Friday, November 22, 2013

I Think, Therefore I Am. Sam-I-Am

“Aujourd’hui, Maman est morte. Ou peut-etre hier, je ne sais pas...” is the first line of The Stranger. The Albert Camus classic replaced the Gideon bible for defiant baby boomers. But these lines “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we stayed in the house. All that cold, cold wet day,” from Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat were to be found in the nurseries of these self-same baby boomers, along with other volumes like Green Eggs and Ham. “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am,” is one of the lines from that cherished volume. Dr. Seuss of course was noted for his imaginative children’s books. After all, a cat in the hat is what emerges from an otherwise boring afternoon. But his settings definitely set the stage for the existential crises faced by the generation that read them. The streets that Camus’ anti-hero Meursault walks are hot rather than cold, but they partake of the same dread that Dr. Seuss is dealing with on the cold, cold day described in The Cat in the Hat. Notice Dr. Seuss aka Theodor Seuss Geisel uses cold twice. It’s not just a cold day. It’s a cold, cold day, in which man is separated from God, the kind of day you find in the Bergman trilogy, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence. And doesn’t Seuss’s “I am Sam. Sam I am,” sound curiously like Descartes’s famed cogito ergo sum. It even rhymes. Sam I am. I think therefore I am.  

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