Subject: Humor
From: "Dave L. Meek's User Account" <dave -at- ROGUE -dot- DISC-SYNERGY -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 13:09:17 -0700

The following humorous piece found its way into my mailbox

Text item: Cat in the Hat funnies

a book review by Josh LeBeau

The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss, 61 pages. Beginner Books, $3.95

The Cat in the Hat is a hard-hitting novel of prose and poetry in which
the author re-examines the dynamic rhyming schemes and bold imagery of
some of his earlier works, most notably Green Eggs and Ham, If I Ran
the Zoo, and Why Can't I Shower With Mommy? In this novel, Theodore
Geisel, writing under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, pays homage to the great
Dr. Sigmund Freud in a nightmarish fantasy of a renegade feline helping
two young children understand their own frustrated sexuality.

The story opens with two youngsters, a brother and sister, abandoned by
their mother, staring mournfully through the window of their single-
family dwelling. In the foreground, a large tree/phallic symbol dances
wildly in the wind, taunting the children and encouraging them to
succumb to the sexual yearnings they undoubtedly feel for each other.
Even to the most unlearned reader, the blatant references to the
incestuous relationship the two share set the tone for Seuss' probing
examination of the satisfaction of primitive needs. The Cat proceeds
to charm the wary youths into engaging in what he so innocently refers
to as "tricks." At this point, the fish, an obvious Christ figure who
represents the prevailing Christian morality, attempts to warn the
children, and thus, in effect, warns all of humanity of the dangers
associated with the unleashing of the primal urges. In response to
this, the cat proceeds to balance the aquatic naysayer on the end of
his umbrella, essentially saying, "Down with morality; down with God!"

After poohpoohing 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.

Later in the novel, Seuss introduces the proverbial Pandora's box, a
large red crate out of which the Id releases Thing One, or Freud's
concept of Ego, the division of the psyche that serves as the
conscious mediator between the person and reality, and Thing Two, the
Superego which functions to reward and punish through a system of moral
attitudes, conscience, and guilt. Referring to this box, the Cat says,
"Now look at this trick. Take a look!" In this, Dr. Seuss uses the
children as a brilliant metaphor for the reader, and asks thre reader
to examine his own inner self.

The children, unable to control the Id, Ego, and Superego allow these
creatures to run free and mess up the house, or more symbolically,
control there lives. This rampage continues until the fish, or Christ
symbol, warns that the mother is returning to reinstate the Oedipal
triangle that existed before her abandonment of the children. At this
point, Seuss introdces a many-armed cleaning device which represents
the psychoanalytic couch, which proceeds to put the two youngsters'
lives back in order.

With powerful simplicity, clarity, and drama, Seuss reduces Freud's
concepts on the dynamics of the human psyche to an easily understood
gesture. Mr. Seuss' poetry and choice of words is equally impressive
and serves as a splendid conterpart to his bold symbolism. In all, his
style is quick and fluid, making The Cat in the Hat impossible to put
down. While the novel is 61 pages in length, and one can read it in
five minutes or less, it is not until after multiple readings that the
genius of this modern master becomes apparent.


Dave Meek

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