I'm a Dr. Seuss fan, Sam
Wendy M. Miller
"[Dr.] Seuss was a genius because his books
were not meant for only children. Many of his stories held morals that
he was trying to get across to the adult reading the book, as well as instill
them in a child listener. His zany illustrations and rhymes allow the reader
to enjoy the books and recognize the morals -- without feeling the weight
of a sermon. There is no better time than the present (right before finals)
to open up this outlet of escape. Put your responsible and unsmiling self
to the side for a moment - and lose yourself in a Seussian classic."
The excerpt is from an opinion article
that ran during Spring 2000 in the Cougar written by yours truly. I have
recently acquired, however, information on the person behind Dr. Seuss
that could possibly affect my opinion. It appears that I may have been
wrong to give my adoration freely to Dr. Seuss.
The following was brought to my attention
by DC Editor in Chief Brandon Moeller. It ran on U-Wire on Nov. 22. Titled
"Dartmouth grad Dr. Seuss adopted pseudonym after being caught for alcohol
violation," the story was written by Rebecca Leffler (at the heart of the
source, Dartmouth College) for the student publication, The Dartmouth.
"[Theodore Seuss] Geisel's pseudonym, 'Dr.
Seuss,' originated at Dartmouth after he was punished for an alcohol violation.
Who would have thought that S & S would be responsible for bringing
smiles to the faces of millions of children worldwide? After being caught
with a bottle of gin in his room, Geisel was put on probation for violating
the laws of Prohibition (and on Easter evening, no less). Geisel defended
his position, however, claiming 'We had a pint of gin for ten people, so
that proves nobody was really drinking.'"
Leffler goes on to say that as a result
of the violation "Geisel was banned from all extracurricular activities,
including his role as editor in chief of the Jack-o-Lantern," which was
the campus literary magazine.
Has this new information changed my opinion?
Actually, it has not.
After all is said and done, I still cherish
my Seussian world. It has distinct characteristics that I will always find
The Seussian world is not a prim or tidy
place. It is quite the opposite. Nothing has a regular shape. None of the
characters are prim.
A few of the whimsical animals seem to
have beer guts in common (hmm, I wonder … nah, it couldn't be the reason).
I prefer to believe that this is because they are like another of my favorite
things, Pooh. They just have a low center of gravity.
A Seussian world is always a bit ridiculous.
It is an example of intelligence without common sense.
Sense is capable of a "transmogrification"
into nonsense with the very next line of rhyme or the next toad in the
road. This magical and surprising world waves no banners of pretense.
It is a world that knows and recognizes
that things fall apart of themselves -- they do not need to be destroyed.
(Dr. Seuss is a philosopher -- not a politician.)
Finally, foremost and most fantastically,
it is a world of play. It is a harmless escape that has no repercussions.
Well, I suppose one could count as a drawback
not being able to get the words "That Sam I Am, That Sam I Am, I Do Not
like Green Eggs and Ham" out of your head. It seems that once you have
heard it, you cannot erase it.
Even with the latest insight into the individual
behind my beloved Dr. Seuss, I will probably defend his books until the
end. I am a Seussian and proud of it.
I will clutch to my chest worn copies of
The Grinch and The Lorax while proudly chanting the following
war cry from The Butter Battle Book: "Then Daniel, the Kick-a-Poo
Spaniel, and I / marched back toward the Wall / with our heads held up
high / while everyone cheered and their cheers filled the sky: / 'Fight!
Fight for the Butter Side Up! Do or Die!'."
Miller, a senior philosophy major, is
still sitting on a mat wearing a tall hat reading a story of a cat in a
similar hat at email@example.com.