Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We'll Eat You Up -- We Love You So!

A Touching Obituary,
especially the little boy who eats up what he loves!

My favorite line in Where the Wild Things Are has always been when the Wild Things cry out upon Max's departure, "Oh please don't go -- we'll eat you up -- we love you so!"

I grew to understand my love for it even more when reading Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By, I came across an archetypal explanation for the human impulse to love and devour:

" . . . an ancient Zoroastrian legend of the first parents of the human race, where they are pictured as having sprung from the earth in the from of a single reed, so closely joined that they could not have been told apart. However, in time they separated; and again in them they united and there were born to them two children, whom they loved so tenderly and irresistible that they ate them up. The mother ate one; the father ate the other; and god, to protect the human race, then reduced the force of man's capacity for love by some ninety-nine per cent" (153 - 54).

So if it seems that we human beings are stinted in our capacity for love, now we know that, ironically, it's because our tendency to love each other is so overwhelming that it must be reigned in by the gods.

Maybe this also explains why we can't resist calling our children things like, "Honey Bun" and "Sweetie Pie" -- or to name a couple of favorites in our family: "Pie - Cake" and "Kielbasa." These endearments persisted until our younger son Sam finally objected: "Don't Call Me the Food Names!" A line that we quote to this day with great enjoyment -- not that we have ever stopped calling the children by the food names! Old habits die hard, particularly those with a sound theoretical basis!

Maurice Sendak,
thanks for sending the Wild Things to eat us up!
We love them so!
We'll miss you so!
Cartoon by Dan Wasserman

P.S. Another example:

"Eliza picked Isobel up from the counter and started nibbling her ear. Why, Vinny wondered, was Eliza always trying to eat bits of her children? What a tasty little morsel, Eliza murmured in Isobel's ear while Vinny patted butter aggressively, imagining it was Eliza's head. If Eliza wasn't careful, Vinny thought, she'd look around one day and discover that she'd eaten them all up."

from the novel Human Croquet (109)
by Kate Atkinson, b. 1951
English novelist

1 comment:

  1. I have been listening to and reading Maurice Sendak interviews all week long. While talking to Bill Moyers and Terry Gross, Sendak mentioned how his Jewish relatives with "horrifying teeth and hair growing from their nostrils" would grab hold of him and other children saying, "I could just eat you up." Diane says that her Italian relatives often said to children, in love, "I could just eat you up." I love your notes from Myths to Live By about literal eating.