Beyond the Monoperspectival
felt lousy after seeing Drake in the hospital. The idea of him being back at
school in January was troubling because of his strange lack of coordination. He
could imagine some bastards at school cutting him down behind his back. Some
guys are like that: they'd cut him down until there was nothing left of the
guy. He could try to protect him but he couldn't be there all the time. Life
isn't perfect but all the more reason for asking why there was such a damn rush
to bring him back here. Throw him into classes and he'll find it tough because
he will have missed the second half of first term. Happy as hell Taylor had had
the balls to say exactly what they were both thinking.
at the house they grabbed their things and were off by eleven. Reid nipped up
to Drake's room to borrow his tweed jacket because he thought he'd need
something decent to wear in the New York pubs. But he also knew Taylor would
get a kick out of him wearing tweed. Reid didn't bother calling his mother to
tell her he would be in Toronto to drop off Drake's car in a few days. He just
wanted to take off and be done with it, so they sped past students on their way
to classes, their bags full of books and minds full of stress. Before hitting
the highway he and Taylor purchased large coffees and a bag of day-old
doughnuts for the road. With music playing from the radio and sunglasses on,
they hit the road with that feeling of infinite possibility. The air was cool
outside but the sun was hot through the windshield. With hardly any traffic
midday on a Friday, he sipped coffee while Taylor did all the talking.
"You know McFetty, Swampa
is really cool." Taylor had been spending more time with her and had, as a
result, been seeing more films at the student-run theatre he always went to.
"I mean she was really
confident with herself, even in her sexual gig. I like that. She's someone I
can talk to. I don't think I ever had
that back in high school. She's open-minded and listens to everything I have to
say. I know sometimes I talk a bit too much and say some pretty out there things, but she doesn't seem
to mind. She doesn't judge. So there's some freedom there, which I think I need
right now. I don't think she's politically correct either. I like that
too." That was the big thing on campus these days: political correctness.
Reid didn't really care one way or the other, but Taylor had a beef with it.
"It's good she doesn't judge," he
said to encourage him.
"Last night she was telling
me last night about her version of a George Orwell passage from Nineteen Eighty-Four, when he writes:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
"Swampa said that she thought it should
STRENGTH IS PEACE
IGNORANCE IS SLAVERY
been pondering it and I think she's onto something." Reid experienced the
familiar pang of fear because this was another shortcut he had taken during
high school. He had elected to read only the study notes of Nineteen Eighty-Four instead of actually reading the book, which made him doubt his true
worth. In the court of his mind, there was more evidence for the prosecution.
He was slowly realizing that his foundations were built on sand, which ate at
the core of who he was.
"Sounds right," he said, not
"I've decided that I'm not
politically correct; I'm personally
correct," Taylor said. "Or should I say personally
true, that is,
true to myself. I'm not going to adhere to what is considered objectively
correct by the majority. I'm looking beyond the dominant monoperspectival norm."
"Monoperspectival? There's a word you don't hear
"If you really think about it
the concept of political correctness is conformism of the worst kind: it's intellectual conformism. I'm telling you, it's really just Big
They passed a patch of pine trees that had been planted in long straight rows.
"Keeps the thoughts of the masses in line. I'd say a cultivated intellect is a
strong weapon against the powers that be. It's done so stronger individual's
don't assert and develop their own beliefs which could potentially cause a
threat to the power structure. What did Eric Blair say? Some are more equal than others." Reid didn't want to ask who Eric
Blair was, but it was Taylor.
"Who is Eric Blair?"
"That's George Orwell's real name."
"Listen, you want to take the
Heritage Highway to Cornwall? It's more scenic and we're making good time." He
thought Taylor would prefer the scenic route.
"Sure, good idea." They took the
turn off and after ten minutes saw a fort by the water as they approached
"Cool, check out that
an old fort," said Reid. Built on a mound of earth at the base of a
shallow peninsula, it was a modest compound with only one wooden blockhouse
surrounded by a fortified fence of sharpened logs with pointed ends. Halfway up
the mound were more log spikes jutting out of the earth at an angle designed to
stop troops attacking the fort.
"Let's pull over and check it
out," suggested Taylor. Reid pulled off the highway and parked beside the
fort. They got out of the car, walked up to the front gate, and read the
historical plaque by it's entrance.
The first Fort Wellington
was erected on this site during the War of 1812 to shelter British regular
troops and Canadian militia defending the vital St. Lawrence River
transportation route. In February 1813 these soldiers crossed the ice to
capture Odgensburg N.Y. When rebellion threatened Upper Canada in 1838 the fort
was in ruins. Construction had scarcely begun on the present fort in November
1838 when a band of Canadian rebels and American sympathizers attacked; they
were defeated nearby at the Battle of the Windmill by troops assembled at the
looked across the river at America and stroked his chin in thought. Looking
downstream he could sense whispers of history hidden in the waters of the St.
"You know my great-grandfather
was a colonel in the British army," he said. "I remember my grandfather telling
me how he fought in the Boer War with Churchill." That was when he
remembered to bring up the possibility of visiting his grandfather in Montreal.
"Cool. Awful war they say.
Those Boers were a harsh foe."
"Taylor, my grandfather lives in
Montreal and I was thinking we could stop by to visit. The reason is that he's
in the middle of a hip operation, and knowing him he'd appreciate a surprise
"Hell, I don't mind. Give him a
call. Have his number?" So unselfish.
"Yeah. Actually I do."
"Alright, call him." There
happened to be a public telephone beside the historical plaque at the
information window, so he took out my little book of numbers and called his
"Reid? Is that you?"
"Yes Gramma, it's me."
"Ah-" there was a brief
pause. "It's so good to hear your voice."
"How are you?"
"I'm fine, dear; just fine.
Grampa is at St. Luke's for his surgery you know, he's finding it tough."
"That's why I'm calling. I'm on
my way to Montreal and I'd love to see you and Grampa if I can."
"Oh! Your grandfather will be so happy. I'm on my way over to see
Grampa in about two hours."
"We'll be in Montreal in two
hours Gramma." He looked over at Taylor at the station wagon amazed at the
"Will you meet me here
"Why don't I meet you at St.
Luke's just in case we run late? My friend from university and I are driving to
New York so we'll be able to have a visit but won't be staying overnight. I
remember where St. Luke's is Gramma so I can meet you there."
"That's fine dear." Back
in the car they hit the road again driving beside the St. Lawrence River.
"Did you know Beluga Whales are
found in the St. Lawrence?"
"No," said Taylor.
"Yeah, and the whales that are found
dead in the St. Lawrence because of the pollution are treated as toxic waste
because of the level of toxins in their system."
"That's sick. Pollution is way
out of control. How could our parents let this happen?" Taylor shook his
head as they sped by the riverbanks of the mighty waterway to the Atlantic
Ocean. "We live in the polluted hangover of the Industrial Revolution, the
distant smoke of World War Two and are now are chilled by the suspicions of the
"Wonder if it'll ever stop."
"My brother sent me another
letter this week," he continued. "He loves Thailand. He said he's
braving the sun since we now have a hole in the ozone layer that causes skin
cancer. These days being a beach bum isn't safe any more. And that's what I
always wanted to be, to be honest. I'll tell ya, it ticks me off royally."
"That's a gip." Reid leaned against
the driver door, sat back and put on the heater. "The death of the beach bum."
"Seriously. Our generation, those of
us who were born in or close to the Summer
of Love in '67, is inheriting an entirely new piece. There is so much
change from technology and the sharing of information that we're in some sort
of in-between stage in history. We have to deal with affirmative action and a divorce rate that's at forty percent. Television has brought
history and science and even live wars into our living rooms, like an
electronic window that looks out to affairs of the world so that now we have an
information overload. We've grown up with this constant
onslaught of information which is resulting in some sort of decision paralysis."
I know what you mean." Decision paralysis.
"We're crossing from the
fifties to the 21st-century is one great leap, from one set of
values to another. Nihilism is a dangerous thing."
"That's a word I'm hearing a lot
these days. What does it mean exactly?"
"It's when you make the transition
from old beliefs to new beliefs, for a society or an individual. The leap off
the fence of deference to the side of belief is a struggle. That movement
between niches can be deadly." Taylor looked solemn and serious.
"I always wondered what nihilism
meant." His usual scepticism of Taylor's dubious opinions vanished when he
saw the meaning in his words: his grammatical metamorphosis. He knew
instinctually that was what he was going through.
"Nihilism is prepositional: from the stream to the banks."
"Without crossing the terrain
of nihilism there is no creative evolution, only a stagnation in growthless
"Heavy, but I can see
"Being a Renaissance Man these days
is so rare because things have become so specialized, or should I say hyper-specialized. I refuse to
categorize myself into some well-defined label in a system that is way out of
whack. No thanks."
"The division of labour syndrome."
"Exactly. I'm not going to narrow myself
into a specialization just when I'm hitting my prime." Bitching like this felt
"I recently read that modern North
Americans work longer hours than serfs did in the Middle Ages," said Reid.
labour," he replied
shaking his head. Nearing Montreal they drove over a small rodent already
splattered on the tire marked pavement. Its guts left a trail in the traffic's
wake. Taylor let out a laugh.
"I'll let you in on a secret
"What's that Taylor?"
"For those of us who wear tweed, the
rat race is finished: both rats made lots of money but one of the rats lost his
family and the other rat died of a stroke." Hearing all this from someone
else reassured Reid that he wasn't insane in a world gone mad.
"You know Nietzsche's famous
line God is Dead?"
"I have," said Taylor.
"Well you know how God died?"
"I do not."
"God laughed to death."
"Laughing at us?"
"I can see that. I mean aren't we
really just sophisticated algae on a spinning rock among billions stars in one
of one billions known galaxies and we take such pains to think of our extreme
importance." The sun was like a tangerine suspended in the dirty white
haze over them, with its outline as fine as a razor.