What Have You Learned, Dorothy?

From The Wizard of Oz, I have learned many things. Like: Kansas is a yeehaw preserve. Goobers row boats in tornadoes. When you first meet someone, you should sing them a song. Scarecrows are basically crucified. If you stand in the rain, you will rust. Lions have thick Brooklyn accents. Monkeys look stupid in clothes. Trees are filled with Hate and Violence. Bad witches ride brooms, good witches float in bubbles, wizards prefer hot-air balloons. Poppies put you to sleep. Border agents are bipolar: first they blither and blather, then they Cry. Water is a weapon of black mass destruction. Rat dogs smoke out humbug. Ruby slippers are Necessary. Etc.

But I have always, and to this day, been utterly buggered, as to what in the sam hill Dorothy is on about, with her big climactic wisdom-pearl. Which comes when the woman who rides around in the bubble, and speaking with that annoying smugness that is so often the way of oracles, tells Dorothy that, through all the tsuris she has recently endured, she actually possessed the power, all along, to return to Kansas. As if anyone would want to. It's just that Dorothy, she had to learn this for herself. Because if anybody had tried to tell her, she wouldn't have believed it. The Straw Man then asks: "What have you learned, Dorothy?" To which Dorothy replies:

"Well, I think that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. And it's that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."

"Is that right?" Dorothy asks the bubbler.

"That's all it is," bubblingly returns she.

Yes, fine—but what does that even mean?

Are we really supposed to cabin our heart's desire to just our own backyard? What if the backyard is but a scotch-broom forest over a septic tank? What if we live in a BF Skinner experiment, twenty stories up, and don't even have a backyard, just a bunch of foul city air? What if the backyard is a pallet of damp cardboard under a railroad bridge, with Steve Bannon sitting around the Sterno can, plucking the one-string banjo and moaning dorothy poppies.jpgsongs about the globalists? Is that, truly, all that is allowed to be?

No. Say it ain't so, Dorothy.

For many years, I kept my mystification to myself, figuring there must be meaning evident in Dorothy's big speech so blindingly obvious that everyone got it but me: I simply suffered from some brain hole. But no. For once I did begin to inquire of others, if they could make sense of this Dorothy word-cluster, I discovered that no one, had any clue, at all.

And these were people, with many brain folds. University professors, draped in degrees, all of them got an "F," on this question. Jesuits, they pronounced it more baffling, even than theodicy. Physicists, they said they would rather any day grapple with quarks and strings and gluons, than Dorothy and her brain-numbing backyard quanta.

Then, desperate, I asked a new human—for whom, after all, the film was made. And was told by the tyke: "It means you shouldn't run away from home."

Yes! Yea, verily—and a child shall lead them!

But this answer raises its own unsettling questions. Because Dorothy only fled the hog-wallow of home when the Gulch woman arrived to imprison her dog in a basket—for alleged crimes against flowers and cats—cycling off to needle the beast at the dog-knackers.

So does this mean that when the witch-women of Animal Control arrive to arrest our animals, we are just supposed to take it? I think not! Any of us, I believe, we would gather up our hounds and our horses, our fish and our fowl, our lemurs and zebras and wildebeest, and head for the hills, hoping therein to find, like Dorothy, some kindly quack with a snake-oil wagon, who will let us marry our fortunes together, until we get conked on the head by a house, and wake up in a place that is, like, real pretty, if decidedly Weird.

It is simply Wrong, that this film concludes in a fashion more obscure than the chickens dancing out the end of Stroszek. Or the Richard version of Dale Cooper, standing baffled in the street, wondering what year it is, while the Carrie variant of Laura Palmer, she screams the lights out in the Jowday house, thereby closing the door to Twin Peaks: The Return.

As always, when attempting to penetrate this Wizard mystery, my head, it is hurting. And so I am going to find some poppies. And lie down with them. And there sleep. Maybe the answer. Will there come.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

...that Dorothy has needs. Special needs.

And like the White Rabbit, we're checking our pocket watch at this point in the story. We're done and need to be gone.

"...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.

Her eccentric homily blows through the soul like a cold lonely wind. The same wind no doubt blows between her ears. For all her sincerity, it's clear that Dorothy is a placeholder, an icon of the meek who shall one day inherit the earth. Typically, Dorothy will produce her share of methane, reproduce more than she should, and then begone. Future generations will race to mitigate her over-size carbon footprint.

By way of contrast, the exasperated Alice shows pluck and defiance as she weathers the tumultuous storms of reality. Where Dorothy is kind-hearted and true, Alice is ingenious and constantly adapting. Sometimes she is empathetic:

Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?"
Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

And sometimes she is glib:

Lady Ascot: Do you know what I fear most?
Alice: The decline of the aristocracy?

And she always questions authority.

From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I've been told where I must go and who I must be. I've been shrunk, stretched, scratched, and stuffed into a teapot. I've been accused of being Alice and of not being Alice but this is *my* dream. *I'll* decide where it goes from here.

She claims to entertain as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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hecate's picture

@Pluto's Republic
at least had the sense to know there is no sense, that nothing is real until you look at it, that the dream is all. Her ultimate wisdoms were that her black and white kittens were also queens of red and white, and that the people of the politics, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, were most probably right, in their observation that she herself was but a player in a dream of the Red King, the snoring idler. Like how some of the humans think all the terrans are moving to and fro in a tubes simulation overseen by some 12-year-old cackling and Cheetoing in a basement. But the boy in the basement, he probably doesn't want to know, that he too is but a dream, of yet another dreamer.

A lot of the humans become sad when it is said that the only sense is nonsense, that reality isn't real, there is only the real of how you are looking, and that all are abob, on an ocean of dream. Einstein, for one, had a great hate for this. But that is too bad, because it is proven. Like, one of the other haters, Louis de Broglie, he desperately proposed "pilot-waves," to try to keep everything classically normal. But that hope is totally over now, because his pilot-wave brainshower has been subjected to various testings, and there been shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong.

Because things just want, for instance, to be in two places at once, travel through two doors simultaneously, be two different things at the same time. But if you are looking at them, and such things give you the fear, they will settle down, and look and behave like what you think might be more real. Because they are nice that way. But. Really. Nothing is real. So: nothing to get hung about. Just strawberry fields forever.

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zoebear's picture

@Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic

In a park near Leo Carillo Beach in Southen California that looked like it belonged to Alice.

My Sister and I would pretend to fall down inside that tree and create our own Wonderland.

In the sunshine, by the creek, catching tadpoles.

The rocks in the creek slick with moss on our bare feet.

Climbing mountains, collecting rocks.

Sliding down.

The Call to Lunch.

The spell broken.

Until next time.

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14 users have voted.

Soldier: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
Soldier: You're using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
Soldier: You've got two empty halves of a coconut and you're bangin' 'em together.

is just a movie. It was set in agrarian times, back when generations continued working their farms.

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dfarrah

hecate's picture

@dfarrah
but not a lot of them were flying houses to midget communities to there do battle with flying simians and cackling longnoses because a floating head with fire coming out of it Told them to.

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@hecate The book was better.
Dorothy didn't dream the whole thing, and though she went back to Kansas (where her family was), it cost her the silver slippers in doing so. Also, Glinda is much more bad-ass. Dorothy too.

She returned to Oz in later books and, by book 6, Ozma brought her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to live in retirement. "Forget Kansas. You'll never miss it." (not a quote)

Instead, live in the Land of Oz, under a system of utopian socialism, rules by a benevolent despot (Ozma) a transgender fairy, along with a whole host of strong female characters.

The movie is great entertainment though. "I'll get you, and your little dog too! A-Hahahahahahahaha!"

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hecate's picture

@SancheLlewellyn
you say is true. The book is better, and in the later books the whole family decides there is so much the matter with Kansas they abandon the place permanently for Oz. And, as you also say, the books are shot through with the socialism, and an acknowledgement that women are humans. As well as very special hens, rainbow daughters, littly tiny glass people, magic dishpans, etc. There are many of these books, and it is curious they have not made it into the movies, especially in this current wave of churning out eleventy-billion versions of every Marvel who has ever been in a comic book. Probably the problem is the Baum books don't have near enough of the Killing.

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13 users have voted.

@hecate @hecate Not nearly enough killing. Return to Oz did incorporate some of the later books--perhaps too many, actually--though it stuck too much to the "It's all a dream" bit.

But yea. Not enough killing. Tik-Tok doesn't fit into the the meme of "Scary AI murders us all," either. (Or the idea that artificial intelligence is any scarier than real stupidity.) The Nome King makes a good villain--in fact, he is a lot like Trump--though Baum did not believe in absolute evil.

If Trump drank from the Fountain of Oblivion, would anyone notice?

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snoopydawg's picture

@hecate

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

snoopydawg's picture

@snoopydawg

Trust me it's worth the time.

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

@snoopydawg
I don't remember the "fishy fishy fish" part though. LOL!

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@dfarrah

Sometimes a movie is just a movie. It was set in agrarian times, back when generations continued working their farms.

Did you know that the drab black-and-white (grayscale) opening scenes in the movie, shifting suddenly to riotous Technicolor in Oz, were specified by L. Frank Baum's original book text?

Wink

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

dervish's picture

meaning she never left in the first place. I think the message is to think small and be satisfied with what you've got... it was made during the Depression.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

hecate's picture

@dervish
they'd wanted people to think small, they shouldn't have shown them another world.

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Bisbonian's picture

@dervish

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

hecate's picture

@Bisbonian
Red King had his eyes closed throughout pretty much the entirety of Through The Looking Glass, and yet it is said he was running the joint.

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@dervish know your place.

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zoebear's picture

Don't run away from home.

Unless you have to.

In which case a Lion with a Brooklyn accent might be helpful.

Cuz he's got courage

To help you

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Ya got that?

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6 users have voted.

Soldier: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
Soldier: You're using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
Soldier: You've got two empty halves of a coconut and you're bangin' 'em together.

@zoebear Even in the movie she didn't run away from home. She was house-napped.

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hecate's picture

@SancheLlewellyn
she did run off, when the Gulch woman came for the rat dog, and she was going to take up with the snake-oil man, except he showed her a sly phony vision of Auntie Em having the Tears, and so she ran back to the hog-wallow, and there she was hit in the head by a house, because sometimes they are Mean that way.

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CS in AZ's picture

@hecate

What about Toto?

You are right, the reason she ran away in the first place was to save Toto from the clutches of that horrible woman, who was the wicked witch there in Oz and got melted by water into a puddle of goo. Good riddance.

But back in Kansas — no place like home — the wicked witch isn’t melted and is no doubt peddling her way back for the dog while Dorothy takes her medicine about not running off. And no one seems to care about poor Toto anymore. I always thought of Toto as a boy, but he/she was played by a female dog named Terry. Who was a rat dog, and also a movie star who, it is said, was paid more than the munchkins.

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@CS in AZ

I don't know about Rin Tin Tin's real life gender. I don't think I've ever seen Rin Tin Tin. Don't ask me how I even know his or her name.

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hecate's picture

@CS in AZ
right about Toto! If I recall correctly, the Gulch woman even claimed to possess a Sheriff Paper authorizing her to seize the ratster. And she didn't seem like a woman who could easily be Stopped. Perhaps pursuant to the theory that sometimes what happens in one universe can bleed a bit into the next, maybe at least part of the Gulch woman was melted, the part that had such a great Hate for Toto.

As for the munchkins, earlier this year an Australian man pronounced a metoo jihad in which he demanded that the last living munchkin—then 98 and in a Home—speak out on whether it was true he and/or his fellow munchkins ran wild thrusting their hands up Dorothy's dress.

Garland herself previously claimed the munchkins were "drunks" who partied all night. The police rounded them up in butterfly nets, she claimed. One reportedly asked her on a date.

Maren has previously responded to the "drunken" allegations saying Toto was paid more than them and they couldn't get drunk on their meagre salary of $50 a week.

We've reached peak #MeToo when no male icon is exempt from being held to account, no matter whether hulking like Harvey Weinstein or tiny like Maren.

There's a chance he's been thrown under the bus by a book publisher flogging a book by a dead man talking about his ex-wife.

But then Maren up and died, and so now the truth will never for sure be Known.

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CS in AZ's picture

@hecate

I like this theory.

Perhaps pursuant to the theory that sometimes what happens in one universe can bleed a bit into the next, maybe at least part of the Gulch woman was melted, the part that had such a great Hate for Toto.

That seems reasonable to me. Perhaps that’s why no one worries about Toto once they return, because the Melting has changed her, everyone knows this and we feel it, even though we don’t see it on screen.

Or maybe it’s that Dorothy defeated her in Oz, so we know she can do it and unconsciously accept that she and Toto will somehow overcome the witch back in Kansas too.

I had no idea about the munchkins’ bad behavior. The things I learn here! Thank you.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@hecate

that is, she bent the truth about a lot of things. Do we really need Neuremburg trials for the last surviving munchkin who was probably a child too at the time.

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5 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Maybe Judy Garland said her line wrong?

She was, after all, a sixteen year old trying to look maybe half that. And, the story does, the studios had her on speed to control her weight and then on sleeping pills so the speed would not keep her awake at night.

And then, there's...

https://www.syracuse.com/celebrity-news/index.ssf/2017/02/judy_garland_m...

As for Alice, whether Lewis Carroll was a pedophile has been a subject of controversy.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Lewis+Carroll+pedophile&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-...

All of which is to say, sometimes, we may be happier not looking very closely.

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hecate's picture

@HenryAWallace
was rudely used by the studio, no doubt about that, even if they didn't turn a blind eye while drunken munchkins tried to crawl up her dress.

When considering Dodgson, it is well to remember that throughout most of his life the age of consent in the UK was 13.

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magiamma's picture

gets washed away by a hurricane?

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hecate's picture

@magiamma
point. I guess pursuant to the Dorothy wisdom you're supposed to stick with whatever remains.

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@magiamma Although Dorothy and Uncle Henry were on a ship when that happened.

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magiamma's picture

@SancheLlewellyn
where the pine island glacier slid into the ocean and the sea level went up six meters. Of course they were on a boat. Smarties.

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