Contrapuntal Politics: Glenn Gould, Canadian Landscape, and the Cold War


This article argues that Glenn Gould’s celebrated Solitude Trilogy— when framed in relation to Gould’s lesser-known documentary “The Search for Pet Clark”— displays a Canadian response to Cold War tensions realized through Gould’s contrapuntal form. “The Search for Pet Clark” has traditionally been classified as a piece of music criticism, but the documentary is simultaneously preoccupied with the effects of Americanization on Canadian space. The article demonstrates that Gould refused to simply equate the United States with democratic pluralism and the USSR with totalitarianism, instead viewing totalitarianism as a politics that circulated in manifold ways and that affected Canadian space through the homogenizing forces of post-war American capital. For Gould, the antidote to totalitarianism was a multitudinous and simultaneously isolationist inclination, an expression Gould readily found in a long-idealized notion of Canadian space that allowed him to expand on and make more manifest the political possibilities of the contrapuntal.

This article “Contrapuntal Politics: Glenn Gould, Canadian Landscape, and the Cold War” originally appeared in Radio, Film, and Fiction. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 225 (Summer 2015): 11-27.

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