Hello… Here I am, and there you are :). I will be writing about the show, Report from Wonderland, Part 2, with guest Dr. Maria Tatar, Harvard University professor of Folklore, Children’s Literature and German Cultural Studies.
This show immediately whisked me away into a spiraling, nostalgic, warm garden of my own childhood. I was taken quickly into a sunset of imaginative experiences; it is a place I went often as a little one. When the co-hosts and guests were discussing the intense importance of the sound of words, and the intense importance of the sounds of your environment when listening to words being spoken, I was fascinated. And when I heard the discussion about when you are listening to a story being read or told to you; I instantly remembered the quietness of the carpet and the smell of this library I would go to for storytelling hour when I was a child. The musty sweetness, the proper smell of pressed paper, the aging veneer of the wooden furniture, these smells were just as much a part of the stories I heard, as was their meaning or their plot. I was lifted emotionally, so very high by this show, while listening, I was like being placed into a hot air balloon rising from my own awareness. The show was a nostalgic gift I was given as a listener, much like the experience of wonder and excitement I felt as a child in a storytelling circle around a crackling campfire with an owl in the audience. This idea, discussed creatively, that the places in which you hear stories and write stories are as important as the words themselves, delights me.
It is the experiential part of hearing a story read out loud to you, with the sound of crickets in the background, or the feeling of the sun warming the right side of your cheek as you’re writing a story yourself, that holds just as much importance as the literature being read or created. The experience, the underbelly of the words, is always an integral part of, even if only in a breeze felt on your shoulders, or a whiff of coffee at the cafe, part of the story being heard or written
I will add in two more things that came to my mind, of which I am sure are also nestled inside the minds of the people on this show: First: the idea that the sound of words rolling off of the human tongue can make such an impression. Second: the esthetics of the letters themselves that together create a word, or stream of words can evoke such strong feelings too, as your eyes gobble them up, and you swallow them into your mind. There I was, and apparently here I am, floating like a feather on the soft air of this rabbit hole I have entered. While listening to the show and traveling even deeper, I wallowed with an idea, like a cat scratching its back on course grass wiggling but listening to them discussing the idea that the counterpart of a word, the word with the opposite of meaning may hold just as much power as the initial word itself, how meaning can equalize in the most unexpected places, solely dependent on personal perspective.
This thought road I was traveling was eye opening. As Jim, Dr. J and Dr. Tartar dance around the elusively private term the unbirthday, it begs the question, perhaps the potentially more celebrated, the definitely more often occurring scenario; the unbirthday may be of equal meaning as the birthday is. A radically counter intuitive idea is that while floating down this rabbit hole, the unbirthday begins to make more and more sense. Something that is happening 364 days of the year the unbirthday just may logically make more sense and pull with it the importance of something that happens 1 day within the 365 days of the year, seem hmmmm rather a bit too occasional for my taste. I must not spiral any longer for now…until next week..:), I will leave with a quote that I see fitting here..”A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” –C.S. Lewis