I am calling my principal blog project for 2021 the FOURFOLD VISION QUEST, or COMPLEX THINKING FOR COMPLEX TIMES. It continues work begun in 2017, when I first became familiar with Stephen Leacock’s book, The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, written in 1919. Since then I have been wrestling with the riddle, because I believe Social Justice to be the greatest cause that my country, my province, my county, my municipality, my community, or I as an individual can embrace. I intend to promote that cause within my capacities for the rest of my life. I will read, I will write, I will listen, I will talk, and in order to keep body and soul refreshed, I will walk.
I walk primarily through our own place, which is 100 acres of bush growing on limestone-dolomite bedrock with a variable but always thin, sometimes non-existent, soil mantle. This kind of terrain is called “alvar”. I have laced the place with trails, some 18 kilometres of them; otherwise we leave the management of the land to Nature. Creatures animal and vegetable abound in great variety, as is typically the case on Saugeen-Bruce Peninsula.
I used to tell primarily in Country Supper Storytelling Concerts which my wife and I hosted each summer in our home for fifteen years from 2002 to 2016. Then, in 2017, we re-traced Stephen Leacock’s 1936-37 tour of western Canada, from Thunder Bay to Nanaimo, telling stories by and about him. In 2018 I wrote a book about our adventures, called The Unsolved Riddle(s) of Stephen Leacock. Then in 2019 I wrote another one, called The Marriage of Unsolved Riddles and Social Justice. Neither of these has been graced with publication, but it’s early days. In 2020 I became involved in a different kind of literary endeavour, called KnICH Magazine, which you can find at http://www.patreon.com/knichmagazine.
The name KnICH came from the discovery, buried among the educational writings and early humour of Stephen Leacock, of a Tetrad of intellectual properties useful in grappling with unsolved riddles: Knowledge + Imagination + Compassion + Humour. KnICH. As I became increasingly preoccupied with Tetrads I was led naturally (and with the help of B.W. Powe) into William Blake, Northrop Frye, and Isaiah Berlin, giving me a quartet of sages to guide and inspire my journey. It had earlier roots, however.
I was born and raised in the Muskoka District of Ontario, studied at universities in Toronto (U. of), Chicago (U. of) , and London, England (U. of; LSE), lived for many years in Alberta where I raised my family, then for three years in the Northwest Territories, and have worked in or visited most of the provinces and territories. When our aging parents needed us we returned to Ontario.
I passed through science and the humanities into mathematical methods and econometrics and onward into the field of economic statistics, then into wider fields of economic and social research, especially in what used to be called the “mid-North”. For many years I practised a set of methods that I called “community research” with wide applicability to questions of economic and social development and service in northern and rural areas. This led into management of not-for-profit service agencies. I completed that part of my career as Executive Director of NWT Family Services in Yellowknife.
Along the way I engaged in a second part-time career as a performer in and producer of opera and operetta which led after sundry adventures into storytelling, to which I brought an operatic approach.
I began writing for performance not long after I began performing. The kind of writing that you will find in my blogs is not entirely new to me however. When I was engaged in community research my job was to express the values, ideas, opinions, hopes and fears of the people who spoke to me in formal processes of research. Now I take the same approach using the voices of authors I read and of my correspondents.
I hope you will become one of those. It’s not terribly complicated. You can send me an e-mail at email@example.com, or follow me on Twitter (@conwaypaulw) or on this blog. I intend to post weekly, using some kind of evolving scheme of chapters that will be worked out as I go along.