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Preface: As I've said, oldie writing will be dusted off and plunked blogside (at least at first; new stuff should gradually overtake i...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's the big idea?

The problem isn't easy to put into words, although Rushdie's "God-shaped hole" may be a convenient shorthand. Remember shorthand? Or longhand? Reading the fresh obituary of R. B. Greaves today, it occurs to me that in his oldies hit song "Take a Letter, Maria" his "good secretary" likely took the fateful letter in shorthand, although, being 1969, she may have had a dictaphone or something more advanced.

Details. The quaintness of the technology, however, pales next to a certain political incorrectness in the song, namely the singer's suspiciously quick turnaround (as the systems-analysts call it) from the cheating wife to the charming co-worker. What?--no time to grieve the loss of your helpmeet and/or wax existential on the dissolution of holy matrimony? (editorial note: my computer's spellchuck accepts "turnaround" but not "helpmeet"--the times they are a-changing, and not necessarily for the better.

And who is to say that the wife was merely a slut as the song insinuates? Perhaps she had been abused (a feminist or four might argue) or her complacent hubby had begun to take things for granted? Again, who is to say that the secretary would automatically accept the singer's climactic dinner invitation and supply him with a happy ending? She may have filed a sexual-harassment claim instead. Ah, competing narratives. Where do they all come from? All the hidden subtexts, where do they all belong?

"Supposing truth to be a woman..."

Really, we could begin almost anywhere in the ubiquitous media, e.g. yesterday's Globe and Mail repeatedly pushed my buttons--e.g. their alert journalist who raised "problematic feminist ramifications" (LOVE those polysyllables!) in the current-craze Shades of Grey novels. But I have the uneasy feeling I've been picking on the old Mop and Pail a little too much recently, so I pull a random National Post from the heap instead, knowing from experience I can find a Swiss-cheese of God-holes there too, in support of my theme.

July 26, 2012: The smiling face of Clara Hughes is splashed across the front page, dominating the top half...

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Whaaaaaaat?! ANOTHER incomplete teaser??? Yep, stay tuned, folks.