Daily Archives: June 10, 2010

John Diefenbaker


On this date in 1957 John Diefenbaker led the Progressive Conservatives to an upset electoral victory, ending 22 years of Liberal rule.

From Frye’s address on the occasion of Victoria University’s awarding an honorary doctorate to Prime Minister Diefenbaker in September 1961.

It is a sign of an immature society when politicians are contemptuous of eggheads.  It is equally a sign of an immature society when the university is contemptuous of politics, when it congratulates itself unduly on its clean hands and its pure heart.  There is a natural tension between university and government.  Government is based on majority rule; the universities are one of the most effective instruments of minority right.  The university seeks truth at all cost; the government must seek compromise at all cost.  The university, like a totalitarian state, is exclusive, and holds annual purges to remove those who do not support it with sufficient energy.  The government, in a democracy, must deal with all the people, and Mr. Diefenbaker was no less representing the people of Canada when he was Leader of the Opposition than he does now.  The university tries to abolish conflicting opinion by facts and evidence; the government must reconcile conflicting opinion in an area where all facts and evidence come too late.  What the university stands for demands admiration and respect from government; what the government stands for demands admiration and sympathy from the university.  It is this equal pact that is symbolized by the honour which the Prime Minister has done us in accepting our degree, and by our desire to honour him in offering it.  (CW 12, 314-15)

Kim and Kelley Deal


Kim Deal and the Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”

Today is the birthday of the Deal sisters, Kim and Kelley (born 1961).  Yes, yes, this is strictly a personal indulgence.  But if relevance is required, here’s Frye in a 1978 interview responding to a question about the relationship between scholarship and popular culture.

I think that what interest I have in popular culture has largely grown out of my teaching interest.  That is, I have always said that if you’re faced with a reluctant ten-year-old in a classroom and you’re trying to teach him literature and he prefers something he saw on TV the night before, the way to approach him is not to say, “Well this is good for you and that’s bad for you,” but to say, “Look, there are certain resemblances in structure between what I’m trying to give you and what you just saw.”  I think that pedagogically that’s reasonably sound.  That’s really where my interest in popular culture comes from–the fact that it records the same conventions and genres as serious literature, which of course keeps continually growing out of popular roots, just as Shakespeare grew out of the popular theatre.  (CW 24, 422-3)