Thursday, April 1, 2010

The World is Too Much With Us

- It's all logic and reason now. Science! Progress! The laws of hydraulics, the laws of social dynamics, the laws of this that and the other! No place for three-legged cyclops in the South Seas...No place for cucumber trees...or oceans of wind...No place for me! - Baron Von Munchausen

I recently read Terry Gilliam's novel that accompanied his grossly under appreciated classic film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The novel and movie are based on the classic tall tales told by the real Baron and, like most Gilliam movies, at their core they are about the importance of imagination in a world where imagination continues to get pounced on "reality". This is a theme that I think about a lot as the name of this blog suggests. And since the movies release over twenty years ago, the trend has only gotten worse.

The book version, even more so than the movie, focuses on Sally and her desire to believe in fiction. There's a strong correspondence with the Wordsworth notion that child is the father of man. Her belief in the Baron gives him strength. I truly believe that as a society, the second we stop believing in the fantastic, as soon as we stop dreaming, we are doomed. It's not only nice, but necessary, to view the world with a little childhood wonder every once in while.


THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:             
Little we see in Nature that is ours;             
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!             
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;            
The winds that will be howling at all hours,             
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;            
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;             
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be             
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                                      
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,             
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;             
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;             
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.   
                      William Wordsworth 1806.

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