Culture & Conversation

The cruelty of time and the STM

The Scream, by Edvard Munch.

The Scream, by Edvard Munch.

La cruauté au quotidien, May 3rd

Saturday, late afternoon, I’m rushing by metro to the Luc Lang and Chantal Thomas roundtable La cruauté au quotidien (Everyday Cruelty). I hardly suspected how much this would apply to me.

Time became an element of cruelty. I entered the Hôtel 10 meeting room a quarter-hour late. Moments later, Luc Lang came up with just the right words: “A characteristic of everyday cruelty is that nobody is really responsible, but nonetheless it falls upon a singe protagonist.” In this sense, I saw myself as a victim of the cruelty of Montreal’s public transit system.

This made me a potential character in a story written at my expense, in the mind of some writer who would redirect an altogether futile observation to make it an event of the spirit. Like the story of a missed romantic rendezvous in the streets of Paris, taken from a novel by Lang that he was reading when I arrived. Again, this is everyday cruelty because it reminds me of an episode from my own time in Paris.

Does this mean we all are characters in potential novels? More to the point, does any ordinary annoyance amount to everyday cruelty? Or is this a novelist’s exaggeration? The roundtable ended too soon. I didn’t have time to ask these questions – again, the cruelty of time.

The Blue Metropolis Festival runs until May 4th.  Consult their website for more information.


Djamel Ighil is born in Algeria, lives in Canada, and is a francophone by passion. He is also a blogger in search of a universal identity.

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