Tuesday, November 28, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 69



I'm a Dr. Seuss fan, Sam I am

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 endearing.

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 knightsdream@hotmail.com.

To contact the Opinon Section Editor, send e-mail to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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