Monday, May 5, 2014

The Velveteen Rabbit: take that shit away from the kiddies, give it to the theorists!

I vaguely recall reading something about a rabbit earlier in the blog, but after searching and finding nada, I just have to share my concerns about the popular children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit.


The book that horrified me as a child fascinates me as an adult. The themes and shame with being "unreal" echo a morbid, modern focus on validation by a non-existent or uncaring God. Not to get all misquoted-Nietzsche on you; I'm not saying there is no God. God is dead! The child is clearly the God centered ideological concept holding the toy- world together. 

Sinners in the hands of an angry....child... is a TERRIFYING idea to behold. 
-> Sidenote, I went to type "Damn Margery Williams" before realizing the irony of embedding a Christian          God centered idiom in a supposedly deconstructing, post structuralist blog post. 

Amid the wonders of scarlet fever, the burning of toys, and toy racism, the "real" presents a forward thinking, deeply problematic concept of what defines reality. There are, however, some post modern bits.

The language, "become" and "it's a thing that happens to you" signify a process of creating the real; the constructing hinting at the slipping meaning of all things. Even in the typography, the artist conceived the words in a swirly, bending pattern.

In that initial, pre-real phase, a toy's meaning is never stable. Until it is transformed by love, and enters a pre-lapsarian utopia of real.  But I digress...

The idea that becoming real is a process, that one does not simply exist without the proper semiotics of being loved by a child, indicated the constructedness of the real.  One can read this as a metaphor for Creationism, and pleasing God and whatnot; but the post structural view is more fun.

Bruner enlightens the text with his narrative construction of reality. Rather than proving through a series of trials (empiricist) his reality or reasoning his reality (rationalist), the rabbit must follow the proper story line to come to life. The boy's love, "not only ...represent[s] but ...constitute[s] reality" in the toy world. 


As described by the Skin Horse, the process of becoming real physically degrades the toy. The message that love will destroy you, but save you...I shudder. That which represents and constitutes reality will degrade and immortalize you? This is a CHILDREN'S book?!

There's too much to dissect here- what do you, the reader think? 


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