Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where the Wild Ideas Aren't

When I was young, I loved Where the Wild Things Are, but probably only as much as you did too. Several generations of children, bound together by cat pyjamas and a cardboard crown liked every Facebook status with the most heartwarming quotes about monsters & homes and felt a weird sort of silence as just for a minute they realized yes, childhood is ending. 

"Why are all of the good celebrities dying?" laughed E as Call Me Maybe blared in the background. 

I used to chalk most of my friends' & I's nineties kids nostalgia up as pretention, the past being the most exclusive hipster gold of all because no one could visit it. But lately I can't help but feel like maybe things just were better back in the day. This is not to say that people were more talented, and not am I ignorant of the fact that only the best surfaces many years later, but there was once a time where expression was valued at a professional level, and I can't help but feel as though we are running away from that. 

When I was young, my favourite picture book was Madeline. My fourth favourite book was Where the Wild Things Are. Maybe fifth. It was good, it was fine; I’m not going to pretend it was my most favouritest ever, but Maurice Sendak’s passing has certainly affected me more deeply than I thought it could.

In a day and age that rewards those who are constantly creating content, why is creativity less valued then every before? Every mainstream newspaper takes its chance to swipe at idiot students who dare to pursue studies in irrelevant things like arts, history, and writing. From the intolerable Margaret Wente’s “baristas of the future” comment to family gatherings across the country, the current attitude seems to be that the books of the future will be put together by third world, just like our cars and trinkets.

It’s easy to feel like talent is finite when it is not celebrated. Deficit after deficit has convinced Canadians that what is wasteful is this elite art, this education for education’s sake... Never mind that we are a country so much defined by Green Gables and Jacob Two Twos. Never mind our nation's wealth. Art is risky! Art is expression.

The occasional superstar author comes along, but I haven’t seen a new Maurice or Mordechai in a very long time. Creating quality is becoming the ultimate rebellion in an era where everything has messaging but so little has meaning. When I mourn Sendak’s passing, I mourn the spirit behind the people who contributed to his success. I hope unknown authors and artists stay strong as people find it prudent, not acceptable, to blare that their decadence will never contribute what a plumber does to this country. We have not toppled the elite; we are merely punishing intellectuals.

"I don't write for children,” Sendak explained. “I write, and somebody says, 'That's for children.”

I have a paper crown to make. 



Rebecca Jane said...

I think the ease of content creation has allowed our generation to become a bit lazy maybe? Obviously there are great minds and talents out there, who are creating great new things, but for every one of those there seem to be hundreds more re-bloggers. As much as I like thinks like Pinterest, I wonder if we're so caught up in becoming "curators" that we're losing the importance and understanding of where that content is coming from, who's creating it - why not us?

Where the Wild Things Are was not one of my favourite children's books although I certainly enjoyed it. But I have to agree - it is the spirit and wisdom of Maurice Sendak that I will miss even more.

Amber said...

well said. I have to agree with Rebecca. Its so easy nowadays for kids to disregard the creator of the content they admire whether its a poem or painting. As much I like scrolling through sites like Tumblr it makes me angry when artists are credited for their work. I think kids just want the end product without having to put any effort into it. Hope that makes sense.

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

I loved this post, and what Amber said–it's so easy to forget that someone actually took that photo, or wrote that poem, and without credit, respect for art dwindles. Of course, I studied opera so I clearly have a deranged sense of the importance of art...

chelsea said...

Fantastic post. Really. Struck a cord with me.
I was actually very disturbed by Where the Wild Things are as a child. The part where the monsters say they will eat him up freaked me out so I never let my mum read it to me. However, Sendak did rewrite The Nutcracker for the Pacific Northwest Ballet (his version is much darker with less fluff and more plot) and design the amazing sets (which they still use!) It is a beautiful piece and every Nutcracker performance I have seen since has paled in comparison.

Elle Sees said...

for me, it was when eb white, who wrote charlotte's web died. it was the first Big Book I read, and the first to make me cry.

Nikki said...

I hate when people look at art and say "I could've done that!" Sure you could've copied it, but it's not coming from the same place inside.

I was so sad to hear about Mr. Sendak. The Nutcracker set designs at our local ballet company were done by him and I they are by far my favorite sets of any ballet in the world!

GlamorousGirl said...