Saturday, March 19, 2022

Chet Raymo, “Away Above The Chimney Pots”

“Away Above The Chimney Pots”
by Chet Raymo

“So Oz finally became home; the imagined world became the actual world, as it does for us all, because the truth is that once we have left our childhood places and started out to make up our lives, armed only with what we have and are, we understand that the real secret of the ruby slippers is not that "there's no place like home", but rather that there is no longer any such place as home: except, of course, for the home we make, or the homes that are made for us, in Oz: which is anywhere, and everywhere, except the place from which we began.”

In the last paragraph of his delightful meditation on the film "The Wizard of Oz", Salman Rushdie, himself an immigrant to another land, takes gentle issue with the concluding cliche: "There's no place like home." If the net result of Dorothy's technicolor adventure is to end up where she began, in gray old Kansas, then what was the point? asks Rushdie.

Poor Dorothy, waking up in bed with Auntie Em and the others clustered around her, born again, so to speak, into the same old life. "It wasn't a dream, it was a place," she cries, piteously. "A real, truly live place! Doesn't anyone believe me?" She must begin her rebellion all over again.

Visitors here will have observed that I have reached a stage in life where I am prone to look back on the journey, reflect somewhat nostalgically upon the place I came from, and try to ascertain where it is I have ended up. It is clear that the destination was in part determined by where I began, as is true, I suppose, for all of us. We are armed, after all, only with "what we have and who we are." But it is clear too that having experienced the technicolor universe of the galaxies and the DNA, there is no going back to the dusty, gray dogmas of my youth. The Emerald City may indeed be over the rainbow, but it is still in the here and now. The Wizard's powers may not be supernatural, but his translucently turreted city sure beats Kansas. Science was my Yellow Brick Road. I'm still a "Kansas" boy, so to speak, but with no desire to be born again. For better or worse, home is here, now, in a universe of a grandeur of which I had no idea at the beginning, at a place along a Yellow Brick Road that reaches tantalizingly into the future, with no foreseeable terminus in an ultimate Oz.”

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