Saturday, April 16, 2005

Being, Nothingness, and Purple Crayons

About 2 weeks ago, Sean agreed to read Harold and the Purple Crayon for the first time. (He tends to get stuck in the mud when it comes to books -- if he hasn't read it 300 times, he is extremely reluctant to even crack open the cover.) Now it's one of his favorite books -- he asks to read it several times a day.

I didn't know much about the book except that it's considered a classic. Initially, I had warm, fuzzy feelings toward it: I love the emphasis on creativity and resiliency and quick-thinking. Hooray for stepping off the straight path! Hooray for charting your own course!

But something began gnawing at me, something I'm sure I'm won't be able to articulate well. I found it most unsettling to think about this little boy lost in a universe of nothingness, creating meaning and structure out of a void. Do any of his creations really exist? It actually makes me sad to read about the boy drawing endless tall buildings in his attempt to find his home. And is the bed he draws at the end of the book really his bed, or just a temporary facsimile? What happens when he wakes up?

Forgive my amateurish existentialist ponderings. I'm sure this issue has been examined by greater minds, but I have deliberately chosen not to Google it to death (which is unlike me -- ordinarily, the Internet is the perfect dealer for my inner Information Junkie).

But I am curious -- what do you think about this book?