04 July 2011

Storms, Part III

Sometimes we are already outside when the storm arrives, and though we seek shelter from it, we are not able to avoid its assault. But though this particular storm threatens, there is more sturm than drang in its rage. It leaves us soaked but fundamentally unchallenged. This is the storm that blows Dorothy right out of Kansas and into Oz. “It’s a twister, it’s a twister,” the farm hand calls, and on the horizon the dark swirling funnel cloud reaches from earth to heaven blowing away everything in its path and sending it hurtling uncontrollably through the air. The tornado passes dangerously close to Dorothy Gale as she seeks shelter from the storm, and the wind’s force violently blows the windows out where she stands calling out for Auntie Em and Uncle Henry who already cower in the shelter under the home. One of those window frames knocks Dorothy unconscious and sends her dreaming. In that dream she and her house land somewhere over the rainbow in the Technicolor Oz. “I have a feeling,” Dorothy says, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” For Dorothy, this storm has blown her far from home.
But in fact, I think that despite the storm, Dorothy remains stolidly in black and white Kansas. Everyone from home still exists in Oz, albeit in slightly altered form, and though to the viewer each is recognizable, apparently they are not at first familiar to Dorothy. She must learn that home is the ultimate goal.  Later, it will seem that she had, indeed, recognized everyone in Oz as someone she knew at home: though seemingly blown away by the storm, Dorothy learns that her dream of a better life over the rainbow, a childish dream heard once in a lullaby, is an illusion. The delight for which she wished for over the rainbow she learns can really only be realized here at home. Perfection exists only here, at home: indeed, it is only the nasty Miss Gulch, the prototype for the wicked witch, who is missing at the film’s end. She had melted. Dorothy’s storm has simply blown all of the evils of her home (illusorily) away, and left everything else exactly as it was before the tornado struck.  Despite the wizard’s warning, Dorothy accepts unqualifiedly the illusion of home offered by the man behind the curtain and by Glinda, the Witch of the East: “There’s no place like home,” Dorothy continues to intone. I am not certain what she means by that, but I suspect that it is a greater illusion she now holds than that from which the storm blew her originally.


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