There are conspiracy theorists, mystics, holy men and plenty of other folks who think this world is ruled by an élite and that behind this élite, there is a supernatural, otherworldly force pulling the strings. I’m not going to discuss if this is true or not, you can do the research, read the books, watch the videos and make up your own mind. Some people call them inter-dimensionals, others Reptilians, yet others, The Greys. It would seem these sorts of theories have also petered down into children’s literature.
I am guessing if you were attending elementary school in the early 1980′s, chances are you were forced to sit through and watch Wolfgang Petersen‘s film “The NeverEnding Story” like every other kid. By itself, it’s not a terrible film. However if you sit down to read the original book by Michael Ende, the film , in contrast truly is a spectacular piece of garbage which Ende felt it was. After the horrors of working with a Hollywood film director, Ende then promptly refused further American productions of his other books.
I only know the story because in the early days of the internet, I had a quadriplegic email pen-pal named Jimmy, a writer from Oklahoma who was also attracted to the mystical elements of Ende’s writing. Jimmy had written to Ende in Germany shortly before Ende passed on and told Jimmy as much in his letters. What I find particularly interesting about Ende is that he comes from a Waldorf education background. Meaning, he grew up with the teachings of German mystic and metaphysician Rudolf Steiner and the whole anthroposophy movement. Ende’s work is heavily infused with these esoteric ideas.
It’s unfortunate that many of his other amazing books are not better known to English readers. He did write one children’s book called “Momo” which I think, is actually a bit of an unrecognized masterpiece and deserves some discussion.
“Momo” is essentially Michael Ende’s version of this dimensional reality hack, only his bad guys are called the The Grey Men. They surreptitiously steal people’s time, little by little and by such insidious increments, that at first people don’t notice how their days seem shorter until the day comes that their every second needs to be accounted for, everyone is living under borrowed time, leading pleasureless, hurried, frantic lives. Life becomes all about trying to be efficient, trying to accumulate wealth and in doing so, people have lost their capacity for joy, play, wonderment, and most importantly, love. That’s basically what the grey men want. Momo is the street urchin who eventually catches on to what the grey men are up to and goes about trying to defeat them.
Another writer who touches on the same themes is Madeleine L’ Engle. A prolific writer who only found success well into her 40′s, L’Engle comes from the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum than Ende. A devout Episcopal with universalist values, L’Engle was especially interested in that little-studied area where science and spirituality meet head-on. She especially explored these ideas in her Kairos series of books involving the Murray family and particularly in “A Wrinkle in Time”.
Meg Murray, her friend Calvin and her brother Charles Wallace are sent on an intergalatic, inter-dimensional trip to rescue their genius father from IT. During the course of their adventures, they are helped along by 3 shape-shifting benevolent entities (who are supposed to be angels), land on the planet Camazotz, to discover a city where houses are identical, people’s lives are regulated down to the second, so much so that kids playing in the street, skip rope in unison, balls bounce in unison, and mothers come out in unison to call their children in at which point all the doors shut in unison.
“Everybody knows our city has the best Central Intelligence Centre on the planet. Our production levels are the highest. Our factories never close; our machines never stop rolling. Added to this we have five poets, one musician, three artists, and six sculptors, all perfectly channeled…We are the most oriented city on the planet. There has been no trouble of any kind for centuries. All Camazotz knows our record. That is why we are the capital city of Camazotz. That is why CENTRAL Central Intelligence is located here. That is why IT makes ITs home here.”
The kids eventually carry out their mission but only after finding out that their most lethal weapon they have against IT and The Darkness is Love.
I bring up these two “fictional” books because I don’t think they are fiction anymore. Many of my friends in my age group are raising small children now. Which means any get-together is about them usually discussing day-care and pre-school options, getting them into the “right” pre-school, so that eventually they can get into the “right” elementary school and then the “right” high-school, sign up for the “right” extra-curricular school sports teams which will then lastly, get them into the “right” university. That’s basically planning a kid’s life from ages 3 to 23.
This sort of thing makes me sick, angry and sad. It robs a child of having a light, carefree, idyllic childhood, those crucial, formative years where the imagination should run wild, and they should be free to make discoveries on their own, running after butterflies, playing in the mud, climbing trees, swimming in ponds and making snow forts where they can have epic snow-ball fights.
Instead it gets them ready to enter a life of servitude, becoming an efficient cog in the machine, taking orders, thinking inside the box and becoming robots and if they don’t follow orders, they stand to lose everything.
I’ll close with a quote by Ende:
“Life holds one great but quite commonplace mystery. Though shared by each of us and known to all, seldom rates a second thought. That mystery, which most of us take for granted and never think twice about, is time. When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.”