Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Cat in the Hat on Trial

This week I'm feeling a little crappy: I have a persistent head/ear ache, I'm constantly tired, and I feel lazy in lab, which is funny because last week I was happy as a clam. (How do we know clams are happy? They don't even have a central nervous system, which implies that although they have tactile sensation and limited movement, they probably don't have feelings. But they must be, because that's just how happy I was, and I was very happy.) On Tuesday I took a break from my bit of gloom and went to see The Cat in the Hat on Trial.

The New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas included this little show, in which an authentic (but costumed) judge and prosecutor charged the Cat in the Hat with breaking and entering, in addition to many other offenses, like scaring a goldfish. They brought Sally and Her Brother (apparently unnamed in the book?), Thing One and Thing Two, and the Fish out as witnesses for the case, and at the end the judged asked the jury (the audience) to render a verdict. Much to the dismay of one bad-seed parent who kept shouting, "GUILTY!", the Cat was set free.

The show was fun and entertaining, but I thought it could have been better written, and practiced a bit more. It was clear that the characters had lines (they often used notebooks for cues), and they started out being in rhyme, but that was soon forgotten. Still, it was fun, and a great show. There was complete chaos (Sam I Am came in a few times, offering us green eggs and ham), and the kids roared. So good times.

Hmm, non-rhyming poetry. I don't see why not. But if it's not lyrical, then why write as if it is? Why can't that poem be in paragraph format instead? Does the format dictate how it's read (pause after each line)? I understand that the sound of the words is supposed to evoke feeling apart from the meaning, but I got a lot more 'sound' feeling from reading a paragraph of narrative.


  1. But my question is why you feel that prose is somehow normative and poetry an abberation -- in other words, why prose doesn't have to justify its existence and poetry does.

    In any case, I'm working on an entry to respond to you. I'm sure it won't convince you of why you should read poetry, but I hope I can explain why I do.

    (Play sounds neat.)

  2. Prose is normative simply because I read more of it. I know that's dumb. I guess I think poetry is often more complicated than it needs to be, since the formatting of it seems to matter, but not communicate.

  3. Well, it does communicate -- but it might be a language you're not used to listening to. (Or you may not care to understand it.)

    I do think it's important -- if you want to have this conversation at all -- that you not start from the position that poetry is guilty until proven innocent. It's funny, because the sense I'm getting from you about how you feel about poetry is that it's sort of like how I feel about scientific theories which I find extremely abstract -- I start from the position that they're impossible, and I refuse to accept them unless someone can prove them to me to my satisfaction, using language that I understand.

    It drives Ross crazy. But I understand where it comes from. ;-)