North Never Lost

Robert Kroetsch in “The Canadian Writer and the American Literary Tradition” collected in The Lovely Treachery of Words: Essays Selected and New makes the case for a pervasive and flexible idea of north.

This silence — this impulse towards the natural, the uncreated, if you will — is summed up by the north. The north is not a typical American frontier, a natural world to be conquered and exploited. Rather, in spite of inroads, it remains a true wilderness, a continuing presence. We don’t want to conquer it. Sometimes we want it to conquer us. And we don’t have to go there literally in order to draw sustenance from it, any more than the American had to go literally to the west. It presses southward into the Canadian consciousness.

Reminds me of the 1967 radio piece by Glenn Gould The Idea of North where approximately 49 minutes in, one of the informants muses

[…] in the North we can find out so much […] The North is universal. It’s a universal environment, you know. The North makes you look at things on the global scale.

Some twenty minutes earlier (at mark 29) we were treated to the notion of north as process: not so much finding as seeking. It is a theme that recurs not in so many words but in the attitude that our informants come to represent.

Mary Jo Watts has produced a very useful transcript of most of The Idea of North. See

And so for day 369

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