One of the first reading experiences which really enslaved me to words, writing and books was ‘Beowulf’– I devoured several dry, academic translations early on. I wasn’t as impressed with our hero as I was with Grendel.
Even more to the point, I loved the whole weird Oedipal (which I sensed even as a tot) dynamic with Grendel and his (??) mother. The fact that, if memory serves, after gulping down the flesh of rollicking Anglo-Saxons at ye aulde mead hall, Grendel descended back into the lake of fire to check in with mom. Did the big bad monster have a curfew?
I was also really wigged by the image of Beowulf hacking off one of the monster’s hideous arms and nailing it to the door of the mead-hall, then going after mum himself to put and end to the carnage. None of the versions of the story that I read, back in those steamy, muggy, hazy liberry (B’klyn) summers had illustrations. Just 9-point text. They didn’t make it easy to digest. It was really nerdsville, man.
Then as now, I couldn’t get enough. The point being that many things are best left to the imagination. No drawing or illustration, although I have seen wonderful attempts, could possibly depict the full and primitive terror of the Grendel as portrayed with words alone. It would be worth learning the original tongue, just to hear it whispered beside a nerve-steadying fire as stinging-cold rain hisses down outside.Do you hear giant, wet, lumbering, brainless, slow footsteps coming from the woods?
Which is why Cookie Monster should never have been given legs. This reduces him to a toy, which he is not. He is a pagan god to whom sacrifice must be made faithfully.
I always loved this heaving mass of cobalt-blue, faux-fur, ping-pong ball-eyed Id. Pure libido, in a pre-sexual form. I could relate, and knew that Cookie was the seemingly-sunnier Sesame Street cousin of my old friend, Grendel. But I wasn’t fooled. I knew that his (?? again, no lower body, no gender identity, please) joyful roaring and snarfing of freshly baked oatmeal-raisin-chocolate chipsters could easily turn ugly. When Cookie didn’t get his way: HELL TO PAY.
Cookie Monster arises from the great swampy, sweaty, irrational, furry, hairy, smelly, squishy, mammalian, barely-verbal (his vocab consists basically of the C-word) depths of the Jungian collective unconscious, stuck in the Oral Fixation phase. Both Sig and Carl-baby would have loved this character– pure appetite, no boundaries, no shame, no guilt. ME WANT COOKIE!
His craving is insatiable, boundless, without form. Again, in the presence of raw cookie-dough, especially when a one-pound bag of M & Ms has been studded alluringly through the mix, I have known and wallowed in this feeling of wild, wild, uncontrollable, protean, primal, oozing, gooey, sticky, screeching, lip-smacking abandon. Which is why he should never have been depicted with a lower body. He’s all about the huge mouth, the gaping maw, the bottomless lake of lingual fire itself, and the sensations, rage, pleasure and bliss which lips, tongue and palate alone confer. Cookie’s oral demands are so intense that he is bright-blue matter, about to become pure energy– that’s how fast his molecules are moving.
In his toy-form, with little legs and feet, his cartoonish, underdeveloped lower body seems oddly shrunken, atrophied. Babyish, infantile, disempowered. Just plain wrong.
As with Grendel, let me imagine the worst.