chapter  6
teen Prevailing Culinary, Psychological, and Metaphysical Conditions: Meatballs and Reality
Pages 8

The current paperback edition of Judi Barrett’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs carries a banner proclaiming, “Over one million copies sold!” Indeed, the book has achieved the status of a classic, regularly read by children individually and in the classroom; the story is even widely incorporated into lesson plans. The whimsy of the title brings a smile to the faces of adults and ignites the imaginations of children. But on a more profound level, the book nurtures children-striking unconscious chords from their infancy, relishing the loving and lavish aspects of their childhoods, reassuring them about their trek to adulthood, and offering them the consolations of enterprise, art, and the imagination for the more troublesome aspects of reality. The book likewise appeals to adults, in particular fulfi lling the homemaker’s dream of dinner without shopping, preparation, or cleanup, and more generally the human fantasy of life without effort: in short, portraying a fanciful Edenic existence. Interestingly, the work develops the critic Christopher Bollas’s view linking the child’s fi rst nurturing experience to the aesthetic moment. But most profoundly, the book promises that even after childhood, imagination and art can return us to the rapturous world of infancy. In the narrative, food spills out as a complex signifi er with an ever-expanding relation to the Real in both its yielding and unyielding aspects.