Word Cloud: SUBVERSIVE (revisited)

NOTE: This was originally posted on September 9, 2015. It has been re-formatted, but the message seems all too timely now, without needing updating.


Whenever a small group hungers for power over a larger group, the weapons they use are the same:  Terror and Guile.

The larger the target area in geography, the greater the population, the more Guile must be the weapon of choice.  Rhetoric and Dogma are smoke-screens of Guile – rarely, the lust for power will drive a Power Seeker mad – but overwhelmingly, Power Seekers have no belief in the politics or religion they espouse, and will revise or jettison a set of beliefs that fails to get them what they want.

Items high on any successful Power Seeker’s check list: Control of the Media, and of Education. Freedom of the Press is not merely an ideal of democracy, it is a primary requirement. Enslaved peoples are always denied education – they are trained, not taught – a most important distinction.

But once a person can read, they have in their hands a great weapon in the struggle to become or remain Free.

All of the Arts are acts of rebellion. They kindle self-awareness and curiosity.  Power-Seekers rightly distrust the Arts. They stop Arts programs in schools, cut government subsidies to the Arts, they forbid music and dancing, they destroy or subvert cultural treasures, but they spend fortunes to own Art, or they steal it outright. If they own it, they believe they control it.

The Guile of the Power Seekers can be undermined by Ridicule. It is hard to control people who see through your propaganda. The Emperor Has No Clothes. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain. A ridiculous enemy is much less frightening, which diminishes their power.

Whether you are out to control the lives of millions of others, or you are one of the millions fighting to keep control over your own life, you must gain the hearts and minds of the young to prevail. Part of the narrative of the Power Seekers is derision of any words not of their making, so they are dismissive of the importance of children’s literature, while at the same time railing against the “corruption of our children” by any book which would lead those children to thinking and asking questions.

books old books in a pileMother Goose; Grimm’s Fairy Tales; The Ugly Duckling; The Wind in the Willows; The Wizard of Oz; Nancy Drew; Brown Girl Dreaming; To Kill a Mockingbird; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; The Story of Chopsticks; Nadia’s Hands; Harry Potter; The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child; The Book Thief; The Hunger Games

Goodnight Moon and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star make children look up at the sky and wonder.


Shel Silverstein’s “charming little verses” give Power Seekers an uneasy feeling:

from Where the Sidewalk Ends:


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!



from A Light in the Attic:


Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.

from Every Thing On It:


Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.

from Falling Up:


If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful, boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor—
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore.


Oh they’re testing the bomb as I’m singing this song
They say not to worry cause nothing can go wrong
They’re testing the bomb as I’m singing this song
They say not to worry cause nothing can


Buy Books. Read Them.

Read them to children. Teach children to read books for themselves.

Protest when someone tries to ban books, or take them out of schools or libraries, or edit out the “offensive” parts or burn them.

Sing. Make Music. Dance. Act. Make Movies. Draw. Design Buildings. Paint. Sculpt. Write.

Be Subversive. But especially – Be Sub-verse-sive.


SOURCES and Further Reading

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, ©1974 by Evil Eye Music, Inc.

A Light in the Attic, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, ©1981 by Evil Eye Music, Inc.

Every Thing On It: Poems and Stories by Shel Silverstein, © 2011 by Evil Eye, LLC

Falling Up, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, ©1996 by Shel Silverstein




  • Stacks of Books and a pen
  • Reading to kids
  • Goofy Face
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Children’s plates designed by Ingela Arrhenius
  • Hydrogen bomb test

Word Cloud photo by Larry Cloud

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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2 Responses to Word Cloud: SUBVERSIVE (revisited)

  1. shortfinals says:

    To that wonderful list of books I would add ,’The Wind In The Willows’ and ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’ (personal favorites, of course)

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Yes! The Wind in the Willows is still my favorite book out of all the thousands I have read! But if I added all the books for kids that I love, this piece would never have been posted.

      I put this list together based more on diversity – when I look for books for my cousin’s adotable granddaughters, who are Japanese-Korean-Scots-French-English-?? and 100% American, I look for books which show something other than an all-white world.

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