Read All Over reviews, October
By Kane X. Faucher
October 27, 2011
Ramus, Pedagogy and the
Co-edited by Emma Wilson, Visiting scholar Department of English
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 256 pgs, $124.69
In her chapter on Ramist logic, Reading the ‘unseemly logomachy’: Ramist Method in Action in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, Emma Wilson furnishes us with a provocative new insight into Petrus Ramus (1515-1572), the controversial logician and pedagogical thinker.
During a period when intellectual endeavour was still in the dry, bony grip of scholasticism, Ramism came to be seen as an upstart critique of the long-cherished Aristotelian logic. However, as Wilson’s contribution attests, to limit our focus on Ramism to the still hotly debated confines of this tradition is to neglect what Ramus has bequeathed to literary analysis and interpretation.
In Ramist thought, organic development of the intellect must start with the basics, not become prematurely steeped in the complexity and impregnably dense engagement with concepts. If Ramus were alive today, he would most likely be a fierce advocate for an educational curriculum focused on the proverbial three Rs.
The chapter gives considerable attention to John Milton’s admiration and application of Ramist thought to the extent he insisted on the importance of having a solid foundation in logical invention prior to going about the activity of producing literary work – a practice Milton himself embraced. Milton, under the strong influence of Ramus’ writings, castigated the schools of his time for pushing students to take on the more sophisticated forms of disposition without rigorous instruction in the basics of logic, and for failing to emphasize logic as an indispensable tool for understanding literature.
Wilson rescues Ramism from the circular disputes and admirably situates Ramus in a fresh historical context where his legacy is felt and, arguably, holds some poignant relevance to our understanding of pedagogy today – if we are capable of avoiding the “unseemly logomachy” Milton cautions us against.Open Air Bindery
By David Hickey, Department of English doctoral candidate
Biblioasis Press. 72 pgs. $18.95.
From the expansive awe of the constellations down to the delicate and recursive arms of snowflakes, Hickey’s poetic insights bracket an intimate view of the macro- and microcosmic world.
Here, the reader is presented with a variegation of episodic fragments that are bound luxuriously within well inscribed themes. Hickey’s poetry is not only light on its feet, but rich in substance. Objects like shirts, shingles and porcelain are animated by a wash or just a dappling of light that lends them the appearance of a quiet dance.
Powered by a stargazer’s earnest curiousity, there is nothing magniloquent about these poems: they are a pithy reading of signs of that which exists as though they have been imbued with organic life. Hickey eschews the romanticist embellishment of the miraculous by presenting the miracle in its raw, ragged form that may put one in mind of Christopher Dewdney’s The Natural History of Southwestern Ontario (but without the eroticization of the fossilized dead).
Hickey appears to be courting a phenomenology of space in the way he treats the objects in his poems, perhaps an application of Gaston Bachelard’s recommendation in The Poetics of Space that architecture would be better served by appealing to the imaginative experience of buildings. As light imbues its objects, it is also fleeting, just as the snowflakes’ beautiful construction is captured only by the aperture of eye and camera. But the phantom presence of these linger: what you lose in the dark / what follows you back to the sheets. (“The Astronomer’s Apology”)
On To Civvy Street: Canada’s Rehabilitation Program For Veterans of the
Second World War
By Peter Neary, Department of History professor emeritus
McGill-Queen’s University Press. 363pgs. $29.95.
“Don’t Let the Bastards Wear You Down”
- Unofficial motto of the Western Medical School graduating class, 1950.
As we near Remembrance Day, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifices made by our uniformed Canadians, but lest we forget the challenges that faced those who were demobilized and repatriated. Neary’s book is one part remarkable history solidly supported by testimony and statistics, one part a distinctly Canadian story of those who served and returned.
It would be comforting to believe our current Veteran Affairs Canada office with its rehabilitation programs had always been available to our veterans, but Neary documents a story of blunders, betrayals and eventual compromise.
After the Great War and its unprecedented number of returning veterans, it took the Canadian government and the fragmented precursor of the Royal Canadian Legion considerable trial and error – complicated by the looming economic crisis and the Depression that followed – before setting up adequate protections for those who had served. Fraught with controversy as to what extent veterans could be pensioned, and what measures were needed to assist in the difficult transition from military service to civilian life, by the Second World War there was a considerable improvement with the introduction of the Veterans Charter which guaranteed either a return to former employment or retraining.
Of course, as Neary points out, had it not been for the postwar economic boom, it is uncertain if those provisions would have been as expansive as they were.
At present, it might seem the hard lessons learned are being sidelined by the New Veterans Charter introduced in 2006 which has, according to some analysts, reduced the amount of compensation and created a gap between the charter and the Pension Act.
Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life
Kevin O’Leary, MBA ’80
Doubleday. 247pgs. $29.95.
“If I can do it, (maybe) you can do it, too!” - Tommy Lasorda, Slim-Fast commercial
Leary is a familiar, if not sometimes daunting, face on the venture capitalist program Dragons’ Den and the Lang and O’Leary Exchange. O’Leary’s book is part autobiography and part manual for mercenary financial wisdom. He provides his readers with a bona fide rags-to-riches tale of how he began with a $10,000 loan and in four years was selling his company for $4 billion.
Against the platitude that “a watched pot never boils,” O’Leary tells us that we must invest ourselves to the full to derive wealth from business, and that there is gold in ‘them thar entrepreneurial hills’ on that wild frontier of venture capitalism where one can be a heroic corporate outlaw.
At times, O’Leary is simply sharing common sense about thinking positive and being goal-oriented, but one may pose the same question that applies to all of the “succeed-in-business” and “get-rich” genre of books: What motivates a wealthy person to reveal the arcana of their wealth strategy rather than keep it to him or herself?
For those with even just a blush of sympathy for labour, look elsewhere; O’Leary’s strict managerialist outlook is very short on patience and compassion for employees (whom he somewhat dehumanizes as “cost”) unless it serves his “company-first” credo.
In a telling fragment, O’Leary gives a glib appraisal of pay inequity as simply “life is unfair.” O’Leary’s book is heavily populated with memorable business maxims set in brisk chapters, aimed at the kind of audience that chooses to succeed at any and all cost.
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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