Register Sunday | September 23 | 2018

Dear Maisonneuve, Issue 39

Letters from our readers.

“OH, GREAT, ANOTHER FUCKING HIPPIE”

“Tourists of Consciousness” (Issue 38) was a really terrific piece. Intelligent, honest, informed—just plain fine writing. For me, nature is already almost too there, too loud, in the sense that I believe I feel what it needs and try to provide it. Five years ago, during a drought, I dug holes around the leaf lines of all the young trees in my park and lugged water around; I really did my back in. I carry shears to prune bushes in my neighbourhood, the straggly, suffering ones. I transfer weeds that might otherwise be pulled up.

My partner, Christopher Dewdney, is the same. His mother told me that when he was three, she utterly traumatized him by yanking a sapling from a firepit. And then there’s the other side, of course: trees and grass and birds and slugs pulsing out their nourishing is-ness.

Sometimes I can’t even look out my window; it’s too much, I want to die and join the dirt. What would ayahuasca do to me? I shudder to imagine that I’d be the old babe humping the air. I did a lot of MDA and acid in the late sixties and never had a bad time—quite the opposite. One lovely summer dawn, stoned in a city park, I picked up all the twigs and nestled them back in the crooks of their trees. Likely the trees thought, “Oh, great, another fucking hippie. Now we have to wait for a big wind.”

—Barbara Gowdy, author

THE HOSPITAL-FOOD REVOLUTION

Serendipity works in mysterious ways. So it was with barely contained delight that I came upon Monica Kidd’s article “Eating Well” (Issue 38) at the very moment I was beginning to feel helpless about the “food fight” we are experiencing in Kingston, Ontario. Despite protests from the community, Kingston General Hospital’s board of directors has chosen the giant food-services provider Compass to outsource meals for patients and staff.  There is an organization called Kingston Food Fight that hopes to bring provincial pressure to the table by informing our minister of health about our plight. Kidd’s article presented precisely the kind of model of sustainability and good health that we need to see right now. Thank you, Monica, and thank you, Maisonneuve, for an outstanding Canadian journal!

—Susan Bowers, registered holistic nutritionist

“COMPLETELY ENTHRALLED”

I stumbled upon your magazine this morning, and I must say, I was completely enthralled. So taken in, in fact, that I sat an extra twenty minutes after my appointment in my doctor’s office waiting room so I could finish the article on nomadic youth (“Nomadia,” Issue 38). Although I got some weird stares from the reception staff, I felt elated to have finally found a magazine I can read from cover to cover, one that piques my interests on so many different levels. Thank you!

—Heather Gagnon

METHOD MADNESS

Sheila Heti is right that when bad actors imitate good Method acting, the result is bad acting (“Human Behaviour,” Issue 37). But Method acting as taught by Stanislavski, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, et al. is not and never has been about imitation. In fact, the Method was revolutionary because it was a path away from imitation toward a process based on the particular human chemistry of the particular actor.

Is the Method the only path to good performances? Of course not. It might not be entirely appropriate for Bertolt Brecht, or if you’re trying to portray a supernatural role or mime (although it usually enriches even those exceptions). But I think you would be hard pressed to point out a good actor or particular performance that did not use aspects of the Method.

A case in point is the video cited in this article, Ryan Trecartin’s I-Be AREA, which I think would have been a lot more powerful had the director and actors utilized some of the tools the Method offers. This would have raised the performances from the level of cardboard-cutout imitations to fully dimensional human beings.

—Joel-Asa Miller (online)