Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Two-thirds of school-age children have an imaginary companion by age 7

This showed up on Boing Boing this morning, and I was stuck by this line:
57 percent of the imaginary companions of school-age youngsters were humans and 41 percent were animals. One companion was a human capable of transforming herself into any animal the child wanted. (emphasis added)
This instantly reminded me of Philip Pullman's excellent trilogy, His Dark Materials. The trilogy is a retelling of Paradise Lost as a "children's story" set in multiple worlds. I put children's story in quotations because, as with all good children's lit, the books are edgy enough to please adults - and perhaps make them wonder if their child should be reading it (always a good sign, IMHO).

But, more to the point, in the central world that Pullman imagines, one very much like ours, people's souls are manafest as animals that live outside of the person, talking to them, comforting them, sometimes getting them into trouble and never wandering far from them. The daemons, as he calls them, have the ability to change into whatever animal they wish (they, not the child) until the child enters puberty at which point the daemon's animal form becomes fixed. In addition to being a great plot and character device, it looks like Pullman's daemon's are more accurate portrayal of the childrens' inner lives than some adults (myself included) had realized.


Post a Comment

<< Home