Books Civilization Movies Nature Primitivism

Where The Wild Things Are


It’s possible I’ve been reading too much Zerzan and have primitivism on the brain. I couldn’t help, but think about the troubled young boy in Where The Wild Things Are as a symptom of the disease of our society. He is shunned by his only sibling in favor of her friends. His father is gone, presumably dead. His mother must work and is gone a lot. A visit from the mother’s boyfriend sets him off and he goes into a rage. He ends up biting his mother and then running away. He escapes to a place that is wild.

I remember the book by Maurice Sendak when I was growing up. It stood out among children’s books because it was so strange and dark. There was mystery and danger in the pages. I appreciate that the movie kept this tone. Though the wild things become his friends, you never quite feel like they are safe. The story always teeters on the brink of danger, whether it is the doubt about whether the wild things will eat Max or whether he will plunge off a cliff.

I’ve also had conversations with several friends recently about some of the symptoms of our diseased society. Anxiety, depression and suicide continue to climb to unheard of rates. New “disorders” are popping up all the time. Zerzan talks about the way that pyschiatry and psychology approach many of these problems. The disease lies within the individual and it is the therapists job to help the individual learn how to function again within society. Zerzan posits that the preponderance of depression, anxiety and other disorders is instead a symptom of the epidemic of alienation in our culture. We are right to have anxiety, depression and feel suicidal because the society we live in is so far removed from the intended pattern of life on this planet.

Max learns how to relate better through his encounter with the wild things. It seems that he can learn something in the wild that eludes him in the “real” world.

To connect this to food, a friend who is on medication for ADHD told me about several books he read that described ADHD as a stimuli addiction. They did studies that showed action-based video games stimulated the same areas of the brain as cocaine use. I’ve also read about a strong connection between the intake of refined sugar and ADHD. Anecdotally, I had a kid in my youth group who had been on medication a long time who also happened to always have candy in his pockets. Coincidence? Some claim that ADHD can be treated entirely through changes in diet.

There are illnesses of the body like colds or influenza that can be traced to bacteria or viruses as a cause. Diseases of the mind and spirit cannot simply be ascribed to an individual’s neuroses. We are social creatures and as such the sickness of our minds also has to do with problems in our society, not just ourselves.

We could all use some more howling, time in the outdoors and a little danger to remind us that we are both alive and mortal at the same time.

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