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The Wild Things ate my Freud, and ain't my friends

Freud is not my co-pilot

When Max is asked in the film what is the cure for loneliness, he responds that "a little loneliness is good."

There's a sadness and a beauty in the way Max manages his loneliness by using his imagination. He takes himself to a place we've all visited, where our greatest fear is being eaten by a monster, and our greatest defence is becoming bigger than any other person, so big that we become confidant and advisor to monsters.

When Maurice Sendak's book was published in 1964, a dumpster bin-sized amount of literature spewed out, upchucking explanations for the monsters as oversized, morality play characters, each representing a basic human emotion. In Jonze's film version, monster Carol (James Gandolfini) could easily be read as a transvestite with an insatiable sexual hunger, hence his voracious appetite for past kings. The asexuality of these creatures could make for a Freudian buffet of psychoanalytic opinion. The book has been said to demarcate the fine line between fear, comfort and some deep-seated desire to gobble up your own mother. But spare me, please. Enough is enough. This child of divorce isn't interested in living a life obsessively psychoanalyzed.

Jonze has no patience for this either, which is why I left the movie theatre surprised, but satisfied. The film reminded me that loneliness is too easily made into monster, that loneliness also has the power to conjure magic for a child who lives inside excellent forts, and who possesses a storybook that makes her the King of the Wild Things. (Mine Salkin, “Where the Wild Things Were,” Tyee, 17 November 2009)

Down with Freud: give me a razor, and /or some pills, please!

re: "The film reminded me that loneliness is too easily made into monster, that loneliness also has the power to conjure magic for a child who lives inside excellent forts, and who possesses a storybook that makes her the King of the Wild Things."

Loneliness / abandonment does other things, like make you create imaginary friends that talk to you when you're a child, then turn on you to harrague you ever-after about how bad you are, how selfish you are, adolescence on (oh those wonderful persecutory alters, split personalities -- sorry, I meant wonderful spiritual animal friends!). Other things too: like make you adopt a posture of acquiescence, defeat, self-minimization ("a little in a bit of solitude"), in hopes that this will make you finally well suited to obtain the attention and love you missed out on. Psychoanalysis --or just intuitive, loving therapy -- can help out with this. But if you're down with Freud and up on romancing deprivation and cruelty ("I was abandoned; but this turned out to be a good thing!--thanks, mom!"), I hope at least you accomplish little when people like you turn on progressives who aren't so keen on making isolation and deprivation seem grounds for the imaginative life: who see it instead as the source of becoming demon-haunted, schizoid, self-lacerating -- fucked-up.

- - - - -


Appears as if I was quoting you, Dorothy, but for some reason I actually thought I was quoting the article: I read the article and the responses, and my guess is that your "a little in a bit of solitude" well enough captured the feel of, the circumlocation one feels/experiences within, the piece, that I inadvertently quoted you.

In any event, I hear you, and like having you call me friend.

There is a myth out there we are all too ready to cooperate with, even though it helps facilitate a great evil--a block to social improvement, to living standards--and that is that creativity is born out of "seeing both the good and the bad in life," in knowing bare cupboards, the uncertain meal-ticket--real want. I hold this as entirely false, and that imagination is in fact kindled by being well attended to by supportive people who make you feel secure enough to venture out, who are there for you when you want to return, and delight in the back-and-forth you see when loving people share adventures with one another, when they spur each other one. Every sad artist had more self-esteem than his/her brethren--and in that s/he was sort of lonely, but comparatively, very well fueled.

We tend to focus on the cruelty, on the isolation, but the story is in the attendance, in the love. Always.

Link: “Where the Wild Things Were” (Tyee)


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