50 People Whom I Pity: Dr. Seuss

A transcript associated with  Solve the World

A transcript associated with Solve the World

mcelligots pool.jpg

I'm all for pushing imagination far. I'm even particularly prone to agree that helping jump-start a child's imagination is of paramount importance. This is all well and good. Amongst the legion artists, philosophers, and humble teachers who directed their gifts towards the expansion of the mind of the youth, none rise above Theodore Seuss Geisel, whom we all know affectionately as Dr. Seuss.

His problem lies in gambling. He was a gambling man, and he shouted its virtue from the pulpit.

Case in point: McElligot's Pool.

At the behest of this tale, we find a young boy merrily fishing in McElligot's Pool. An older man informs the boy that there's nothing alive in the small pond, only garbage. He relates that he knows this from experience. The amiable lad's response fills out the remaining pages of the short story. The child happily voices his opinion that the pond perhaps goes deep underground and connects with a river which eventually meets up with the ocean. Under this hypothesis then, it is entirely reasonable that one could expect to catch a fish or two in McElligot's Pool.
The thought alone that the pond somehow could miraculously reach the sea is unreasonable at best, but the lad's just begun! He goes on to envision legions and myriads of fish whatzits and whozers all vying for a spot in the luxury vacation spot that is McElligot's pool. He envisions creatures that surely don't even exist.

A fish that's partially a cow.

A sea beast that dwarfs a whale. Insanity upon insanity.

Again, if one is merely imagining the unknown, then all this is fine, but there's a much darker reality occurring here. This boy isn't merely day-dreaming, he's betting his life on an impossibility. At best, he's going to waste his day ever adding chips to his own gobbledeegook conviction that life will find a way to McElligot's pool. Once again, if he were merely assuming that such a life-force was possible beneath the waters, well then okay, you took a bet and you lost, but he's forcibly denying the spoken words of an experienced sage!

Here's what will happen to this boy; he'll wait.

He'll wait all day for a fish to show up.

But the fish never will.

He'll come home for dinner, only to return on his next available Saturday to continue his quest to capture the strangest nether-creatures of the sea-verse. When Bobby invites him to play 'cowboys and Muslim extremists', he'll reject his best friend because he's all tied up with his fateful gamble.

Years go by, and time-after-time the lad's put all his chips on McElligot's pool, to the point in which his whole worldview is in the clutches of this one expectation. The boy will become a shell of his former self as each day stabs him with the sting of an unmet expectation and deep regret for time lost. The gorgeous Mary Collins he'll never meet and he'll never marry because he wasted away at McElligot's pool.

An analysis of Seuss's works will reveal this same aberration time in and time out. A single individual hopes for the imaginary to become his reality.

Seuss was a great man. A great artist. A great wonder-er. But he entrapped his characters and perhaps himself, wishing for a morrow that just can't be.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER: it's never too late to fold. Hold sacred the chips that still remain. Forget you ever met McElligot's Pond and with that, let life surpass your modest expectations, lest you be sullied to learn that your hopes reach farther than the horizon.