Having found myself at that tenuous stage of life where friends of mine are having children with increasing frequency, my avuncular tendencies have responded by going into overdrive. The most pronounced symptom of this is the compulsion I now feel to get strange and, hopefully, insightful presents. First on my list is Q is for Question: An ABC of Philosophy by the British Colombian teacher Tiffany Poirier.
Well, that’s not entirely true. First, I usually give them a plush Cthulhu while singing: “Squamous horror from beyond the stars / I wonder what you are / you’ve come so far / to melt my mind and eat me”, because its never too early to start trying to reconcile your little ones to the vast indifference and terror of the cosmos. Then, if their parents ever allow me near their children again, I give them this book.
Addressing such concepts as causality, infinity, mind/body duality and solipsism in simple rhymes, some will no doubt be tempted to see in Q is For Question something like “baby’s first existential crisis”. I know I particularly liked the letter “Y” for You:
You: As you grow from day to day, / what parts of you will always stay? / Of what stuff do you consist? / And of this stuff / what will persist?
Yet in the back of the book, and on the companion website Poirier encourages parents to talk to their children about difficult concepts, to make games of them, and listen to what they have to say. It is, after all, an important part of preparing them for life, existential crises and all. While I’m not a parent, I believe this to be an incredibly powerful sentiment, and one worth encouraging.
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