We all know him.
Oh, maybe not by his face. Or even his real name. But we know him.
By his work.
Around the world. All us kids. You remember his stories. And his rhymes. His times. His rhymes. His times.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, “Dr Seuss” has written books we all know from childhood.
He published 46 children’s books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including 11 television specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. [Wikipedia]
Dr Seuss was:
… his own person. There was no one that would tell him anything about his work… And so it would be, when he had an idea, when it was a new idea, he’d come scuttling in, kinda like that, and tell me, “I’ve got it.” “I’ve got it.” What I learned [is] that he didn’t want an answer. He wanted nothing. He just wanted to let me know he had “it” – whatever “it” was going to be.
…As I was saying, when he had the idea, he’d share that he indeed had the idea, and then he’d hit the desk, and he’d stay with it night and day; made no difference that it was one o’clock, two o’clock, three, four, five – no difference at all. Till he had it really fleshed out. Till he personally was satisfied with it. He was not aware of the time at all.
Then, when he reached a place where he couldn’t take it further for one reason or another, then he’d get out the easel and he’d begin an original painting. [Audrey Geisel]
You see, Geisel is a brilliant example of a Composer Artisan, for:
More than the other Artisans, Composers are in tune with their senses, and so have a sure grasp of what belongs, and what doesn’t belong, in all kinds of works of art. While the other Artisans are skilled with people, tools, and entertainment, Composers have an exceptional ability-seemingly inborn-to work with subtle differences in color, tone, texture, aroma, and flavor.
Although Composers often put long, lonely hours into their artistry, they are just as impulsive as the other Artisans. They do not wait to consider their moves; rather, they act in the here and now, with little or no planning or preparation. Composers are seized by the act of artistic composition, as if caught up in a whirlwind. The act is their master, not the reverse. Composers paint or sculpt, they dance or skate, they write melodies or make recipes-or whatever-simply because they must. They climb the mountain because it is there. [Please Understand Me II]
“…People recall Bennett Serf as a TV person on talk shows and that sort of thing, but he had declared more than once that he had one genius at Random House, and that was Ted Geisel. They were very good friends, and he did put forth challenges to Ted. And Ted couldn’t stand a challenge that he didn’t respond to. And Bennett knew just where to hit him. Tell him he couldn’t tell a complete story in a certain amount of words, very few words, because that is quite a challenge. And that would take Ted quite a time.”
“In the end what drove Ted, I think, was to be useful to the world. He sent those wacky warriors he created out to wage the battles of the underdog, with whom he always felt a kinship — the battles against illiteracy, environmental ruin, against greed, against conformity, against the arms race…”
He was a natural poet, if fanciful:
As his nonsense-poet predecessors did, Seuss invented a variety of animals and plants. Carroll gave us the Jabberwock, and Shel Silverstein, the Flying Festoon. Lear created the Jumblies, the Quangle Wangle, the Dong with a luminous Nose, and a wide range of fantastical flora. Seuss’s prodigious imagination created more, I think, than even Lear’s. In Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953) alone, Peter T. Hooper meets the Ruffle-Necked Sala-ma-goox, the Tizzle-Topped Grouse, the Shade-Roosting Quail, the Lass-a-lack, the Spritz, the Flannel-Wing Jay, the Twiddler Owl, the Kweet, the Stroodel, the Kwigger, the Long-Legger Kwong, the Grice, the Pelf, the Single-File Zummzian Zuks, the Mt. Strookoo Cuckoo, the three-eyelashed Tizzy, the Grickily Gractus, the Ziff, the Zuff, the Moth-Watching Sneth, the Dawf, the Bombastic Aghast, the Mop-Noodled Finch, the Beagle-Beaked-Bald-Headed-Grinch (apparently unrelated to the Christmas-stealing Grinch), Wogs (“the world’s sweetest frogs”), the Ham-ikka-Schnim-ikka-Schnam-ikka Schnopp, and a Jill-ikka-Jast. And that’s only one of Seuss’s bestiary books. He wrote nine more, each of which includes between a dozen to several dozen imaginary animals.
According to Geisel’s biography, Ted’s mother, Henrietta, was a very nurturing mother. She let him draw on his walls with the crayons and colored pencils that he kept under his bed. She nurtured his sense of creativity and imagination. Taking Ted to church every Sunday, she found he had a knack for rhyming, reciting the books of the Old Testament: “The great Jehovah speaks to us in Genesis and Exodus; Leviticus and Numbers three followed by Deuteronomy.” When Ted went to high school he was made mostly of jokes and fun. He did do most of his work, but didn’t make it a drag.
Artisans want to be where the action is; they seek out adventure and show a constant hunger for pleasure and stimulation. They believe that variety is the spice of life, and that doing things that aren’t fun or exciting is a waste of time. Artisans are impulsive, adaptable, competitive, and believe the next throw of the dice will be the lucky one. They can also be generous to a fault, always ready to share with their friends from the bounty of life. Above all, Artisans need to be free to do what they wish, when they wish. They resist being tied or bound or confined or obligated; they would rather not wait, or save, or store, or live for tomorrow. In the Artisan view, today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow never comes. [Please Understand Me II]
Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. — Theodor Seuss Geisel