This red sky in oil, reproduced from a photograph, was delightful to make. There were large swathes of red and orange paint liberally fanned across the canvas. The yellow sun was literally made by wiping away a small circle in the center and filling it with yellow..Silhouette details of the row of camels and the man, were only made, once the background dried up completely.
Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue. – Jules Feiffer.
Jules Feiffer, an American cartoonist and satirist of much fame, to whom these lines are attributed, illustrated the most fantastic book for children. – The Phantom Tollbooth.The book has been written by Norton Juster.
I’d like to lay out the plot…and then my own thoughts.
It tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and drives through it in his toy car into the Kingdom of Wisdom, once prosperous but now troubled. There, he embarks on a journey to return to the kingdom its exiled princesses—named Rhyme and Reason—from the Castle in the Air. In the process, he learns valuable lessons, finding a love of learning. The text is full of wordplay, and many events, such as when Milo unintentionally jumps to Conclusions, an island in Wisdom.
Beginning with Expectations, a pleasant place where he starts he meets the Whether Man, who speaks a lot. Milo daydreams and gets lost in Doldrums, a colorless place where nothing ever happens. Finally after overcoming much, including the Mountains of ignorance and the spelling bee, he is able to finally re-establish the princesses, Rhyme and Reason!
By the end of the story, however Milo wakes up, and the next day…finds a note instead of the phantom tollbooth..’for Milo, who now knows the way’. The magic tollbooth has been sent to another child to help him find his direction in life.
This wonderful story has been lauded as a thematic story on the need for education.
I’ve often wondered, how badly we need a phantom tollbooth to actually help us to learn…to continually challenge us…learning never ends..Every time I pick up the colours and brushes, I know this…till then…I will hug tight, my phantom tollbooth….
And its not just learning, but living, experiencing, escalating into the next sphere of awareness..a phantom tollbooth is a conduit to those reaches which seem to constantly nudge at our seams..to break many barriers, perhaps to reveal intricate patterns and processes and possibilities, not known..How much we want to give our soul back to rhyme and reason…to bring the castle in the air, to a workable, practical, reasonable and palpable reality…