This page is not about Stephen Leacock, who is well biographed elsewhere, by Ralph L. Curry, by David M. Legate (who knew Leacock personally), most thoroughly by Albert Moritz and Theresa Moritz, and most recently by Margaret MacMillan. The oral history by Allan Anderson is indispensable to an appreciation of Leacockian complexes and complexities.
This page, rather, is part of a four-fold (“tetraditional”) enterprise to cultivate seeds planted by Stephen Leacock and to harvest their fruits for the cause of Social Justice, for a political economist the greatest cause there is. He wrote, at the end of his life: “Give us men [he meant people] of goodwill, whose hearts are in the cause and our happiness is assured.” I have argued repeatedly in this blog and elsewhere that if we are to renew our quest for Social Justice as we ought and the times require we must find new ways to think. The ones we are evolving these days are taking us in the opposing direction. Albert Einstein is said to have said, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The truth of that becomes more obvious these days with every breath and twitch of the body politic.
I have some labels, adjectives for the way of thinking I believe to be required, although its methodology is not yet clear to me, or to anyone else as far as I know. It will have to be something fairly simple, otherwise people will not use it. I have listed them as Tetrational, Labyrinthine, Pluralistic, Both-Andian, Metaphorical, Mythical, and Typological, not because I well understand what these words mean, but because writers who seem to think in these ways have arrived at conclusions I consider suited to the cause. Besides Stephen Leacock I am thinking of people among the dead like George Eliot, Henry George, Northrop Frye, and among the living like Marilynne Robinson and B.W. Powe. I am sure there are others; these will provide all the reading I can handle for quite some time.
I have set for myself the task of synthesis and resultant tool-making. For the time being my primary media will be this blog and the other left over from the Leacock Project, my own blog and social media, and the Voyageur Storytelling web site. You will find links to all these on the main page of this blog.
I believe that we all use quite simple rules of thumb and instinctive evaluations to decide what is good and bad to do, for ourselves and the society around us. Obviously these are highly variable, and yet the balance of them seems to be leading us ever deeper into a pit of degrading inequality and distress.
Awareness of Social Justice inextricably encumbered with Unsolved Riddles, a Tetrad of Knowledge + Imagination + Compassion + Humour: These are the seeds, the lingering gift of Stephen Leacock to the cause. These have grown through the work of many into fine, hearty trees. It’s time to harvest the wood and turn it into tools.