Since she reached eight months (on 4/1), Is. has grown keenly aware that most
of the sitting posts (bouncy chair, door-frame jumper, pack-n-play, and Baby Einstein contraption)
are the functional equivalent of an oubliette. I don’t mean to imply that we are
torturing our daughter by putting her in these what fun! places, although if
you asked her (could she talk), she would almost certainly add a few indignant
qualifiers. It’s just that she is cognizant of the shift in attention–often
away from her–when she is put in one of these devices for more or less
independent play. The shift in attention might be understood as a momentary
forgetting, but that’s not the only correspondence: like the medieval chamber,
the Einstein can only be escaped from the top.
Directly quoting the exchange between Hoggle and Sarah in Labyrinth, D.
pointed out Is.’s association of the Baby Einstein with an oubliette:
Hoggle: This is an oubliette, labyrinth’s full of ’em.
Sarah: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Hoggle: Oh don’t act so smart. You don’t even know what an oubliette is.
Sarah: Do you?
Hoggle: Yes. It’s a place you put people… to forget about ’em!
Why not call it a developmental stage? Had Piaget a Baby Einstein for his
rugrats, he’d have accounted, no doubt, for the moment in month nine when they
were–while nearing autonomous mobility–being gently cordoned off from the
rising hazards on all sides. It’s very much about containment for safety’s sake
(or so we tell ourselves). While this entry is focally concerned with my
latest early childhood research, I can’t resist keying on the forgetting (oublier)
in its etymology as a way to extend the oubliette analogy to blogging–to the
in-through-the-trap-door for safe-keeping and forgetting that describes, in
part, what happens here. Einstein aids this association: ""I never commit to
memory anything that can easily be looked up in a [blog]."