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  • John Chisholm

What the Dickens is up with this new Blog?

I'm calling this Halifax Politics blog The Outs, not just because we're on the outs, or it's an outsider's view. Though it's all those things. "The Outs" comes from a line Charles Dickens wrote about Halifax.


In the winter of 1842 Charles Dickens, the celebrated novelist and seasoned traveler visited Halifax as the first short stop on a North American tour. It was a stormy crossing from England and the ship nearly wrecked navigating the Eastern Passage to deliver mail at Halifax.


You can see a picture here of modern Halifax taken from the spot Dickens ship grounded. It's an unusual view of the city. A perspective not many people see. That's the idea of these articles. A different way of looking at things leading up to the Municipal Election.


Big ideas and broad views are uncomfortable. They sail on a sense of opportunity, promise, and a hint of danger.

"If what I say now seems to be very reasonable, then I will have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unreasonable have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen."
Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, speaking about A Vision Of The Future in 1960

If these articles don’t seem strange, if they don't make you uncomfortable, uneasy, and cause you to wonder how all this would work and how the pieces fit together then I've failed.


If a new way of looking at things doesn’t get some blowback – especially from those in authority and power, It’s probably not a big idea and it’s probably old and it probably won’t work.

See, this is the confusing thing about change. Those in politics and power calling loudest for it are often the ones most entrenched in the old ways of doing things… they just want more of the same change. It's a paradox.



After his stormy ocean crossing and near disastrous entry into the harbour Dickens compared the city to the mythological Greek paradise to which heroes on whom the gods conferred immortality were sent... if not for its actual appearance. He wrote of the experience years later:


I suppose this Halifax would have appeared an Elysium, though it had been a curiosity of ugly dulness. But I carried away with me a most pleasant impression of the town and its inhabitants, and have preserved it to this hour. Nor was it without regret that I came home, without having found an opportunity of returning thither, and once more shaking hands with the friends I made that day.
It happened to be the opening of the Legislative Council and General Assembly, at which ceremonial the forms observed on the commencement of a new Session of Parliament in England were so closely copied, and so gravely presented on a small scale, that it was like looking at Westminster through the wrong end of a telescope.
The governor, as her Majesty's representative, delivered what may be called the Speech from the Throne. He said what he had to say manfully and well. The military band outside the building struck up "God save the Queen" with great vigour before his Excellency had quite finished; the people shouted; the in's rubbed their hands; the out's shook their heads; the Government party said there never was such a good speech; the Opposition declared there never was such a bad one; the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly withdrew from the bar to say a great deal among themselves and do a little: and, in short, everything went on, and promised to go on, just as it does at home upon the like occasions.
The town is built on the side of a hill, the highest point being commanded by a strong fortress, not yet quite finished. Several streets of good breadth and appearance extend from its summit to the water-side, and are intersected by cross streets running parallel with the river. The houses are chiefly of wood. The market is abundantly supplied; and provisions are exceedingly cheap. The weather being unusually mild at that time for the season of the year, there was no sleighing: but there were plenty of those vehicles in yards and by-places, and some of them, from the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might have 'gone on' without alteration as triumphal cars in a melodrama at Astley's. The day was uncommonly fine; the air bracing and healthful; the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving, and industrious.



#Politics #Halifax

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