Quebec Studies

Corralling the wild ponies: Correspondences between Quebec and the postcolonial

Quebec Studies (2003), 35, (1), 133–152.

Abstract

Corralling the wild ponies: Correspondences between Quebec and the postcolonial Marvin Richards John Carroll University Theory, we might conclude, does not give rise to harmonious solutions...[It] offers not a set of solutions but the prospect of further thought. It calls for the commitment to the work of reading, of challenging presuppositions, of questioning the assumptions on which you proceed. -Jonathan Culler, 115 One must always risk political alienation in order to escape from political alienation. --Pierre Bourdieu, 204 Colonization is violence, and there are many ways to carry out that violence. --Philip Gourevitch, 55 As if these epigraphs were not enough evidence of the multiple approaches one might adopt to corral the rampant and wild notions of postcolonialism and the construct "Quebec," I will introduce my topic obliquely-and thoroughly mix my metaphors-by way of two poems by Charles Baudelaire. His well-known sonnet, "Correspondances," never uses the verb "correspond," but suggests instead, "Comme de longs echos qui de loin se confondent/Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se repondent" (13). This pre-symbolist glimpse of synesthesia (the mixing of the senses) offers perhaps a transcendental moment of correspondence-"se repondent." But the verse relies on the confision of echoes, and if we cannot distinguish between senses, then the meanings they generate lose sense too-se confondent. A similar kind of confusion confronts the poet in the final lines of "Les Sept vieillards," terrorized on a walk in the streets of Paris by the multiplication of a uieillard, which sends him scrambling to his room: Exaspere comme un ivrogne qui voit double, Je rentrai, je fermai ma porte, epouvante, Malade et morfondu, L'esprit fievrew et trouble, Bless6 par le mystere et par l'absurdite! Vainement ma raison voulait prendre la barre; La temp6te en jouant deroutait ses efforts, Et mon 2me dansait, dansait, vieille gabarre sans miits, sur une mer monstrueuse et sans bords! (99) Quebec Studies, Volume 35, SpringlSummer 2003

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Richards, Marvin