Saturday, 30 June 2012

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.

There's so much I want to blog about, but, to avoid disolving into complete incoherency (at least more so than usual...), I'm going to have to make it one thing at a time. Today, it's caterpillars.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most popular children's picture books on the market, sells millions of copies every year and spawns endless themed memorabilia. This has always stuck me as pretty odd, since, for one, the caterpillar is distinctly creepy and appears from the state of his eyes to have smoked a good number of the leaves he's been nibbling through, and for two, I can't get around the fact that the plotline to me is about hunger, bingeing, restriction, and the expectation that this will make you beautiful. For me, the book is not just disturbing, it's pretty triggering as well. And it's times like that, when I'm feeling like shit because of the effect that the kids' book I'm reading to my nephew is having on me, that I truly wonder how I managed to fuck up my mind this much.

"He built a small house, called a cocoon, around himself. He stayed inside for more than two weeks. Then he nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out, and..."

I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy today. I really enjoyed it, and the last book in particular really moved me. But there was one passage in particular from Mockingjay that stabbed at me quite apart from the narrative. I'll print it here. It's not a spoiler for anything from the books.

"Swathed in silk, I feel like a catepillar in a cocoon awaiting metamorphisis. I always supposed that to be a peaceful condition. At first it is. But as I journey into night, I feel more and more trapped, suffocated by the slippery bindings, unable to emerge until I have transformed into something of beauty. I squirm, trying to shed my ruined body and unlock the secret to growing flawless wings. But despite my effort, I remain a hideous creature."

I think that, despite how much I've already changed, mentally I've trapped myself in a kind of cocoon which I won't let myself out of until I'm a success, until I'm beautiful, until I'm 'done'. Without realising that these are qualities I will never apply to myself.

I like to think I have enough self-knowledge to recognise that this is just one more instance of my mind being a dick to me. But I guess a part of me blames imagery like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, where transformation from ugliness to beauty is an instant, tangible, and unquestionable thing. And where it actually happens.

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