I’ve been asking for help understanding Donald Phelps’s essay on Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss. Basically, I’d like to read a plain-English version of what he’s saying. A one-paragraph summary would be fine, two paragraphs if that’s what it takes, or whatever you think is right. Or a full-text rendition, of course. Or nothing, since people have things to do besides helping me out.

Anyway, in the last post’s comments Layla tackles the question of aggressive/competitive strangeness. She suggests that Mr. Phelps has in mind “strangeness that is ‘edgy,’ which is more aggressive and in your face and which is viewed (at least today) as positive.” So, by Layla’s reading, we’re talking about edginess vs. quaintness, with quaintness now being outmoded and in low repute, and with the essential difference between the two being that “edginess” is aggressive toward the audience.

Layla, thanks for the hand, I hope I got what you’re saying.

For her, or anyone who feels like it, a few follow-ups:

1) how is edginess aggressive toward the audience?

2) how is edginess “competitive”? is the idea that edgy output is always trying to top other edgy product, trying to seem stranger?

3) if that is the idea, does it seem plausible to people that quaint product isn’t trying to out-strange other quaint product? 

4) if that isn’t the idea, what is?