31 December 2010

The Pooh community

Winnie the Pooh turns up in the strangest of places. I recently discovered that the New Testament theologian Richard Bauckham has written a short lecture on ‘Reconstructing the Pooh Community’. It is a gentle dig at the kind of sociological speculation that some New Testament theologians are tempted to indulge in. Here is a typical sample:
The figure of Owl, for example, surely represents the group of children who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements and aspired to status in the community on this basis. But  the other children, certainly the Pooh and Piglet group, ridiculed them as swots. So throughout the stories the figure of Owl, with his pretentious learning and atrocious spelling, is portrayed as a figure of fun. Probably the Owl group, the swots, in their turn ridiculed the Pooh and Piglet group as ignorant and stupid: they used terms of mockery such as ‘bear of very little brain.’ Stories like the hunt for the Woozle, in which Pooh and Piglet appear at their silliest and most gullible, probably originated in the Owl group, which used them to lampoon the stupidity of the Pooh and Piglet group. But the final redactor, who favours the Pooh and Piglet group, has managed very skilfully to refunction all this material which was originally detrimental to the Pooh and Piglet group so that in the final form of the collection of stories it serves to portray Pooh and Piglet as oafishly lovable. In a paradoxical reversal of values, stupidity is elevated as deserving the community’s admiration.
You can find the entire lecture here. And, if you are new to my blog, you can find my own use of Winnie the Pooh to poke fun at the Enneagram here: ‘The Winnieagram: An Introduction’, ‘The Winnieagram: The eight types’, ‘The Winnieagram: Christopher Robin and personal growth’ and ‘The Winnieagram: A note on Pooh and sexism’.

No comments: