Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


The Concrete Beat

Blur's risk with 13 truns into personal success

Philly five revives The Roots of hip hop

Vivaldi revitalized for its audience

Danko Jones knows he's still on top

Ralston Saul paves way for individuality

Comedy group Laughs

Ripley's version of Welsh animal music

Celebrity sightings

Ralston Saul paves way for individuality

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

Imagine starting to use some big words in everyday conversation which no one can understand, writing a few books, doing a few lectures and then one day waking up as one of the greatest minds in the world.

Such, it would appear, is the case for author John Ralston Saul, who was listed by at least one publication as one of the top 100 leading minds in the world – the only Canadian to make the list. Despite his standing as the leading intellectual in Canada, Saul insists he is a man for all peoples.

"All of my writing is aimed indiscriminately and you will probably find as many tenured professors reading it as people without a university education," Saul explains. "I've noticed that when I lecture the people that attend and ask questions vary from high school and university students, to people who work on assembly lines, to bank managers, to scientists."

Saul, who will be rewarded for his efforts with an honourary degree from Western this summer, has published four novels and countless other works dealing with Canada, the 20th century and his own view on how the world works. Specifically, many of his works have dealt with corporatism, which is very different from what the common person might confuse with corporatization.

"Corporatization could be classified as things like the focus of power on private corporations," Saul says. "The difference is, corporatism is a way of classifying society, corporatization just being a small part of this."

Saul suggests when society looks to classify itself and those within it, it must look for standards and characteristics which separate one being from another. Where those ideals come from and what they create is vital to each sector of the world.

"You have the possibility of legitimacy in this world based on a number of things such as God, a queen, government, etcetera. The question is can you get rid of one without getting rid of all of them and which one has the fundamental power?" Saul asks. "Society like this is based on specialization. This creates too much power in self-power and self-interest and this isolates people, undermining society and the interest of the public good."

Saul, a graduate of McGill University, also notes universities could do much to prevent specialization by opening the channels to public debate, but it is increasingly more common for these institutions to become tools of corporatism.

So what is the unsuspecting, innocent public to do when faced with such challenges? If Saul's views say anything about his counterparts, they cannot look to writers and the great minds of our time to come down from the hills and save them.

"If people don't know what's happening to them, they can't fix it. It's not up to writers to tell them, writers only need to be honest," Saul states. "Someone like me can make an argument or give them the tools to inspire thought and give them something to do."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999