Reflections on all things Seussian
|Well it finally had to happen. I finally decided to voice an opinion on the cancellation of (some) Dr Seuss.
For purposes of certain sensitivities and the overbearing need for certain correctness above all things.
Dr Seuss showed up in my life at a pretty tender young age. In the beginning, he was read to me.
But not long after that all started, I found myself, in my young life, with a decided inability to read.
There were no psychosomatic or neurological reasons for this academic affliction.
I blame it on the school readers of the era.
It was all about Dick and Jane, and Sally and Spot, and Puff. Most any Boomer will remember.
And then someone introduced me to One Fish, Two Fish.
And I was off on a lifetime adventure.
By the age of nine, I was a bookworm, in possession of a library card with unlimited borrowing credentials. And so I became Unlimited. I read everything.
I stole many midnight hours lost in literary pursuits.
And yet still led a supremely active child's life.
Not a bad legacy for an author to leave.
Of course, by the age of nine, I'd outgrown Seuss. But I never forgot what those books did for me.
My favorites were the tongue twisters. The linguistic gymnastics.
Because I went on in life to become (among other things) a lyricist, songwriter, and singer, a byproduct of my youthful adventures with Fox in Sox and Oh Say Can You Say? - was the ability to wrap my tongue around complex lyrical stanzas that sometimes went by at breakneck speed.
Olympian artifacts of language.
I recall watching an interview with the celebrated Asian American author, Anchee Min. She described landing in Chicago somewhere around 1984, and proceeding to learn English, but particularly and American brand of English, by watching children's programming on TV.
When I remember that story, I pause to reflect on why it is that language needs to be owned in some form or fashion of correctness, controlled as an archaic artifact, and narrowed down into a suitably bland thing that offends no-one -
instead of the living, breathing, ever-evolving thing that it can be. And should be.
If Seuss's mistakes (and he made a few) were embraced in a loving commitment to preserving all that he did that was of true value, then it would be a rather small thing to (with the permission of his estate) re-write, and re-design the relatively small number of pages that don't pass muster.
Otherwise perhaps, the cat is out of the bag, and the real agenda is to just cancel Seuss entirely.
I sincerely hope not. His like may never come again.
(You're a mean one, Mr Grinch)
And no, he didn't write that.