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Oz the Great & Powerful 1

A note on Enlightenment

The ambition of young Oz is stated thusly: He wants to be both Harry Houdini & Thomas Edison; & he does not want to die because he has not achieved anything. Edison is justly famed as the greatest inventor of all times – a man of progress – a democratic hero. But Oz insists that he created images & sounds. Houdini, of course, was an infamous deceiver.

Then Oz wakes up in Oz, where his adventures take place. Here, he sees two cities. The first is the Emerald city, which boasts a lavish palace, an astounding treasury full of gold & similar luxuries, & political intrigue – including murder, & armies. The only people who want to rule show up here, two sisters who are witches. We see afterward many other people, who only want not to be terrified by witches.

The other city is constituted of three classes: Some farm for food, others make clothes, & others are makers of tools. It is when he sees these people that Oz finally realizes what he has to do. His first clue should have been the prophecy: The wizard Oz would come to Oz & rule benevolently. Despite tyranny, the people are eager to believe in justice.

King is replaced by wizard, prince by witch. Rule is prophesied. It is astounding how people look up to these few. Oz learns to look down on them. His entire plan relies on scaring people & giving them hope by elaborate lies. This assumes that belief is the essential problem of rule: The king’s daughter tells him that the people believe his lies. Get people to believe in you, then you can get done what has to be done. This is the truth about Oz’s trickery: The science he uses to create the tricks is the only innovation he brings to Oz.

Now we know why we talk of wizards rather than princes. The latter is a political matter, the former not necessarily. When Oz sees the simple pre-political life, he understands the alternative to the political life of armies & murder & ambition: A post-political life. This would be as democratic as the pre-political life & again one man would do one job for which he is fit, but there would be prosperity, & there would never again be war.

Would-be rulers get in his way – they must be removed. Science can do this for him. The city reduces then to the people who make tools. Oz brings gun-powder & rockets & automatons to Oz. Happily, this does not give the locals any ideas. Perhaps this is because nobody ever dies. Oz leads a bloodless revolution that turns on a contest of who is scarier.

The movies may be subtitled On the education of Barack Obama

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