Category Archives: Canada watch

The Martin Paradox, revisited

Moose A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the Martin Paradox, the one that says that the Canadians who are creatively forthcoming as individuals can be rendered unforthcoming in groups. 

And today, for no good reason, it occurred to me that Canadians have a national passion and genius for improv.  (Consider Second City and all those improv exports who now grace the American stage.)  And improv is nothing if not group-based creativity.

We are obliged, then, to say that Canadians are creatively unforthcoming in groups chiefly when these have somehow been given bureaucratic or pragmatic marching orders.  Released from these orders, Canadians are returned to their native creativity, as it were.

It’s a puzzle.  What is it about the bureaucratic and the pragmatic that makes Canadians large and lumbering with tiny little eyes and an inclination to bang heads.  I would call for a Royal Commission on this topic but that would only turn out badly. 


McCracken, Grant.  2008.  Canada, The Martin Paradox and The Opposable Mind.  This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  January 10, 2008.  here