Writers who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones either

April 18 1977

Writers who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones either

April 18 1977

Writers who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones either


Shades of Fleet Street! Recently Maclean’s readers were treated to a sensational cover story chronicling Margaret Trudeau’s concert-going habits—Margaret In Wonderland (March 21). Despite the moralizing tone of writer David Cobb, the article reveals that your magazine is not as superior to the New York and British press as you intimate. The cover was as totally uncalled for as the description in the table of contents: “ . . . with exclusive photos, Mrs. Trudeau’s adventures among the Stones.” With a world stumbling from crisis to crisis, it verges on the criminal for the press to dog Mrs. Trudeau, possibly the only Canadian not to enjoy our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.

Disregarding the Margaret Trudeau connection, it was refreshing to see a true rock band spread across two full pages of color in Maclean’s. It is unfortunate that Canadian entertainers have never enjoyed such a privilege. For true justice to come to pass, I suspect we shall have to wait until Maureen McTeer elopes with Gordon Lightfoot.


Bravo Margaret Trudeau for injecting a little realism into the political arena. I trust an individual, presented warts and all, who is simply acting like a person her age, more than all the “mummified mommies” that perched on the shoulders of our past political heroes. Naive? Perhaps. But human.


One would have thought that Margaret Trudeau’s training in sociology would have taught her that marrying a man 30 years older (let alone a politician) has its

perils. Or that having three children— bang-bang-bang—is an enormous drain on a mother’s physical and mental being. Or that marriage at 22, before you’ve had a chance to bounce your id off fellow beings your own age, isn’t exactly mind-expanding. Or that being a prime minister’s wife isn’t necessarily a be-all to end all. Now, six years later, Margaret’s trying to tell us what we could have told her back in 1971.


Why all the fuss about Margaret and the Rolling Stones? Was it not last year that Jack Ford was seeing Bianca Jagger in a series of “photographic engagements”? With the latest trends in popular music switching to “punk rock” and such groups as Kiss, the Stones by today’s standards are respectable. Three cheers to Margaret for adding some spice and juice to the logs of Canadian history.


The man that time forgot

With your help John Turner will have six more years to attain his (your) goals—he will be 48 for most of 1977, not 42 (The Turner Campaign, March 21).


All the news that’s fit to print?

I realize that the press, in its various parameters, unfortunately, is immune to criticism and often editorializes tremendously in the pursuit of what is commonly called “strict news.” I feel that Barbara Amiel did Maclean’s and us and some of our good people at Grosvenor Furs a great disservice with Made In Canada (March 7). I can well appreciate that she might not have

agreed with our presentation of our collection, but to viciously attack Mrs. David Evins the way she did—making nasty comments and alluding to such personal things as possibly how Evins’ face looked after what Amiel inferred was a recent facelift—I really think is going a bit too far.


If you can’t trust your doctor...

Maclean’s, at one time Canada’s distinguished national magazine, has printed material in recent months that I consider to be disgraceful to the moral and ethical standards of our country. A case in point is your interview with Dr. Lise Fortier (December 27). If the opinions expressed by Dr. Fortier were not slanted by the interviewer, then I wish to disagree with her attitude toward our male colleagues in obstetrics and gynecology. The medical profession carries a heavy burden. We, on the whole, are coping with extremely difficult changing conditions with honor and integrity. I would be grateful if Maclean’s would respect and support the profession and, above all, remember that the patient requires the help.



Editor’s note

Maclean’s recently published an article, Fellini’s Sutherland (February 21), under the byline of Matthew Hagan. In fact, much of the material for this article was researched and prepared by Louis-Bernard Robitaille, whose name was inadvertently left out. Maclean’s regrets this omission.

Saint Simone

One cannot help but be astonished at the lack of editorial discretion in assigning Barbara Amiel the (for her apparently unpalatable) task of reviewing Simone Pétrement’s biography of Simone Weil (February 21). There is scarcely a sentence in the review that does not betray the reviewer’s disaffection with and misunderstanding of the subject of Pétrement’s biography—not to mention her apparent predisposition to dislike the book even before she had read it.

The incredible statement with which she concludes her review: “However inspiring her search for truth may seem, it was in fact

always predicated on the notion of being good for a reward,” reveals Amiel’s total lack of knowledge of her subject and leaves one wondering if she even read Pétretment’s biography before writing her scathing review. Certainly, she cannot have perused (not with any degree of sympathy or understanding) any of the voluminous writings of Weil herself. Otherwise, she would know (could not help but know) that the guiding principles in Simone Weil’s life were a passion for the truth so intense and uncompromising that, at least in her final years, it could scarcely be contained within the frontiers of human reason (which did not prevent her, how-

ever, from expressing herself right to the end with a degree of rationality and wisdom that have perhaps not been surpassed in our time), as well as a compassion for the sufferings and shortcomings of her fellow men that caused her at such times such spiritual agony that the only way she could appease that suffering—because, in fact, she could not appease it—was to share it. The possibility that she might ever be rewarded for this, either in this life or the next, seems not to have entered her mind.

The truly astonishing thing about Weil is that she identified herself so completely with the sufferings of this world, not stupidly and blindly, like some blundering beast, but rationally, coherently, after having investigated the Causes of that suffering to the limits of her intellectual ability. If Amiel chooses to see the story of such an illustrious life as “a study in human pathology,” one can only sympathize with her apparent inability to recognize human decency and compassion and intellectual integrity when she is confronted with them in all their stark and unblemished reality.


You can’t get too much of a good thing

Walter Stewart seemed to be afraid to step on toes in Why Is It That American Nationalism Is So Great? (March 7). As a nationalist I also believe that nationalism can be overdone, but I really do not think that we are guilty of this crime. Looking at Canada from a distance, anyone can see that we have practised being subservient for far too long. There is, of course, nothing wrong with Canada having economic or cultural ties with the United States, but we must be in control of and independent in these fields to some extent.

Last year while in high school I took a survey and one question was: “Do you think there is enough Canadian content in (our) schools?” Ninety-six percent said “no” and of the 4% who said “yes” one was an American. Surely we, as Canadians, must be informed as to what we are all about in order to understand and appreciate ourselves as a nation. Therefore, a certain amount of control must be forthcoming to bring this change about.


Turning off the bubble machine

It is better to be amused than riled at Senator Clement Zablocki’s statement in Trudeau's Triumph (March 7) that Prime Minister Trudeau “speaks better than most.” Who did he expect—Lawrence Welk?


Funny/ha-ha Instead of funny /peculiar

My compliments to your photographers and staff for the picture and description of Robert Stanfield’s angry mood in For The People, By The People (March 7). I can hardly wait to see a photo of him when he is totally relaxed and happy. Stanfield is the only man who makes Perry Como look

like a nervous teen-ager. His pose has the shades of another great man—Jack Benny—and it would appear he has a flair for commedy.

Politicians should do TV commercials to increase their popularity instead of giving ballooning election promises. For instance, imagine Robert Stanfield in an Anacin commercial, dear Pierre Trudeau doing a Breek commercial, René Lévesque (serious and beady-eyed) in a Vantage cigarette commercial, what else for Peter Lougheed but one for Crest toothpaste, and last but not least imagine Rod Sykes and Calgary’s city council together in a Scope commercial. If all Canadians can develop more friendship, common sense and humor, we can help unify people by sharing these blessings.


Did it really come from the beyond?

When Worlds Collided: Among The Established Results, Lake Superior (February 21) was of considerable interest to me. I spent four months of the summer of 1974 on the islands studying the geology for the Ministry of Natural Resources as part of an ongoing program to evaluate the mineral potential of the province. The shock features were noted by my work party and first reported to the scientific community in the 1974 annual summary of field activities of the geological branch of the ministry.

The interpretation of shock features (craters, shatter cones, etc.) found within rocks in some areas of the world is a contentious issue. At present two schools of thought exist. One group ascribes all these features to extraterrestrial missiles. The other group believes that although the features can be due to meteorite impact they can also be caused by processes within the earth itself. These processes involve explosive volcanic activity associated with major faults in the earth’s crust and gas-rich molten rock derived from the earth’s mantle. This group believes there is insufficient knowledge concerning volcanic explosions to state unequivocally that shock features resembling those formed by meteorite impact can be formed only in that manner. Investigation of shock features, which are only one type of geological data taken out

of context, can no more answer the geological problems of the Slate Islands than can the study of one man characterize a country .The Slate Islands arecomposed primar -ily of volcanic and related rocks (not granite) in excess of 2.5 billion years in age. Beyond that, geology is an interpretive science and at present it is incorrect to state that the islands are “the established results” of meteorite impact. The debate concerning the Slate Islands is not concluded and it will continue in scientific journals.



Not the case—not the case by half

Marshall McLuhan, in his interview with Maclean’s (March 7), suggests, as do a number of contemporary gurus, that Western thought has been dominated by leftbrain, or logical thought, to the virtual exclusion of right-brain, or creative thought. What monumental garbage!

If creative thought has been ignored in the Western world, then what’s all this that da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven. Picasso, et al have been up to? Or, even if we exclude the myriad artistic giants, are we to believe that Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, etc., were functioning with only half their brains? That they didn’t engage in creative or intuitive thought? Rubbish! The truth is that Western thought, since the Renaissance, has developed a magnificent synthesis of the creative and the pragmatic. Western society’s practical application of its creative genius has provided a standard of material well-being unprecedented in human history. This technological success has in turn liberated ordinary men and women to an unparalleled degree. The greatest relapses from Western progress have occurred when people abandoned reason to wallow in the utterly irrational but intensely pleasurable fantasies of a tribalist such as Hitler or Mussolini.


Professor Marshall McLuhan made some interesting slips of the tongue in your interview with him. For example, he referred to French Canadians as “the French.” Most interesting, though, is his implication that only a French Canadian can be an effective Prime Minister of Canada. He goes on to say that Pierre Trudeau is “governing two countries at once.” I wonder what McLuhan would say to the suggestion that English Canadians are in a straitjacket with no expectations of ever becoming Prime Minister.


Unions have feelings, too

I want to congratulate you for your interview with Dennis McDermott (March 21 ). Until Canadians understand unions we are all going to suffer. Surely we can try to understand, even when we don’t agree.