Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Neoimperialist reading of The Cat in the Hat

I was reading The Cat in the Hat to Superstar tonight. As usual, I like to pick random dialects, accents, and characterizations to make the books more interesting. Tonight I happened to give the cat a very deep, posh British dialect and the fish an Indian accent.

Suddenly the entire book was transformed into a colonial pseudo-commentary: wise India continually cried for the British to stop with their Great Game to play, but its voice went unheeded. When the British finally left, everything was a mess. But, in good neoimperialist/White Savior/white guilt tradition, the Cat shows up again as an NGO (or an economics professor?) to clean up the entire mess and restore everything to its idyllic state. Shall we go so far as to name Thing 1 and Thing 2 the Breton Woods Institutions of the World Bank and IMF?

Even though the narrator is "Sally and I" (notice the ever  dominant male perspective and the completely silent female), the real star of the show is the imperialist who gets his own line of dolls, t-shirts, books, sequels, television specials, and movies, all upheld by copyrights promulgated by Thing 3 (the WTO) and the corporatist government (the mother) who pretends to see nothing amiss. The neoliberal market allows the developed world to exploit the developing once again by controlling how its story is portrayed.

Oh those heady days of my German double-major! This stuff writes itself and can get taken seriously as journalism and intellectual commentary.

Of course to do it seriously, I'd need to understand the real literature, the other commentaries and authorities to cite, and make it a proper academic article - but this is good enough to pass for transhumanist, antineoliberal sociointellectualism in the politicoeconomic echochamber of the interwebs.

Here is a little Marxist reading by the University of Utah Economics Department, if you like more that kind of thing, and here is how to teach students about the Id, Ego, and Superego with the Cat if that's more your style.