Some people discuss, argue, debate, dissect, and analyze the weirdest of ideas -- things many of us would never give a second thought. They do it for a reason, and the reason is that this is all mental body-building. Why else would someone talk about such philosophical topics as “the space between the letter and the paper” or about “absences”?
Not absences of a regular, emotional kind, like a son or daughter off to Afghanistan, the death of a parent, but “absences” as an idea in itself. Why would anyone be concerned with the idea of absences? What’s so interesting?
On one hand, we do hear almost every day someone referring to the expression of a cup being half-full or half-empty. We use that very idea to classify everyone we know – I’m a half-full type of person, myself. We think of half-empty persons as those who look on the negative side of life, inviting depression and, probably, inactivity. But there are plenty of half-empty people; we hear them complain about half-empty situations often. Half-empty people feel they are the realists, not the sunny-eyed dreamers who only want to see the nice side of life, that would be the half-full side.
How do you rate yourself, by the way? Half-full or half-empty?
What’s interesting is that this is a conversation, debate, dissection of the idea of “absence”. The half-empty refers to something absent. The half-full also refers to something absent, but avoids addressing it. So we do talk about “absences” almost every day.
What can you say about it; what is there to say? Other than it may attract depression!
In last year’s federal election, threatened cuts to cultural funding played an important role, especially here in Quebec, where we mildly value the arts. One thing that bothered us, I think, was that with a big hole presumably cut into our cultural industry, we would be missing certain pleasures – paintings, music, movies, the arts. Those cuts were creating “absences”.
And into the hole of those absences would naturally flow whatever other cultural products are around, and they are largely American. We live next door, we well understand, to the world’s “cultural” dynamo; it may be high brow or low brow, but it’s culture. Lacking our own movies, we’ll get Hollywood movies. They’re cheap and well made and sold around the world. Yet they also carry cultural messages of all sorts which do not originate here. So that is what’s within those “absences” of our own culture – everything that an open door will allow in. Or everything that is attracted to any sort of vacuum, the vacuum being the absences.
So if we’re still thinking and talking about “absences”, it seems like there’s a lot to say, after all.