O Canada! The Zwicky news!

🐇 🐇 🐇 It’s Canada Day, 7/1, and this year’s appointments to the Order of Canada, announced yesterday, include philosopher, poet, musician, and political essayist Jan Zwicky.

The densest truths are home.
Liszt, Paganini, all the brilliant unreal
postures of intensity—nothing like
the dishes in the rack, heads raised
for the clear hot rinse, children
having their hair washed in the bath.
— from “Practising Bach” in Zwicky’s Forge, 2011

Background on JZ, from Wikipedia:

Janine Louise Zwicky (born 10 May 1955 [in Calgary AB]) is a Canadian philosopher, poet, essayist, and musician.

Zwicky received her BA from the University of Calgary and earned her PhD at the University of Toronto in 1981 where her studies focussed on the philosophy of logic and science.

… Zwicky is Professor Emerita in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Victoria, where she taught both philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities courses from 1996 until 2009.

… Her books, Lyric Philosophy and Wisdom & Metaphor, [develop the ideas of resonance and lyric understanding]. They consist of many voices that range across diverse disciplines, so that Zwicky’s aphoristic remarks on the left-hand pages are read with and against excerpts from the history of philosophy, musical scores, paintings, photographs, and poems on the right-hand pages. While Zwicky orders her remarks carefully and has a linear philosophical argument to make, each page is also designed to evoke remarks or images from other pages, prompting non-linear connections and directly demonstrating what she refers to as lyric structure, characterized by resonance.

Zwicky believes that Heraclitus, Plato, and Wittgenstein have purposefully constructed philosophical texts in this way before her.

… Zwicky’s poetry is influenced by music in the classical European, blues, and jazz traditions. It also deals with the natural world, and has often been cited for its intense lyricism.

JZ is married to poet Robert Bringhurst: Zwicky and Bringhurst now live on Quadra Island, near Campbell River, British Columbia (approximately 170 km northwest of Vancouver).

Then about the award. From the University of Victoria International website, “Order of Canada: a jurist, president emeritus and acclaimed poet” on 6/30/22:

Pioneering jurist Marion Buller, the University of Victoria’s chancellor, former UVic president Jamie Cassels and Jan Zwicky, acclaimed poet and philosopher and professor emeritus are among 85 new appointments to the Order of Canada announced on Wednesday by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.

… A professor emeritus in UVic’s Department of Philosophy, Zwicky is appointed to the Order of Canada for a body of work as a political thinker and intellectual force whose many written contributions challenge the assumptions of our age with sensitivity, audacity and lyricism.

Among her many accolades, she received the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1999 for her book Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, which is now considered a classic work of Canadian poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize for Forge. Her books of philosophy include Wisdom & Metaphor, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award in in 2004. Zwicky is also an accomplished violinist and has performed in chamber groups and orchestras across Canada. In addition to UVic, Zwicky has taught at Princeton University and at the universities of Alberta, Waterloo and New Brunswick.

“Following the collapse of the Athenian empire and some 77 years after the execution of Socrates, Aristotle was denounced for impiety; he fled to Euboea, lest ‘the Athenians sin twice against philosophy.’ My own work has been critical of numerous contemporary pieties, particularly resourcism and its anthropocentric underpinning; and we once again live in politically unstable times,” says Zwicky.

“The Order’s motto is desiderantes meliorem patriam, ‘they desire a better country.’ It is true: I do. I am therefore most honoured by the recognition. But I am especially grateful that I live in a polity in which such honouring of philosophy is possible. It is crucial at this point in history that we do not take such freedoms for granted.” [AZ: Graceful thanks, but with an urgent political and social point.]

The Order of Canada was created in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to honour people whose service shapes our society, whose innovations ignite our imaginations, and whose compassion unites our communities.

And that’s the Zwicky news from Canada.


2 Responses to “O Canada! The Zwicky news!”

  1. Mark Mandel Says:


  2. Rosana Ontario Says:

    Janine seems quite interesting, thanks for posting about her.

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