Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Certainly the finest book in the American Canon. Seuss, initially conceiving the book as a response to the American occupation of Japan, instead constructed a multi-layered allegory addressing the historical pattern of the scientist/mystic at odds with a totalitarian church-state. Thus, on one level, the representation of Horton as the seer (literally and mystically) who is called to actions by unheard voices of intuition and other-worldliness while, at the same time, embodying the scientist whose extended techno-organs perceive substratum the untutored masses merely mock in their ignorance, suggests Seuss is replicating the plight of Meister Eckhart, Galileo, Theresa of Avila, and countless others. Seuss is not content to stop there. The aptly named Whoville ("Who" first as a question, then as a rapturous owl call announcing the night of triumph) becomes a stand in for vocal, democratic, non-violent resistance (their drum circles reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street, and their total participation in announcing their presence, affirming their existence, reflects nothing other than the multi-cultural, consciousness raising of the 1970's). Here I am not being anachronistic. This is precisely the point. Ultimately Seuss stitches every fabric of allegory together in what can only be described as a Hegelian Historical Dialectic. Horton is not hearing a who. History is hearing its own narrative and responding with a new vision that resounds with echoes of the atemporal fingerprint of God. Horton Hears a Who is, then, not a book exactly, but a sort of opening into the Divine Idea.
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