Monday, November 12, 2007

Take the Books to Disney World: On the Way to the Magic Kingdom

We're going to the Magic Kingdom, and Heidegger is wearing mouse ears.

On the Way to Language is on the way to Space Mountain. So, Martin Heidegger, what is your relationship to the words, "Space" and "Mountain"? Have you ever considered your relationship to these words before? Do they touch the innermost nexus of your existence? Or what?


To undergo an experience with something -- be it a thing, a person, or a god [or a mechanical roller coaster all in the dark with whooshing and screaming] -- means that this something befalls us, strikes us, comes over us, overwhelms us, and transforms us.

I don't have any good pictures of me helping Heidegger ride Space Mountain, because it is dark in there. I do hereby swear on my own becoming that I held him up high, and he was probably really transformed.

Here is One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse, watching the comedy show "The Laughing Floor," based on the movie, "Monsters Inc." If you're not familiar with Marcuse's classic critique of moden society, here's the gist: we're all a bunch of happy, fat, complacent conformists, who just accept everything comfortable and normal, because individuality and freedom is too hard for our enormous middle-class asses. He also believes that waste and destruction are bad. This book was big in the 60's, yes? Are we together now?

He thought the monsters were really two-dimensional and that the jokes were repressive.

He didn't feel right about the dualism of Buzz Lightyear's battle with the Evil Emperor Zurg, either. Good vs. Evil. So reductive. So farcical.

Marcuse went on to say:

"In the most advanced areas of this civilization, the social controls have been introjected to the point where even individual protest is affected at its roots. The intellectual and emotional refusal to 'go along' appears neurotic and impotent. [Curse you, Star Command!!!]"

It's just what I've always privately felt about Disney: Not dialectical enough. They should work on that.

Here's Marcuse glowering at the guy who sings in the Carnival of Progress:

Great big beautiful tomorrow, forsooth!

At the Swiss Family Robinson's Tree House, he yearned for a return to simpler times, when people rebelled against the hulls of their ships, got themselves properly shipwrecked, and then lived in trees. When revolution was really possible. And simple machines could change your whole plumbing situation.

On the Way to Language was down with the treehouse life, but I have to say it was a real drag how he wanted to read, read, read every single sign in the whole park. Enough with the words, buddy. We get it.

After one last attempt to cheer up One-Dimensional Man, we stowed him in the stroller and let Dr. Zhivago join the party. Here's Marcuse on Aladdin's Magic Carpet, griping about how pretending to be a prince just plays into the existing imperialist norms. Whatever. Go get spit on by a camel.

Does anyone need to go look up dialectic? No? Alright.

The good Dr. Zhivago was a bundle of energy, right out of the book bag. He fell in love with Cinderella at first sight during the afternoon parade. Then, at Splash Mountain, he had to be pulled down off the roof of The Laughing Place. Here's the angry parent of a child he was taunting, revoking his playtime privileges. Time out, Dr. Zhivago, if you're going to act the fool at Disney World.

Here's Dr. Z on the Thunder Mountain Railroad. Not the five o'clock express through the steppes by any stretch of the imagination, but of course, he still wanted to sit in the front. I can't totally grasp the significance of railroads to the Russian Revolution, but that's probably because at that point in the text I was so beset by eight syllable surnames that I was crying on my sleeve.

Tomorrow, it's a trip to Animal Kingdom for Moby Dick and Anxious Pleasures. Rowr!


  1. Wonderful! Absolutely brilliant!

    I wonder if I could get away with taking my Disney-related books to WDW?

    I could take the Haunted Mansion book on the Haunted Mansion and so forth!

    Hmmm...I could take the Unofficial Guide (ding!) everywhere. Except I would need some help carrying it.

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