Over the Moon; Question Period; Fuel for Thought; Re-Vision; Cultural Wasteland; Tusk-Tusk

Over the Moon; Question Period; Fuel for Thought; Re-Vision; Cultural Wasteland; Tusk-Tusk

Over the Moon

Fantastic story (“And They Danced by the Light of the Moon,” July-August). The plot couldn’t be more “coming of age in a small town” obvious. Yet nothing, absolutely nothing, about this story is unoriginal. Heather O’Neill has such a refreshing and distinct voice. Her technique and preferred time period give the impression of a supremely talented fourteen-year-old girl writing stories when she should be doing her homework. To be an adult and maintain that magic is a rare thing. Plus the story has that most elusive of elements: a truly satisfying ending that hints at a larger fictitious universe we are not privileged enough to be a part of.

Joshua Levy (online)
Montreal, QC

Question Period

In Letters (July-August), Michael Qaqish states, “It’s unreasonable for [Elizabeth May] to be so harsh toward the government now, when she has neglected to reach out and collaborate with the Conservatives on environmental initiatives.” What environmental initiatives? The word “initiatives” implies bolstering existing legislation, not rending it, as the Harper government is in the process of doing. May has no choice but to continue her “harshness.”

Richard Weatherill
Victoria, BC

Never has a letter missed the mark so completely. Elizabeth May has been nothing short of brilliant during her brief time in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper and his government are absolutely dangerous to the environment, and it will take many years and many dedicated environmentalists like May to rectify the damage the Tories are doing. It is impossible to work with a government so intent on ignoring the environment in favour of its business supporters. May is a modern-day Canadian heroine, and she has our unqualified admiration and support.

John Bergbusch and Pauline Majcher
Victoria, BC

Fuel for Thought

As much as the brain dictates what you can or cannot do, muscles do grow fatigued, energy reserves do get depleted, and the body does succumb to pain (“The Race against Time,” July-August). An attempt to reprogram the body against years of evolution would be fun to watch, but the fine line between great and exceptional is not just in an athlete’s head. That discredits genetic advantages, better training programs, and years of scientific research on physiology.

Nonetheless, one has to be cognizant of what better programs are out there and how one responds to training stimulus. Mentally, elite athletes have to be gulag tough when training and competing. Alex Hutchinson is eloquently saying what has been known for ages: you are always capable of more than you are willing to give.

Anonymous (online)

This is SO interesting. I think most athletes have anecdotal evidence to support this. I know I do.


It’s the brain that determines when we quit. Brain applies the brakes before muscles fail.



In “Double Vision” (July-August), Emily Landau states that Rebecca Belmore was the first Indigenous artist to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale, in 2005. In fact, Edward Poitras of the Gordon First Nation represented Canada at the 1995 biennale.

Jeannette Monk
Pickering, ON

“Double Vision” observes that Pauline Johnson was born in 1861 and died in 1913, “three days before her fifty-first birthday.” My arithmetic suggests she died three days before her fifty-second birthday.

Bruce Gates
Copy Editor, National Post
Toronto, ON

Emily Landau selectively chose from available materials on the history of E. Pauline Johnson: the translation of her adopted Mohawk name and the origin of her costume. There are other, more accurate choices of historical value she could have made that would have complicated her thesis.

Consider other evidence, such as Johnson’s adopting the surname of her great-grandfather Jacob Johnson, a War of 1812 hero, as her stage name. Tekahionwake, meaning “double wampum,” referred to the strings of white and purple Atlantic quahog shells her Aboriginal ancestors sometimes used as a medium of exchange or to record treaties. The bear claw necklace was likely a gift from notable naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton, and the scalp is reputed to be a gift from a Blackfoot chief.

There are a number of Six Nations historians who could verify any further publications about their people. In the future, The Walrus may wish to be accurate by Mohawk standards and consult such histories.

Maureen Bayliss
Tottenham, ON

I’d have gone to see Pauline Johnson in a 19th century salon.


Cultural Wasteland

I loved The Walrus Presents, by Jason Sherman and David Parkins (“Going Once,” July-August). It captures so well the outrage, sadness, and disbelief many of us feel about the pilfering of our cultural soul, through cutbacks to the CBC, the NFB, and Telefilm Canada.

Sadly, at least within my social circle, most people are either resigned to this reality, or too busy bailing out their personal boats to care about the “mother corpse” or the state of our film landscape. Canadians don’t seem to realize that government funding helped produce iconic radio programs such as Dispatches, animated shorts like Ryan, and movies like Eastern Promises. What greatness can be created in our now-barren cultural landscape? Will we be entirely consumed by the American entertainment machine? One has to wonder if this is how the Harper government wants it.

Jennifer Thuncher Burnaby, BC


“An Exile on Main Street” (July-August) misstated details of charges against the singer K’Naan. Though detained as a young offender, he was not convicted nor sentenced to jail time. The Walrus regrets any ambiguity.

This appeared in the October 2012 issue.

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter, an email (letters@thewalrus.ca), or a tweet, or post on this website. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5

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