The “Fantastic futures” and “flying Africans” Fielder describes remind me of Christina Sharpe’s “wake work” and, with the reference to wings suddenly appearing, they remind me of Bruno Bettelheim’s theorization of fairytales in which protagonists find solutions to troubling situations in their own body. In other words, they comfort and offer a hopeful vision of the future at the same time. It occurs to me that this kind of fictional solution treads the line between the “narratives of restoration” and “narratives of development” we talked about the other week. A future resolution is being proposed, but it is impossible. I agree with Hubler’s treatment of Speak—some of the same things struck me when I read it a while back and particularly loved Nikolajeva’s article, particularly its treatment of carnival.
Nikolajeva’s article made me think of some of the conversations I’ve had with children about books and how different their criticisms have been from what I expected. Many times their critique seems to be of the characters themselves—if they don’t like a character or can’t see themselves in them, they might discard the book as whole. This suggests that the question Nikolajeva asks at the end of whether a child’s experience can be conveyed by an adult author is relevant not only to us but to them.
Questions: Nikolajeva ends by saying we have to answer the major question of “what is a child,” but how can we answer such a question without first attending to and defining our own position? Isn’t the way we define childhood highly dependent on our definition of adulthood? Historically, has there been a kind of inverse relation in which the more dystopian the adult reality is, the more innocent we needed the child to be?