I was watching Charlotte's Web with my niece last night. Or so the evening began, because as usually is the case, halfway through the film my two year old niece wanders off and I am left fully immersed, entangled as one rightfully should in Charlotte's Web.
I remember the story from third grade, Ms. Smith read it to us, or we read it with her. After the book we watched the movie. I don't think I've set eyes on either the book or the movie since. In the way that first impressions from childhood carry over into adulthood, sometimes even covertly, I remember a few things about the story. Charlotte, Wilbur, the messages on the web, Charlotte's death, and Wilbur's prize; vaguely are these plot points available to me yet I still found myself surprised by my reintroduction to a childhood story that I'd be lying if I said I cared at all about.
Reviewing Charlotte's Web I realized on some level, especially to an adult viewer, this story is about mortality. I also realized how much I hate Wilbur who has so hard a time dealing with that mortality. Not only does he fear dying but he is also selfish and naive, but then again so are children. The fear of dying, of course is okay, since he's a pig who is raised to be killed; I kind of get that but Wilbur also has a problem with Charlotte's death and the death of even the insects that are caught on Charlotte's web, which Charlotte herself gains nourishment from.
Charlotte is amazing, Debbie Reynolds supplies her voice. The lonely spider who spins a web and is at the same time, friend and philosopher to Wilbur. On the best song in the movie, titled Mother Earth and Father Time, she states,
How very special are we
For just a moment to be
Part of life's eternal rhyme
How very special are we
To have on our family tree
Mother Earth and Father Time
That about sums it up for me. How infinitely random that we fit into such an everlasting indefinition, definitely. To be a part of the universe on such microcosmic terms and yet contribute so absolutely to its macrocosmic orchestration is as clear as any reason why life is worth living. Camus talks of absurdism and the futility of life and why its still an experience worth experiencing even if its end result is nothing. Camus also talks of happiness as a side effect of dueling it out with futility,
What matters to me is a certain quality of happiness. I can only find it in a certain struggle with its opposite--a stubborn and violent struggle...
And about the consciousness of happiness while admitting the absurd:
Just as there is a moment when the artist must stop, when the sculpture must be left as it is, the painting untouched--just as a determination not to know serves the maker more than all the resources of clairvoyance--so there must be a minimum of ignorance in order to perfect a life in happiness. Those who lack such a thing must set about acquiring it; unintelligence must be earned.
Spiders know better than we do. The best creation is life and even though it ends it still happens. While it happens is all that matters.