Anne Geddes Bailey on Not Wanted on the Voyage

“Reading…is a political act. The more you read, the more political you become. The more you read, the more dangerous you become.”  (Timothy Findley, 1992 Spry Lecture in the Introduction to Timothy Findley and the Aesthetics of Fascism by Anne Geddes Bailey ISBN 0-88922-386-6 TALONBOOKS)

All statements to follow are quoted from Bailey’s book and are chosen for the help they provide in expanding our understanding of this particular novel.T Findley Aesthetics

“With the publication of Not Wanted on the Voyage, Findley’s work moves away from a focussed critique of fascist politics and modernist aesthetics and begins a wholesale attack on authoritarian social and cultural institutions which many of us who live in western cultures hold dear. In this novel, Findley does not merely challenge the authority of a medical institution, as he does in The Last of the Crazy People, or a historical political system, as he does in his three war novels, but instead assails the highest authority of western civilization – the God of Judaism and Christianity. Findley uses as his subject one of the best known of biblical stories, Noah’s Ark, which over the centuries has been the subject of dozens of plays, poems, novels, children’s books, paintings, cartoons, and even comedy routines.  By choosing the Genesis story of the flood as his subject, Findley is able to parody and critique the social and political authority of Judeo-Christian myth, making his readers conscious of the underlying ideological assumptions of myths culturally important in western society. As Northrop Frye contends, “man lives, not directly or nakedly in nature like the animals, but within a mythological universe, a body of assumptions and beliefs developed from his existential concerns”. Findley wants his readers to pay attention to those assumptions and beliefs which both bind us together in common cultural experience and lock us into cultural and ideological patterns which justify patriarchal violence and tyranny.”