Monday, August 9, 2010

The Child as Father of the Man

Of what I can remember from my earliest days of life, the resonance of some of the books I read and some of the movies I watched as a child seems to linger on in my consciousness – strangely unaffiliated to the places they were imbibed at, and dissociated from any memory of my concurrent passage through real life at the time. Furthermore, the sensations I experienced through the world of fiction in both these mediums are more readily called upon in my memory than most of the feelings I had when life-changing things were happening around me. To be sure, a perfunctory reading into trauma and its after-effects in children could very well be applied to my case as a boy growing up through constantly tumultuous personal change, but I still wonder why some of the feelings I had while reading and watching certain stories should take up so much of the long-term memory we are told constitute the ready-reckoners of the intelligence we eventually grow into as adults. A Need for Escape is, of course, the easy answer, but I am still not convinced. Though trauma is generally associated with deprivation and a lack of proper guidance through profoundly confusing occurrences to a child, I did always have a very large support system when certain tragedies that no one could do anything about happened over the course of my childhood. The reasons for the conditions of life being what they were for our family, were thoroughly disseminated in my evolving understanding of the world through overwhelmingly compassionate parenting, the grace of which I can now recognize in hindsight. All in all, mine was as sheltered a childhood as the circumstances of life could allow. Perhaps, the world of fiction provided me an avenue through which I could indulge an imagination that was struggling to gain free rein over a reality filled with a sense of despair. But that does suspiciously sound like a whole bunch of words I would use to mask a sense of ignorance about the past. All I know, at this stage in my life, is that I would have been a much poorer man if I did not have recourse to the beloved books and movies I dove into as a child… And perhaps my continuing obsession with both these mediums of distraction is what should point to the fact that in my case, the child is verily the father of the man.

Some of the Movies I refer to:
Jesus of Nazareth, Ben-Hur, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, Kutti-Chaitan (Tamil in 3-D), The NeverEnding Story.

And some of the Books (abridged versions for children):
Treasure Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Great Expectations, The lies of Boyo Butler, Momo.

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