Eventually Max gets sick of being king and “the most wild thing of all”; he is lonely and wants to be loved and fed. . The wild is not heaven, hell, or anything in between; the wild is the space that the child and adult share in their antipathy to one another. . The child in this story, Max, may not have been raised by wolves, but he is, at any rate, wearing a wolf suit and making enough mischief that his mother calls him a “wild thing.” In response to his mother, and while embracing his wildness, Max says “I’ll eat you up.” For his punishment, Max is sent to bed without supper, and as he stands in his room, alone and hungry, a world grows around him and then an ocean and then a boat, and he sails off, “in and out of weeks,” until he arrives “where the wild things are.” The wild things, part human and part animal, “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws.” When the wild beasts see that Max is not afraid of them, and when he tells the creatures to “be still!,” the wild things make Max their king and celebrate with a wild rumpus. Reprinted with permission from Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire by Jack Halberstam, published by Duke University Press (footnotes omitted). The Nietzschean “things” that Max meets are wild because they can never go home, because they no longer believe in the falsehoods of family and community, and because they refuse to disguise their wildness, their ruination, and their place in a violent order of things. But Max has his own magic trick and rather than be stilled by the wild things he tames them by returning the gaze and “staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once.” The child’s gaze is terrifying in its unwavering and all-seeing control. When the mapping of innocence onto the child fails, indeed, and the failure is inevitable, we speak of the child as wild and monstrous. Like an embodiment of the amoral, the wild things stand in opposition to what Nietzsche calls the “disgrace” of the domesticated human who must use morality and clichés to cover over their true feelings of anger, outrage, disappointment, and fear. Offering the mother as an obvious example of a figure who can either care for the child or destroy it, Caverero proposes that care and harm are nestled within the same social function. The grotesque figures that make up the world of the wild, and the anger that propels the small protagonist to join them, along with the implication that there are worlds of rejected people just beyond the space of the domestic, go some way toward identifying both the disturbing quality of the book and the queerness that underlines its narrative. And because he shuttles between the order of the oedipal household, where his mother rules, and the ruined world of the wild, where no one is in charge but him, he knows the parameters of the real — he sees that either you settle in to the domestic prison you have been offered or you set sail for another, potentially more violent, terrain. Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:00 PM Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description. Halberstam’s approach is equal parts academic and poetic, making for a dense and, at times, beautiful text. The “thing” in “wild things” surely distances being from subjecthood and conveys an object like status to the bodies of those who are ruled and rejected. Halberstam theorizes the wild as an unbounded and unpredictable space that offers sources of opposition to modernity's orderly impulses. In an odd, family-unfriendly film peopled with puppets and humans, Jonze was able to convey the weightiness and the burden of wildness. Max, meanwhile, after a day of being bad and all dressed up in his wolf suit, inspires his mother’s wrath. in conversation with RIZVANA BRADLEY. Sendak, who died in 2012 at the age of eighty-three, was the child of Jewish-Polish immigrant parents who moved to Brooklyn in the 1920s; he was also gay. Oct. 28. “Where can the wild take you? While we might see value in critiquing the herd animal or the prey for its “mediocrity,” and while we might want to see a potentially decolonial violence unleashed in the figure of the predator, the ableist characterization of the tame human as also “crippled” reinvests in a colonial power sequence and, perhaps, declaws the critique of domestication that Nietzsche offers. Here, he knows what is expected and refuses to perform. 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