Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fairy tales and mind games

Years ago, I read 'The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales' by Bruno Bettelheim, a book that discusses and illustrates at length the necessity of grotesque and violent elements in children's fairy tales, and the role of their psychological truths in understanding emotions. More recently, 'Mirrormask' by Neil Gaiman, brought those theories to mind. Mirrormask, while not being one of those ancient fairy tales, functions in a similar way. It's unsettling, because its scenery is exaggerated and symbolic. As if to make a point about this inner landscape being off the map, there are no page numbers. Its characters behave like archetypes in dreams. They express fears and hopes that don't make sense in the real world, because they don't belong to the world of the senses, but rather to the untouchable theatre where emotions play out their eternal battles for supremacy.