An Inclusive Litany

1/5/03

Louis Menand comments on Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat Comes Back in the New Yorker, December 23-30, 2002. While we all hope and pray this was intended as parody, a brief survey of online commentary on the article reveals some confusion on this point. And as deconstructionists are fond of pointing out, an author's intent is largely irrelevant anyway.
These semiotic felines do exactly what a deconstructionist would predict: rather than containing the stain, they disseminate it. Everything turns pink. The chain of signification is interminable and, being interminable, indeterminate. The semantic hygiene fetishized by the children is rudely violated; the "system" they imagined is revealed to have no inside and no outside. It is revealed to be, in fact, just another bricolage. The only way to end the spreading stain of semiosis is to unleash what, since it cannot be named, must be termed "that which is not a sign." This is the Voom, the final agent in the cat's arsenal. The Voom eradicates the pink queerness of a textuality without boundaries; whiteness is back, though it is now the purity of absence—one wants to say... of abstinence. The association with nuclear holocaust and its sterilizing fallout, wiping the planet clean of pinkness and pinkos, is impossible to ignore. It is a strange story for teaching people how to read.

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