Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Hole of It: Mythadventures


When I was enjoying a tender age (pre-"Shot Heard 'Round the World") [Bobby Thomson's shot, not Lex. & Con.'s.] I had two children's books within my sticky-fingered grasp at home. One was an illustrated Children's Bible, and the other was R. L. Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. I never bothered to look for and read the Fairy Tales of the Grimm brothers, having already learned that I lived in an amoral society, I didn't need to have it rubbed in, or Lewis Carroll's, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, because Walt Disney ruined it for me by doing such a great job with his feature-film when I was 8 going on 9 in 1951.

So, ironically, thanks to Hollywood, I dove right into the other available books on my father's bookshelves. I was seven when I began to read Hervey Allen's trilogy (which weighed more than I) The City in the Dawn. I might finish reading it this year if my local library can track it down. There is supposed to be one copy extant in my surrounding counties where they are hopelessly searching. I want to finish reading it (not really) before I die, even if it kills me (also, not really.) [I think I read somewhere that Allen did, in fact, die before finishing it.] I see things through, usually (well, once-in-a-while) to the bitter end, out of stubborn habit (that part's on the bloody money) and a cautious pessimism borne of a cynical, skeptical, quasi-pragmatic, pseudo-longing for improbably happy endings. I have such foolish hope for the planet Earth, which by the way...ahem...brings me to the subject at hand for this particular blogposting: Fantasy & Science Fiction.

This is a very large subject, so I will probably need to post several additional components to round out and solidify my thoughts about both of these fields. To begin with, I have enrolled in a Massive Open Online Course the (coursera.org/course/fantasysf) which started a week ago and will run for another nine weeks. I was assigned to read finally, in my dotage, Grimm's Children's and Household Tales, which I found, I think, more fascinating now than I would have when I was a kid. I would have thought it pure bunk back then when I knew everything, but now that I know better it struck me as being worthy of being called "art" (by me--who is always the final arbiter of such matters. My formula is simple, if I like it, it's art. If I don't like it, it may or not be somebody else's art. This evaluating mechanism has never failed me.) [By the way, when I put something in parentheses, it is because I am inviting you deeper into my mind, so take your shoes off, won't you, before you enter.] And alway, always, tread lightly, especially if you enter within any bracketed material.

I discovered while doing this week's Lewis Carroll assignment this, for example:







"A Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry

'Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe."

"Hence the literal English of the passage is:

It was evening, and the smooth active badgers were scratching and boring holes in the hill-side; all unhappy were the parrots, and the grave turtles squeaked out."

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The above can be found in the Barnes & Noble Classic Edition ($7.95) of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, illus. by John Tenniel. With comprehensive material, including Introduction, Chronology, Notes, Biography, Inspired By, Comments & Questions, and suggestions For Further Reading all by the author, artist, critic and poet, Tan Lin.

Now young heads might roil with a swift swipe of a card,
Yet who would not gift such should it crack open a Bard?--REK

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