If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I began getting help for what I initially feared was depression but was eventually diagnosed as “adjustment disorder with mixed mood” (i.e., “Depression Light”), it’s the importance of developing little mantras as a result of what one finds through introspection. Sometimes we joke about needing to “find that happy place” when something or someone upsets us, and that’s not entirely a bad idea. However, over time, simply finding that happy place is little more than applying balm to an injury in order to dull the pain, but when the anesthetic effect wears off, the sensation of the injury returns — maybe not as sharply, but return it certain does.
Two weeks ago as I was walking along Rue Sainte-Catherine towards Lucy‘s office for my weekly visit, I was wondering how long I should continue seeing her. I was feeling as though she had already directed me in all the areas that I would not have, on my own, deemed worthy of investigation; I couldn’t imagine where else we might go together. In fact, although not unpleasant, my previous visit with her hadn’t yielded much; she tried to turn a few stones that, for many, might have been covering some nasty resentments — but not so in my case. So, as I was nearing her office, I was wondering if my legendary inability to assert myself would lead me to continue seeing her only because she fells we’ve only just begun when in fact we’ve come full circle already, albeit in spectacularly record time.
One of my mantras, as I believe I’ve already mentioned, is “Stop. Now think…” In other words, whenever I find myself feeling guilty or anxious or sad, or whenever I find myself wanting to do something a bit unusual for someone else, I stop …now think. That simple mantra helps me pause long enough so that I can think about what triggered the feeling of guilt or sadness, or what is motivating me to want to act in a certain way rather than in a more conventional way. Before therapy, I couldn’t go beyond dwelling on the negative feeling or acting on an impulse; now, I can pause long enough to consider causation — maybe not finding the answer each time, but at least not letting myself sink back in. By no means is this mantra the magic bullet for everyone, but for me it works.
Anyway, I don’t know how it came up, but during that visit with Lucy two weeks ago, I brought up that icky dream I had back in July, before I started seeing her. I think I had mentioned it to her before in passing, but we hadn’t really gone into it back then. This time, however, she really jumped on it because, as I was telling it to her, I was once again making connections with the notion of anger that both she and Gary (the psychiatrist) had brought up earlier. Indeed, although it is not a notion with which I’m comfortable associating myself, I recognize its validity. But now, I have transformed the notion of my anger into an image: quite simply, I picture it as a big ball of yarn in my lap that I’m pressing against my belly. So now that I have such a tangible image (if only in my mind), I can address it with detachment, in the second person: How did you get there? What makes you grow? Can I dissolve you, make you smaller? Why do I fear you so much, as demonstrated by my gut reaction when Lucy calls you by your real name (anger rather than ball)?
Well, little did I know that, a few days after that visit, something would happen at work with one of my colleagues, with our supervisor acting as an impartial arbiter. I won’t get into the specifics but suffice it to say that I was accused of telling other people how to do their work even though I’m not their boss, and that accusation triggered a milder but very definite form of bad feeling I’d come to know too well (sadness? anger?). For sure it was not nearly as sharp and debilitating as the feeling had become back in the spring and early summer, but I instantly recognized its signature. So I pulled up the mantra: “Stop …now think.”
This incident became the topic during this week’s visit with Lucy. On the specifics of the incident, she immediately agreed with everyone else to whom I mentioned this and previous incidents that I was on the receiving end of jealousy. Some might perceive my inability to suppress my creative urges as an attempt to be a show off, and my sharing of tips that could get everyone in our team to work more cohesively as an attempt not only to get everyone to do everything exactly as I do, but also to undermine our supervisor’s authority. This colleague even went as far as to mention that I’m no longer the new kid on the block, implying that I should stop trying to prove myself — as if that’s ever been my motivation. (And become hopelessly set in my ways after five years? Not on your life unless you manage to lobotomize me without my noticing it!) The clincher is not that I can’t take criticism; it’s that I can’t cope with unwarranted negative criticism. Thankfully, I’m becoming better at referring to the latter as “noise,” or that which blinds me from what is essentially true.
In way of comparison for Lucy’s sake, I recalled another unrelated incident a year ago when I knew I was being very unpleasant toward a client but, like watching a train wreck in slow motion, I just couldn’t stop myself. Finally, quite justifiably, the client had had enough and gave me a well-deserved tongue-lashing. I instantly felt something I can only describe as a wave of heat flushing from my head to my toes, as I knew without a doubt that I was in the wrong and the criticism was more than warranted. In that case, not only did I apologize profusely on the spot and change my attitude, but later I recommitted my apology in writing, which the client graciously accepted. (In hindsight, I recall that this incident occurred as I had begun my downards slump.)
The point, I told Lucy, is that I can take criticism when it’s warranted but I can’t take it when it’s not or when it’s downright misguided. There she made again that connection to my perception of how the way other kids my age treated me was unfair, and how that honed my sense of injustice and brought me to want to come to the rescue of those who, in their own way, weren’t being treated fairly. Her reflection got me to make the connection: I saw this latest untruth as another injustice, not unlike the myriad untruths I allowed to drag me down to the point of feeling inert and neglectful of myself. Yup! Just more “noise.” Indeed, that one silly incident with that work colleague was only one more little sound bite of noise, which is why it reanimated those same bad feelings as before but, being only ONE incident, not as intensely. So once I had stopped and thought, I was able to assess the validity of criticism, or its lack thereof. Hence the lesson: if the point is valid, seek to change; if it’s not, flush it — don’t attach it onto that ball in your lap that you’re pressing against your belly.
I think the fact I crammed so much into that ball for so long has shaped my perceptions so much that I will never completely dissolve that ball. In fact, I don’t want it totally dissolved, because its core is what I now consider the infamous “fire in the belly” one needs to move forward, to continue being creative, to believe that things can be changed for the better. I recall writing earlier this summer that there are parts of me I don’t want to change: HOW I came to hone my outrage toward injustice may not have been pleasant, but I much rather have that outrage than forever be inhibited by defeatist numbness. What I need to do, however — in fact, what I think I’m finally doing — is keep shedding away what’s rotten from that ball so that I can keep an eye on that pure core.
In my view, those rotten parts are what we all come to call our baggage (in the pejorative sense) while that core is our collection of experiences that can lead to good things. Baggage might be unavoidable but no one needs to hold on to it. The parts that are untrue can be trashed, while those that are true can be added to our experiences that can move us toward more, better and brighter experiences.
I feel another mantra coming on. Hummm… what could that be? Shed the bad and keep the good? I think survivors of far worse ailments than simple “adjustment disorder” would agree with that one.
A funny thing happened to me through my journey to becoming a Montréalais. My spoken French has changed. I’m even more polite than I was before.
So no, I haven’t taken the Montréal accent and, truth be told, I’m glad I didn’t not only because I’m not terribly fond of it but also because it can be a little coarse and impolite. But I haven’t taken much of a Québecois accent, either — whatever that is, for there are audible differences in each part of Québec. And my accent is certainly not more Acadian — not that it ever was as deliciously Acadian as one of my sister-in-law’s or some of my nieces’ — although now whenever I hear it around Montréal, my heart swells …just as it did last week when I overheared at Soupe et Wok in the Village a lady originally from Bouctouche who hadn’t lost her accent despite years of living here. I even thanked her as she was leaving, upon which her Greek friend she was with said, “Yeah, she can never be in the closet about her roots, that one!”
Anyway, I think there are two main changes to the manner in which I speak. First, being aware of different accents, I try to choose a more neutral “international” vocabulary. And second, because of my work, I have come to totally embrace the pronoun vous, which represents the second person plural OR the second person singular when speaking formally.
Part of the charm and warmth of Acadians is how they interact easily with others and always invariably use the pronoun tu for the second person singular except in very extreme cases where they feel the need to be more formal or respectful. Even there, though, I suspect there’s a generational gap where the youngest generation of adults rarely think of using vous. Generally, Acadians would never use vous when addressing a store clerk or even a stranger on the sidewalk to ask for directions. They might (as they might not) use vous when addressing a senior. But the thing about Acadians is that it’s not meant as disrespectful nor does it come across as that.
However, in Québec today, the norm in business or even on the street among strangers is to address them with the pronoun vous. Few would be offended if addressed as tu instead of vous and, among colleagues, vous would sound just plain wrong. But while it may not be a cause for outright offense, the use of tu instead of vous does get noticed — a least among those who pay attention to their written and spoken language.
Acadians would find it odd to refer to someone by their first name and use vous in the same sentence, as in, “Comment allez-vous, Maurice?” However, in France and increasingly in Québec, such an address is normal. On the other hand, when speaking English in business in North America, calling someone by their first name rather than Mister This or Miz That is the norm, with the latter coming across as way too stuffy.
I surprised myself recently when I got a bit offended when a store clerk addressed himself to me by using the regular second singular — tu, ton… rather than vous, votre…. When speaking with clients at work, I simply cannot bring myself to say tu and ton. And I definitely pick up on clients who address me as tu despite the fact I use vous to address them and we didn’t agree to switch: “On se tutoie?” (“We can use tu?”). However, it would be impolite to ask them to use vous so I let it slide and, sometimes, they pick up on their own upon hearing me continuing to use vous.
Anglicisms and Canadianisms
I find it very amusing to witness how many Québécois prefer to dismiss other French speakers as “pretending not to understand them” than consider the fact that THEY are the ones using non-standard words or expressions, if not downright anglicisms or canadianisms. There are two syllables and two expressions that drive me particularly insane.
To swim = nager: The standard pronunciation is “na-” (as in the Spanish “nada”) “gé” (as in “Fabergé“). But in Québec, particularly in Montréal, people pronounce the A as if there was a circumflex on it: for anglos, it would be like “NAW-gé“.
Whale = baleine & Breath = haleine: For the first, the standard pronunciation is “ba-” (as in the Spanish “baja”) “lène” (as the short version of the name Leonard, namely “Len“). For the second, the standard pronunciation is “a-” (as in the Spanish “amigo”) “lène” (again as the English “Len“). But here the “Len” sounds a bit but not quite like the English word “lane.” I even hear that weird pronounciation by otherwise well-spoken TV personalities and it drives me nuts each time I hear it!
You’re welcome: In French, it’s correct to say, “Bienvenue dans ma maison” (Welcome to my home). However, if someone gives me something and I say “Thank you” (“Merci”), then it’s incorrect to reply with ““Bienvenue”. In that case, one should say “De rien” (as in the Spanish “de nada“) or, more formerly, “Je vous en prie,” which roughly translates to “I beg of you” but implies “Please don’t mention it.” Here in Montréal, though, I get “bienvenue” much more often than “de rien” and I cringe every single time.
It’s too bad / It’s unfortunate: In Canadian French, a very common way of saying “It’s too bad that…” or “It’s unfortunate that…” would be “C’est de valeur que…” However, for a non-Canadian French speaker, de valeur only means “of value,” as in “an object that is worth a great deal.” I remember having dinner with someone from France and a friend from Québec, and the latter said that some situation or another was de valeur. My friend repeated his sentence a few times but for the French guy, who wasn’t trying to play dumb or “I’m-the-superior-Parisian,” it just didn’t compute in his mind. I stepped in and said, “C’est dommage que…” and repeated the rest of the sentence as my friend has spoken it. The French guy immediately got it.
That’s just it: Not specificially with my friend but generally in Québec, when stuff like that happens, the people from Québec are more likely to assume that the listener from outside Québec is putting on an act of “I understand what you’re saying but I’m pretending I’m not so that you can correct yourself gracefully.” One time this summer, I witnessed at a bar one Québécois turn very belligerent toward a French guy of Maghrebi descent who lived most of his life in Paris. I don’t remember now what the Québécois was saying but I remember understanding why there was no way the Maghrebi French guy would ever be able to figure it out without an interpretor.
The Importance of Speaking the Language of the Land
You know, no matter where I am in Québec, even in a Metro supermarket in the heart of tony and anglo Westmount, I speak French. I make a point of it. I won’t play dumb, though, and I won’t fly off the handle if someone doesn’t understand my French on the first go.
At first, if a clerk responds in English, I’ll respond back in French …because we’re in Québec and I strongly believe that anyone working in a client/customer-facing position in Québec MUST speak French. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it can be heavily accented, but French must be to Québec what Spanish is to Mexico or Portuguese to Brazil. If there’s an ounce of hope I can get my point across to the clerk in French by simplifying a few words and speaking more slowly, I’ll stick to it before switching to English. However, I will express my disappointment if I do have to switch to English because there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s very disrespectful on the part of that clerk to force English whilst we’re in Québec. However, if you’re an anglophone visitor to Québec, that’s a totally different matter: while you shouldn’t expect to receive service in Québec’s minority language all of the time (and don’t bore me with the argument that “This is Canada, it’s supposed to be bilingual and Québec is part of Canada last time you checked”), you do have a right to be pissed off if you know that the clerk speaks some English but refuses to use it with you. That’s just as rude.
All that being said, it’s the effort that counts most. Spanish didn’t come easily to me and, unfortunately, in the last two years I’ve lost a lot of what I learned. Certainly my perfectionist streak didn’t help but I also felt a lot of pressure from NowEx who had a talent at making me feel stupid. However, I’ll never forget that time in Puerto Vallarta when, just seconds after finding out that the attendant at the hotel desk in fact could speak English, I still completed a whole transaction in Spanish. I did so because I was in Mexico and Spanish is that country’s language. She smiled through the whole transaction — not condescendingly or because I may have murdered a few words but because I went through with it despite knowing she spoke English and, dare I say it, because she was pleased I made the effort.
Not Everyone Is Selfish
On a totally different register…
I’m very fortunate to have a parking spot inside the garage of the building where I live. I was assigned a new spot a few months ago, namely one where another car can park to my right. To my left, however, there’s a concrete post and I have to edge in slowly in order not to rip off my side mirror. However, once past that post, I veer to the left in order to put considerable distance between my car and the car to my right.
The other day I had to run a quick errand in the middle of the afternoon. When I came back, another car was ahead of me entering the garage: it turned out it was my “neighbour.” He parked in his usual spot and I in mine after him, and we emerged from our cars at the same time.
He was an old gentleman who introduced himself as Claude and then said, in French: “I’m so glad to finally meet you because I’ve long wanted to thank you for how you park your car. You’re very considerate and it helps me so much coming in and out of my spot.”
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his comment. As I’ve written before, I have grown to feel slighted because I know I pay attention to little things like that out of respect for my neighbours but feel that I’m often not the recipient of such simple acts of consideration. So to have someone notice and take the time to thank me for it: that was a truly priceless moment.
It’s interesting it came from an elderly man. What does that say about the state of civility today? And does it say that I was born in the wrong generation?
Alright, you’re all going to tell me to get over it since I, like everyone else, was a kid once. Also, I do realize that kids have to be kids. But when they’re jumping and running and screaming right above my head, I just want to cry. I mean, I feel I’m not within my rights to knock on my neighbour’s door at 8:00 p.m. to ask them to calm the little fuckers who’ve been at it for well over an hour.
Meanwhile, there’s one demented child in the building across. It screams for no reason. At 7:30 a.m. On Saturday. Which gets its mother to scream back.
That’s when she’s not playing with said child and — I kid you not — ululating. Something like this.
It’s rather cool to live in such a multicultural city. But…
There are probably a few dozen valid theories as to why the infrastructure in Montréal is in such sad shape. Age, shoddy construction, and poor maintenance figure prominently on the list. The collapse of the La Concorde overpass on September 30, 2006 in Laval, just north of Montréal, was the tragic wakeup call signalling that time had run out and the problem could be ignored no longer.
Subsequently, it was found that the Turcot Interchange, pictured above, had reached the end of its useful life. Completed in 1967, today it not only handles 5 to 6 times the traffic for which it was designed, but it also has been found to have structural design flaws in addition to having concrete tumbling from it.
In recent weeks, taking the métro from my place to downtown or the Village has become a very attractive proposition. In February, the Rue St. Jacques exit on Autoroute 720 westbound — the exit just before the Turcot — was closed until July due to the construction of the new McGill mega hospital. The alternate exit became Queen Mary, which is the first from the Décarie Expressway after the Turcot and also my exit. Then, a water main break last month on the Décarie service road required a dreadful detour to get onto the southbound Décarie Expressway towards to Turcot. And finally, the westbound exchange on the Turcot from the 720 to the 20 was reduced to one lane; it would seem support rods were never installed (or at least not properly) when the damned thing was built in the ’60s!
While all this was happening, a report came out declaring that some spans on Canada’s busiest bridge, the Champlain connecting Montréal to the south shore, could collapse in the next 5 to 10 years. Major repairs are now underway, but it’s generally agreed that the bridge needs to be replaced. Memories of the La Concorde collapse are preventing everyone from dismissing these claims of possible collapse.
Crossing the river further west on the Mercier Bridge requires nerves of steel. Under repair since I moved here three years ago, it has seen little chunks of the deck crash into the river below. Southbound truck traffic is currently banned.
The Autoroute 30 bypass of Montréal is expected to be completed in 2012, but no one truly believes that’ll be the case. That means many trucks in transit through Montréal must continue to employ either the Champlain and Turcot or Autoroute 40 (called the Metropolitan through Montréal) that crosses the middle of the Island of Montréal. Truck traffic will probably always be significant on Autoroutes 20 and 40 in the city because of the many industrial parks found alongside each, but the bypass will eliminate many cars and trucks that needn’t come onto the Island.
I realize that driving around in a big city is almost always a nightmare, but here in Montréal, the fear of structures collapsing underneath you is very real. And what gets on my nerves is how slowly things that need to get done are getting done. Residents who have been living in the shadow of the Turcot for more than 40 years are an irritant at best. Of course in an ideal world, there would be more use of public transportation; however, when a structure like the Turcot has been there for so long and has become so necessary, this is not the time for wishful thinking and suggest scaling it back!
Contrary to what some might believe, the population in the metropolitan area of Montréal is still growing. When these structures were designed in the early 1960s, the metro population was 2.2 million; it is now at least 3.6 million, and unlike the métro, those structures have not aged gracefully. Ironically, the Victoria Bridge, opened in 1859, is probably the safest southbound route off the Island. Perhaps we should take a good look at how things were built back then and apply the knowledge to the new structures that now need to be built.
Given that I started this blog in December 2002, I am now looking forward to commenting on the fourth federal election since aMMusing has been around. That’s a lot in a parliamentary democracy that used to yield majority governments that could remain at the reigns of power for up to five years. But, unlike other people, I am not complaining about having to go to the polls yet again; I have far too many other things getting on my tits during this election campaign.
In no particular order…
Heavily on my tits are the people who complain about having to go vote again. That totally slays me. We currently have people dying in massive civil unrest throughout northern Africa and the Middle East (not to mention the sad, sad situation that’s been going on for months in the Ivory Coast) to obtain or uphold the fundamental right to vote in order to effect significant change for citizens, and people here are complaining about a detour of at most one hour (depending on where one lives) in order to cast a ballot. It’s sickening, puerile, and quite frankly ungrateful and I can’t bear hearing it any longer.
Having said that, I understand that, for many people, elections in Canada seem like an exercise in futility. Some argue that the differences between the two parties most likely to form a government — the incumbent Conservatives and the Liberals who were outsted in 2006 — are not terribly significant, or that, in the end, all politicians are cut from the same cheap and crappy cloth and have only their own interest at heart. But that kind of facile cynicism and intellectual laziness also gets on my tits. It makes it sound like we’re a nation of damsels in distress, car broken down alongside the highway, hoping some knight in white armour will come along to save us. Many, it seems, are quite happy to simply pick only one or two items that suit them from the smorgasbord of promises laid out by the party leaders while ignoring all the other items that are fundamentally bad for everyone else, including themselves.
In my very first days of blogging in 2002, I linked to the Political Compass. website. Eight years later, the CBC / Radio-Canada made available an adaptation of it called Vote Compass, developed by the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship. What emerges from either tool is that almost nobody can be 100 percent aligned to a single party or political view. That said, both tools have had their share of criticism for being biased: the former for skewing to the left, and the latter for either favouring the Liberal party or suggesting that staunch NDP supporters would in fact have a better political home with the Green Party.
As a matter of fact, I’m one of the many who leans NDP who got Green as my result on Vote Compass, with NDP second and Conservative the furthest away from my core political values. But, a SINGLE word in a question can make all the difference. In my case, the word “violent” in the statement that “Violent young offenders should be sentenced as adults” made all the difference and — gasp! — placed my squarely among the Conservatives’ camp! Remove the word “violent,” however, and my answer might be sufficiently different to place me back into my more traditional political house. But for sake of argument, let’s say that this matter was very important to me and I agreed with that statement (with or without the word “violent”) as well as one other position embraced by the Conservatives (whatever that might be), wouldn’t it behoove me to look at the party’s other positions to ensure that they more or less aligned with my beliefs in other matters? I don’t agree at all with the NDP’s position on Afghanistan, but in the final analysis, I find more pros than cons in that political house, including on policy matters that would either not benefit me or cost me more.
Meanwhile, setting aside the bogus argument that all politicians are crooks, voters can be forgiven to some extent for believing that their vote doesn’t really count. I’ve said it many, MANY times at aMMusing that I believe that’s partially a derivative of our antiquated first-past-the-gate system that leads to false majorities and literally leads to millions of votes nationwide not yielding a seat in Parliament, or each seat won “costing” far more votes to one party compared to the others. It kills me that mixed-member proportional (MMP) schemes have been rejected in two provinces, in large part because they’ve been presented as “SO complicated” and “SO unsexy” (by its name). Again, friggin’ damsels in distress! Can’t wrap their pretty little minds around having two ballots to fill out instead of only one. Poor dears.
So here I am now, living in a federal riding that withstood the Progressive Conservative tides of 1984 and 1988 and remained Liberal. Here, the Liberals could run an inanimate object as the candidate and it would get in. That means I can vote NDP (as 23% of us did in 2008) and not worry about splitting the left-of-centre vote and consequently giving the seat to the Conservatives. Similarly, if I lived to the east of where I am now (e.g., either the riding where the Village is [and also Torn’s neighbourhood] or the riding where Cleopatrick lives), I could do the same since they’ll go Bloc Québécois no matter what and not give the Conservatives the seats. However, if I lived in the Québec City area and the race in my riding were between the Conservative and the Bloc Québécois, you could bet your right nut (or tit) that I wouldn’t hesitate to vote BQ even if I am not in favour of Québec sovereignty. In short, strategic voting — that is, voting for one’s second choice to prevent vote splitting in favour of the candidate and party one completely opposes — is only a factor in places like my hometown of Moncton as well as other parts of the Maritimes, the “905” area code surrounding greater Toronto, the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and the region around Québec City. And, of course, there’s an underlying assumption that the Conservatives would keep the ridings they already hold.
In that sense, there is SOME validity to the claim that one person’s vote doesn’t make a difference. But that’s a systemic problem. Interestingly, mere weeks after the 2008 election, the Conservatives threatened to do away with the per-vote subsidy to parties and nearly brought down the newly elected government in the process. Now, it is being clearly stated as an objective of the Conservatives should they be re-elected. Instituted by the Chrétien Liberals in 2003, this policy is:
credited for giving some value to votes that may not have yielded a seat in Parliament (e.g., the Green Party with its nearly 1 million votes in 2008), and
intended to limit reliance on funding from well-financed lobbies, corporate interests, and unions.
When fierce opponents of the Bloc Québécois (especially outside Québec) find out that the subsidy represents 80% of the BQ’s funding, they become outraged and argue that Canadian taxpayers’ money is being used to subsidizes “traitors.” The argument falls apart quickly, though, when one considers that ALL parties reaching the 2% threshhold of popular vote nationally receive this $2 per vote subsidy, and last I checked, voters in Québec are still Canadian voters during a federal election. Moreover, the Bloc existed for 13 years without the subsidy. I repeat: I still don’t have an affinity towards the Bloc’s main plank, which is full sovereignty for Québec; however, in its 20 years of existence, the Bloc has managed to support legislation that has benefitted not only Québec but the rest of Canada as well. Yes, the primary focus of Bloc MPs is on Québec, but people I know who have met with Bloc MPs on various matters such as post-secondary education have reported that they are extremely well-prepared and do their job as MP right.
On a totally different register: My tits start to bleed when I hear that Harper’s Conservative government fell on a motion on non-confidence over the budget.
It. Did. Not.
The government fell on a motion of non-confidence due to being the first in Canadian history to have been found in contempt of Parliament. But the opposition is too damn feckless to make this the big deal that it is. And at that point, my tits go from bleeding to falling off my chest.
The result: Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff may very well be committing political suicide before our own eyes. Damsels-in-distress voters may buy into the argument that seven years of minority governments is enough, so let’s realize Mr. Lego Hair Harper’s wet dream of a Conservative majority. (I apologize for the truly revolting image created by the juxtaposition of “Harper” and “wet dream.”) And next thing you know: the 60 percent of us who will have opposed this nasty, divisive, secretive, dishonest, American-style conversatism will enter with great dread a very unsettling political Dark Age.