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Postmodern Village
est. 1999
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The Snuffleupagap
by L.A. Jacan
Translated from the French by E.W. Wilder

The act of imagining is also an act of distancing.


As the Street disappears from the mind of the Bird, as the mind reappears in the form of the Bird and the Street and the Snuffleupagus, what was no longer is; what is is what was +1.

This is the breast in its liminality: both present and absent—absented in its imagining, with its presence implying its absention. This is how we love: imagining the m0ther as absented from our present, in that way both having and taking, sustaining in its unreality.

Bird :: Maria

But who will believe you, Bird? Maria is too nice, too conciliatory. Her kind words are obvious deception, her friendliness guile. She means more than to dismiss Bird in a patronizing way (both absenting and acknowledging Bird as she imagines Bird imagining Snuffy); she means to comprehend Bird in her imagination—to prehend him completely, and thereby to own him. She means to steal him from the nurturing otherness of Snuffy. Maria is the matriarchal, the matriarchtypal force at constant war with the m0ther, the weaning superego that impresses distance, forces it away from the suckling m0m that is eternal connection.

Maria is adulthood as the looming destruction of the fundamental bond; the Snuffleupagus is the mass of imagined world of the fundament, the far-fingered w0mb.

Gordon :: Oscar

By contrast, Gordon is the father of the actual—not the literal father of Big Bird, clearly, but the father of the semiotic chain that creates the Bird. Gordon [is] father of comfort and unmixed feelings, reflective of and moon to m0ther's sun, he exists in her absence as a positive being, filling the lack if not the Gap—that being the imagined Snuffy, the place of pure symbol as Bird imagines the Street, again, into being. Gordon gives the law, actuates the social as it exists for Bird. Gordon explains, being the actuality of the system of symbols that defines the Bird's world of being, and stands, in contradistinction to the real world of the breast, that which must be recreated in the imagined world in order to be. Gordon offers not; Gordon is. Gordon declares as Maria insists as Snuffy defines in the absented mind of Bird.

Oscar :: Bird

If Gordon is, Oscar is what is. Oscar is the reality beyond the imaginings of the Bird. Oscar's is a life of trash, of detritus, the off-castings of the imagined, the land beyond the Gap, the chasm re-presented by the absented Snuffy. Only when speaking to the Grouch is the Bird speaking beyond Snuffy; here, the accretions of sensation coalesce into truth-telling: Oscar is the de-illusioning, the paean to that-which-is-undesired, as reality always is. Of all the Street's creatures, only Oscar is (counter-intuitively) green—verdant, alive. Oscar is the anti-myth, the anti-epic. He speaks to Bird the language of why, asking, always, “Why would I want to do that?” He negates the want with the question, the “un” into which Snuffy appears to appease the absence. Rather than the id, as he might be glibly characterized, Oscar is the social beyond which the superego (Maria) cannot reach, not insisting that the world revolves around it but being the world into which the ego is forever (and always) lost, ever-subsumed, covered over by the steel lid of the personality.

Oscar is life de-reified.

Bird :: Egg

The missing piece, the Big 0 from which the Bird is ultimately alienated is the 0vum, its cracked shell a memory, an inevitability—a lost world. It is the anti-matter to Oscar's rantings that define and limit the real. The Egg is the eternally unresolved mystery. Snuffy, with his/her fur, trunk, tail, hidden nipples, his/her loping lack of sharpness or form, appears in Bird's imagined world in order to negate the Egg, with its sharp shell: the refraction and rarefaction of Bird's own beak. Snuffy is the unmeaning to the Egg's unspoken meaning[,] the ultimate m0ther released and discarded, linking the chain of the real through the appearance of Oscar's dull pail.


An end and a return, and in the end, from the end of the ür-Bird, yellow and massive, l00ming at his Street-end, imagining the untranslatable, unseeable, un-Egg: the Snuffy all others are always already unable to resolve.

Work Cited

Sesame Street. PBS. Children's Television Workshop. 1969-present. Television.