reciprocated acts of kindness

September 7, 2019

In [fairy tales], power is rarely the right tool for survival anyway. Rather the powerless thrive on alliances, often in the form of reciprocated acts of kindness – from beehives that were not raided, birds that were not killed but set free or fed, old women who were saluted with respect. Kindness sown among the meek is harvested in crisis

Rebecca Solnit
The Faraway Nearby.

People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkeyskins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kind that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teach you how to prevail, and trust. And maybe even love.

Charles de Lint
The Onion Girl

The Bad Guy

August 20, 2019

We are told in fairy tales that evil always loses and good eventually will triumph. That is what makes those stories so desirable to the general population. They want to believe that karma works and the bad guys are always defeated in the end. But in a world where no one thinks they are the bad guy and everyone plays the victim, it is harder and harder to find the black and the white of a situation. We are all the hero, and we are all the monster.

John Goode
Maybe With a Chance of Certainty

As in the tales of Grimm and Perrault [Tsvetaeva] suggests that it is the fear, the delight in our fear, we enjoy, a delight we cannot enjoy in reality since we fear for our skin. Conversely, Tsvetaeva tells us, a fairy tale that doesn’t frighten is not a fairy tale.  It is terror that transports us to the place where Dostoyevsky was transported when he was condemned to death, this most precious place, the most alive, where you tell yourself you are going to receive the axe’s blow, and where you discover, by the axe’s light, what Kafka made Moses say: How beautiful the world is even in its ugliness. It’s at this moment, as Blanchot would say, that “we see the light.” It’s at this moment, in extremis, that we are born and enjoy the strange things that can happen during such a dangerous, magnificent, and cruel experience as losing a relative while still in the freshness of childhood or youth. We feel,  to our unspeakable horror, something that is incredibly odd: on the one hand an infinitely greater loss than the one we feel when we are of a mature age, and on the other, an unavowable joy – difficult to perceive – that is simply the joy of being alive. The pure joy of feeling that I am not the one who is dying.

Hélène Cixous
The School of Dreams
Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing

Fairy tales

May 8, 2019

Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

G.K. Chesterton
Tremendous Trifles

scavenger of shiny things

January 29, 2019

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more.

Laini Taylor
Lips Touch: Three Times

scavenger of shiny things

September 15, 2018

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more.

Laini Taylor
Lips Touch: Three Times

talk about incest

June 17, 2018

It’s something we’ve always known about fairy tales – they talk about incest, the Oedipus complex, about psychotic mothers, like those of Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, who throw their children out. They tell things about life which children know instinctively, and the pleasure and relief lie in finding these things expressed in language that children can live with. You can’t eradicate these feelings – they exist and they’re a great source of creative inspiration.

Maurice Sendak
King of all Wild Things
Interview with Jonathan Cott 30th November 1976

a strange harvest

June 16, 2018

Titiana by Johann Heinrich Füssli

Fairy tales are more than moral lessons and time capsules for cultural commentary; they are natural law. The child raised on folklore will quickly learn the rules of crossroads and lakes, mirrors and mushroom rings. They’ll never eat or drink of a strange harvest or insult an old woman or fritter away their name as though there’s no power in it. They’ll never underestimate the youngest son or touch anyone’s hairpin or rosebush or bed without asking, and their steps through the woods will be light and unpresumptuous. Little ones who seek out fairy tales are taught to be shrewd and courteous citizens of the seen world, just in case the unseen one ever bleeds over.

Sarah Taylor Gibson
Blog Entry

the great lesson

February 1, 2018

A Walk to the Castle by Alexandre Chaudret

But I deal here with what ethic and philosophy come from being fed on fairy tales…There is the chivalrous lesson of ‘Jack the Giant Killer’; that giants should be killed because they are gigantic. It is a manly mutiny against pride as such. For the rebel is older than all the kingdoms, and the Jacobin has more tradition than the Jacobite. There is the lesson of ‘Cinderella,’ which is the same as that of the Magnificat-exaltavit humiles. There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast’; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep.

G.K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy