Monday, May 04, 2009
Why Is the Nanny Magical?
Did you ever wonder why, in, for instance, Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee, the magical character is the nanny? Well, reading R.G. Collingwood's The Philosophy of Enchantment (edited, by the way, by my PhD advisor, David Boucher), I found out why. Collingwood notes, with regret, that under the influence of Enlightenment rationalism, the educated classes began to look down upon fairy tales and such "nonsense." (Collingwood feels that such tales convey important concepts to young children that they are not yet ready to grasp in another form.) So when their parents would no longer read or tell fairy tales to their young children, who would? Why, of course, it was the nanny, who being less "educated," had not yet decided these stories were worthless rubbish. And so naturally, when these children grew up and wrote stories of enchantment, the conduit of magic into the children's world was the nanny. (That last bit is not in Collingwood, but is a Callahanian extrapolation.)