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Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Penguin Popular Classics)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum If Philip K Dick and Hieronymus Bosch collaborated on a childrens' book, this is what it would look like. L Frank Baum's 1901 apocalyptic psychadelic freakout classic signals the end of the well-ordered and reasonable Victorian world. Aguished midwestern teen Dorothy, raised by her Aunt and "Uncle" in the depleted midwest wastelands escapes into an allegorical crazyworld to befriend the walking, breathing icons of her adolescent insecurities: cowardace, stupidity, and heartlessness (literally!). To conquer her fears and return to reality, she embarks on an odyssey highlighted by confrontation with chimeric tiger/bears, a meeting with the flawed dictator of her fantasyland, and in the culminating scene, she participates in the homicide of her own alter-ego: the Wicked Witch of the West (a scene which is reprised well in Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 Fight Club: a novel). In 2009, this would be called schizoid disassociative disorder, and not surprisingly, The Wizard of Oz *IS* mentioned as a trigger stimulus in Thanks For The Memories... The Truth Has Set Me Free The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave. The Wizard of Oz was written between Japan's crushing victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894) and the Russo-Japanese War (1905). The Sino-Japanese War showcased the rapid strides Japan had taken towards modernization, beginning in the Meji Era (1868), and the war concluded with Japan routing the Chinese navy, dethroning their ruler in Korea, and seizing Manchuria. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions Power and Primacy Just a few years later, Russia's humiliation at the hands of the Japanese navy was the first time a Western power had been so decisively decimated by an Eastern power since the Muslims took Constantinople in 1453. Western anguish over Japan's meteoric ascendency in this era cannot be overstated. It was a veritable earthquake in diplomatic circles, and seems to have loomed large in Baum's mind, given his incessant symbology hammering away at this, including: the East vs. West witches, the China village, the Emerald (jade) City, the Wizard's hegemony over Oz through control of technology, and the Lion (an effete British Empire, unable to challange the flying monkeys -which work EVEN BETTER ,post-Pearl Harbor, as avatars of Japanese militarism). In the book, Dorothy's shoes are silver, which some believe is an obscure reference to the silver standard- a hotly debated monetary policy issue at the time of writing. By the 1930's when the movie was made, the silver standard issue was no longer in the public eye. With color film available, MGM studio heads made the shoes (ultimately the vehicles of her escape) ruby red. It has been pointed out that the red showed up better on screen than silver, but coincidentally or not, red also seems a better choice, serving as a reference to the iconic Japanese song, Akai Kutsu ("red shoes"), which laments "the girl in the red shoes" who takes a voyage with a foreigner from the West, never to return. Check out the lyrics (with translation), and even listen to the song at Akai Kutsu linkIn present day, we have grown accustomed to this sort of psycho-chaotic political angst literature, perhaps in part because of the annual television broadcasts of The Wizard over these past forty years. Sure, Philip K Dick, Aldous Huxley, William Gibson, and H P Lovecraft wrote plenty of even more f'd up sh*t later on, but by that time, the public had been completely desensitized. Baum, on the other hand, was writing in the friggin' VICTORIAN age! Counterculture childrens' television moguls Sid and Marty Krofft were very influenced by the Oz movie, and Sid even contributes to Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin. The Kroffts loosely based their early 1970's television show "Liddsville" on The Wizard of Oz, but re-cast it with a male protagonist, and dropped all the anguish about Japanese expansionism, despite the impending juggernaut Japanese economy of the 1980's. (A samauri helmet character does appear in one episode, however. Learn more about it, if you like, withPufnstuf Other Stuff: The Weird and Wonderful World of Sid Marty Krofft ) Liddsville didn't seem to work well in the video format, and failed in my opinion, because it wasn't angry enough.