Saturday, February 9, 2013

How a Marice Sendak interview could make me feel alright about my place in the world

I just read this wonderful Maurice Sendak interview.

I always sort of disliked Where the Wild Things Are.  I know it's a critically acclaimed book and everything.  But poor Max.  He's just trying to express himself.  I know he was being naughty.  But he's an artistic kid.  And maybe he just needed his mom to talk to him instead of sending  him to bed without his dinner.  But having read this interview with Mr. Sendak, my perspective has changed.

Maurice Sendak was a really wise, genuine and utterly real man. At least that's what I gathered from his interview.

He said some things that really made me think.  So below, for your perusal, are some of the things he said and what I think about them.

What he said:
I hate [ebooks].  It's like making believe there's another kind of sex.  There isn't another kind of sex.  A book is a book is a book.

What I think:
I am still in love with solid books.   I love the way they smell, the way they feel in my hands. I love the sound of paper pages turning, the heft of it in my hand.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to read my books on a screen.  (which is funny considering I'm making you all read this on a screen).  A book is a book is a book, though.  It is to me.

What he said:
I went through [an] album and picked some of my mother's relatives and my father's relatives and drew them very accurately.  And they cried. And I cried.  So there was that. And there still is that. 

What I think:
This, for me, is about the last two statements.  So there was that. And there still is that. Isn't that just the truth about so many things that hold power and meaning in our lives.  There was that. And there still is that. I love this.

He said that some people should not have children and was asked about the criteria
What he said:
Well, you should be as sane as possible.  You should have had a childhood that was as decent as possible. A mother and father who cared about you.  If you don't have those components of compassion, love and curiosity, don't do it.

What I think:
I think lots of people have children who did not have decent childhoods and do a wonderful job of it. Or those who had a mother or father or one or both who didn't express care and despite that or maybe because of it, are able to express that they care for their own.  I think people who have those experiences can still make good parents and that sanity (however you define that) is not necessarily a prerequisite.  BUT.  You definitely need compassion, love, and curiosity.  You need those things.  And if there were a pre-parenting test-- compassion, love, and curiosity could even be the only things on it.

What he said:
If you are an artist, you should not have children [because they'll come second]. Or if they come first, your art will come second.

What I think:
I get why he said that.  I do.  I don't think it's true. I don't like 'should's' or 'shouldn't's'  I don't think there are cut and dry should's and shouldn't's in life.  But I get why he said it.  I'm an artist. And I have lots of friends who are artists.  And yes, some of us put art first and our children second.  And some of us put our children first and find that when art comes second it is harder and harder to do as much of it or practice it as deeply as we wish.  But I think artists who want children and have children can do a lovely job of doing both.  And children are not children forever.  But the art stays if you let it.

What he said:
I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.
What I think.  I like this one.  I told Tad about it and he said this:  "Innocence should not be a roadblock to the truth." I tell my children the truth about all things they ask. Even the hard things.  About whether I believe in God and heaven and hell.  About sexuality and relationships.  About violence and greed and anger. About love and peace.  I don't think that my telling them the truth does harm to their innocence.  Innocence is just the lack of experience, in a way. Children are people with less experience.  I'll tell them my truth. And they'll discover their own on the way.

Maybe innocence and magic stay in tact for those who simply let it.

Well, anyway, Thanks Maurice Sendak for making me think a lot on a Saturday morning.  His words about himself and his life and writing and music and art were honest and open and real.  And what I agreed with and what I questioned made me feel good about thinking, about being alive, about being me.

Let the wild rumpus start!!!!

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