Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Baums Ambivalent Vision :: Literature Children Books Papers

Baum's Ambivalent Vision Perhaps more completely than any other writer, the person who hopes to write successful children's literature must become a child again, to write with that combination of seriousness, simplicity, and wonder children demand in their stories: they will read no others. Arguably, then--because his books have been read and reread by generations of children--L. Frank Baum possesses this quality, this childlikeness, to a great degree. It is a crucial attribute for writers, one that Erich Neumann calls "a special animation of the unconscious" and defines as "the creative man's special kind of alertness. He usually possesses it even as a child, but this alertness is not identical with the reflecting consciousness of a precocious intellect. The childhood state of the creative individual can be characterized no better than in HÃ ¶lderlin's words: "und schlummert wachenden Schlaf" ("and slumbers in waking sleep"). In this state of alertness the child is open to a world, to an overwhelming unitary reality that surpasses and overpowers him on all sides. At once sheltered and exposed, this waking sleep, for which there is as yet no outside and no inside, is the unforgettable possession of the creative man". ("Creative Man and Transformation" 180) The special, creative state Neumann describes is functionally an altered state of consciousness, one achieved in a writer's case not by drugs, fasting, or meditation, but by simple concentration in a relaxed posture, the restriction of the mind to a blank piece of paper as the writer sits at his or her desk, waiting for whatever will come. Because it is a variety of altered state, because most of the major phenomena of such states overlap (Mogar 385), because one of these phenomena is a shift toward increased imagery, and because the images themselves follow a remarkably regular pattern--it is possible to construct from various sources a visionary schema that indicates just how a particular writer reacts to this heightened sense of the unconscious--with a sense of joy, of fear, or of ambivalence. The first of these sources is Aldous Huxley's Heaven and Hell, in which he identifies the major imagery of visionary states as a sense of light and color in intricate, geometric forms resembling jewels and/or flowers (103-04). This is true in both the positive and the negative visions Huxley identifies, though the jewels and flowers seem divine in the first case and demonic in the second. The latter, the terrible

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