Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Other Uses Of Enchantment

“You two are supposed to be my friends,” she said. “I can’t believe you ditched me.”

I said, “Well, we didn’t really ditch you. We just, umm, went somewhere else and, uh, left you where you were.”

I shook my head and silently mouthed: That’s not going to work.

And it didn’t work. She stood up and pointed at me and yelled, “What the hell’s the difference, you son of a bitch?!”

A “found” conversation

The monsters do their best
Ripping apart the world
To keep us together

I could have used a very large monster
to step on my car or rip up the street
or knock down power lines across the street
so that I couldn’t have driven past them.

Sure, at the time everyone would have thought
we were all struggling against a monster
and fighting the creature to stay alive.

But all of us would have stayed together.

And I wouldn’t have needed an excuse.

If the three of us had faced a monster
and grappled with issues of life and death
we all would have grown emotionally
and been better prepared for the next day.

A monster that had, say, stepped on my car
isn't a remote or symbolic thing—
that is, it’s not if it really happens—
and if such a thing had really happened
I’d have been spared the socially evolved—
that is, real—alternative consequence
of her picking up my Bettelheim book
and throwing it at me and hitting me
in the head when my attempted excuse
derailed like a train outside a tunnel
or crashed like a rocket falling sideways
or, I guess, returned to the terminal
like a jet that couldn’t get off the ground.

I could have used a very large monster.

She discovered a meaning and purpose
to a paperback about fairy tales.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales is a 1976 book by Austria-born American psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in which he analyzes fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology.

In the book, Bettelheim discusses the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Bettelheim thought that by engaging with these socially evolved stories, children would go through emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures.

The Uses of Enchantment
by Bruno Bettelheim
at Wikipedia

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