularly enjoy some of the newer alternative publications, especially The Mysterious East.
LESTER B. PEARSON
I keep informed of what is going on by reading newspapers, magazines and journals of opinion and comment; by listening to radio and television broadcasts on national and international affairs, sometimes a disenchanting and disturbing occupation; by in-
forming myself on what I should know for certain jobs that I now hold, such as Chairman of the Board of the International Development Research Centre and President of the Institute for Strategic Studies; by preparing myself for the various conferences that I attend and for speeches that I give; by preparing for my seminars at Carleton University; by seeing and talking to friends and acquaintances, including ex-colleagues in government and parliament and the public service; by foreign travel and contacts made thereby. For instance, during the year I was President of the World Bank Commission on International Development, 1 traveled 100,000 miles, visited countries in every continent of the globe and discussed international development problems with a great many people. They say this is broadening. It is also exhausting!
I am more certain than ever that political reporting is, for the most part, irrelevant. That it is a fairly easy account of the drama played out on the surface of the political maelstrom, occupying the minds of editors and reporters and readers and producers and viewers with an appearance of reality and meaning, which is, in fact, largely ritual, hypocrisy, sham, often enough a deliberate attempt to steer the critical attention of the media and the people away from the real issues.
It really makes very little difference who is in political power in Canada: the way in which Party X governs will differ from that of Party Y or Party Z largely because the passage of time has produced new exigencies to which they must respond. There is little real democracy and little interest in promoting it on the part of most politicians. There is little time for reflection and evaluation, only time to jump in response to the gun. So we have the War Measures Act and hopeless economic confusion stemming from the rich and powerful office of the guy who is probably one of the best prime ministers we ever had, and certainly the only one we could have realistically, right now. Well, why do our political reporters and editors give so much space and time on the air to what all these guys are saying?
Most of us answer the concern about being well informed by being overinformed. Buckminster Fuller said the really serious pollution is Information Pollution. That’s why I am depressed at having to recall the time I spend exposed to so much ill-made stimulus, looking in vain for wisdom, sense, enlightenment of some kind. Find it occasionally in poetry and philosophy and human intercourse. Almost never in the mass media.
Well, we can say, “That’s not the job of the popular media; their task is data, input, the facts, folks: just the facts.” That however is not true; I find interpretation and evaluation, usually unconscious, often contradictory, seldom useful, in every report of more than 100 words I read or hear or see, and all of that has either to be shut out or assimilated or accepted or dealt with. While
all the time the guys who make news are still pretending the reality of objectivity and facts.
Okay, but journalistic bias and unconscious distortion and so on are part of the input, aren’t they? Yes, of course; a part that needs a great deal of work done on it, so that people spend more time trying to be aware of the value load they unconsciously build into their communiqués.
I subscribe to Encounter, Maclean’s, Life (I’m very picture oriented), Take One (the Canadian film magazine), This Magazine Is About Schools and a few others.
I drive about IV2 hours a day and listen to the radio much of that time, largely to CBC French or English. The FM service on CBC is a collection of lights and provocations, and a very valuable special audience service that helps mediate the chatter of so much of what passes for InFoRmAtloN (too bad I haven’t got a computer-magnetized ink printer to do that word in, that’s what I intended with the capitals-and-lower-case mix) on most radio.
What grabs, on TV, is on-the-spot film or the occasional penetrating interview with a person who is in the centre of things. Sometimes a newscast will bring both, beautifully orchestrated, into a whole event that is satisfying at many levels. Not often.
But most of all I want to say that I am overinformed and under-enlightened; that the people who write and film and videotape and audiotape and talk for my consumption seem more interested in immediate superficial response than any kind of understanding; that there is not enough silence, too few pictures and too many words; that the universe keeps chattering at me all night long through my dreams and I wish it would shut up and let me keep in touch with myself.
Information to me is either a drug or a fact, but both are on the same cycle and eventually a sufficient number of facts create a certain numbness out of which the higher facts emerge, just as a certain numbness, such as listening to rock for four hours, occasionally presents one with a simple fact about how / continued on page 45
continued from page 40 / the culture is affecting people.
Radio is my prime drug and always has been. I never listen to the words and my mind is always performing something else while I listen on the average of three hours a day. There is no real equivalent on TV yet; the dispossessed haven’t found a way to use TV, although I watch what they’re experimenting with: I watch Nashville North and Johnny Cash and the occasional hockey game or late movie. The only intellectual format I find acceptable is Under Attack and I watch that somewhat against my will because I know its planning decisions are made in New York.
I watch films very rarely. I’d rather go to my farm or watch people. My fiction is very strongly influenced by the 20 or 30 films I have enjoyed as an adult. But I distrust films very much; more than any other medium they turned me into an American when I was an adolescent and that was a painful thing to work out of and to look back upon.
My real nationalism comes out in magazines. I don’t read New York Review Of Books, Time, Reader’s Digest or Life as a straight matter of principle. I distrust Tamarack Review because they’re foolish enough to believe that they can separate art and politics. I distrust Saturday Night because they take ads from Time magazine. I distrust Maclean’s because they would collapse without the support of their corporate advertisers. Popular magazines are mainly drugs pretending to provide facts and the more popular they are the fewer facts they provide. I do read The Canadian Forum, Canadian Literature, The Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists, Foreign Affairs, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, The Mysterious East, The Last Post and Books In Canada. I read Le Monde and Le Devoir as magazines. The main gap in Canada, and it illustrates the control of the hierarchal corporations, is information about Japan, India, South America and Africa. These are the arèas with which Canada should be forming solid informational alliances to cut down the power of the corporations, but you really have to work to become informed.
Newspapers are another drug. I read the Globe and the Toronto Star daily, religiously, yet nothing in them affects me.
SENATOR JOHN NICHOL
Former President, Liberal Federation
I rely a good deal on personal conversation. I split my time about half and half between the west and the east so I listen to a lot of people each week. I think this is important — it usually keeps me a week or 10 days ahead of what appears in print — on the political scene at least. In spite of all this reading and listening I find that there are large information gaps. I don’t know of any way to solve this problem other than to increase my diet of reading and listening. This is a boring prospect.
Director, TV Information Programs, CBC
Radio programs all on CBC. Television: National News, CBC Weekend, Tuesday Night, Man Alive, Man At The Center, The Nature Of Things, This Land, Local 6:307:30 CBC News and current affairs programs both in Toronto and in other cities when traveling. Civilisation, Suzuki, Country Canada, Analog, The New Majority, Update. Occasionally, Bugs Bunny, Drop-In, Tommy Tompkins, Hi Diddle Day, Take 30, Sesame Street, Mr. Dress-Up, Chez Hélène, Friendly Giant, The Bold Ones, FBI, W5. Newspapers: Toronto dailies, New
York Times, and The Financial Post. Magazines: Maclean’s, Economist, Saturday
Night, Broadcaster, Time, Marketing, Newsweek, Variety, Fortune, New Yorker, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, New York, Bazaar, Gourmet, Saturday Review, Wine, Playboy, Penthouse, Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, U.S. News & World Report, Ramparts, International Journal, Foreign Affairs. Some recent books: Inside The Third Reich, Speer; Roosevelt: The Soldier Of Freedom, MacGregor Burns; The President Steps Down, Christian; No Hail, No Farewell, Heren; Lamia, DeVosjoli; The Party’s Over, Jim Johnston; Gentlemen, Players And Politicians, Dalton Camp.
Leader of the Opposition
I read the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, all of the Toronto and Ottawa papers and Le Devoir, as well as the Economist, The New Yorker, Maclean’s and Saturday Night. 1 watch the TV news at 6:30 and eleven o’clock and the two Sunday public affairs shows. I alternate between reading The Financial Post and The Financial Times, and the book I'm reading is Papillon which my wife gave me for Christmas. I’m reading it in French. I also read Le Monde and watch Canadian hockey games over the French network to practise my French.
C. B. NEAPOLE
President, Montreal Stock Exchange
I manage to go through Business Week, and U.S. News & World Report, as well as the business section of the Globe and Mail, quite thoroughly, to say nothing of the oth-
er types of periodicals, such as Time and Life and copies of speeches which are forwarded to me from time to time. I have seen different attempts at putting out things in capsulated form but I do not know of one that is successful unless, of course, they charge what seems a very high price for it. Furthermore, the annual reports of companies, particularly in the spring, come through here as if they were on a production line and again it is difficult to pick out highlights, particularly if one wishes to make some comment to the company involved. I find The Financial Post too ponderous and so formidable that I have long since lacked the courage to face it every week. This is not to say that it does not contain a wealth of information, but there is a limit, first of all, to one’s capacity to absorb so much and at the same time, more importantly, keep one’s interest alive.
Under Secretary-General, United Nations
Maclean’s, Saturday Review, Foreign Affairs, Economist, New Yorker, Observer (London), Geographical Journal (UK), New York Times, The Futurist.
Pierre Trudeau’s father-in-law
I only listen to radio when I drive to and from work, and seldom watch TV unless my wife tells me of a program she thinks is of interest. I read a great deal but am not selective — trade and business papers in the office, and any books or magazines I find at home or on a plane.
For the purposes of my daily work, delivering to the CBC a sketch each day based on a topical news story, I rely on radio and TV newscasts plus two Toronto dailies, the Globe and the Star. From these same sources come the news commentaries, analyses and editorials which I use after doing a political sketch to see if the satirical stand I took is similar or dissimilar to the way the experts are reacting. The only magazine I read with any / continued on page 48
continued from page 45 / regularity is Maclean’s. This is leisurely reading as opposed to the “under the gun” devouring of daily newspapers. I feel Maclean’s is doing for the country v/hat the CBC was set up to do and is slowly abandoning.
Pierre Berton’s The National Dream, Farley Mowat’s Sibir and The Regiment and Kildare Dobbs’ Reading The Time are my most recent books, fitted into the rare moments of leisure that aren't devoted to Will and Ariel Durant’s monumental labor of love on the history of mankind, which I find I can read over and over. My TV viewing is sparse because I get easily depressed, but I generally catch Weekend and, last season, became hopelessly addicted to The Forsyte Saga and The Six Wives Of Henry VIII. With films I’m fast becoming a straw, as Perelman once said, to show which way the wind isn’t blowing. 1 disliked and was bored by Goin’ Down The Road and Little Big Man and the current “comer,” Summer Of '42, which I’m sure will loom large in next year’s Academy Awards, had all the charm of a Russ Meyer porno only with much less honesty. I would rank this film and its loathsome trio of future Playboy key holders posing as average adolescents second only to Myra Breckinridge in shallowness and fraud. At the other end of the spectrum, thank God, was the unpretentious and thoroughly satisfying film Kes.
Hells bells, my problem is to keep clear of the fallout from the Information Explosion. I use the same principle I used in order to stay alive during a bombardment in the war. Dig a nice deep slit trench whose only view is directly upward toward the unclouded skies. And having provided myself with a filter (universal type) water bottle full of rum, proceed to select what little I needed to select from the cacophony around me, in order to allow me to survive with some degree of serenity.
I take two papers. The Port Hope (evening) Guide (one of the smallest dailies in Canada) and the Globe and Mail. The Guide makes no attempt to keep me abreast of world affairs, and in this regard is much more honest than the Globe and Mail which pretends to do so and which fails utterly. Once in a while I snatch a copy of Time from the garbage can of my motherin-law’s apartment building. But this is not to gather information: it is to stimulate my adrenal gland and get the juices of cold fury rolling in the tubes again.
In darkly serious vein: I am appalled by how little real and honest information is being disseminated throughout the world. Masses and masses of dull propaganda (in any disguise you care to name), choleric opinion, strident ejaculations of less than biological intensity and totally obscurantist gibberings by those who have retreated out of chaos into infantilism. But almost no clear truth and almost no honest information.
I have a theory. Modern man cannot possibly assimilate or accept the truth about his
condition. Responding to this, all the media have become committed to shielding mankind from truth and honesty. They do this for humanitarian reasons — in the interests of preventing the entire species from becoming demonstrably insane, instead of remaining as it is: quite mad, beyond a filmy façade of sanity.
TV makes pâté de foie gras out of all our little brains, force-feeding us with prodigious piles of pap and taking away, to a large extent, the desire and need for people to experience reality themselves. Radio, almost alone, can still not only entertain but can honestly inform, although it rarely does.
Governor, Bank of Canada
I read the Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, the editorial page of the Winnipeg Free Press, The Wall Street Journal, and the Journal Of Commerce. The periodicals I see regularly are Maclean’s, Saturday Night, The Canadian Forum, Saturday Review, New York Review Of Books, Economist, The Financial Post, Financial Tunes, Queen’s Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, Commentary, Harper’s, Vie des Arts, Arts/Canada, The Structurist, Tamarack Review. I read a fair amount of escape literature but recently have also read such things as Future Shock, The Greening Of America, Visions 2020, Barbara Tuchman’s book on Stilwell. On television (apart from sports) I look mainly at the opinion shows, Under Attack, Encounter, W5, and Weekend, etc. The radio I use mainly for music.
I read the Sunday Times, Observer, Guardian, New Statesman, Spectator, Saturday Night, Maclean’s, Eiddlehead, Tamarack Review, Quarry and The Mysterious East, with regularity.
In books, I read mainly fiction. Most recently, The Cowards by Josef Skvorecky, Zee & Co. by Edna O’Brien, Night Of The White Bear by Alexander Knox, Windflower by Gabrielle Roy, and Sexual Politics by Kate Millett.
1 am not really trying to become even
better informed. If I received any more news of the state of the world than already filters through, I would have a nervous breakdown. I read in spurts — when I’m writing, I read much less and look at more TV. At other times I read quite a lot.
I read Le Devoir, La Presse, Montreal Star, the Gazette, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the London Observer, the London Times, Jerusalem Post, New York Times, L’Observateur, L’Express, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Time, Maclean’s (English et français), Saturday Night, Maintenant, Relations, Châtelaine (French), Foreign Affairs, Etudes Internationales, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, the Telegram, Look, Life, Paris Match and all the books I need on Canadian politics.
I never have time to go and see a moving picture and they do not interest me.
I get all my information by divination, which is why I’m always right.
In the last couple of years I realize that my tolerance for the printed word in almost any form has greatly diminished. I get most of my information about world, national and local affairs either through TV and films or from actual dialogue with friends and acquaintances who are in some way involved. In a way, you might say I find out about the world in the streets of Vancouver or Toronto or wherever I happen to be.
J. P. GORDON
President of The Steel Company of Canada
I have a daily diet of The Wall Street Journal, Globe and Mail, Toronto Telegram, The Financial Post and such other items as Time, Fortune, Management Today, The Nation’s Business, Industry Week, Canadian Business and Executive. I find the Kiplinger Washington Report to be a fair extract of what is going on in Washington, and we have our legal department extract Hansard to keep us informed in that area. Our economist in our Toronto office reads all daily newspapers and publications across the country and we get a weekly summary of what we refer to as the Business Outlook. This again is pretty extractive but provides background when further information is required. In addition to this, of course, there is the reading in connection with background information published by the technical magazines such as the Iron And Steel Engineer, reports from the British Iron and Steel Institute and I comb through the Harvard Business Review and the National Conference Board Record.
I think that the only possible way to keep informed is to / continued on page 50
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extract things for you. As you can imagine, I am constantly faced with material on my desk that other people feel is worthwhile.
My reading tastes are catholic and broad. I read regularly Life, Time, Maclean’s, Esquire, The I. F. Stone Newsletter, Wheeler’s Review, Evergreen, all three Toronto newspapers, the United Church Observer, Captain George’s Whizzbang and Captain George’s Penny Dreadful. I generally try to have a look at Saturday Night, New York, the New York Review Of Books, Ramparts, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, the Queen, and anything else handy in the various bathrooms and dentists’ offices which I frequent from time to time. I do a great deal of reading on Canadian history — up to 150 books a year. I also try to read the books of the people I interview on television and this would amount to about 60 books a year. I read anything by Richard Condon, J. R. R. Tolkien, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Len Deighton, or Alistair MacLean. What keeps me up to date with the world is having to be on television and radio every day. This forces you to read newspapers, periodicals and current books; otherwise I probably wouldn’t get them all read.
On television I watch mostly old movies, detective-adventure serials like Mission Impossible, Canadian documentaries, especially if they deal with Canadian history. I also watch, whenever I can, Dudley Doo-Right and Roger Ramjet, very clever cartoons on Saturdays and Sundays. I do not watch any situation comedy on television but I like Wayne and Shuster, Rowan and Martin, and all the others. On radio I try to listen to Bruno Gerussi, Max Ferguson, William Ronald, Peter Gzowski, and Michael Magee.
Director of the Royal Ontario Museum
I do not keep as well informed as I should — and I am always conscious of the fact that I am missing something I shouldn’t miss. Fortunately my staff keeps one fed with copies of articles of importance to me as a professional museum man. Then I try to read the local newspapers, magazines, Time, and so on, and the English Sundays like The Times and Observer. I listen to the CBC — usually radio and mostly at weekends or late at night. I try to read books of importance which I learn about in a rather casual way. Apart from that, my time here is, alack, so taken up that I am beginning to feel very ill-informed.
My reading habits tend to reinforce my perverse preoccupation with political pathology. As a rule, I prefer newspapers, books and magazines heavily larded with opinion, comment and interpretation. The “hard facts” school of writing cannot claim me as a devotee; among journalists 1 prefer
the misanthropes and naysayers to the yeasayers, Good Humor Men and the Radical Chic. The Last Post is at times a bit too prissy and righteous for my jaded tastes, but their sure sense of the radical absurd fully redeems that mixed bag of goodies for me. I also read, albeit not religiously, I. F. Stone’s Newsletter, Ramparts, Scanlan’s, Monthly Review, Georgia Straight, New Republic, The Canadian Forum, Commentator, Commentary, The Mysterious East, and so on. For dialectical countervailing and therapeutic mind-cleansing I read National Review and Canada Month. The new Maclean’s I find more political, less frothy and frivolous and thus more enjoyable. Saturday Night, Chatelaine, the Canadian section of Time, The Canadian and Weekend magazines more or less engage my attention as time permits.
Director, Economic Council of Canada
I watch almost no TV except, when I have the time, Weekend and W5. I listen to CBC morning radio from 7 a.m. until I get to the office and to the World At Six and Sunday Magazine. I’m a cinema addict and try to see everything going but, again, am limited because of time. I read regularly at least 20 publications to do with my work, as well as Encounter, New York Review Of Books, New York magazine, New Statesman, Economist, Vogue, Esquire, Maclean’s and Chatelaine.
Minister of Labor
In addition to the 14 newspapers which I read daily and the 15 magazines I read regularly, I have an extensive clipping service in my department which clips from newspapers in every province on both Labor and Unemployment Insurance matters. My preference in books has always been toward Canadian history and politics as well as biographies. I also enjoy Galbraith and Drucker; in particular, Galbraith’s recent Economics, Peace And Laughter, as well as best-selling novels.
The problem is to keep abreast of trends and in this light it might be more informative if magazines concentrated more time on analysis and less on hard news. Lack of time is another problem with which we are all faced, and one way in which I approach this problem is by having summaries prepared of a number of periodicals in which I am interested in the fields of labor, economics, sociology, and so on, which provide me with the necessary information in the minimum amount of time.
W. T. WYLIE
General Manager, Stratford Festival
Lately I have read The Party’s Over by James Johnston; Fifth Business by Rob Davies; Mallabec by David Walker; The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles; Laugh, Baby, Laugh by Ann Henry; and 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.
Magazines: Saturday Review, New Yorker, Maclean’s, Plays And Players, Playboy (on the airplane), Cosmopolitan (when my
wife is through with it), Seventeen (leaf through my daughter’s copy), Gourmet, Cue, Critical Digest and the United Church Observer. Newspapers: Stratford Beacon-
Herald, Stratford Times (weekly); Globe and Mail, Toronto Telegram, Toronto Star, The Financial Post, New York Times.
As to television I watch sports on Sunday afternoon, Monday evening football, sometimes Saturday night hockey, but not very often. I rarely watch the eleven o’clock news and I never watch Sunday night. 1 have never seen the Queen on television. Television only interests me when it makes me a spectator of a live event, and radio only when it gives me absolute current news. Weekly roundup features in both media are to me a crashing bore.
Films: What do you do in a town that has two legitimate theatres and one movie house (and a drive-in in the summer which specializes in horror and sex epics)? At the Vogue Theatre in Stratford I have recently seen Love Story and Little Big Man.
J. J. ROBINETTE
I read the Globe and Mail carefully each day. I also read both the Toronto Star and Telegram but usually less carefully. I subscribe to the airmail weekly edition of the Manchester Guardian, Illustrated London News, the Journal of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Horizon, Réalités and Ireland Of The Welcomes (having a rather special affection for Dublin and the Republic of Ireland and Irish literature).
I listen to the news broadcast on CFRB at 8 a.m. while at breakfast, but outside of that I hardly ever use the radio. My television watching over the past winter has been pretty well confined to the occasional special news broadcast, the occasional hockey game and most of the installments of The Forsyte Saga and the series on Henry VIII. As far as books are concerned, I buy as many as I have time to read and I am particularly interested in Canadian history (lately the history of French Canada), modern European history and all types of biography and autobiography. Modern novels do not interest me very much — my preference is for Lord Snow.
I keep myself reasonably informed on local, national and world events both through reading and watching television. To me what I refuse to read is almost as important as what I do read, and I practise a ruthless elimination of all nonessential, to me, news and information. My particular nonessentials are sports, business and science fiction articles, and newspaper sections dealing with them.
My serious magazine reading comes from subscriptions to Time, Life, Esquire, Maclean’s, Saturday Night, Tamarack Review and Canadian Literature. On occasion I buy copies of The New Yorker, Harper’s and Atlantic Monthly, and very occasionally a hernia-inducing copy of the Sunday New York Times. ■