Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Does the Métis nation have a distinct identity? How does this relate to the Métis 'nation' that existed in Manitoba in the 1830s? With both the French/Native Métis and the English/Native Métis ("métis anglais"), is it possible or even logical to unify the two into one nation? Inquiring minds want to know.

While the two nations were in many ways very distinct (French as Catholics, English as Protestants; French as hunters, English as farmers; French as 'simple', English as 'socially superior') the politics of the Hudson's Bay Company and the influence of British North America served to force an alliance between the two alliance in which the seeds of Rebellion were planted, in which a man named Louis Riel would prosper...all very Star Wars, in a way.

We're reading Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artists As A Young Man" in my 20th century class; and today was our day to bitch at the prof about why we found the book to be challenging (read: why some of us hated it). A lot of people focussed specifically on the religious aspects of the novel, and how much they hated that, and felt it made the book so much more incomprehensible to have the Great Big Sermon in the middle. This is an understandable reaction, but also a very North American one. Our society is nothing if not secular; I personally was raised in a very a-religious household; but turn of the century Ireland is a very different story: It's all about the religion. Europe still is very much like that today, too. When I lived in France when I was fifteen, that was one of the first questions people asked of me: "Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

I guess this can be difficult to grasp if you don't actually experience it for yourself, though. Though I found the religious passages somewhat dry, they were also interesting, because they were Jesuits, and because, well, they were a lot easier to focus on than a lot of the rest of Joyce's prose.

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