Why I am starting this new series is explained: here.
In my blog in Spanish I said that I had recently watched again Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence. Well, now that I lost my computer for a while, while it is in the shop and still write in a borrowed laptop, I decided to return to my childhood classics. (Sometimes it’s refreshing to forget the net and have direct contact with printed books.)
Artificial Intelligence is clearly a fairy tale inspired, in part, in Pinocchio and set in the future. I would suggest fans of Alice Miller to read the original story in an edition whose drawings respect Carlo Collodi’s tale.
Here is my Spanish-English translation of a passage from the preface of the splendid 1965 edition in Spanish that my father read to me and my brothers when we were little ones:
The error or the superficiality of many editions of Pinocchio lies mainly in the fact that the illustrations give primary attention for graphic designs, but without a clear interlocking with the text. In our edition, by contrast, the drawings have been made expressly in Tuscany, where the author imagined his masterpiece.
I sent the old serial installments of Editorial Codex to be bound by a traditional bookbinder: the very same issues that my father read us decades ago. Here I quote some passages that portray why the original story of Pinocchio is a perfect case of what Alice Miller called poisonous pedagogy:
“Geppetto had a very bad temper.” [Chapter II]
Pinocchio has not yet appeared and the story reveals the personality of its maker. Like many other distortions, the image of Geppetto in the Disney film as a kind old man grossly distorts Collodi’s tale.
But the Collodi tale distorts reality too, reversing colors like a photographic negative of what happens in the real world. Consider for example the following passage of poisonous pedagogy, in the sense of adult projections on a child unsure of himself, represented by the wooden puppet who aspires to become real. Anyone who has assimilated a little psychohistory knows that it is the parents who, over the millennia, have abused their children; not vice versa. As narrated in the birth of Pinocchio:
At that unexpected trick, Geppetto became very sad and downcast, more so than he had ever been before.
“Pinocchio, you wicked boy!” he cried out. “You are not yet finished, and you start out by being impudent to your poor old father. Very bad, my son, very bad!”
And he wiped away a tear. [Chapter III]
Of course: in real life it is parents who abuse the newborns; never, ever the other way. Collodi’s story is fiction, obviously, but in my opinion it perfectly reflects aspects in the dynamics Collodi had to bear with his own mother, with whom he lived all his life. After Pinocchio was “born” and escaped into the streets, the story goes:
“Poor Marionette,” called out a man. “I am not surprised he doesn’t want to go home. Geppetto, no doubt, will beat him unmercifully, he is so mean and cruel!”
“Geppetto looks like a good man,” added another, “but with boys he’s a real tyrant. If we leave that poor Marionette in his hands he may tear him to pieces!” [Chapter III]
He may tear him to pieces! The neighbors knew that this was how an acquaintance of them behaved. Although in that passage Collodi puts Geppetto as the victim, and Pinocchio as a miscreant who despised a loving father, the neighbors knew better. In real life, of course, runaway children do so because of horrific abuse at home. As I have had dealings with these children in Mexico City I have the impression that behind every street child, even those who I haven’t interviewed, there is a horror story at home.
It is very instructive that Collodi inverts reality in a story meant to subjugate the will of the child before the omnipotent adult. That is precisely the reason that his story became a bestseller in a world dominated by parents who want to “educate” their children through poisonous pedagogy.