Ex Situ: Freud on Seuss

May 15, 2009

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It seems to me rather easy to claim one’s writing to be Freudian by simply peppering with “id,” “ego,” and “superego,” and perhaps throwing in “cigar” or two. This is much in the same way that episodes of BraveStarr can be repurposed into Law & Order scripts by replacing all musical cues with “chung-chung” and/or Jerry Orbach.

So I am unqualified to testify as to the verisimilitude of the following Ex Situ, which is a review of The Cat in the Hat that appeared in The Koala, the student humor magazine of UCSD.

After pooh-poohing the righteous rantings of the waterlogged Christ figure, the Cat begins to juggle several icons of Western culture, most notably two books, representing the Old and New Testaments, and a saucer of lactal fluid, an ironic reference to maternal loss the two children experienced when their mother abandoned them “for the afternoon.” Our heroic Id adds to this bold gesture a rake and a toy man, and thus completes the Oedipal triangle.

Freud on Seuss > Catena Ex Situ

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Fun with Dr. Seuss and Wordle

February 13, 2009

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Neat site Wordle lets one make bibliometric graphics with ease. Just input some text and it spits out a word cloud in which the size of each word is proportional to its textual frequency. As a diversion from our usual weighty themes and dreary symbolisms, I thought I’d plug in some of the oeuvre of the late, lamented Dr. Seuss and see what happens.

First, here’s Seuss’s masterwork The Cat in the Hat, with all 236 different words presented:

The Cat in the Hat, WordlizedNeat! Now here’s The Cat in the Hat without common English words like “the” and “and:”

The Cat in the Hat, WordlizedHere’s Fox in Socks:

Fox in Socks, WordlizedAnd here’s Fox in Socks without common words:

Fox in Socks, WordlizedOkay, here’s Green Eggs and Ham, all 50 different words:

Green Eggs and Ham, Wordlized

And here’s Hop on Pop:

Hop on Pop, WordlizedFinally, here’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, without common words:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Wordlized

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Ex Situ: The Grinch and Racial Suicide

December 22, 2008

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Joe Crawford from ArtLung sent in this link to a post from Undercover Black Man, which itself links to a seasonal over-analyzation at Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right blog.

Here’s Mr. Auster’s entire article:

As I type, I’m glancing at some grotesque thing on ABC, about the Grinch and Christmas, in which humans interact in brotherhood with a variety of monstrous looking other species, and a little girl has a tender relationship with an unsettlingly hideous but sensitive and kind-hearted being called the Grinch, and everyone loves each other. This is not our society celebrating the beautiful holiday of Christmas. This is the Liberal Controllers of our society carefully teaching children an unnatural and dangerous lie that they would never believe unless they were carefully taught. How many whites will militate against vitally necessary immigration restrictions in the decades to come, how many young white females will be raped and murdered by nonwhites in the decades to come, because of the message of trusting and loving racial aliens that programs like this implant in them?

As an holiday bonus, one can click the link below to read an additional Who-sized comment about the Shrek movies.

Undercover Black Man: Lawrence Auster has a Question
> Catena Ex Situ


The Dr. Seuss Code

July 19, 2008

Having done much research (i.e. reading to my daughter) on the works of Dr. Seuss, I believe I have discovered the single, overarching plot which dominates his oeuvre. Once you get past the neologistic anapestic tetrameter, many of his plotted works can be boiled down to the following:

One character annoys another character.

I believe that the works which encompass this single theme are meant as assorted and diverse commentaries on Sartre’s quote “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” My wife, Mrs. The Editor, believes that this theme is so prevalent because kids think that it’s funny.

Below is a collection of Dr. Seuss works which appear to fit into the same plot pattern, without excessive plot reductionism. If any readers discover more, please make note in the comment section.

  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (Bartholomew annoys the King)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the Whos annoy the Grinch)
  • The Cat in the Hat (the Cat annoys the kids and fish)
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (the Cat annoys the kids and fish, again)
  • The Big Brag (the rabbit and bear annoy the worm)
  • Green Eggs and Ham (Sam-I-Am annoys the main character)
  • Fox in Socks (the fox annoys Mr. Knox)
  • The Lorax (the Lorax annoys the Once-ler)
  • Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! (Marvin K. Mooney annoys the narrator)
  • Great Day for Up! (the whole world annoys the narrator)
  • The Butter Battle Book (the Yooks annoy the Zooks, and vice versa)
  • Gerald McBoing-Boing (Gerald annoys everyone)
  • Ten Apples Up on Top! (the lion, dog, and tiger annoy the bear family)
  • In a People House (the bird and mouse annoy the people)

Ex Situ: The Lorax’s Real Message

July 2, 2008

The pugilistic Super Punch blog has decided that the underlying message of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax isn’t quite as obvious as it seems…

We were all clearly supposed to come away with the message that protecting nature is good and building factories is bad. According to Wikipedia, the book has even been banned for being too anti-industry. But after reading The Lorax a few dozen times to my son, I’ve realized the story is actually a pretty damning indictment of the Lorax, and the environmentalists he represents.

Super Punch: The Lorax’s Real Message >Catena Ex Situ


Cat People

June 17, 2008

[This is the first entry in our new series of literary over-analyzations. Originally published in the December 23, 2002 issue of The New Yorker, "Cat People" by Louis Menand is a brilliant and fascinating historical and over-analyzationical account of Dr. Seuss' immortal The Cat in the Hat. The article appears to have vanished from the online archive of The New Yorker, so I have reproduced it below.]

The Cat in the Hat was a Cold War invention. His value as an analyst of the psychology of his time, the late nineteen-fifties, is readily appreciated: transgression and hypocrisy are the principal themes of his little story. But he also stands in an intimate and paradoxical relation to national-security policy. He was both its creature and its nemesis—the unraveller of the very culture that produced him and that made him a star. This is less surprising than it may seem. He was, after all, a cat.

Every reader of “The Cat in the Hat” will feel that the story revolves around a piece of withheld information: what private demons or desires compelled this mother to leave two young children at home all day, with the front door unlocked, under the supervision of a fish? Terrible as the cat is, the woman is lucky that her children do not fall prey to some more insidious intruder. The mother’s abandonment is the psychic wound for which the antics of the cat make so useless a palliative. The children hate the cat. They take no joy in his stupid pet tricks, and they resent his attempt to distract them from what they really want to be doing, which is staring out the window for a sign of their mother’s return. Next to that consummation, a cake on a rake is a pretty feeble entertainment.

This is the fish’s continually iterated point, and the fish is not wrong. The cat’s pursuit of its peculiar idea of fun only cranks up the children’s anxiety. It raises our anxiety level as well, since it keeps us from doing what we really want to be doing, which is accompanying the mother on her murderous or erotic errand. Possibly the mother has engaged the cat herself, in order to throw the burden of suspicion onto the children. “What did you do?” she asks them when she returns home, knowing that the children cannot put the same question to her without disclosing their own violation of domestic taboos. They are each other’s alibi. When you cheat, you lie. Read the rest of this entry »


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