The following comes from a good friend who read Jeffery Simpson’s Globe and Mail column today and found himself a bit perturbed at the lacking quality of Simpson’s arguments for the National Portrait Gallery to be located in Ottawa. My friend doesn’t get to do a lot of this sort of creative writing in his job, so I’m glad to post it here with his permission.
Mr. Simpson makes the quite excellent point that the private sector really shouldn’t house our portrait gallery and that the portrait gallery shouldn’t leave the capital because, after all, no other country does it that way.
No! Its not about the potential beauty of some new facility in some new city. After all, what could be more arrestingly beautiful than the status quo? It’s certainly not about the efficient use of tax dollars. How crass to worry about how we spend other peoples money when the issue is the arts. I mean….just look at the CBC. Who but a philistine would begrudge those tax dollars given the artistic sitcoms that the CBC produces. The new Portrait Gallery could even model itself after the CBC except the CBC has moved to Toronto which is impossible because it should be in Ottawa where all the other art stuff is, except for the other art stuff like Telefilm that moved to Montreal.
And of course it’s certainly not about putting the Portrait Gallery where whole new swaths of the country could appreciate it. What kind of ugly ideology would support that? I’ll tell you what kind, a very, very ugly one.
Anyway….if anyone has an ideology that is worth following it is Jeff Simpson who is easily Canada’s most articulate proponent of the ideology of sameness. We should do it the same way as we always have, because that’s the way we’ve always done it. We should do it the same as the Americans because its the only thing that they’ve ever done right.
I see now where Jeff is leading us. He’s saying that we can lead the world if we do everything the same way, but do it with even more vigour and enthusiasm than we have in the past, except we do it the same way, because that’s the way we’ve always done it. You know….I feel exactly the same way.