Monday, May 08, 2017

Notes from all over

La politique americaine
(Image:  LGM)

1.  French and American politics, explained:

See, Marine Le Pen drew the support of dispossessed and marginalized French voters who had always thought themselves entitled to a share, and who concluded only Le Pen cared about their concerns. Everyone else was for Macron, and so Le Pen never had a winning coalition.

Donald Trump drew the support of dispossessed and marginalized American voters who had always thought themselves entitled to a share, and who concluded only Trump cared about their concerns. But Trump also drew the support of prosperous, privileged, established Americans, who knew Trump really cared about their concern. (See image above.) Now that was a winning coalition.

Oddity: The French polls closed at 8 pm local time. A split second later, a precise estimation of the results, complete with details on the turn-out and the number of blank and spoiled ballots, appeared on the TV screens.  Meanwhile the Americans still are not sure about all those hanging-chad votes in the presidential election sixteen years ago.

Meanwhile, Daniel Francis sorts out a little British Columbia political history.

2.  Malcolm Gladwell on the writing process:
As a writer, my principal observation about why other writers fail is that they are in too much of a hurry. I don’t think you can write a good book in two years.... Most of us can’t write books that quickly, and we need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish.
The problem is that the world wants you to be a hare. Your publisher says I want it now, you’re under pressure, you have a one-year sabbatical where you try to cram and finish, you’ve got a teaching load, etc.
But one thing that almost all of the professional writers I know do is write drafts and then put the book in a drawer for six months. Then they come back to it, turn themselves into tortoises, force themselves to slow down. That, in a sense, harms the system in that amount of output is lowered. But I don’t think the problem with writing in America right now is a failure of output. I think it’s a failure of quality.
Gladwell is so fluently persuasive you need to say, hmm, is this true?  I've never put a manuscript in a drawer for six months. Course, I've not much had the luxury too, either.

Update, May 10:  Prolific writer and historian Allan Levine comments:
I whole-heartedly agree with the comments you posted by Malcolm Gladwell that most books, especially non-fiction books, require more than two years to produce and much more reflection and research. But only someone whose three books have sold an estimated six million (“The Tipping Point” sold about 2.5 million copies alone) can afford to reflect and be “more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish!” The rest of us have to keep writing books. In Canada, especially, being a writer and a hare are usually synonymous.
3.  Christopher Dummitt's study of Mackenzie King, his oddities, and our reactions, reviewed in the new Literary Review of Canada by Charlotte Gray:
Dummitt, a professor of history at Trent University, has done more than indulge any voyeuristic tendencies in this lively book. Instead of asking what light King’s weirdness throws on Canada, he explores what Canadian reactions to the King story say about our expectations of political leaders. In other words, this is not just about King; it is about us. And although Dummitt is also making a sophisticated argument about the importance of narrative history, he has done it with punchy elegance rather than impenetrable jargon.
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