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Re: GG:QitL

On Tue, 14 May 1996, Mary Jo Watts wrote:

> "The Quiet in the Land" is about Mennonites; "The Idea of North" and
> "The Latecomers" (about Newfoundlanders) round out the Trilogy.  Sound
> samples are available at the CBC site as well.   GG's intro to IoN
> I've transcribed and is available at the above site.

I'm still working on my review of "The Quiet in the Land" for a Mennonite
journal.  It's actually a review of the Solitude Trilogy CD set, but I'll
focus on QitL.  I think it would be a very useful program for Mennonites
to listen to and discuss together, in terms of identity and impression. 

I have some questions of perspective, for those of you who have heard QitL
and are not Mennonite (I am).  QitL is of course the product of an
outsider's impression, 20 years ago.  As Gould presents the Mennonites he
encountered, he deals with defining identity, with external actions, and
with internal motivational ethics.  My questions: 

1. What impression does this program give you, as a general first
introduction to a Mennonite way of life?  Or does it change your
perceptions, if you already thought you knew something about Mennonites
before?  Anything surprising?

2. What types of questions about Mennonites does the program suggest but
leave unanswered?  How does Gould's presentation intrigue you about the

3. What do you think of Gould's balance between affectionate appreciation
and wry challenge (if there is such a balance)?  Is that impression from
his choice of materials, or from the way he uses them? 

4. How many times have you listened to the program?  How much new did you
get out of it in subsequent encounters?  (How much does it reveal itself
the first time, and how much depth is there for repeatable experience?)
That is to ask, how accessible and rich is it as an artistic composition? 
What about the balance between intellectual stimulation and the feelings
prompted inside the listener? 

5. Which is your favorite section, and why?

6. From this program, how would you define Mennonite identity in fifty
words or fewer?

7. How much do you think Gould made this program autobiographical,
revealing his own soul or life motivations while making a portrait of
another group? 

Thanks for comments.  I've already listened to QitL at least thirty times
myself over the past six years, plus I grew up Mennonite, and have studied
the standard corpus of Gouldiana for fifteen.  So I have my own opinions
on Gould's efforts here.  But I can't judge all aspects of the program's
effectiveness by myself, because part of that depends on how it comes
across to others who encounter it fresh, without the same background. 

Dr. Bradley Lehman, bpl@umich.edu   http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/