So this week I write my final essay on Canadian literature.
While it has been a learning experience literature wise that’s not the greatest curveball I’ve found within this subject.
Canada has a fantastic mix of nationalities, socio political issues.
and literary and artistic tradition.
One of the struggles that has been encapsulated is the relationship between the indigenous community of Canada. When we see the excerpts from early Canadian settlers the worlds could not be more polarised. The indigenous inhabitants are ‘brutish’ and formidable. It is not until the work of Emily Carr’s exceptional paintings vanartgallery that the indigenous population had a champion.
We see how new migrants are a ‘othered’ in Fred Wah’s work on his experiences on being 1/8th Chinese and feeling ‘white’ enough to be accepted socially but never quite feeling totally accepted into a group of society.
So why are these subjects curveballs? I live in Australia. Where we have our own struggles with national identity. We have been guilty of the same sins against the indigenous population as the Canadian communities have in first settling, admittedly with varying degrees. But the degrees of difference don’t cover up the culture of white privilege and fear that existed for many decades. And they don’t change our Xenophobic attitude to new migrants that that has until recent years also been a feature of Australian culture.
The beauty of literature is it’s ability to capture a moment in time. These moments reflect more than an authors message. They capture social, economic and language issues that represent that moment in time whether it be set in the past, present and future.
Some people call new attitudes of racial equality ‘ political correctness gone mad’. I disagree. It’s not that we wish to ignore cultural differences these days, but rather treat these people no different from a Australian that has many generations of Australian heritage. If a newly settled migrant is willing to make a new life here I want him/ her to experience every opportunity without prejudice or fear. We can’t get there by embracing colonial ideals.
Perhaps there will always be cultural issues and there will always be authors brave enough to write about them. But maybe by embracing equality we get to see a society favouring talent and drive and no thought whatsoever to their origin is given.
It is a cold rainy night here and I decided to make my favourite comfort food for dessert tonight….Apple and Rhubarb Bread and Butter pudding. And it was soooo good!
But it got me thinking. It has been a crappy week with so many horrible things happening to good people around me and I know that every one has weeks like or much worse than mine. And when I have weeks like this I make a bit of comfort food ( see above) and read my favourite book ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott or watch ‘Monsters Inc’ or ‘Despicable Me’.
It’s just feel good comedy or literature, that makes a bad day seem better. So I would like to know…what are your favourite comfort things? Is it a bath with a book? An amazing cocktail, potato laden dish, a favourite book or movie? It could be all these…I would just love to hear what makes a bad day (or week!) seem better for other people!
I will leave you with the recipe and method for the bread and butter pudding (I love it, its super easy!)….until next time! xx
Take care xo
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 300ml pure cream
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 thick slices white bread, crusts removed
- 40g butter, softened for spreading
- 2 Pink Lady apples ( or Granny smith)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar ( for sprinkling)
- 4 stalks of rhubarb
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 5cm-deep, 17cm x 28cm (base) baking dish. Whisk eggs, milk, cream, caster sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl. Wash and cut rhubarb and apples into thin, bite sized pieces.
- Step 2
Spread both sides of each bread slice with butter. Cut each slice in half diagonally. Arrange half the bread in rows in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining bread and arrange cut and washed apples and rhubarb. Sprinkle raisins or other dried fruit if desired.
- Step 3
Pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 35 to 40* minutes or until golden and set. Serve.
*Original recipe can be found at http://www.taste.com.au, I have amended ingredients and cooking time slightly.
Ancients Romans writing about their battles with ‘Savage and Terrible’ Celtic warriors, English explorers writing about how ‘Beastly’ American Indians were towards them and how in the book The Help ‘Home Health Initiatives’ were introduced so black maids didn’t have to share bathrooms with their white employers because…’They have different diseases than we do’. What do all these things have in common? They are strong examples of othering by a colonising race over the colonised.
The concept of othering within Literature is not an unusual or new concept by any means. What is basically meant with the term ‘othering’ is a simple but dangerous concept. There is an enlightened superior ‘us’ and a ‘Savage’, ‘Inferior’ and lowly ‘other’. The other is usually different in physical appearance or social status, so a real or imagined line should not ever be seen to be crossed in the eyes of society.
Where this thinking becomes truly dangerous is when injustices such as mistreatment, neglect or in some cases genocide in horrific circumstances occur with the belief that the other that is persecuted is inferior, in some way, therefore is unworthy of the basic right to live in peace.
While this all sounds like something that only exists in post colonial fiction that we see published in the 18th and 19th centuries, the post colonial gaze still lingers in todays society.
With migrants coming over in boats in Australian waters the media teaches us that something needs to be done about ‘them’. The line between the self and the other is still as clear as ever.
For years in Australian culture the definition of the self was to be an ‘Aussie’ and migrants and even some first generation Australian’s with parents hailing from another country would be seen to be told to ‘Go back where you came from’… Cronulla riots anyone?
Thankfully this type of behaviour is changing but the fear mongering about unknown ‘other’ races still exists. As long as there are people that perpetrate stereotypes that unknown cultures need to be automatically feared society remains fragmented at best.
When a society aims to work together to become another within rather than creating fortunate few and misunderstanding and fearing the other a more peaceful society exists. And no I don’t believe that its an utopian ideal…I just think the media needs to lay off the fear and take the time to understand people different to yourself……
Why I love food isn’t exactly a mystery, its what keeps me alive. So why is it that the thing that keeps us is alive something that creates so much passion and diversity around the world?
When people discuss their travels, the food is one of the most memorable aspects of the adventure. You remember a place you visited far more fondly if you had a to die for tiramisu in Italy for example. And if like me you had a fish in Venice that tasted like the canal smelt you are less likely to want to return to that part of the world…( well Venice is pretty amazing and it had great gelato…so I forgive it!)
Food isn’t just something to merely keep us alive, like we view oxygen, but rather its a source of pleasure, guilt, well being, vitality and creativity. Nothing personally makes me feel better than whipping up a baked treat in the kitchen for the ones I love.
The thing I love most about food is that its the great equaliser. Everyone needs food and enjoys it. The dinner table is where all people of different walks of life can potentially sit down and enjoy the pleasure of good food and maybe a cheeky wine or sherbet depending on what you like :).
Maybe peace negotiations between countries could go a bit more smoothly at a dinner table? Just a thought!
Till next time,
This semester I’m studying Canadian literature… Which I was warned was dry and dull. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I’m finding it complex and really different. At the moment we are studying excerpts from the early explorers diaries and relatives stories.
It makes me realise how much we take for granted that the world we live in is easy to get around. These men set out to explore the continent and many times just never returned home. One unfortunate party was believed to have resorted to cannibalisim to survive… I’m not entirely sure if that was verified… But in 2014 we can hop on a plane and go virtually wherever we want. Tragic accidents still happen but they are the exception.. Not the norm.
We know the earth is round not flat, that if we get a cold we very likely won’t die and that there is not much left to be explored on Earth so we can feel far more certain about the world we live in. And it’s thanks to early explorers that did all the work for us. Now I’m not saying humans are out of the woods yet… But isn’t awesome that we can appreciate just how far we’ve come as a civilisation?
A coffee fiend, obsessed with literature and chocolate and really good, good food! I like a good debate about a good book so academic or personal opinions on books are always welcome…xx