Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Risk, Reward, and Romance: I Do Like Them. Sam I Am.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss.

Today, my 4 year old dressed up as Sally from The Cat In The Hat despite her reluctance to wear a bow in her hair in celebration of your contributions to Western Literature. How many young minds have your iambs set off on a lifetime relationship with the joy of reading, I wonder?

More interestingly, how have you mirrored and shaped your native culture? Your major canon is infused with the very same specific cultural values that Tocqueville identified as being idiosyncratically American. Horton is loyal and diligent to a fault: he sits on an egg until it hatches (deus ex machina ending notwithstanding) despite any promise of reward other than the preservation of his own trustworthiness. He exhorts the Whos of Whoville to overcome the tragedy of the commons (a finer allegory for Western expansion I can hardly imagine) for the common defense.

But it's in Green Eggs And Ham that we really see the curious tension in the American experience. A hidebound conservative, hectored incessantly by a pestering Bohemian, dismantles a Chestertonian fence to find he enjoys verdigris-tinted breakfast cuisine. A Romantic confronts the objections of a prude. This, I believe, is the central conflict brought over from the Continent. It is a conflict found few other places. And it is a book that could be written nowhere else.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. May your eternal rest be ever euvoluntary.

Also, my daughter nearly broke down in tears when she heard you died 20 years before she was born.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?