Thursday, September 27, 2007
Have you seen the film "Ratatouille"? The author-illustrators use animal images to stand for race and class. (Think of Maus.) I propose to add it to the canon of Whig literature. The story is about the encounter of an old world civilization with democracy, and the ending is a happy one, albeit not sentimental. Civilization is the art of living, and can be enjoyed by anyone, even a rat. But art cannot be made by anyone, only a genius can work the magic it requires. A genius can come from anywhere, however, can even be a rat. The enemies of art are the twin dangers of democracy, commerce and politics. A rat chef evades them, by practicing his art in a modest cafe, for both humans and rats. (This is Henry James's The Tragic Muse, in which a Jewish actress revives English drama, which had been decimated by commercialism and government censorship.) Well, yes, I know "Ratatouille" is just an animated cartoon. But that is the point, non?