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Genealogies of Wilderness and Domestication in Children’s Narratives: Understanding Genesis and Genetics in the Untangling of Identity

first published in:

“The Paulinian Compass” (refereed scholarly journal), St. Paul University, Manila: Vol. 1 No. 4; July 2010

Abstract:

The books that children read stand on specific ontological premises and communicate authors’ perspectives on life and on relationships in the world. This inter-disciplinary study is part of my doctoral dissertation, where I examine the perspectives of wilderness and domestication that inform the ontologies of Moominworld by Tove Jansson, the Mites of Flower Town by Nikolai Nosov, and 100 Aker Wood of Winnie-the-Pooh by Alan Alexandre Milne. I argue that these two perspectives and an attempt at compromise between wilderness and domestication weave various topoi of genesis, transformation, identity, and a knowledge based either on biodiversity and life or on monogeneity and death. I thus examine the above-mentioned three narratives through the scientific, literary, theological and folk lenses and compare them to such classics as Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
In today’s world of totalitarian and globalised literacy, books almost constitute the first introduction of future adults to the “real” world and along with virtual reality (games, internet, et al) come to substitute our reality. Schooling now begins almost at birth (day care centres accept children at one month of age) and it segregates young people by age and economic class (sometimes by other categories as well) and by means of this isolation from the real world, literacy and entertainment our world becomes more and more abstract and virtual to these generations with each day. The adults that emerge from this system of education and alienation are the ones that inherit this world and are responsible for making crucial decisions, such as the one that attempted to hide the disaster of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this April, 2010. The problem of alienation, I argue, is the problem of apathy. A recent psychological study supports my hypothesis, which I address more in-depth in my subsequent part of my research.
In an update of a study on empathy originally conducted in 1979, Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Ed O’Brien and Courtney Hsing have presented “Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis” at the annual convention of Psychological Sciences in Boston (May 28th 2010). In this study they find a drastic difference in today’s student body on campuses from college students of the late 1970s. Today’s students disagree more frequently with such statements as: “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective”, or, “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”
Surrounded by anthropogenic ecological disasters, brutal wars, and the threat of destruction looming over the future of the planet itself due to our actions, constructed knowledge, and structured ignorance, it becomes urgent to examine the underlying ontological concepts and the reality from which our children are incarcerated in schools. This research is an attempt to look at what is the knowledge that children get exposed to and my main question is whether identity and civilisation are not the underlying culprits in our alienation from the world. As Tove Jansson shows in her moominbooks, perhaps it is necessary to empathise even with the one who dislikes us and not limit ourselves to people only, but see if “I can often have tender, concerned feelings for anyone (animals and people included) as fortunate or less fortunate than me”.

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Genealogies of Wilderness and Domestication in Children’s Narratives: Understanding Genesis and Genetics in the Untangling of Identity

Table of contents:

 

  1. Tiptoe Lightly Among the Trees: Rebirth into the Wilderness of Moominforest

  2. On Monsters, Wilderness, and Love

  3. Questions of Choice: Discerning the Truth

  4. Perils and Traps of Civilisation: Competing for Chocolate Slavery in the Unknowledge of Roald Dahl

  5. Construction of Identity: The Civilised Chore of Cleaning Out the Debris of Wilderness

  6. Ignorance is Bliss: Questions of Identity

  7. Honey like Chocolate: the Names and the Whys of Existence

  8. A Town in the Forest: Sedentary Travel as Compromise

  9. Negotiating the Frontiers in the Wilderness of Folklore

  10. A General Note on Transformations, Consumption, and Identity

  11. Transformation and Recognition: Kinship and Common Origins in Moominvalley

  12. Transformation and Alienation: Renunciation and Kinship in Sunny City

  13. Conclusions on Cosmogonies in Science and Art

See Full Text in PDF here:

Genealogies of Wilderness and Domestication in Children’s Narratives: Understanding Genesis and Genetics in the Untangling of Identity

 

And Full Dissertation: Order and the Literary Rendering of Chaos: Children’s Literature as Knowledge, Culture, and Social Foundation.

 

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    July 27, 2010 @ 3:33 pm
  2. Pingback from Domestication, aliénation et civilisation, Comprendre la base violente et civilisatrice qui mène à notre domestication, de l’ontologie civilisatrice à l’ontologie sauvage | Média Recherche Action:

    [...] par Alan Alexandre Milne (basé sur les principes civilisationnel, monarchiste et capitaliste) dans Genealogies of Wilderness and Domestication in Children’s Narratives: Understanding Genesis and Ge…(18:01 à [...]

    March 29, 2013 @ 2:44 am
  3. Pingback from Layla AbdelRahim – The Mythical Predator | veganarchoprimitivism:

    […] But then the non-domesticated aboriginals have known this all along. Again, that’s what my genesis piece is all […]

    December 12, 2015 @ 7:18 am
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