Thursday, July 2, 2009

On scrubbing away magic

For a very long time Disney productions so sanitized fairytales and myths in their films, that they came close to portraying life without a dark side, or, at best, one so weak that it had no real potency. At the same time, children in their connection to the archetypal realm know there is a dark side to life because their night terrors and dreams. And indeed, this is the true significance of fairytales: To stimulate an inner psychic struggle on the part of the child that will compel him or her to learn to manage the tension between those opposites, i.e. the light and dark sides of life, and to prepare him to face the outer world and its formidable challenges into which he will emerge full time with decreasing parental protection. This is why the fairytales are often so dark and grim(m).

One of the main attractions at Disney World is MGM Studios, visited by over one million children every year, a large proportion under age 7. This "attraction" proudly presents the technology behind the magical effects in films and other entertainment arenas. The subtle, but quite effective, message behind these "entertainments" is that there is no real magic, there is no real magical realm, and that the things to be ogled are the worldly wonders of technology. On an even more subtle level the message to the child is that you should not be in the imaginal world in your mind, you should know that cognition, not imagination, produces the simulation of magic. Subtle, the awe realm in which they live, is debunked as fake. In its place is offered the "awe" of technological prowess. Typically for children, this technological prowess "impresses," but it does not awe because it is devoid of "magic." So much for some of our future artists, architects, musicians, writers, etc. -- the impact can be that profound!

Living in the Borderland: The Evolution of Consciousness and the Challenge of Healing Trauma by Jerome S. Bernstein (Routledge)

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