Essay: a bit of general culture

Essay: a bit of general knowledge


There are times in life when you feel the need, in the midst of the tumult and conflicts of all kinds, to cling to a piece of humanity, to say or to say that it is not all plunder and extortion, that there have been and still are women and men who work for the common good of populations. 

This book, a veritable kaleidoscope of general culture, aims to be a contribution to universal knowledge which should constitute the basis of all teaching and learning. This knowledge constitutes the raw material for formulating, orally and in writing, any thought that allows us to interpret the world and any decision-making to take action. Because “the development of a good general culture leads the individual to decenter himself”. And, inevitably, to open up to the world.

We have divided this vast field of knowledge into seven specific areas: arts, civil rights, inventions and techniques, medicine, politics, science and, finally, sports , which are declined through the life and work of remarkable characters, some known, others less, coming from our own history or belonging to universal history, ranging from 300 years BC to today. today and presented by as many specialists, professors and researchers.

We can discuss the choice of these exceptional figures, from Maria Callas to Jacqueline Gareau, via Darwin, Archimedes, Michel Chartrand, Adam Smith, René Lévesque, James Watt and many others.


Thus, of the opera singer Maria Callas, born in 1923 in the Greek community of New York, the lyrical artist Lucie Mayer tells us that she revolutionized bel canto and “changed the course of the interpretation of western opera”. The timbre of her voice, her wide register, her talent as a tragic actress make her an exceptional and popular artist who is written in golden letters in the history of opera.

There is also singer Jean-Pierre Ferland, whose biographer, Marc-François Bernier, says he is the golden link between Félix Leclerc and Céline Dion, two artists who performed one of his songs. The work of this singer-songwriter is immense, with some 450 songs, including many hits.

We then fly over New Orleans in the company of jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, to the sound of trumpets, clarinets and trombones by talented musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Thelonius Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. 

Justine Barbier then invites us, in a few pages, to learn more about the exhilarating life and work of the Mexican Frida Kahlo. A member of the Mexican Communist Party, she also distinguished herself through her tumultuous love affairs, including with the muralist Diego Rivera, and also through her social commitment.

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Three professors of political science from UQAM introduce us to the woman of letters, revolutionary and precursor of feminism Olympe de Gouges. A few years before the French Revolution, she denounced slavery in an avant-garde play. They threaten to imprison him in the Bastille. She persists and signs by proposing a “Declaration of the rights of women and citizens”. She will end up guillotined for opposing the dictates of Robespierre and Marat.

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville is also entitled to a short biography. This valiant sailor will succeed in driving the English out of Hudson Bay. With this feat, he will be in all the fights where the Union Jack floats, from the icy lands of northern Quebec to Louisiana, in the Gulf of Mexico. On the eve of undertaking an expedition which was to drive out any English presence in this part of the Americas, he died in Havana on July 9, 1706, suffering from an incurable fever.

There is thus about thirty, each more interesting than the other, to be read in the order that suits you.


< em>The way to sobriety/The third curve or the end of growth

Can growth be infinite, if our natural resources are not? We doubt it more and more. And if so, at what price? We see it with the health problems related to the emission of arsenic at the Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. Big paychecks or health first? “Only by identifying the forgotten relationships between money and energy, capital and resources, concept and reality, can we understand the pitfalls of perpetual growth and redefine a viable horizon,” he says. 'author. And thus achieve “economic equilibrium, within the ecosystem limits of the planet”. How much oil is left? asks the author. All oil-producing countries tend to overestimate their reserves, he replies. Because it is their quota to produce oil. The higher the reserves, the more OPEC increases their quota. However, oil prices directly influence the prices of the food industry as well as those of the real estate market. Yes, sobriety tastes much better.

The revolution of the silent gaze/Wanting the beauty of the world

Let's slow down, says the author. We are connected at all times to the whole world, but are we any happier for that? Doesn't being virtually everywhere amount to really being nowhere? “Burnout, violence, depressions, eco-anxiety and other personality disorders are modern-day affects that tell us that something has been wrong for too long.” So what better than to take a break to rediscover the marvelous around us. Degrowth can allow us to change the world, starting with changing ourselves. To see the beauty of the world, one must learn to contemplate it, not passively “but as a form of individual action that can even induce revolt and personal emancipation”. To also escape the formatting to which “the consumer society that makes us all want the same thing” invites us, by reducing us to the role of simple customers. How about we start now?