"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind." - Theodor S. Geisel, as Dr. Seuss
First, a preface:
This seems to be a relatively isolated incident,
a “needle in the haystack” of Geisel’s extensive catalog.
Apparently he was hired to draw for several outlets of
political propaganda, most of which was intended to
slander the Japanese during war talks.
As such (given the times),
blackface cartoons were like
water… in segregated water fountains.
Next, the controversy:
The auction consisted of a framed panel with four illustrations depicting
The World’s Most Preposterous Department Store.
The ‘items’ for sale were all considered nuisances to the life of
the average wealthy caucasian man. The controversy stems from
the bottom panel, which shows a room full of “n!ggers” for sale,
complete with jet black skin & large red lips.
And now, a history lesson:
The phrase “n!gger-in-the-woodpile” has a couple of connotations. Despite the vague answer found after questioning Sir Webster, I managed to uncover the supposed origin. It’s as vain as I hoped it would be… Okay, listen up: 1) the ‘woodpile’ is a situation or an intangible entity [generally delicate] like a person or family’s reputation- 2) the ‘n!gger’ is a metaphor for any contradictory factor/idea/info that would taint/spoil the ‘woodpile’ in any way. The irony here is off the charts.
"Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them."
The expression evolved from the literal case(s) of
“mulatto” children. Babies with both european and african ancestry were considered a shame to a european family.
The baby had ‘Africa’ in his/her blood.
Therefore, the previously ‘pure’ european bloodline now had
a n!gger in the family tree (woodpile).
The moral of the (comic) story:
The irony here lies in the way this comic exemplifies itself.
The same way snapchats, instagrams, tweets & tumblr posts kinda just stay there floating in the infinity of the interwebs is the way Theodor Seuss Geisel can’t
go back in time and delete these drawings.
This really sounds like a “high-brow-joke” kinda thing; where the auction is the art, bc it presents extreme irony
in the wake of Seuss’ new posthumous book.
I guess no one wants a fly in their ointment, a needle for their haystack, a wrench in their system, or a n
igger in their woodpile.