Dr. Seuss. The Lorax. Random House, 1957 / 1971

Dr. Seuss. The Lorax  (New York: Random House, 1957, 1971)

We don’t always need to read long complicated books written by philosophers to be exposed to novel and interesting ideas. Many times it is the very simple works that can teach us about life and its dilemmas more than anything else. One such book, and a big favorite of mine for so many years is Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.

Definitely a classic and it is a timeless work because even today it is so relevant to what is happening in our current world as we know and experience it. The book is Dr. Seuss’s polemic environmental treatise written for children.

Although written decades ago, the book sends a clear message that is so telling of the times we live in, more so than when it was first published. The book was first published back in 1957 and is sandwiched-in between two prominent works, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1949) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). All three of these books were among the first to be published in America that raised environmental awareness. And The Lorax was focused on the young minds of America to make them conscious of what greed and consumption could evolve into if it was not curtailed. The book expresses its message in cartoonish poetic prose and is accompanied by brightly colored illustrations, so typical of all Seuss’s books.  It is philosophy for children.

The Lorax reveals the unpleasant consequences of material greed and environmental destruction. The luscious fresh land where the Lorax had once lived was a pristine paradise abundant with diverse flora and fauna. Magnificent colorful truffula trees flourished in its domain. Here is an excerpt….

Way back in the days when the grass was still green

and the pond was still wet

and the clouds were still clean,

and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…

one morning, I came to this glorious place.

And I first saw the trees!

The Truffula Trees!

The bright-coloured tufts of the Truffula Trees!

Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze. (p. 12)

Then one day the Once-ler came and saw his a vast money-making opportunity. Those beautiful furry truffula trees were just what he needed, because they could be turned into such fine pricey items. Tons of money could be made with this new business venture. And the forests of the truffula trees were ravaged one by one. The destruction of the trees meant death for the Lorax, for without them the Lorax could not survive. Full of anguish the Lorax complained , but he was ignored. He pleaded louder and louder, but no one seemed to respect him. The Once-ler continued to ignore him. The beautiful Truffula Trees were chopped down faster than the Lorax could plead….

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

And I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs”—

he was very upset as he shouted and puffed—

What’s that THING you’ve made out of my Truffula tuft?” (p. 23)

So true of today, the consumerism which motivates us to want even more than what we really need. Our unending desire to satisfy our zest for life has culminated in a society that has become wasteful and demanding. And most of us think, well, we need these things and maybe the damage won’t be so bad, maybe it just won’t be so traumatic. Do we really understand the magnitude of the consequences of our continuous selfish consumerism?  Oh, the excuses they make….

I meant no harm. I most truly did not.

But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.

I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.

I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads

of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth

to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North!

I went right on biggering…selling more Thneeds.

And I biggered my money, which everyone needs. (p. 39)

Yes, everyone needs money and all sorts of material goods. Do we really need it? And wasn’t there a time when we did not even need the things that we have now? So many questions, so much to reflect on, and yet we as a society always try to find a way to trivialize and forget these profound questions? Would we continue to produce and consume if we knew it would eventually just ruin everything around us including the natural environment? Or, do we say “stop”! Do we reflect? Do we consider talking with others around us and ask them “do we really need all these material extravagances?”

The Lorax is enduring in its simple presentation of an ecological dilemma and society’s eroding values. Indeed it’s a great book to teach children about ecological values and for us adults it can also be a real treasure to read. The artwork is so bright and colorful, so who could resist reading this book? It is amazing how such a simple book can often be used to enhance discussions about present-day environmental problems.

The Lorax Movie will be showing in theaters starting March 2, 2012

You can watch the movie trailer here at these links:    http://www.theloraxmovie.com/       

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/universal/thelorax/

Also be sure to visit the Random House website  Seussville   http://www.seussville.com

I think that Dr. Seuss will always continue to live on inside of us, because we know he had something important to say.

Karin Susan Fester

Review text, Karin Susan Fester © copyright 2011

Quotes used in this blog post were taken from The Lorax, Random House 1971 edition as indicated by the page numbers.

Photograph was made from the cover of the book.

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Wolfram Siebeck. Wolfram Siebeck isst unterwegs. Kulinarische Abendteuer. Residenz Verlag , 2011

Wolfram Siebeck.

Wolfram Siebeck isst unterwegs. Kulinarische Abendteuer. Residenz Verlag, St. Pölten – Salzburg, 2011. 144 seiten

ISBN 978-3-7017-3233-3

http://www.residenzverlag.at/?m=30&o=2&id_program=31&id_title=1407

Dieses Buch ist eine Sammlung von Erzählungen des berühmten deutschen Restaurant Kritikers, Wolfram Siebeck, über seine gastronomischen Reisen durch die ganze Welt: Frankreich, Schweiz, Italien, Spanien, Island, Wien, Prag, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Tokio, Moskau, New York, und Washington D.C. in Amerika. Seine Karriere fing in den 1950er Jahren an, als er für das “Stern“ Magazin, “Die Zeit” und “Feinschmecker”, sowie drei weitere Bücher geschrieben hat. Seine Erzählung beginnt in den 1950er und 1960er Jahren und reicht bis in die Gegenwart. Das Buch ist in sechzehn Kapitel unterteilt.

Das Buch, mit seinem freundlichen gelben Umschlag, widerspiegelt die Art und den Inhalt der Erzählungen. Das Foto am Umschlag, dass von seiner Frau Barbara gemacht wurde, zeigt ihn beim essen von Würstchen mit einem Brötchen. Als ich dieses Foto betrachtete, hatte ich das Gefühl, dass die gastronomischen Abenteuer in diesem Buch nicht bloß Erfahrungen mit der haute cuisine sind, sondern auch ungewöhnlich und unerwartet Begegnungen kulinarischer Art. In der Mitte des Buches findet man acht Fotos die von Siebecks Frau gemacht wurden. Die Format des Buches eignet sich sehr gut um es bequem in der Tasche als kurzweilige Unterhaltungslektüre mit sich zu führen, und jederzeit z.B im Bus, Zug oder in einem gemütlichen Kaffee zur Hand zu haben. Der Autor zeigt seine Leidenschaft für die feine Küche, egal wo ihn seine Reisen hinführen. Auf der Suche nach Restaurants die die Aufnahme in den „Guide Michelin“ verdienen, beschreibt er in unterhaltsamer und zugleich kritischer und spannender Form, was ihn dabei erwartete. Genau diese unerwarteten Erlebnisse Siebecks sind das Besondere an diesem Buch.

Vom Autor erfährt man, wie sich Restaurant Kritiker mit der Bewertung von kulinarischen Ergebnissen auseinandersetzen. Seine Gedanken dazu sind äußerst humorvoll, doch gleichzeitig auch kritisch und ehrlich. Jede seiner Geschichten verbindet auf interessante Weise kulturelle, geschichtliche und nostalgische Schmankerl mit Erlebnissen mit berühmten Personen denen er unterwegs begegnet ist die mit dem kulinarischen Abenteuer verbunden sind.

Eines ist sicher, wenn Wolfram Siebeck unterwegs ist, dann isst er meistens ziemlich gut, aber es kann mal vorkommen das es nicht so ist. Das Buch macht viel spaß zu lesen! Es ist ein Buch kulinarisch zu genießen und dabei noch etwas Kultur und Geschichte zu erleben. Man kann sicher eine außergewöhnliche Abenteur in jeden Kapitel erwarten.

Karin Susan Fester

 http://www.residenzverlag.at/?m=30&o=2&id_program=31&id_title=1407

Review, Karin Susan Fester © copyright 2011     Book photograph is provided by Residenz Verlag  http://www.residenzverlag.at

No Wikipedia in Italian…constraint on access to information

What has happened here in Italy is unprecedented.

WIKIPEDIA WILL NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE IN THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Comunicato_4_ottobre_2011

So many people here in Italy will no longer have the opportunity to read the rich source of information that Wikipedia offers, unless they can read English.  Most Italians do not speak or read English.  Access to information has been severely constrained.  VERY undemocratic.

And journalism in Italy has been severely constrained too.

Where is this  “all”  going?

Sign the petition here… AVAAZ.ORG      http://www.avaaz.org/it/

Addendum:  Chris Potter from the IJF (International Journalism Festival) has interviewed Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, regarding the Italian government’s block of Italian-language Wikipedia.

Read the interview transcript HERE..    http://www.journalismfestival.com/news/exclusive-ijf-interview-of-jimmy-wales-co-founder-of-wikipedia/