September 13, 2016

100 years ago today: Roald Dahl was born.

My son John reminds me... with quotes from his 1990 obituary.
The key to his success, he frequently said, was to conspire with children against adults.

"It's the path to their affections," he said in an interview earlier this year with the London newspaper The Independent. "It may be simplistic, but it is the way. Parents and schoolteachers are the enemy. The adult is the enemy of the child because of the awful process of civilizing this thing that when it is born is an animal with no manners, no moral sense at all."


YoungHegelian said...

Sometimes, Roald Dahl shows up in the strangest places.

viator said...

That was when they used to give boys a good beating from the age of five to fifteen.

"In Boy, Dahl describes such an occasion. The ace cricketer, Jack Mendl, had just beaten him, delivering four strokes, “so fast it was all over in four seconds”. Now back in the “bedder”, his fellows insist Roald take down his trousers to show them his damaged buttocks. Dahl does not dwell on the “excruciating burning pain” he is suffering. Instead, he recalls the boys’ detailed analysis of Mendl’s handiwork. “Half a dozen experts would crowd around you and express their opinions in highly professional language. ‘What a super job.’ ‘He’s got every single one in the same place!’ ‘Boy, that Williamson’s [Mendl] got a terrific eye!’ ‘Of course he’s got a terrific eye! Why d’you think he’s a Cricket Teamer?’”

The scene is comic. At the end, Mendl himself appears in the dormitory, “to catch a glimpse of my bare bottom and his own handiwork”.

n.n said...

conspire with children against adults

The conception and birth of progressive liberalism (i.e. monotonic, divergent). A secular corruption of classical progressivism and liberalism.

Humans are born with a liberal outlook seeking wealth, pleasure, leisure, and narcissistic indulgence. We evolve (i.e. chaotic process) to discover or inherit a religious/moral philosophy with observable, reproducible principles (i.e. reconciliation of moral, natural, and personal imperatives). It's good to be a child, but that immature state can only be sustained in nature through a static, degenerative, or delegated process.

A reminder to children, today's progressive is tomorrow's conservative.

Parents and schoolteachers are the enemy

The deplorables. Competing interests through economic, religious, and social indoctrination. Secular diversity does not work in practice without a robust authoritarian regime.

The adult is the enemy of the child

The View from an abortion chamber is colored by blood-stained glasses. Progressive liberalism is a strict hierarchy instructed by female and male chauvinists.

C Stanley said...

Very chilling because I just attended Virtus training (the class that our Archdiocese now requires for all staff and volunteers who have any contact with children) yesterday and they showed us a film which included two pedophiles talking candidly about how they groomed children, and this was more or less what they said.

I know some adults might do this for less nefarious purposes but it should still throw up red flags.

buwaya said...

"The ace cricketer, Jack Mendl, had just beaten him'

Mrs. Bulakaw probably did a better job with her six-foot bamboo.

Freeman Hunt said...

We took our kids to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory yesterday. (It's in theaters at the moment.) It is magical because Wonka is dangerous. He reminds me of Peter Pan, the one from the book not the movie, a sort of intriguing, careless psychopath. Most stories for kids want to make everyone who is on the "right" side, good and safe. Wonka is neither.

When it was over, I asked one son, "What did you think?"

"I liked it. It was kind of weird though. Willy Wonka is a bad guy."

"Yes, I see what you mean. It's fun for a movie, but if I ever meet an adult like that, I'd get far away from him as quickly as possible."

"Me too!"

Dahl's stories are, in that way, civilizing. They show a world that is dangerous. A world where people are often cruel and usually can't be trusted. He makes you want to be nothing like those people. You want to be Charlie, not Wonka. He makes the kid you identify with the civilized one, while most other kids and adults come from the "basket of deplorables."

MadisonMan said...

James and the Giant Peach was a favorite book of mine back in the day. Last month, though, I couldn't remember the Aunts' names!

(Spiker and Sponge)

rcocean said...

I never read as a kid, except for Dr. Doolittle, so all the love for kids books passes me by. My favorite kids book is "The Wind in the Willows" which i read when i was 25.

sane_voter said...

I read plenty of books as a child, but mostly history and science. Fiction could never compete with the wonders of the real world.

coupe said...

Mrs. Clinton should note that his father died in his 50's of pneumonia.

PowderSpringsCityCouncilWatch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HoodlumDoodlum said...

You will have too Google for yourselves, but look up the Dahl episode of the Dead Authors podcast.
Paul F Tompkinks is HG Wells and Ben Schwartz is Dahl. Schwartz loves Dahl but didn't do a lot of research and was unaware of Dahl's he finds out during the episode. Funny and little sad, but mostly funny.

Paul Snively said...

Dahl got that children come into the world as monsters that need civilizing.

He also got that the process is never entirely successful—and in some ways, the most subtle, the most successful expression of evil comes from adults in whom the civilizing process never quite completely took.

Naturally, Dahl was a dour old Lutheran. In other words, my kinda guy.

Amexpat said...

Norwegian decorates the tail of their planes with famous Scandinavians. They just put a picture of Roald Dahl on the tail of one their planes. He's the first non-Scandinavian to get that honor (though his parents were Norwegian).

MikeR said...

Dahl was awful. Some of his books were fun, but all were creepy and evil. Take a look at the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Remember Charlie's sick grandparents? Would it bother you if they turned out to be rotten? What about monsters that actually eat people in the book? It has that too.
Sleep well, kids.
I'm not even talking about his forays into porn fiction ("My Uncle Oswald").

Freeman Hunt said...

Would it bother you if they turned out to be rotten?

I haven't read it but assumed they were all rotten when it turned out that it only took the promise of a trip to get one of them out of bed.

Why have they been lying in bed making Charlie's mother take care of them for 20 years if they are capable of getting up? Of course they're rotten.

Dahl's books are certainly dark in places. I didn't particularly like them as a kid--too many creeps in them. But other kids liked them. Now, as an adult, I can see why.

MikeR said...

"Why have they been lying in bed making Charlie's mother take care of them for 20 years if they are capable of getting up? Of course they're rotten." Hmm - but Grampa Joe, the one who got up, was the one who turned out good. The others, who never got up and maybe can't, were the rotten ones.
Chocolate Factory just had all the rich kids and their parents be awful. But we hate spoiled rich people anyhow, so that's okay. In the sequel it turns out that everyone is rotten if you just test them. That's pretty much my impression of Dahl's view of all humanity. I don't recall Charlie actually doing anything decent; he just wasn't spoiled yet because he was too poor.
James and the Giant Peach celebrates the peach crushing his two aunts, but that's okay because they were rotten too.

I think it's a bad idea to choose this kind of vicious garbage as our kids' early memories, just because the author told entertaining stories well.

By the bye, when I was a kid the Oompa-Loompas were little black people in the illustration and so described in the text. By the time I was older, they had become dwarf albinos with long white hair, again both in the illustrations and the text. ( I guess you can't do that to black people any more. In the original movie they were orange with green hair.

Paul Snively said...

MikeR: In the sequel it turns out that everyone is rotten if you just test them. That's pretty much my impression of Dahl's view of all humanity.

It's true, by which I mean both that it's Dahl's Lutheran-bordering-on-Manichean worldview and it's well-supported by the evidence. A fascinating aspect of growing up is that children learn very early that most human beings are rotten, and in particular that adults are no different from children in this respect. In fact, very often, they're worse. Growing up is, above all else, the development of coping skills to deal with the fact.

The Bible tells us about the Fall, and that all human beings are evil by nature. Even most modern Christians tend to ignore that and pretend human beings are innately good. Dahl was willing to call bullshit on that. Good for him.

Freeman Hunt said...

I forgot that there was a new movie until you typed "original movie."