Happy Birthday Charles Perrault!

He was called the “French father of fairy tales”, a politician turned story-teller who is largely responsible for the popularity of fantasies such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Over one hundred years before the Brothers Grimm cemented German culture and language in their chilling and horrific retellings, Charles Perrault introduced what came to be known in 17th century book circles as “a new literary genre” — the Fairy Tale.

Primed For Politics

Charles Perrault was born on this day, January 12, 1628. Ironically, he was the seventh child (sometimes considered to be clairvoyants) born into a wealthy Parisian family. His father and brothers before him had been government employees, and young Charles was groomed from birth to follow in their footsteps.

He studied Law at prestigious universities and had a reputation for his quick mind and wit. He served in the court of King Louis XIV and in 1663 he was appointed as a secretary to the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, a society devoted to Humanities. He was later appointed to the Académie Française, a council which oversaw all matters regarding French language and literature. He persuaded the King to bring his brother Claude into court, where Claude famously became a designer for the Louvre.

Perrault was well aware of how to use clout and wield influence. His connections to people in high places helped cement his family’s place in elite society. Interestingly, years later, Perrault would write Puss in Boots — a tale of a determined cat who uses wit and charm to elevate his lowly owner to a high position.

Perrault’s writing talents were obvious. In 1668, he wrote La Peinture (Painting) to honor the king’s first painter, Charles Le Brun. In 1670 he wrote Courses de tetes et de bague (Head and Ring Races), to commemorate celebrations staged by King Louis in honor of his mistress, Louise Francoise, Duchess de La Valliere.

Perrault also had a hand in designing the layout of the gardens of Versailles. In 1669 he advised King Louis to include thirty-nine fountains. Each fountain represented one of Aesop’s Fables. Water jets spouted from the animals’ mouths, intended to give the impression the creatures were talking to one another.

Years later, Perrault would write of more talking animals — seductive wolves, slick cats, birds and rabbits who could be commanded to do a human’s will.

Dangerous Liaisons

In the 1670’s an intellectual dispute began in the Académie Française between the “Ancients” and the “Moderns”. This was known, quite famously, as Le Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. It caused sharp divisions and much debate, not to mention bruised egos and political manipulation. The central argument was over which was to be valued more — “modern” art, created by contemporaries, or the “ancient” tried and true classics.

Perrault sided with the Moderns, taking the position that civilization, literature, art and culture must evolve together. He wrote a poem,  Le Siècle de Louis le Grand  (“The Age of Louis the Great”) which honored modern writers such as Moliere and Francois de Malherbe. Perrault saw these writers as greater than those of ancient Greece and Rome. Perrault’s stand was a landmark in the eventually successful revolt against the confines and restrictions of traditions. Interestingly, the French Revolution, overthrowing the “old monarchy” in favor of the “new rule” of liberty, would also take place in Perrault’s lifetime.

Father of Fairy Tales

Tensions at court between Perrault and his boss, the finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, eventually drove Perrault from court. He retired early, in 1682 at age fifty-six. It was then that he began to devote more time to his children. (Perrault had married late in life, at age forty-four. His bride, just nineteen years old, sadly died a few years later, leaving him with three young children.).

Perrault enjoyed telling the children folk tales which had been passed on by oral tradition. These stories were told in salons and had become very popular in France. Although Perrault is credited for introducing the “fairy tale” as a new literary genre, the term was actually coined by Marie-Catherine Le Jumel, Baroness d’Aulnov, who was writing stories of this nature as early as 1690.

Eventually, Perrault published his own versions of the oral traditions in his collection Tales of Mother Goose.

Interestingly, Mother Goose has never been identified as a real person, but several goddesses have been associated with her. The Alpine goddess Berchta, who is said to have one goose foot, is often thought to personify her.

Perrault’s stories, particularly his versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Blue Beard, emphasize the dark side of human nature. They offer the lesson that success can be achieved if one can maintain virtue — even though the world is full of cruelty, trickery, chicanery and decrepit morals. Some scholars have suggested that Perrault used his fairy tale “spin” to reflect the evil nature of human beings, as he had experienced in his long career in politics.

Wolves, Beauties, Castles and Cats

One of Perrault’s most beloved tales is Little Red Riding Hood. It was written as a warning to readers about men preying on young girls walking through the forest. For anyone who has forgotten — Little Red goes out into the dangerous woods to deliver some goodies to her sick Grandma. She gets sidetracked by a conniving wolf. The wolf sneaks away and arrives at Granny’s house before Red, then actually poses as Granny, luring Red into more trouble. (It doesn’t end well.)

Perrault ends his tale with a moral, cautioning women and young girls about the dangers of trusting men. He states, “Watch out if you haven’t learned that tame wolves/ Are the most dangerous of all… I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are, of all such creatures, the most dangerous!”

In Perrault’s version, Little Red even goes so far as to get in bed with the Bad Wolf. This results in her being eaten alive. (Disney it is NOT!)  

Perrault remained true to his principles of favoring the “modern” over the “ancient.” He updated the ancient folk tales to fit his current audience (albeit the 17th century.) He used images and characters taken from everyday life. For example, his palace for Sleeping Beauty was modeled after the Chateau Usse, a French castle that would have been recognizable to his readers.

In Puss in Boots, the Marquis de Carabas was modeled after Claude Gouffier, the real-life Marquis of Caravaz. Perrault’s stories are full of quips, details, asides, and subtexts. Many of these are drawn from the contemporary world of fashion. (Very important to 17th c French Society,)

Happily Ever After

Charles Perrault died in 1703 at age seventy-five. This was just eight years after his first fairy tales were published. His works continue to be popular to this day, best known for their easy-to read style, creativity and deep cutting moral lessons. The Mother Goose collection was translated into English by Robert Samber in 1729.

Happy Birthday Charles! Thanks for the forbidden forests, spectacular spells and magnificent magic!

Free Assange

 

 

“If wars can be started by LIES, peace can be started by TRUTH.”  –  Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been in exile in the Embassy of Ecuador/ London since August 2012 for telling the TRUTH about the Middle East wars.  We ask President Elect Trump to give Julian a full pardon.

If you agree please sign the petition here.

 

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Give Peace a Chance

 

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Today, September 21, 2016 is the official International Day of Peace. However, if we really want peace (and rest assured, many DO NOT!) then we must be acting in terms of peace in our every day lives. This means:  Breathe peace, think peace, BE peace.

My county, the U.S., has been at war for 13 years. My government spends about a trillion-billion-gazillion dollars on war. (Really, I daresay most economists could not even keep track of it. The numbers are too humongous for any human being to actually fathom.)   So I come to the conclusion that my government must like war. Otherwise why spend all that money promoting it?

This perplexes me. I mean really?  Really??

(PLEASE BE WARNED! Graphic pictures  will follow! It ain’t pretty but it is REAL.)

 

They choose war. Therefore they choose this.

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And this.

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Not to mention THIS.

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And of course THIS.

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(Jeez, good thing I’m not being censored by Zuckerberg, eh?)

War is ugly. Nothing sleek nor stylish about it.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that war has never done any good and never will. Just study history and you will find this is true.

No one in their right mind would choose what I have just shown you. (Unless of course you were a Wall Street crony, far removed from such violence, and war was a guarantee that your stocks in Haliburton would shoot up and make you a gazillionaire.)

There is, however, a difference between being pro-peace and being anti-war. Pro-peace means putting our focus on PEACE. Anti-war means actually putting the focus on war, and therefore (inadvertently)  creating MORE war. (That is why the ‘War on Drugs’ has created more drugs and the ‘War on Terror’ has created more terrorists. Have you noticed?)

Each of us, in our daily lives can choose to be peaceful. We can be more accepting, more patient and kinder. This may mean taking a step back. It may mean learning to accept someone who has a different belief system or lifestyle from your own. It may mean tuning out the snarky media who likes to promote hate and intolerance. It may mean getting more sleep, eating healthier food, learning to breathe, learning to love.

In the end, I trust that  humankind do not really want to blow each other’s faces off.  In the end, I trust that our planet has enough resources to go around with many untapped and more being discovered each day. If a trillion gazillion dollars can be spent on War, then the same amount can be spent on Peace. Gardens are cheaper than bombs. Serenity is cheaper than PTSD.

When John and Yoko did their commercial for peace, they called it ‘Bed Peace’ and spent a week in bed talking to the press about peace. (Note guitar, flowers and, oh yeah, hair 🙂 )

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The idea was to get the media to actually focus on Peace (also music, love and nature) rather than War. To this day, I do not think the world has understood this concept — focusing on what we want, rather than what we do not want.  John and Yoko urged us to ‘Give peace a CHANCE.’  Just step back and give it a chance. This is not some airy-fairy, hippie sh*t. Nor is it some pie in the sky dream. This CAN BE OUR REALITY.

I do not think humankind has given peace a chance. I think we are too busy believing the lies and the hype promoted from those that would like to control us.

But we can begin now to change our thinking and shift the paradigm that insists upon war.

Peace further explained:

Rhetorics and Politics

 

 

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That’s a bit out of your depth, don’t you think? 

Ever hear that voice? The one that says  Oh  no.  Not you.                                                                      Not good enough not smart enough                                                                                                      who the hell                                                                                                                                                    do you think you are                                                                                                                                  that YOU                                                                                      

 should be allowed to do THAT

 

They will tell you all kinds of things. Philosophy, theosophy                                                       Nietzsche and Sartre                                                                                                                                    Kant and Descartes.                                                                                                                                   Rousseau and Plato.                                                                                                                                   constitution institution politics and rhetorics

But in the end

They are nothing

but a pack of cards.

 

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Depth

 

Orlando

 

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My original post was going to be an angry rant.   I had a picture of that very disturbed young man and my title was:  “Who the f*ck sold him a gun?”

I am still wondering that.  I mean —  the guy was questioned by the FBI (more than once!) plus he was  a bona-fide racist, homophobe, anti-Semite, misogynist, wife beater, connected to ISIS and the Boston bombers, a  veritable powderkeg of terror… And they sold him a gun??  Really??

Really??

But I will contain my angry rant.  It seemed as good a time as any to post this video, to remember this lesson, to actually take these words seriously:

 

Breathe peace. Know peace. Live peace.

Be the solution, not the angry rant 🙂

Orlando, we stand with you.

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