This article concerns the following web site: whatisstephenharperreading.ca/index.html and, en français: whatisstephenharperreading.ca/quelitstephenharper.html
Like many of the people here on Ipernity, I like reading. I also like to think I could write, if I tried to - if I had the time, if I wasn't lazy, if I wrote down those clever thoughts that occur to me in the elevator or while I'm driving. So in addition to the enjoyment of the act of reading, it so happens that the mind of the writer interests me a great deal, in the slightly despicable way of less-talented hangers-on at a litterary salon.
Now sometimes a writer will generously expose his tastes and some of his inner thoughts in an accessible and unpretentious way. Enter Yann Martel. You may remember that name from the Booker Prize a few years ago. Mr Martel won it for his novel The Life of Pi.
Mr Martel has, however, another claim to fame. During a visit to the Canadian Parliament in the Spring of 2007, with a delegation of prominent artists, he noticed the manifest lack of interest displayed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper toward the cultural event that had brought these artists to Parliament. Instead of feeling insulted, Mr Martel made the following vow:
For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.
That was over 10 months ago. Yann Martel has, by now, sent 22 books to the Prime Minister, each with a thoughtful letter of commentary. But this isn't only a gift to the Prime Minister of Canada. It is a gift to each of us who might feel too busy or even, sometimes, too important for books and novels. Think about it: a rich reading list of "books that expand stillness", along with insightful commentary by a great novelist.
For Mr Martel, this must be an exercise in patience: the Prime Minister and his entourage have (very studiously, I am sure) ignored all but the first of his packages. But, thankfully for the rest of us, Mr Martel pushes on.
Reading Mr Martel's web site certainly has increased my own stillness. It has also given me some brand new insights about imagination, time, generosity and patience. All valuable assets for a photographer.