Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’
“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it…”*
If the diagram above makes sense to you, you may have succumbed to one of the most pernicious perils of our time. Check the list of symptoms at “25 Signs You’re Addicted To Books.”
And on that subject, enjoy this lionizing of libraries…
* Groucho Marx
As we keep up with the jones, we might spare a thought for Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he died on this date in 1991. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of nascent young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
This map, by social realist artist William Gropper, was created to showcase the diversity of national myths and folk stories and was distributed abroad through the U.S. Department of State starting in 1946…
Gropper, born in New York City’s Lower East Side to a working-class family, deeply identified with labor movements and the Left throughout his life. He worked as a cartoonist for mainstream publications New York Tribune and Vanity Fair, as well as the leftist and radical newspapers Rebel Worker, New Masses, and Daily Worker. During the Depression, like many other out-of-work artists, Gropper designed murals for the Works Progress Administration.
The “folklore” on display in this richly illustrated map is a soup of history, music, myth, and literature. Frankie and Johnny are cheek-by-jowl with a wild-eyed John Brown; General Custer coexists with “Git Along Little Dogies.” Utah is simply host to a group of “Mormons,” in which a bearded man holds up stigmata-marked hands to a small group of wives and children, while a figure labeled “New England Witches” flies over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont…
As we revel in regional differences, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Theodor Geisel– Dr. Seuss– published The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Geisel had published And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street the prior year; 500 Hats was his second children’s book and the first of three (it was followed by The King’s Stilts and The Seven Lady Godivas in 1939), all of which were, atypically for him, in prose. He returned to the rhyming form for which he’s known with his fifth book, Horton Hatches the Egg.
As we wonder if, in fact, context is all, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953 that the musical fantasy film The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T was released. The only film ever written by Theodor Geisel (better known, of course, as Dr. Seuss), it was an early disappointment: several attendees of the Hollywood premiere walked out after 15 minutes, and box-office receipts were sparse. But in the years since, Dr. T has grown in both critical and popular estimation. (Your correspondent admits to loving it.) It is, in any case, surely the only children’s film that could comfortably be co-programmed with the work of David Lynch or Roman Polanski.
The Fibonacci sequence describes the golden ratio (or golden spiral), an ideal form found in the more beautiful corners of nature, and much beloved by designers everywhere.
The Fibonacci numbers are the sum of the previous two numbers in the sequence, starting with 0 and 1: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…
A Fibonacci spiral created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in a Fibonacci tiling; this one uses squares of sizes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and 34. (source)
It turns out that the Fibonacci sequence also neatly matches the relationship between kilometers and miles. Three miles is five kilometers, five miles is eight kilometers, eight miles is 13 kilometers. It’s not perfect: eight miles is actually 12.875 kilometers– but it’s close enough in a pinch.
If one needs to convert a number that’s not in the Fibonacci sequence, one can simply break out the Fibonacci numbers, convert, and add the answers. For instance, 100 can be broken down into 89 + 8 + 3, all Fibonacci numbers. The next numbers are 144, 13, and 5, which add up to 162. 100 miles is actually equal to 160.934 kilometers. But again, close enough.
[TotH to MNN]
Special bonus arithmetic amusement: the quadratic equation, explained (as though) by Dr. Seuss.
As we marvel at math, we might wish a Happy Birthday to a master of “numbers” of a different sort; author and prankster Ken Kesey was born on this date in 1935. While at Stanford in 1959 (studying writing with Wallace Stegner), Kesey was a paid volunteer in CIA-funded LSD trials (Project MKULTRA), an experience that informed his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and that inspired him to form the “Merry Pranksters” and embark on the cross-country school bus trip memorialized in Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”
“Leave no turn unstoned.”
Readers will know that Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss,” worked in other forms than the books for which he was most famous– readers will remember his (in both senses of the word) fabulous The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, and pre-blog readers will recall his work as an editorial cartoonist during World War II.
But readers may be surprised, as your correspondent was, to learn that, two years before he published his first book, And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street!, Dr. Seuss authored a comic strip:
Hejji, which ran for under a year in 1935, told the story of a traveler who found himself in the strange land of Baako, a mountaintop country that’s equal parts Tibet, the Middle East, and Whoville… Heijji’s adventures prefigure several of the good Dr.’s classics-to-come– and delight in their own right. Explore them further in Chris Sim’s lovely tribute at ComicsAlliance.
As we rethink our position on green eggs and ham, we might recall that it was on this date in 1978 that California voters approved Proposition 13, rolling back property taxes to 1975 levels and capping increases to a 2% inflation factor. Since then California public schools, which had been ranked among the nation’s best, have declined to 48th (in surveys of student achievement).