Wednesday 15 December 2010

Moomin philosophy

At last week's conference at Westminister University on The Apocalypse and its Discontents, philosopher, novelist and blogger Will Buckingham gave a paper on Tove Jansson's novel for children of all ages, Comet in Moominland
 ...So Moomintroll, Sniff, Snufkin and their companions arrived back from the Lonely Mountains to find Moominmamma spending what may be the final hours of the world, “peacefully baking bread and cakes.” Because even if the world is ending, there is still much to be said for the baking and sharing a good cake. The image in the penultimate chapter of a group of small creatures sitting in a cave, eating cake (slightly squashed, because the musk-rat has sat on it – what can you do with philosophers?), huddled together in friendship, and waiting to see if the end is nigh, could be pathetic, or absurd, or deeply satirical; but my sense is that there is a much more robust philosophical response here to the possibility of an apocalypse that we cannot evade. The apocalypse may, or may not, be upon us; and there may or may not be anything that we can do about it. We should, of course, do what we can to avoid those things that can be avoided. But for those other possibilities about which nothing can be done, we can at least – in the time that we have here, in the time that remains to us – do all we can to cultivate the knowledge and the friendship that may make life truly worth living...
Will has posted an edited version of the paper on his blog, here: wondrous.


Rachel Fox said...

I loved Moomins as a child and have been disappointed that, thus far, my own girl is indifferent to them. They were such peaceful, dreamy books. I remember a lot of raspberry juice.

Minnnie said...

Delightful post, evoking the warmth and depth of Tove Jansson. Thank you for the link, also.
I always found TJ's children's books more interesting and more profound than her work for adults. Maybe it is because of those apparently extraordinary characters inhabiting a world of their own in the children's books, drawing the reader in immediately to what seems fantasy ... but it isn't, really, is it?
Bonne année.