by Kleitia Vaso

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the Swiss army knife of children’s stories; its versatility, from its characters to the storyline, allows the use of the story for addressing various topics as needed, from self-knowledge to the creation of the myth of the self, the continuous give-and-take with others, and even the all-encompassing political propaganda. Because of its chameleonic nature and its treatment of very contemporary themes, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite stories and it should be certainly treated as a modern myth. I often think of the cowardly lion searching for his divine right of courage and the tin woodsman who is looking for his missing heart and it helps me, as any fairy tale, myth, novel, poem, movie in understanding the phenomena of daily life, whether ordinary or extraordinary. In the specific case, it helped me understand and later explain a pervading but light sense of lethargy which I could not escape during the last few weeks. Despite our willful and wishful belief in all-powerful and unshakeable emotions and relationships (of all kinds), one of the lessons which the violent process of adulthood teaches us is that life does not offer absolute things, only relative and partial, and that we should be satisfied with limited emotions, experiences, and realities. Yet, as Freud, that brilliant interpreter and, perhaps, the most powerful myth user has taught us to simultaneously program and understand ourselves in Civilization and its Discontents, there exist instincts of greed and insatiability within us which cannot be entirely extinguished…they may be temporarily suppressed so as to “normally” function in society, but these instincts simply sleep, they do not go away. And, thus, from time to time, we forget this dubious pact with our instincts and cannot be sated with meager portions, which have been determined as healthy for the common good, including our own.

Certainly, as we have been taught and, by now, convinced, extreme emotions and situations cannot last a long time, they are impossible to sustain. But, when they happen, they are accompanied, as growth or adulthood, by an uncomfortable and troublesome period of re-adaptation and return to reality. Once this painful step takes place, namely the process of taming and subjugating of ourselves by ourselves, others and, ultimately, life, the return to the barely-in-control state results nearly impossible despite the great desire and will. In the end, can you believe in the power and magic of the great and powerful wizard of Oz, once you have seen that he is simply an ordinary man, rather short and with glasses, and that his power is “fabricated”? Once you have seen the mechanisms of his fictive power, can you forget that you have?

by Kleitia Vaso