Monday, December 31, 2007

A Giving of Life: Happy New Year!

Photographs in this hotel across the street from Disneyland show Walt Disney involved with the construction of the park. Supervising and playing at the same time, “making believe” and being in full control. In one of the pictures, he is taunting a fake lion. He had the pre requisite children have to “make believe”, that is, innocence. But children do not need to respect budgets, or to make shapes and different materials fit into exact measures. He did. Children “make believe” with imagination. They “animate” in their inner world, in subjectivity. That is what is called playing. Walt Disney, in playing, was carried by fantasy and yet utmost serious. Objective, that is. Giving life in dream and in matter. Giving life by all means. Making drawings and three dimensional figures move, he turned technology into a giving of life that is enjoyable and perceptible to grown ups. Into sheer generosity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

Before the computer era, movies still sprang from the feeling of “once upon a time,” that feeling that gave man a solid and stable world to live in. “Once upon a time” means that there is a ground that is motionless and flat and a time that is linear and abiding for events to happen in. When you first heard “once upon a time,” you were most likely lying cozy in your bed by your loving mother. She had the storybook on her lap and through her reading words, you saw, in your mind’s eye, the story unfold, in a land you watched with distance and respect.
With Walt Disney’s feature length animation, this land became more visible and accessible without loosing its autonomy. It came to your everyday life as a blessing, still over and above but not “owned,” used and disposable of. But now, this land arrests you, coming into existence as a result of movement. Just like when the earth stopped being the flat and steady ground for man to walk on, in order to be revealed an orbiting sphere, moving in accordance to physical, mathematical laws, not just engulfing man in its scientific fate, but turning, simultaneously, vulnerable to be destroyed by man’s inventions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Love at Dawn

In babying characters and even objects, Disney reaches for love in its origin, at the dawn of life; the love of the young and pure, the love that babyies , that turns the loved one into a being to be protected and also hugged. It inspires a physical as well as an emotional drive: body and heart at the same time. In fact, physical affection seemed so fundamental to Disney that, according to Michael Barrier, when refusing to make a cartoon around a rooster, he asserted that the latter didn’t make one feel like picking it up and petting it (Michael Barrier "The Animated Man – A Life of Walt Disney")

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Nutcracker

I read in one of Walt Disney's biographies, or in more than one, I can't remember, that thanks to Disney's Fantasia, the performance of The Nutcracker ballet became a widespread Christmas tradition. The combination of Disney plus Christmas fantasy along with the fairy tale world of classical ballet rings that strong of a bell in the collective mind.
This season, while watching The Nutcracker with the Madison ballet, choreography by W. Earl Smith, I was thinking how wonderful and amazing it is that at this day and age, when cynicism seems to rule, people still flock to the whimsy of Victorian decors, toy magic and the warmth of family gathering- for reasons other than commercial- in this most celebrated occasion.
Earl Smith has the classical Disney touch. Not because of sharing, with Disney, the Nutcracker theme, or the fairy tale world. Many people put together presentations around these with opulence, professionalism but no magic. But in Earl Smith's Nutcracker there is freedom and tradition at the same time. Innocence and control. A daring reinvention of characters not only in the realm of angelic gravity defying ballet world but also the sinister, the down to earth and the laugh arousing, all in synchrony with the lights and colors of each scene, each movement, leap or step. There is purity. Not the purity of naivete- none of us can be naive, in the age of electronic communication- but that of courage. The courage to purity.
(The sculpture above is by my father Edgar Duvivier and the bird...well, that is purity)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Creator and Creature

Like in a child’s fantasy, to share the fiction of a scene is to turn the world into “that” stage, to recreate characters and to reassign them roles. Whoever happens to be in The Magic Kingdom becomes a creation of Walt Disney and, along with him, a creator. To make believe in general, as much as to engage in a specific fantasy on stage, is an act in which creator and creature share the same being, as in an extreme act of love.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


"If you believe something, believe it all the way."
Walt Disney (From Walt Disney's quotes)
This makes one think of Kierkegaard's conclusion that purity of heart is to will one thing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


To be consciously fooled with Mickey Mouse on parade, knowing that he is just one of the many other people dressed as Mickey Mouse, is to make him the ultimate Mickey, to recreate him.
It is the communion of spectator and character, contemplation and action.
The world of Disney gives each visitor the right to become creator and creature at the same time: Endless generosity and humble asking.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walt Disney's Birthday 5th of December

Today is Walt Disney's Birthday. He was a creator and was at one with creation.
Disney’s histrionic quality, as a capacity to go beyond the limits of individual life so as to live, characterize and distinguish “other lives” by impersonation, showed its power of overcoming the original confinement of life into differentiation by conversely merging, identifying, or synchronizing separate lives into one, all pervading harmony. In him, differentiating and identifying, separating and merging, the two polar opposites of creation, were married. The cartoon Walt Disney reportedly drew himself to criticize the condition of Kansas City’s streets, in featuring the false teeth of a father and a mother dancing together on the pavement is an early example of Disney’s insistence on spreading life to animate and inanimate being alike, as if everything were one and one were everything. While Disney’s emphasis on personality works for differentiation, the morphing of things into entirely different “other things”- like that of the stars, in Winken Blyinken and Nod, into affectionate playing fishes- works for the identifying and merging of separate lives.