For those of you who want to know what’s happening in the world today, just shut your eyes. Your ears too, because what you see and what you hear doesn’t really seem to matter much anymore. What counts these days is whatever turns agendas—political and otherwise—into realities.
All of which brings me around to the subject of this week’s post: Pinocchio.
An epic character, perhaps the most well known character in children’s literature, who stands as a universal symbol of the perils of prevarication to one’s proboscis.
It all began with The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) a children’s novel by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi, in which a kindly old carpenter, Geppetto, carves a marionette in the image of a little boy who lives a literal wooden existence dreaming that someday he’ll be human. But between him and his dream stand a series of trials and a singular moral defect: Pinocchio’s penchant for lying and bad behavior.
Though some literary types have equated Pinocchio’s journey with that of epic literary heroes such as Odysseus, I think for purposes of today’s post it’s better described by Jack Zipes in an introduction to a book on Pinocchio, titled Carlo Collodi. To him, it’s a story about those who venture out into the world naively unprepared for what they find, and get into ridiculous situations.
Enter the “nose knows.”
Alas, if only we had as ready a way of separating truth tellers from charlatans today.
But there’s another lesson to be drawn from Pinocchio.
The list of Pinocchio productions and knock-offs is endless, but undoubtedly Walt Disney’s 1940 version, praised as one of the greatest animated films of all time, is the most well known.
What isn’t as well known is that, as originally written, Pinocchio was an obnoxious boor, whose end was not intended to be pleasant. Disney though didn’t see that sort of character as appealing to the masses, and so he turned him into a more likeable, innocent mischief-maker, who ultimately achieved his dream of becoming real.
Today’s opinion-shapers still turn the obnoxious into the likeable, and far-fetched cinematic dreams into realities, but they’ve have added something else to the mix. They’ve turned the common sense adage for truth—“As plain as the nose on your face”—on its ear (so to speak) by libeling any nose other than their own as a Pinocchio protuberance, not to be believed.
In other words, we now live in a world where up is down and down is up. But that’s from another children’s book, for another time.
Assuming we get there.