Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mystical Disney

The identification between creator and creature, elimination of all distance, is the fundamental religious ceremony.
In the speech on the occasion of Mickey Mouse's Twentieth Birthday,(Disney Treasures) Walt Disney, titanic and humble at the same time, reveals his ownintegrity in rendering the great and the small inextricably: He compares the endlessness of inspiration the Mouse was for the public in all levels (“I often find myself surprised with what has been said about our redoubtable little Mickey, who was never really a mouse, nor yet wholly a man, although always recognizably human, I hope. Psychoanalysis has probed him, wise men of critical inclination have pondered him…admirers have saluted him in extravagant terms. The league of Nations gave him a special medal as a symbol of international good will…”) to the humbleness of purpose in the creation of the character: “…But all we ever intended for him and expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him, we didn’t burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouth piece for frustration or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter”
(From the book From Mars to Marceline, by Eleonora Duvivier)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Closeness and Distance

The ambivalence of delicacy and exaggeration in Disney animation's caricaturing of reality has the distance of humor with the closeness of affection. It joins the assertiveness of exaggeration with the subtlety of inspiration: the given, the all there with the arousing, the coming to be. The definitive, the page-turned, with the constantly anew.
A good example of this in something different concerns Chaplin’s City Lights. The main female character is blind, sweet, good, poor, orphaned, sells flowers, symbols of beauty in themselves, and “sees” a charming prince in the Tramp, thanks to his good heart. There couldn’t be more misery and beauty in the same package and yet, rather than exhausted, such package, with the same touch of delicacy in humor, is renewed in constantly arousing affection. Extremes of this type are purposeful caricature of dramatic situations, but in the purposefulness of caricature, in the elaboration and distance of criticism, they yet have involvement. If on one hand they are willed for on the part of their author, on the other they carry him away. They result from both control and usurpation, succeeding just at the edge, before turning syrupy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Freedom from tradition and many times destruction of it is characteristic of American culture, but Walt Disney’s freedom seemed to have also encompassed his personal and unique easiness before the unpredictable. While most people are threatened by what behaves like a forever mutant and challenging sea, handling it with the illusionary safety of repeated patterns of behavior and schemes, Disney was pure enough to be disarmed before it, to be constantly open to novelty. In the article “Growing Pains” he himself voices this purity with poetic concision, showing a nakedness before life that puts humbleness and courage into one:
“That is what I like about this business, the certainty that there is always something bigger and more exciting just around the bend; and the uncertainty of everything else.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Disney's Wisdom

I think that Walt Disney's wisdom was his brave nakedness before life, his being as disarmed and opened to it as those who are in a state of grace. A state of grace is when instincts and innocence become wisdom.
Curiously, Disney’s nakedness before life also marks Snow White’s behavior as a state of grace: Having just escaped slaughter by the hunter and forlornness in the forest, she is yet trusting. She asks the little birds what they do when there is a problem. Singing with them she, from then on, entrusts her fate to all the surrounding animals, to life, that is.
Ready to live in constant discovery Walt Disney worked, after all, with the most unpredictable element: the variations of individuality. As if in constant interaction with life and with heart, he was malleable enough to make the best out of difference and change, unifying the diversity of all the talents he worked with into the style of a team that was, at the same time, in constant progress. He thus gave unity to dynamics and identity to difference.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Soaring Disney

After all, Walt Disney’s enormous capacity of appreciation of life was a super-human generosity: in a childhood of physical hardship and poverty, he was still capable of seeing beauty and goodness in what surrounded him - the animals, the little town.
As if pledged to joy, young Disney, poor, even hungry, insisted against all odds on a path in entertainment, something that can only exist for or make sense to those on a full stomach. Walt Disney’s pledge was beyond the demands of the flesh.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Disney's World of Spirit

To know that Walt Disney took turning point decisions for the sake of his integrity is as reassuring as a written proof of the existence of the soul. Disney’s declaration “I traded security for self- respect” can be understood as: I traded the commitment to survival with the commitment to myself, that means the giving up of material reassurance for the abstract value of a relationship with himself.
To benefit from the message of Walt Disney’s authenticity equals a perpetuating of his life regardless of its being chronologically ended, a making peace with the separation between this world of material existence and that of spirit. For this, one can’t be but grateful.