Spike Jonze’s film of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, substitutes pop psychology for Sendak’s exuberant, anarchic vision of childhood. Sendak’s hero is a boy named Max who’s sent to bed when his high spirits turn the corner into aggressiveness. He finds his room transformed into a jungle inhabited by savage creatures who make him their king.
So there she stood alone amid a stillness as loud as any earthquake she had heard, the eaves creaking in the absence of wind, the hiss and tick of radiators warming the house along with a soon-coming sun. Her hands touch her belly, swelling already like dough cupped close in an earthen bowl. She knows it won’t be long before she shows. What to do with all this sudden silence? Phone her boyfriend: Joseph, I have news! E-mail St. Anne: Dear Mother, I’m afraid. Drop to her knees, now weak with recognition and kiss the space he filled a moment past in answer to the question he had asked.
In the make-believe world of The Invention of Lying, everyone strictly obeys God’s ninth commandment. Alas, in spinning this ambitious morality play, the filmmakers violate a screenwriting commandment: thou shalt not get cold feet in the third act.
Let this, too, be a source of praise, that trees meet in the park like six- winged seraphim, stooping low enough for a boy to find foothold and swing himself to a crooked seat.
This act of grasping something greater, knowing that one's weight won't break the boughs, that weakness allows mastery. The sudden slip that bloodies the thigh, the husky bark rasping one's shin, then the elation of hanging by the knees, trembling, maybe, but trusting the limb.
Surely Jesus, too, climbed trees in Galilee, frightening Mary by exceeding her grasp, then flinging his body from the upper branches and returning to earth, triumphant and flushed.
He must have enjoyed as a boy the enabling flaw, must have loved the flesh He knew would fail, trailing for hours the ascents of his nimble creatures: the ring-tailed raccoon, the unseen lizard, the silent beetle, armored and green.
“I have been even as a man that hath no strength, free among the dead . . . Shall thy loving-kindness be showed in the grave?” —Psalm 88
Some days I feel as old as father Abraham, doddering father of a teen-aged daughter who last week attended her first “real” concert, at the crowded Aragon Ballroom in Uptown. When will my own days feel real again, the frozen clock hands begin to turn again? When will this chemical burning in the veins stop, and hope, perhaps, be recompensed? I wear this long wool coat against the cold that hurts me, covered with two scarves, my face covered to avoid any feeling of cobwebs, with their every thread feeling like a tiny razor blade slicing the skin. There is no ounce of benignity in this feeling. Maybe that is why the winter mask, last week found at Target, most accurately resembles a terrorist accessory, all black- hooded with eye slits. Were I to wear it, I would appear on campus like an ISIS recruit, no doubt a proud servant in his mind, clouded by the violence of the mission and sentence he honors. O the necessary horrors, those airstrikes occurring in the body’s battleground, leveled at the cells. If I were to wear the black hood, guise of a hangman (not the one hanged), I fear that campus security would target me, bucolic space locked down in emergency protocol. That’s all I would be: self-terrorist, strapped with the various wires of my sickness.
On the day the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal, Iowans Bob Vander Plaats and Donna Red Wing had a chance meeting and hugged one another—even though they are culture warriors on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Vander Plaats heads Family Leader, which supports traditional marriage; he believes Red Wing’s lesbian marriage is unnatural. Red Wing, head of One Iowa, an LGBT rights group, has called Vander Plaats “bigoted” and “cruel.” But a few years ago, at Red Wing’s initiative, the two met for coffee and struck up a friendship. Since then they have been trying to soften the rhetoric of their organizations while still sticking to their principles (Washington Post, July 4).