Transcript: Interview: Farley Mowat | Mar 31, 1977

Mike McManus appears in a dark television studio with a lit-up sign that reads his name. He’s in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted gray hair. He’s wearing a black shirt under a yellow cardigan.

He says CHAMPION OF THE WILDERNESS,
PROTECTOR OF THE
ENDANGERED SPECIES.
THE LIFE OF THE ANIMAL,
THE DEATH OF MAN.
MY GUEST,
Mr. FARLEY MOWAT.
AUTHOR OF “CANADA
NORTH NOW.”
AND OUR SUBJECT,
FARLEY MOWAT NOW.

(music plays)

In animation, the phrase “The education of Mike McManus” flies by, as Mike walks across the studio and joins Farley Mowat at a small round table.

The opening sequence rolls.
Soft flute music plays.

Portraits of Mike made of dots in different colours flash by as the title flies by: The Education of Mike McManus.

Then, Mike and Farley appear on screen again.
Farley is in his fifties, with short side-parted blond hair and a long full beard. He’s smoking a wooden pipe. He’s wearing a brown coat over a brown sweater.

Farley says THE MOST SERIOUS THING
THAT'S HAPPENED TODAY.

Mike says FARLEY MOWAT, “PEOPLE OF THE
DEER,” “LOST IN THE BARRENS,”
“COPPERMINE JOURNEY,”
“CANADA NORTH,”
AND MANY OTHERS.
I'M WONDERING WHAT'S
BEEN THE FASCINATION
FOR YOU OF THE NORTH?
WHAT HAS IT GIVEN YOU?

Farley says WELL, THAT'S THE KIND OF
QUESTION I COULD SPEND
20 MINUTES THINKING ABOUT,
AND HALF AN HOUR ANSWERING.
I WENT NORTH IMMEDIATELY
AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
AND I WENT BECAUSE OF
A TREMENDOUS AVERSION
TO THE WORLD IN WHICH
I FOUND MYSELF
FOR FIVE YEARS
OVERSEAS FIGHTING.
I COULD NO LONGER
TOLERATE THE WORLD
THAT HAD BORNE ME, THE
WORLD OF MODERN MAN.
TO ME, IT LOOKED
LIKE A COMPLETE
AND ABSOLUTE DISASTER.
AND I'D SEEN
THAT FIRSTHAND.
SO I WAS VERY BITTER, VERY
CYNICAL FOR A YOUNG MAN
AND I WANTED TO
ESCAPE IT ALL.
I HAD BEEN NORTH WHEN
I WAS 14, I THINK, YES,
WITH MY GREAT-UNCLE,
TO CHURCHILL,
AS FAR AS CHURCHILL.
AND I HAD A MEMORY SOMEWHERE
IN THE BACK OF MY MIND
OF TRANQUILLITY, OF A
SENSE OF EASE, A SENSE
OF BELONGING TO THE
WORLD AROUND ME.
SO WITH THIS MEMORY, I
WENT NORTH AGAIN IN 1946,
AND FOUND MYSELF
IN THE MIDDLE
OF THE KEEWATIN
BARREN LANDS.
AND BY PURE ACCIDENT,
FOUND MYSELF IN CONTACT
WITH A SMALL GROUP, A
RESIDUAL GROUP OF ESKIMOS,
WHO WERE STILL
LIVING THE OLD WAY.
STILL LIVING ON THE LAND,
BY THE LAND, OF THE LAND.
BUT WHO WERE ALSO IN
THE PROCESS OF DECAY.
THEY HAD BEEN
HIT BY US.
ALTHOUGH THEY WEREN'T
IN DIRECT CONTACT,
THE INDIRECT CONTACT
HAD HIT THEM.
AND THEIR LITTLE
SOCIETY WAS COLLAPSING.
THEIR WAY OF
LIFE WAS DYING.
AND THEY STRUCK ME AS
BEING INCREDIBLY TRAGIC.
AND I WENT THERE,
ORIGINALLY, TO STUDY CARIBOU.
AND I STUDIED CARIBOU,
BUT I BECAME MUCH MORE
INTENSELY INTERESTED
IN THE PEOPLE.
THE PEOPLE OF THE CARIBOU,
THE PEOPLE OF THE DEER.

Mike says SO IT WAS THIS WAR
EXPERIENCE, THEN,
BUT ALSO THE RESIDING
MEMORY OF THIS TRIP AT 14.
WHEN YOU WERE THERE
WITH YOUR GREAT-UNCLE,
DID YOU HAVE A FEELING
YOU'D BE BACK?

Farley says NO.
AT THE AGE OF 14, YOU
NEVER THINK THAT WAY.
THERE IS NO FUTURE.
THERE IS ONLY TODAY.
SO IT NEVER OCCURRED
TO ME, I'M SURE,
THAT I MIGHT GO
BACK SOME DAY.

Mike says WE KNOW THAT YOU WERE A
PHILOSOPHER OF ECOLOGY
LONG BEFORE IT
WAS IN VOGUE.
AND I THINK THAT SENSE
OF A LOVE FOR ANIMALS
AND THE ENVIRONMENT GOES
BACK EVEN BEFORE 14,
TO YOUR CHILDHOOD.
AND I WAS WONDERING IF
YOU COULD RECREATE SOME
OF THE MEMORIES OF YOUR
CHILDHOOD THAT GAVE YOU THIS.

Farley says I CAN TELL YOU
HOW THIS HAPPENED.
LONG BEFORE THE WORD
ECOLOGY HAD BEEN INVENTED,
I WAS INVOLVED IN
THE SITUATION.
IT HAPPENED BECAUSE
WHEN I WAS A YOUNGSTER,
WHEN I WAS 8,
I LOOKED 6.
WHEN I WAS 12,
I LOOKED 10.
I COULDN'T GET
ANY GIRLS.
I WOULDN'T GO TO DANCES
BECAUSE THE GIRLS
WOULD LAUGH AT ME AND SAY,
WHERE'S YOUR BABYSITTER?
THIS SORT OF THING.
I COULDN'T PLAY
HOCKEY WORTH A DAMN.
I KEPT FALLING DOWN AND
GETTING HIT ON THE HEAD
WITH PUCKS AND
SKATES AND THINGS.
SO IN DESPERATION, I
TURNED TO OTHER FRIENDS,
TO ANOTHER WORLD.
AND THE WORLD I
TURNED TO WAS NATURE,
THE NATURAL WORLD.
AND I BECAME A
YOUNG NATURALIST.
AND I USED TO SPEND ALL MY
SPARE TIME WANDERING
THE RIVERBANKS OF SASKATOON,
AND OUT LOOKING AT MAGPIES
AND CHASING
COYOTES, AND SO ON.
AND BY PURE ACCIDENT, AS
A RESULT OF FEELING
I WAS REJECTED BY MY OWN
PEER GROUP, I WAS BROUGHT
INTO CONTACT WITH A MUCH MORE
ENDURING SET OF FRIENDS.
AND MY FIRST AWARENESS
THAT MAN WAS NOT ALONE
ON THE PLANET, THAT MAN WAS
NOT A SEPARATE CREATION,
THAT WE'RE NOT A
SUPERIOR FORM OF LIFE,
PROBABLY BEGAN PERCOLATING
THROUGH MY SKIN
IN THOSE VERY
EARLY YEARS.
AND IT HAS CONTINUED TO
PERCOLATE EVER SINCE.

Mike says WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
WOULD YOU BIRD WATCH?

Farley says OH, YEAH.
I WAS A TERRIFIC
BIRD WATCHER.
I HAD A PAIR OF OLD
FOUR-POWER BINOCULARS,
OR FIELD GLASSES, THAT
BELONGED TO MY GREAT-UNCLE.
YOU COULD SEE MUCH
BETTER WITHOUT THEM,
IT WAS SO PROFESSIONAL TO
HAVE SOMETHING TO STARE AT.
BUT I USED TO LOOK OVER THEM
TO SEE THE BIRDS BECAUSE
I COULDN'T SEE THE
BIRDS THROUGH THEM.

Mike says YOU WERE STUDYING ABOUT
ANIMALS AND EVERYTHING
AT THE SAME TIME?

Farley says YEAH.
I WAS BECOMING
INVOLVED WITH THEM.
I DON'T LIKE THE WORD STUDY
BECAUSE THAT IMPLIES
A SORT OF ACADEMIC
APPROACH.
I WAS JUST GETTING
INVOLVED.
AND I CONTINUED
FROM THAT.
AND ALL MY LIFE, I HAVE
CONTINUED TO BE INVOLVED
IN OTHER FORMS OF LIFE.

Mike says YOU'VE WRITTEN WITH
LOVE FOR ANIMALS,
AND UNDERSTANDING FOR ESKIMOS,
FOR SEA, LIFE OF THE SEA,
AND THE LIFE OF THE SEAMAN.
YOU'VE WRITTEN BOOKS
FOR ADULTS AND BOOKS
FOR CHILDREN, ALTHOUGH I KNOW
THAT DISTINCTION ISN'T RIGHT.
ADULTS LIKE YOUR
CHILDREN'S BOOKS.

Farley says AND I DON'T WRITE
BOOKS FOR AGE GROUPS.
I WRITE BOOKS DEPENDING ON
HOW I FEEL ABOUT WHAT I FEEL.
AND IF I'M WRITING WITH THE
FEELING OF A YOUNG PERSON,
THEN THE BOOK COMES OUT
AS THAT KIND OF BOOK.

Mike says WE CAN MAKE A DISTINCTION
THEN BETWEEN BOOKS
OF HIGH ADVENTURE AND BOOKS THAT
SEAR THE CONSCIENCE OF MAN.

Farley says OH, BOY.
YOU ARE REALLY LAYING
IT ON HEAVY THERE.

Mike says I AM;
I HAVE TO.

They both chuckle.

Farley says I HAVE NEVER TRIED TO SEAR
THE CONSCIENCE OF MAN.
I HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLE WITH
MY OWN DAMN CONSCIENCE
WITHOUT TRYING TO SEAR
THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE.

Mike says BUT THERE IS KIND OF A
DISTINCTION THERE, THOUGH.
AND I'M WONDERING,
IS AN ADVENTURE BOOK
A CALCULATED THING, LIKE
NOW I'M GOING TO WRITE
AN ADVENTURE BOOK FOR A
CHILD, OR IS IT A MOOD THING?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Farley Mowat."

Farley says NO.
NONE OF MY BOOKS
ARE CALCULATED.
I HAVE NO IDEA, WHEN I SIT
DOWN TO WRITE A BOOK,
WHAT FORM, THE SHAPE
IT IS GOING TO TAKE.
IN FACT, I OFTEN DON'T
EVEN KNOW WHAT THE HELL
IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT.
THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME
AT LEAST A DOZEN TIMES.
I HAVE THIS FEELING,
FARLEY, YOU BETTER
WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.
AND THE REASON I GET THE
FEELING IS I'M GETTING NASTY
PHONE CALLS FROM MY
BANK MANAGER SAYING,
YOU DAMN WELL BETTER
WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.
SO I SIT AND STARE AT
THAT UGLY GREY MACHINE,
THAT AWFUL TYPEWRITER,
THAT MONSTER.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?
WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY?
WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY?
AND AFTER A WHILE,
A LITTLE TRAP DOOR
AT THE BACK OF
MY HEAD OPENS.
AND I SORT OF GO
SLIGHTLY UNCONSCIOUS.
AND OUT OF THE BACK OF
MY HEAD COMES AN IDEA.
AND I TYPE AWAY LIKE MAD
WITH MY TWO FINGERS, BANG,
BANG, NINE TIMES OUT
OF TEN IT'S JUNK,
AND I HAVE TO
THROW IT AWAY.
BUT THEN THAT'S HOW
BOOKS START WITH ME.
I'M NOT A
CONSCIOUS MAN.

Mike says I SEE.

Farley says I DON'T THINK
THINGS OUT.
I HAVE NO SENSE OF
RATIONAL LOGIC WHATSOEVER.
AND I VERY MUCH DISTRUST
PEOPLE WHO HAVE.
I'M A SUBCONSCIOUS,
INSTINCTIVE ANIMAL.
AND THAT'S WHERE
I OPERATE BEST.
AND I OPERATE BEST AS A
WRITER IN THAT SENSE.

Mike says YOU ALSO PUT A HIGHER VALUE
ON INSTINCT THAN RATIONALITY.

Farley says YES, I DO.
CERTAINLY ON FEELING.
FEELING IS PART OF THE
INSTINCTUAL PATTERN.
HOW I FEEL, WHAT I FEEL, IS
MUCH MORE VALUABLE TO ME,
MUCH MORE IMPORTANT FOR MY
SURVIVAL, TOO, I THINK,
THAN HOW I THINK ABOUT
MYSELF, OR HOW I THINK
I SHOULD BEHAVE AND ACT.
SO IF A FELLOW CAN'T
THINK - AND I CAN'T -
THERE'S NO USE PRETENDING.

Mike says YOU SAID AN INTERESTING
THING SOMEWHERE
THAT YOU DON'T LET
FACTS GET IN THE WAY.

Farley says NO, NEVER.

Mike says BECAUSE FACTS, OR TOO MANY
OF THEM, THEY KEEP YOU
AWAY FROM THE TRUTH.

Farley says NEVER LET THE FACTS STAND
IN THE WAY OF THE TRUTH,
WHATEVER THE
TRUTH MAY BE.
FACTS ARE STRUCTURES THAT WE
CONTRIVE WITH THE FRONT HALF
OF OUR HEAD, WITH OUR
LOGICAL BRAIN.
AND THEY OBSCURE
THE VIEW.
THEY OBSCURE VISION.
YOU SEE THE FACTS THAT
YOU HAVE PICKED UP
HERE AND THERE AND PLANTED
IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES,
AND YOU CAN'T SEE
BEYOND THEM.
SO I'M AN
ANTI-FACTUALIST.
HOW'S THAT?

Mike says TEN YEARS AGO, SOMEBODY
WROTE THAT, “HE STILL RETAINS
HIS YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE,
CURIOSITY, AND INVENTIVENESS,
DELIGHTS IN EXAGGERATION
AND SLAPSTICK HUMOUR,
LOVES TALL TALES
AND HIGH ADVENTURE.”
STILL TRUE TODAY?

Farley says YES.
WITH SOME MODIFICATIONS.
I'M GETTING A LITTLE
CREAKY IN THE JOINTS.
BUT APART FROM THAT, THAT'S
STILL BASICALLY TRUE.

Mike says STILL THE SENSE OF CHILD-LIKE
WONDER ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS?

Farley says ABOUT NATURAL THINGS.
NOT ABOUT HUMAN THINGS.
MY FEELING ABOUT
THE HUMAN SITUATION
IS ONE OF ALMOST
UNMITIGATED GLOOM.
I REALLY DON'T THINK
THE HUMAN SPECIES
HAS ANY FUTURE.
WELL, OF COURSE,
NO SPECIES HAS.
SPECIES ARE LIKE
INDIVIDUALS:
THEY ARE BORN, THEY PASS
THROUGH THEIR PERIOD OF TIME,
AND THEY DIE,
THEY DISAPPEAR.
AND THIS IS INEVITABLE FOR
ALL SPECIES, AND THEREFORE,
IT IS INEVITABLE FOR MAN.
BUT I AM UNHAPPILY
AWARE THAT I WAS BORN
IN THE DECLINE, THE DECLINING
PERIOD OF THE HUMAN SPECIES.
AND THIS DISTRESSES
ME A LITTLE BIT.
AND I REALLY AM VERY ANGRY,
AND VERY UNHAPPY
AT WHAT THE HUMAN SPECIES
IS DOING TO THE WORLD
IN ITS FINAL
DECLINING YEARS.
THIS IS THE ONLY THING THAT
REALLY ENRAGES ME ANYMORE.
AND THIS, OF COURSE, BRINGS
US RIGHT BACK TO THE WHOLE
QUESTION OF ECOLOGY
AND MAN AND THE WORLD.

Mike says THAT GLOOM THAT YOU
SPEAK OF NOW IN YOUR LIFE
THAT HAS CERTAINLY NEUTRALIZED
YOUR SENSE OF WONDER
FOR MAN, THAT REALLY BEGAN
AS YOU WERE HINTING BEFORE,
IN THE WAR YEARS?

Farley says NO, NO, I EMERGED FROM
THE WAR YEARS VERY BITTER
ABOUT ONE SPECIFIC THING:
THE STUPIDITY OF WAR.
BUT STILL FULL OF
IDEALISTIC CONCEPTS,
BELIEVING THAT MAN
COULD IMPROVE HIMSELF.
THAT IF WE ALL GOT
TOGETHER, OR IF INDIVIDUALS
RAISED ENOUGH STINK,
RAISED ENOUGH HELL,
THEY COULD CHANGE THE
COURSE OF HUMAN DESTINY.
A LITTLE BIT.
TEENSY WEENSY BIT.
NOW, I NO LONGER
BELIEVE THAT.
THIS IS NOT A QUESTION
OF DISILLUSIONMENT.
IT'S A QUESTION OF SIMPLY
BECOMING AWARE OF THE FACTS.
THE FACTS, AH-HA,
AWARE OF THE TRUTH.
IF YOU STUCK TO THE FACTS
THEN YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE
WHAT YOU ARE TOLD
IN YOUR NEWSPAPERS,
IN YOUR SCHOOLS, ON TELEVISION,
AND EVERYWHERE ELSE.
WE ARE LIVING IN THE BEST
OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS.
THAT THINGS ARE A
LITTLE SHAKY RIGHT NOW,
BUT WE'LL GET THINGS
UNDER CONTROL.
EVENTUALLY, NIRVANA
WILL BE OURS.
NOW THAT IS ILLUSION
PURE AND SIMPLE,
AND IT IS CONTRIVED
FROM FACTS.
THE FEELING OF ANY
HUMAN BEING, I THINK,
IN THE WORLD TODAY WHO
ALLOWS HIMSELF OR HERSELF,
TO REACT ONLY TO THEIR FEELINGS
IS ONE OF APPREHENSION,
DEEP-ROOTED APPREHENSION.
KIDS IN SCHOOLS TODAY,
WHEN I TALK TO THEM,
WHICH I LOVE TO DO,
THEY ALL TELL ME
THEY HAVE THIS SENSE
OF APPREHENSION.
IT'S GENERIC NOW IN
THE HUMAN SPECIES.
ADULTS TRY TO CONCEAL IT.

Mike says AN APPREHENSION OF DOOM.

Farley says AN APPREHENSION OF
GROSS UNCERTAINTY.
WE NO LONGER THINK OF THE
FUTURE IN CERTAIN TERMS.

Mike says “THE PEOPLE OF
THE DEER,” 1952.
YOU WERE MENTIONING IT
EARLIER IN THE DISCUSSION.
YOU SAID THESE PEOPLE,
PEOPLE OF ADVERSITY,
WHOM YOU HAVE ALWAYS
ADMIRED, RIGHT?
THAT THEY STRUGGLED SO MUCH
WITH THEIR ENVIRONMENT
TO SURVIVE, THAT THE IDEA
OCCURRED TO YOU THAT MAYBE,
BECAUSE OF ALL THE
ENERGY IT TOOK
FOR THEM TO GO ON
LIVING, THEY MIGHT
NEVER HAVE FOUND
THE WILL OR DESIRE
TO TURN THEIR STRENGTH
AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.
AND THAT FASCINATED YOU.
MAN'S AGGRESSIVENESS
IS A PROBLEM FOR YOU.

Farley says MAN'S AGGRESSIVENESS IS
ONE OF MANY INSTINCTS
THAT HAVE BEEN ABERRANT,
THAT HAVE BECOME SICK,
THAT HAVE BECOME VERY
DANGEROUS IN OUR HANDS.
IN OUR PRIMITIVE STATE,
WE ARE SIMPLY AN ANIMAL
THAT HAS TRANSCENDED THE
LAWS AND RULES OF NATURE.
WHEN WE FIRST DISCOVERED
TOOLS WE SUDDENLY HAD
AN INCREDIBLE ADVANTAGE OVER
EVERY OTHER FORM OF LIFE.
AND WE SOARED LIKE THAT IN
THIS ADVANTAGEOUS SENSE
UNTIL WE
DEVELOPED SOCIETIES,
AND CIVILIZATIONS, AND
ALL THE REST OF IT.
IN THE MEANTIME, ALL OUR
INSTINCTIVE DRIVES,
THE THINGS THAT WERE
CONTROLLED IN NATURE -
NATURE GIVES US INSTINCTS,
HAS MOTIVES TO DRIVE US,
TO MOVE US - BUT LAYS ON
PROHIBITIONS THAT PREVENT
THESE INSTINCTS FROM
CARRYING YOU TOO FAR
IN ANY GIVEN DIRECTION.
WE HAVE SIMPLY REMOVED
ALL THE PROHIBITIONS,
THE NATURAL PROHIBITIONS.
WE'VE ESCAPED FROM THE
NATURAL PROHIBITIONS.
AND WE HAVE PROVED
ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE
OF PROVIDING
ARTIFICIAL CONTROLS.
OUR WHOLE LAW STRUCTURE, OUR
PHILOSOPHICAL STRUCTURE,
OUR POLITICAL STRUCTURE,
IS INTENDED TO REPLACE
NATURAL CONTROLS ON
INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOUR.
AND THEY DON'T WORK BECAUSE
THEY ARE CONTRIVED.
BECAUSE WE HAVE
INVENTED THEM.
THE WHOLE BIT OF
AGGRESSIVENESS IN MAN.
NO WILD ANIMAL
IS AGGRESSIVE.
THE WORD AGGRESSIVE SHOULD
APPLY ALMOST ENTIRELY
TO THE HUMAN SPECIES.
IT'S SOMETHING
THAT WE INVENTED.

Mike says BACK TO “THE PEOPLE
OF THE DEER.”
YOU WROTE A BOOK TO TRY,
I THINK, TO SAVE THEM,
OR AT LEAST MAKE PEOPLE
AWARE WHAT WAS HAPPENING
BECAUSE THEY WERE DOWN
TO ABOUT 49 PEOPLE;
IS THAT RIGHT?

Farley says THEY WERE DYING FAST.

Mike says DYING FAST.
16 YEARS LATER, AFTER YOUR
BOOK, “PEOPLE OF THE DEER,”
YOU SAID YOU FELT YOUR
BOOK MIGHT HAVE DONE
MORE DAMAGE TO THESE
ESKIMOS THAN ALL THE PEOPLE
YOU HAD ATTACKED
IN THE BOOK.

Farley says YES.
THAT WAS CRYING
MEA CULPA.
I FELT VERY GUILTY ABOUT IT
BECAUSE I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND
WHAT WAS REALLY HAPPENING.
SEE, I WAS STILL AN
IDEALIST IN THOSE DAYS.
I ASSUMED HERE WERE PEOPLE
THAT WERE SUFFERING PHYSICALLY,
THEY WERE DYING OF HUNGER,
THEY WERE DYING OF DISEASE.
THAT IF WE MOVED IN ALL OF
THE GOOD THINGS, IN QUOTES,
OF OUR SOCIETY, MEDICINES,
HAD A GOOD ECONOMY FOR THEM,
NEW HOUSING, AND ALL
THIS SORT OF THING,
THAT IT WOULD SOLVE
THEIR PROBLEM.
AND OF COURSE, I WAS QUITE
WRONG BECAUSE ALL THAT DID
WAS TO INCREASE
THE RATE OF DECAY
OF THEIR OWN WORLD,
THEIR OWN SOCIETY.
MAKING THEM LIKE US
WAS A KIND OF BETRAYAL.
I HELPED, VERY LARGELY,
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
TO DEVELOP ITS NEW
EMPIRE IN THE NORTH,
ITS ADMINISTRATIVE EMPIRE,
WHERE THE ESKIMOS AND INDIANS
ARE USED AS REASONS
FOR US TO DO THINGS
IN THE NORTH THAT
WE WANT TO DO.
AND WITHOUT EVER MEANING
TO, I CONTRIBUTED
TO THIS DISASTROUS
SITUATION.

Mike says YOU SAW THIS SIMILAR THING
HAPPENING - NOT EXACTLY
THE SAME DETAILS - IN
1968 IN YOUR BOOK,
“THIS ROCK WITHIN THE SEA.”
YOU SAW FISHERMEN, THE CULTURE
OF FISHERMEN IN NEWFOUNDLAND
AND THE OUTPORTS BEING
FORCED INTO THE CITIES.
THEIR CULTURE
DISINTEGRATING.
THEIR SENSE OF IDENTITY
DISINTEGRATING.
DO YOU KNOW THE ANSWER TO
THIS PROBLEM, HOW TO KEEP
THE NATIVE PEOPLES NATIVE
AND KEEP THEM AWAY -

Farley lights up his pipe again and says
THERE IS NO ANSWER.
THERE IS NO ANSWER.
IN THE ENTIRE WORLD TODAY,
THERE IS NOT ONE SINGLE
GROUP OF HUMAN BEINGS
WHO ARE STILL LIVING
IN A TRIBAL STATE IN THE
CONDITION OF NATURE.
WE'VE MANAGED TO
REACH ALL OF THEM,
AND TO PERVERT
ALL OF THEM,
TO TOUCH THEM WITH
THE UGLY DISEASE
THAT WE CALL PROGRESS.
INSTANT CHANGE,
CONTINUOUS CHANGE,
CHANGE FOR ITS OWN SAKE.
THERE IS NO WAY ANYMORE
THAT ANYBODY CAN SET OUT
TO SAVE A PEOPLE,
OR A GROUP.
BUT THERE IS ONE THING
LEFT THAT WE CAN DO.
AND EACH ONE OF
US CAN DO THIS.
AND THAT IS SAVE
OURSELVES INDIVIDUALLY.
THE WHOLE THING NOW HAS, IN
MY MIND, HAS RESOLVED ITSELF
TO A BASIC DRIVE WHICH
MOTIVATES EVERY LIVING THING,
WHICH IS PERSONAL
SURVIVAL.
AND IF ENOUGH PERSONS SURVIVE,
THEN THE RACE SURVIVES.

Mike says YOU ARE WILLING
TO ADMIT, THOUGH,
WHEN THE TECHNOLOGICAL AGE
COMES IN TO SAVE THEM
IT DESTROYS THEM.
YOU ARE WILLING TO ADMIT
THAT IF PERHAPS THE
TECHNOLOGICAL AGE
HADN'T COME IN THEY
WOULD HAVE DIED
ECONOMICALLY ANYWAY?

Farley says OH, I BY NO
MEANS ADMIT THAT.
THE HUMAN SPECIES HAS
BEEN ON THIS PLANET
IN A RECOGNIZABLE FORM FOR
VERY CLOSE TO A MILLION YEARS
WITHOUT THE BENEFITS
OF TECHNOLOGY.
AND IT WAS DOING
VERY DAMNED WELL.
IT HAD SPREAD OVER THE
ENTIRE FACE OF THE EARTH.
IT HAD LEARNED TO ADAPT
ITSELF FROM CLIMATIC
CONDITIONS FROM THE
TROPICAL RAIN FOREST
TO THE HIGH ARCTIC TUNDRA
WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY.
IT WAS DOING JUST FINE.
TECHNOLOGY HAS NOT
BEEN A BENEFIT.
TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN A
SORT OF DAMOCLES,
AND WE HAVE CUT
THE STRING - ZOINK!

Mike says FARLEY, I'VE GOT
TO MOVE YOU ON.
“A WHALE FOR THE KILLING,”
1972, JUST BRIEFLY.
THIS BOOK, WHICH COST YOU,
YOU SAID, THE MOST
IN A PERSONAL SENSE
OF ALL THE BOOKS.

Farley says EMOTIONALLY, YEAH.

Mike says HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THE
DETAILS OF THE STORY,
BUT WHEN THE WHALE
DIED YOU WROTE,
“THE WHALE WAS NOT ALONE
IN BEING TRAPPED.
WE WERE ALL BEING
TRAPPED WITH HER.”

Farley says MM-HMM.

Mike says “THE FRAGILE LINK BETWEEN
HER RACE AND MINE
AT HER DEATH WAS SEVERED.
WHAT SICKENS ME ARE THE
PEOPLE DOWN IN THAT AREA,
THEIR SIMPLE FAILURE TO RESIST
THE IMPULSE OF SAVAGERY.”
YOU WERE BETRAYED AGAIN.

Farley says MM-HMM.
BUT ONLY BECAUSE OF
MY OWN STUPIDITY.
MY OWN INABILITY TO
UNDERSTAND THE INEVITABLE,
AND TO RECOGNIZE IT, AND TO
BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH IT.

Mike says “CANADA'S NORTH NOW:
THE GREAT BETRAYAL,”
WHICH IS THE SECOND
PART OF THE TITLE.

Farley says THE LAST CRI DE COEUR.

Mike says WHAT ARE YOU
SAYING HERE, FARLEY?

Farley says WHAT I'M SAYING IS INSTEAD
OF VISITING DISASTER
ON THE ARCTIC, ONE OF THE LAST
LARGE REALMS ON THE FACE
OF THE EARTH THAT REMAINS
IN ITS PRISTINE CONDITION,
INSTEAD OF VISITING
DISASTER ON IT
IN A SMALL-SCALE,
PIECEMEAL WAY, WE ARE NOW
ABOUT TO DEVASTATE IT
IN ALL THE TOTALITY
THAT IS AVAILABLE TO US
AS THE MOST CAPABLE
TECHNOLOGICAL
ANIMALS IN THE WORLD.
WE ARE GOING IN THERE NOW,
LITERALLY, TO WIPE IT OUT.
WE ARE GOING IN THERE TO
TAKE EVERY RESOURCE
WE CAN GET OUT OF IT, AND
DEVIL TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES.

Mike says WHAT DO YOU HOPE
YOUR BOOK WILL DO?

Farley says WELL, ONE WOULD HOPE
THAT IT MIGHT HAVE SOME
SLIGHT EFFECT IN SLOWING
THIS DESTRUCTIVE WAVE
THAT'S FLOWING NORTH.
BUT THEN I'M A REALIST.
I DOUBT IF IT WILL
HAVE VERY MUCH EFFECT
UPON THE MULTINATIONAL
CARTELS, UPON GOVERNMENT,
UPON ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE
WHO ARE COMMITTED
TO THE DESTRUCTION
OF THE ARCTIC,
TO THE RAPE OF
THE ARCTIC.
BUT WHAT IT MIGHT JUST
POSSIBLY DO IS HAVE
SOME SLIGHT EFFECT UPON
INDIVIDUAL READERS.
SEE, I'M BACK TO
THIS BIT AGAIN.
I'M NOW THINKING IN TERMS OF
INDIVIDUALS ALMOST ENTIRELY.
MAYBE SOME PEOPLE WHO READ
THIS BOOK WILL FEEL
NOT TWINGES OF CONSCIENCE,
SO MUCH, BUT A SENSE OF
THE IMMINENCE OF THE
DISASTER THAT HANGS OVER US,
AND MAYBE THEY WILL
THEN FEEL A RESURGENCE
OF THEIR OWN DESIRE
TO SURVIVE AS PEOPLE.
MAYBE THEY WILL TEND TO
DISASSOCIATE THEMSELVES
WITH WHAT'S GOING ON, AS A
HELL OF A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE
ARE NOW DOING WITHOUT
ANY HELP FROM ME.

Mike says YOU HAVEN'T LOST ALL
YOUR FAITH IN PEOPLE.

Farley says NO.
I HAVEN'T LOST
FAITH AT ALL.
I'M NOT A PESSIMIST.
I'M A REALIST.

Mike says YOU WERE TOO NAIVE IN “A
WHALE FOR THE KILLING,”
THAT YOU THOUGHT THE
PEOPLE WOULD RESIST
THEIR INSTINCTIVE, AGGRESSIVE
DRIVES TO DESTROY.
BUT YOU THINK
SOUTHERN CANADIANS
DO HAVE A FEELING
FOR SURVIVAL.

Farley says I THINK THAT IT'S POSSIBLE
TO ROUSE ONE IN THEM.
I DON'T THINK VERY MANY
HAVE AT THE MOMENT.
I DON'T THINK VERY MANY
EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
AND THIS KIND OF A BOOK
IS INTENDED TO MAKE US
THINK ABOUT IT.

Mike says DO YOU THINK WE ARE
UNDER MISCONCEPTIONS
ABOUT THE NORTH?
DO YOU THINK WE THINK
ABOUT IT AS GREAT RICHES
FOR ALL OF US
COMING DOWN?

Farley says THAT'S EXACTLY HOW
WE THINK ABOUT IT.
THAT'S ONE OF THE GREAT
ILLUSIONS OF ALL TIME.
WE HAVE REALLY BEEN SOLD A
BILL OF GOODS ABOUT THIS.
WE ARE TOLD IF WE EXPLOIT
THE NORTH TOTALLY NOW,
WE'LL ALL HAVE LOTS OF OIL,
LOTS OF GASOLINE,
LOTS OF ENERGY, LOTS OF
MINERALS, LOTS OF EVERYTHING,
AND WE WILL ALL BE RICH
IN MATERIAL THINGS,
THE COUNTRY WILL BE
RICHER FINANCIALLY,
AND IT'S GOING TO
BE JUST GREAT.
IT'S A LINE OF
STRAIGHT B.S.
ALL OF THE RESOURCES THAT
WILL BE GOING OUT OF THE NORTH
WILL BE GOING OUT UNDER THE
AEGIS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS.
THEY WILL GO TO OTHER
COUNTRIES FOR PROCESSING
AND DISTRIBUTION.
WE WILL RECEIVE A MERE
PITTANCE, A JUDAS HAND
OF SILVER, IN
TERMS OF ROYALTIES.
AND THE MONEY THAT WE DO
RECEIVE, THAT OUR GOVERNMENT
DOES RECEIVE, WILL THEN HAVE
TO BE RE-SPENT TO PROVIDE
ALL OF THESE FOREIGN
ORGANIZATIONS WITH FACILITIES,
WITH ROADS, AIRPORTS,
ALL THIS SORT OF THING.
WE'LL GET NOTHING
OUT OF IT AT ALL.
AND THIS IS THE GREAT
LIE THAT IS BEING
PERPETRATED
UPON CANADIANS.
BUT YOU KNOW WHY IT IS
POSSIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT
TO SELL THIS LIE?
BECAUSE GOVERNMENT APPEALS
TO THE GREED IN ALL OF US.
THE STORY IS, THE LIE
IS, LISTEN, YOU LET US
DO THIS TO THE NORTH, AND YOU
WILL GET A LITTLE RICHER.
AND SO WE BUY IT BECAUSE WE
THINK, AH-HA, DOESN'T REALLY
MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TO THE
NORTH OR ANYWHERE ELSE,
AS LONG AS I GET
A LITTLE RICHER.
AS LONG AS I CAN DRIVE
MY CAR A LITTLE LONGER.
AS LONG AS I CAN WASTE HEAT
IN MY HOUSE, YOU KNOW?
IT'S AN APPEAL TO
PURE SELFISHNESS.
AND THAT'S WHY IT WORKS.

Mike says AND THE NATIVE PEOPLES?

Farley says THE NATIVE PEOPLES ARE
RESISTING AS BEST THEY CAN.
BUT AGAIN, THEY ARE
PARTIALLY INFECTED
BY THIS FEELING OF
SELFISHNESS.
YOU KNOW, GIMME,
GIMME, GIMME.
THEY ARE TRYING VERY
HARD TO RESIST,
AND THEY ARE MAKING
A GOOD SHOW OF IT.
AND I THINK WE OWE THEM OUR
SUPPORT, WE SOUTHERNERS,
WHO ARE ABOUT TO
DESTROY THEIR COUNTRY.
THIS IS ONE OF THE MESSAGES
IN THE BOOK: LET'S HELP THEM.
MAYBE THEY WON'T SUCCEED,
BUT FOR GOD'S SAKES,
LET'S GIVE THEM A CHANCE.

Mike says THE BERGER COMMISSION HAS BEEN
A KIND OF AN INSPIRATION.

Farley says THE BERGER COMMISSION IS
ONE OF THE MOST MIRACULOUS
THINGS TO EVER HAPPEN
IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT
NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
IT WAS SET UP AS A ROYAL
COMMISSION, AS ALL
ROYAL COMMISSIONS ARE SET
UP, TO BURY THE TRUTH.
AND THE GOVERNMENT MADE
A TERRIBLE MISTAKE
WHEN THEY HIRED
JUDGE TOM BERGER.
AND THEY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO
GET RID OF HIM EVER SINCE,
YOU KNOW, BUT
THEY CAN'T.
THERE HE IS.
HE HAS REVEALED THE
TRUTH ABOUT THE NORTH
AS NOBODY ELSE
HAS DARED DO IT.
AND IT WAS ALL DONE
WITH GOVERNMENT MONEY
UNDER THE
GOVERNMENT'S AEGIS.
ISN'T THAT LOVELY?

Mike says THAT IS LOVELY.

Farley says GREAT MAN.

Mike says FARLEY MOWAT, SOMEONE
HAS WRITTEN OF YOU
THAT YOU DESPISE MID-20TH
CENTURY URBAN CANADIANS.

Farley says NO, I DON'T
DESPISE THEM.
IT SCARES THE LIVING
BEJESUS OUT OF ME.
IT'S A TERRIFYING
PHENOMENON.
I HAVE SEEN IT REPEATED
EXPERIMENTALLY WITH RATS.
I READ ABOUT THIS, AND
I'VE SEEN PART OF IT.
IN WHICH THEY PLACE RATS,
WHICH ARE PRETTY GOOD
FUNCTIONAL ANIMALS
LEFT ALONE,
UNDER CONDITIONS OF
INTENSE CONCENTRATION.
AND THEN THEY
WATCH THEM GO MAD.
AND FINALLY DESTROY
THEMSELVES.
AND THE TERRIFYING THING
ABOUT IT IS THAT THE RATS
DO NOT APPEAR TO REALIZE
THAT THEY ARE GOING MAD.
THEY DO NOT APPEAR
TO KNOW THAT THESE
ABERRANT ACTIVITIES,
THIS CRAZY BEHAVIOUR,
IS GOING TO DESTROY THEM.
AND THIS IS HOW I SEE
URBAN SOCIETY,
CENTRALIZED SOCIETY,
MASS MAN.
MASS MAN.
PEOPLE BEING DRAWN IN FROM
ALL THE LITTLE CORNERS OF
THE WORLD AND PLANTED
IN HUGE AGGLOMERATIONS.
THEY ARE GOING MAD.
AND THEY ARE PREPARING
THEIR OWN BLOODY DOOM.
AND YET THEY
DON'T KNOW IT.
THEY DON'T REALIZE IT.
THEY RUN AROUND
A LITTLE FASTER.
THEY BITE EACH OTHER A
LITTLE MORE FREQUENTLY.
THEY BECOME MORE IDIOTIC
IN THEIR BEHAVIOUR.
BUT THEY DON'T
REALIZE IT.
TERRIFYING.
I DON'T DESPISE
THE CITIES;
THEY SCARE THE
HELL OUT OF ME.

Mike says THEY SCARE YOU.

Farley says YEAH.

Mike says YOU'VE REFLECTED
THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE
A GREAT LOVE FOR
ANIMALS, ESKIMOS -

Farley says ALL ANIMALS, INCLUDING
THE HUMAN ANIMAL.
YOU KNOW, WE'VE GOT
TO BE CAREFUL HERE.
NO DIFFERENTIATION.

Mike says AND SEAMEN.
AND THE NORTH.
AND MANY OF, IF NOT MOST
OF, YOUR LOVES HAVE DIED.

Farley says NONE OF MY LOVES
HAVE DIED.
LIFE IS STILL
WITH US, BABY.
LIFE IS ALIVE
AND WELL.
AND AS LONG AS THERE IS
LIFE ON THIS PLANET,
I WILL BE A HAPPY MAN.
WHAT HAPPENS TO
THE HUMAN SPECIES?
WELL, THAT'S
SOMETHING ELSE.
THERE HAVE BEEN SOMETHING
LIKE - I'M TOLD BY GEOLOGISTS
AND PEOPLE LIKE THIS,
SOMETHING LIKE 7 MILLION,
OR IS IT 70 MILLION
SPECIES THAT HAVE EXISTED
ON THIS PLANET THAT
NO LONGER EXIST.
SO IF WE LOSE ONE
MORE, WHAT ODDS?

Mike says BUT THE WHALE DIED.

Farley says YEAH.

Mike says THE PEOPLE
DISAPPOINTED YOU.
THE ESKIMO.

Farley says NO, THEY DIDN'T
DISAPPOINT ME.
YOU MUST BE MISSING MY POINT
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE HERE.
MY PERSONAL FAILURE
TO GRASP THE TRUTH
AND UNDERSTAND IT IS MY
OWN PERSONAL DISTRESS.
BUT THAT'S NOT
A GENERIC THING.
THAT DOESN'T APPLY
TO ALL OF US.
IT DOESN'T
APPLY TO LIFE.
THINGS ARE PRETTY
GOOD, ACTUALLY,
EXCEPT FOR WHAT WE ARE
DOING TO THE WORLD.
WE REALLY ARE MESSING
IT UP PRETTY BADLY.

Mike says I HAD AN EMINENT
CANADIAN AUTHORESS HERE
NOT TOO LONG AGO, AND SHE WAS
TELLING ME AFTER THE PROGRAM
THAT YOU ARE A VERY LUCKY
MAN BECAUSE THERE IS
A PUBLIC FARLEY MOWAT, AND
A PRIVATE FARLEY MOWAT,
AND YOU ARE ABLE TO BRING
THE PUBLIC FARLEY MOWAT OUT
NOW AND AGAIN, AND DO A
DANCE, AND THEN GO BACK
AND REALLY BE YOURSELF.
SHE WISHED SHE
COULD DO THAT.

Farley says THE PUBLIC FARLEY MOWAT
IS ABOUT TO BE BURIED.

Mike says REALLY?

Farley says THIS IS ONE OF THE LAST
TIMES THE PUBLIC FARLEY MOWAT
IS GOING TO BE OUT
IN FRONT OF THE PUBLIC EYE
DISPLAYING HIS OWN
INADEQUACIES AND ACTING UP.
AND I'M NOT EVEN
ACTING UP MUCH TODAY.
I'M BEING PRETTY
GOD DAMN SERIOUS.

Mike says I KNOW YOU ARE.
I KNOW.

Farley says BUT THAT'S ALL OVER.
I'M THROUGH WITH THAT.
I JUST CAN'T DO
IT ANYMORE.
SO I AM GOING TO
BE WITHDRAWING.
I'M GOING TO DO MY OWN
PERSONAL SURVIVAL BIT.
I AM GOING TO
STEP ASIDE.
AND THE WORLD WILL GO ON,
AS IT IS DESTINED TO GO ON,
AND SO WILL MAN.
BUT I'M GOING TO BE OFF
IN A LITTLE CORNER OF IT
SOMEWHERE CHOPPING MY
OWN WOOD, AND HAULING
MY OWN WATER, AND OF NECESSITY,
DISTILLING MY OWN RUM.
BECAUSE THAT'S SOMETHING I
AM NOT PREPARED TO GIVE UP.
I'LL BE THE ONLY MAN IN THE
WORLD WHO HAS EVER MANAGED
TO GROW SUGAR CANE
IN NOVA SCOTIA.

[chuckling]

Mike says THERE WERE SOME LINES
I HAD HOPED TO READ
FROM “A WHALE FOR
THE KILLING.”
“BUT WHEN THE WHALE DIED,
IT WAS A DEEP VIBRATION,
LOW PITCHED AND THROBBING,
MOANING BENEATH THE WAIL
OF THE WIND IN
THE CLIFFS.
IT WAS THE MOST DESOLATE
CRY THAT I'D EVER HEARD.”
YOU EXPECT TO HEAR MORE CRIES
BEFORE YOU ARE FINISHED?

Farley says YES.
BUT I WILL NO LONGER REACT
TO THEM AS I REACTED TO THAT.
I WILL NO LONGER WEEP.
I WILL KNOW THAT IT IS ONLY A
SOUND THAT PASSES IN THE NIGHT.
AND THERE WILL BE A DAWN.
THAT'S AWFULLY
TRITE, AND AWFULLY...
BUT I AM ESSENTIALLY
OPTIMISTIC.

Mike says THAT'S GOOD.

(music plays)

Theme music plays as the end credits roll.

Guest, Farley Mowat.

Producer and Director, Susan Murgatroyd.

Executive Producer, Mike McManus.

A learning opportunity by TVOntario.

Watch: Interview: Farley Mowat