The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc. October 29,1992
4 4 hat are you so worried
Vabout? " my friend Pat
asked quizzically. "Clinton's got
the election wrapped up. No sweat,"
he tried to reassure me, as George
Bush pleaded urgently for votes on
the silenced TV in the corner tuned
to CNN. The new Sade CD oozed
sweetly out of the stereo, but it still
wasn't enough to quell my fears.
"I've already got the case of
champagne ordered for the victory
party'Tuesday night," Pat laughed.
"Stop tripping. Haven't you seen
Yes, I have seen the polls. That's
exactly why I'm not in the most
W~innie-t e -Poo
Tao Master or just Pooh?
by Chistine Slovey
ou can tell a lot about people by
asking them one simple ques-
tion, "Do you like Winnie-
the-Pooh?" You can tell even
more by asking them which
character they personally relate to - each in is u n-
one represents a different human "type" or between
personality. Pooh is gentle and humble; which Eey
Piglet is frantic and nervous; Eeyore
is a cynics Rabbit can be downright J
mean and Owl talks too much. The
ability to appreciate Pooh, or not, in
itself says something about one's
personality and sense of humor.
I was introduced to Winnie-the-
Pooh very early in life. As with many people 'But I don
of my generation it was the fluffy, bright course yo
Walt Disney Pooh that gained my affection. In the
My childhood bedroom was decorated very for each o
stylishly with a Winnie-the-Pooh lamp and in the rea
Tigger and Eeyore in
yore had somehow ended up in the
river, Pooh, Piglet and Christo-
pher Robin discuss the alterca-
tion. "'Tigger is all right really,'
said Piglet lazily. 'Of course he
is,' said Christopher Robin. 'Ev-
erybody is really,' said Pooh.
'That's what I think,' said Pooh.
n't suppose I'm right,' he said. 'Of
au are,' said Christopher Robin."
end they always accept and care
ether. If only things were as simple
I world. Maybe Milne is suggest-
celebratory of moods lately.
Someone out there in medialand
has succeeded in convincing ev-
eryone in the free world that the '92
election is in the bag. Sedated by
this fact, it also seems that Clinton
supporters have settled into a bliss-
ful apathy about the whole thing.
Comfortably numb, if you will.
So while Dems are ordering
booze and party hats for Tuesday
night, Republicans are stealthily
on the offensive. Look around.
Clinton's comfortable lead isn't so
comfortable anymore. In a Detroit
Free Press poll taken this month,
Clinton's Michigan support was
half of what it was just one month
ago. Perot supporters are coming
out of the woodwork, (or looney
bin, but that's just me) and Repub-
licans smell blood. Right here on
campus, Bush/Quayle supporters
have stepped up their campaign-
ing, looking to sway the large num-
ber of people around here still un-
decided on who to vote for.
"So what are you getting at,
Sterling? " you ask. "You want us
to just blindly support 'Slick
Willie'? Afraid of four more years?"
Hell yes I'm afraid of four more
years. It's more than obvious that
it's time for a change from the
tailspin this country's been caught
in for the past twelve years. But no,
I'm not asking for blind support of
any candidate. I just want more
people to give a damn. This race is
by no means over. Especially when
such a small percentage of folks
even take the time to go to the polls.
Anyone could win. Anyone.
So please, do yourself a favor.
Five days from today, by any means
necessary, get yo' butt down to the
polls and cast your vote. (As long
as it's not for you-know-who. If so,
Ihear there's a great sale over at the
mall.) Even if you write in a candi-
date, atleast you're letting the gov-
ernment know that you're so dis-
satisfied with the state of the na-
tion, you'd rather see Eddie Vedder
or Michael Jordan in office than the
three choices we have.
See you there.
(The last portion of this column
is directed particularly to my fel-
low African-Americans. The rest
of you are welcome to read along.)
OK, let's cut the bullshit. Afri-
can-Americans in this damn coun-
try have no right not to vote. By not
voting, all we're doing is saying
that we don't care about the gar-
bage we endure around here. We're
saying that shit like the Rodney
King incident is no big deal. By not
using our voice, we're mocking the
fact that our mothers and fathers
were hosed, shot at, attacked by
dogs, and killed in order to vote.
Carol Lopez, the
store's owner, says that she
has definitely seen an increase
in Pooh's popularity and attributes
it, at least partially, to Disney's ac-
quisition of rights to the Shepard
illustrations. "They are marketing
like crazy," she says.
The Peaceable Kingdom carries a
wide variety of Pooh paraphernalia, from
pencil boxes to picture frames and clocks to
cloth catch all boxes. Who are these novel-
ties attracting? "It's all adults - some of
them are buying for kids but a lot of them are
buying for themselves. These are adults
who remember having the original Pooh
read to them as children," Lopez says.
The Hundred Acre Wood, A
Children's Bookstore (located in
Nickels Arcade), is another Pooh
haven in Ann Arbor. They carry
many different editions of Milne's
books as well as Pooh novelties.
There are different boxed sets of
the books, hardcover, softcover,
storybook and tiny pocket size ver-
sions, pop-up books and revolving
picture books, all with what the
owner describes as the most im-
portant part - the original text
Danielle Galbraith owns The
Hundred Acre Wood. She says that
she has always carried the original
Milne books and some Pooh pop-
up books and adds, "I started carrying a lot
of new Pooh things is the past year. I don't
carry any of the cartoon Pooh - I find it
distasteful." Galbraith disagrees with the
current fascination with Technicolor, with
the belief that we need to inundate children
with sound and color to entertain them.
"The original text really stands on-its own.
If you love it than you will pass that along to
- Galbraith is the sort of fan who appreci-
ates Milne's stories for their simplistic
beauty. "It's a little silly to say there is
genius in Pooh. Adults always, always try to
find a new hidden meaning in all children's
books. That's interesting, but it takes com-
pletely away from the magic of the stories."
Galbraith is one sort of Pooh fan, the
other sort is endlessly fascinated by the
depth of Milne's stories. The stories con-
tinue to intrigue literary critics who find
much to say about these simple children's
stories. And after all, maybe it is this adult
fascination that keeps Pooh alive. As
Galbraith suggested, "If you love it than you
will pass that along..."
Frederick C. Crews' "The Pooh Per-
plex" (1963) is a collection of essays using
matching throw rug. The lamp graces my
desk to this day. The throw rug, unfortu-
nately, did not survive the torturous "care"
I gave it. The Winnie-the-Pooh stories that
I read were watered down Little Golden
Book versions of the real thing, but I loved
The original Winnie-the-Pooh was cre-
ated in 1926 by A.A. Milne. The humble
bear came to life in the first book "Winnie-
the-Pooh" illustrated by E.H. Shepard. This
Pooh and the Disney cartoon version are as
popular today as they ever were. The Disney
Pooh that I grew up with is still appearing in
cartoons, children's toys, and various nov-
elties. He is even the spokesbear for Sears
children's clothing. And now, much to the
pleasure of his faithful fans, the original
Milne stories and the Shepard images are
making a comeback, coincidentally with
the help of Disney - they have acquired
rights to the original Shepard drawings and
suddenly Pooh is popping up everywhere.
Why are these essentially children's sto-
ries and characters so pervasive? How have
they survived generations remaining as
popular as ever? There is something about
the Pooh stories that make them as intrigu-
ing to adults as they are enter-
taining to children. What is it
about him, exactly, that makes
him so popular?
Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh has
a humble profound simplicity
thatmakeshim eternally endear-
ing. He calls himself, "a Bear of
Very Little Brain." His short-
comings as a scholar however
aremade upfor byhishugeheart
and gentle soul. Pooh is the kind
of bear that visits his friends
because it is Thursday. If there is
nothing else to celebrate, the fact
thatitis Thursday is good enough
Milne's stories, and espe-
cially Pooh's character, encour-
age acceptance of oneself, oth-
ers, and the world we live in.
Each character with their idio-
syncrasies is still endearing. The
differences among Milne's char-
acters are always settled calmly
and quickly and they are all
c~r . ., n nrrc.after a cmal J-ll, -
ing that they can be. As Eeyore so elo-
quently puts it in "Expotition to the North
Pole," "Remember that another time, all of
you. A little Consideration a little Thought
for Others makes all the difference."
The stories are full of wonderful quotes
and useful anecdotes, such as my personal
favorite from "Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets
Into a Tight Place."
He says to Christo-
pher Robin from
in which he is stuck
because he had too
much of a "little
would you read a
such as would help
r _ _
and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tight-
ness." Now that's poetic. It's no wonder that
Pooh makes people happy. "The Pooh Book
of Quotations" collects all of these clever
and silly saying so that you can have them at
One day I wandered into The Peaceable
Kingdom (210S. Main St.) and discovered
that I was not alone in my Pooh fascination.
"Winnie-the-Pooh" to parody literary criti-
cism." Aside from being hilarious, Crews
actually makes some good points about the
stories. "A precis of any chapter might
cause us to wonder whether the book has
any appeal whatsoever: a toy bear and a toy
pig follow their own tracks around a tree
until they are told
by a small boy that
this is pointless, and
all retire for lunch.
It is clear, I think,
! \that Pooh must ad-
dress us on an es-
level - that it must
achieve its effects
through sly manipulations and secret impli-
cations, not through what it directly nar-
rates." Crews writes very tongue-in-cheek
and yet he addresses a very real issue. There
is something in Milne's stories that engages
and charms adults.
The "Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff
(Penguin Books, 1982).uses Winnie-the-
Pooh as the ultimate example of Tao. Pooh,
Hoff claims, actually exemplifies Taoism.
Coincidentally one of the basic principles of
Taoism, the uncarved block, is called P'u,
"pronounced sort of like Pooh, but without
so much oo..." The idea behind the uncarved
block is, "that things in their original sim-
plicity contain their own natural power,"
much like Pooh, who's mind works very
simply. "As Piglet put it in "Winnie-the-
Pooh," 'Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he
never comes to any harm. He
does silly things and they turn
The irony of "The. Tao of
Pooh" is that it tends to analyze
Pooh and the other characters
while espousing a way of life
that rejects over-analysis, seek-
ing a sort of "roll with it" atti-
tude. After all, how can some-
one who manipulates Pooh as
Hoff does still talk of uncarved
blocks? Still, it seems to work;
Pooh can teach us Tao. "The Te
of Piglet" is currently on the
New York Times best seller list.
Personally, I'm still waiting to
see, "The Nihilism of Eeyore."
Not everyone loves Pooh, or
is fascinated by Milne's stories.
He gets labeled pretentious,
sickly sentimental and down-
right boring by his harsher crit-
ics. Dorothy Parker, for ex-
ample, really didn'tlike Milne' s
work - none of it. (Then again
whose did she like?) She says in
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