Part 5 of On the Origin of Stories, “Ontogeny: Horton Hears a Who!“, prompted me to consider the development and origins of storytellers’ — particularly Seuss’s — characters, plots, etc. As simple a story as Horton Hears a Who! appears on the surface, its characters are far more polished than they may need to be, and its underlying meaning is more profound (this term may be an exaggeration) than it seems.  Seuss’s Horton character came from a 30-year trial-and-error sequence for Seuss, as he tested the elephant in numerous mediums before settling on Horton Hears a Who! as its true resting place. Additionally, the overarching moral of the story, “A person is a person, no matter how small,” came from Seuss’s trip to Japan in 1953, a year after the Allied occupation, when Japan was emerging as its own country. These details led me to ponder the following research question: Does the Darwinian cycle and recycle of generate-test-regenerate apply to the works of most successful storytellers (whether they realize it or not), or is that simply a phenomenon among a select few? Does the same Darwinian principle of storytelling’s version of “survival of the fittest” hold true in television, movies, and theater as it does in book-form? (I suspect it does, and perhaps more so in television than in any other medium, as characters are screened, tested, dropped in, and yanked out as the audience responds on the success or failure of those characters.)

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