Into a Poem by Bahareh Rezayee and a Poster by Christopher Jackson

From Lie to Reality


Written by Leila Sadeghi


The Adventures of Pinocchio, a novel (1883) by Italian author Carlo Collodi, has been frequently interpreted in different media such as paintings, poetry, jokes, screenplays, etc. The main character of this story is Pinochio, an animated marionette carved from a block of enchanted wood by Geppetto, a poor rural woodcarver. Pinocchio is a mischievous puppet who wishes to be a human. Through his life, he meets numerous troubles that lead him to tell lies in order to solve his problems. Each time he tells a lie, his nose grows longer and longer. He learns from the Blue Angel that to be successful in achieving his desires, he should not lie anymore. As a reward, he eventually becomes a real boy.

Many artists have been inspired by the several schemata of the poem and in their works have created unique representations: artists such as Iranian poet Bahareh Rezayee and American graphic designer Christopher Jackson.



 Poet: BaharehRezayee

Translator: Morteza Lak

To my dear papa Geppetto

With love and hatred!

Pinocchio's essence is the "wood of humanity"


Having you sandpapered my face.

I’m over now,

Hi dad!

I’m here

To be your Pinocchio the liar...

You’d set my heart properly,

It worked like a clock

Fell in love every now and then,

Even With the blue angel

Who was watching me all the time.

Just like the fantasies of Hollywood

But all audienceless,

My story had begun, dad!

I sold my sweet dreams

To buy you some diet sugar,

To rid you of diabetes,

And to stop your eyeglasses

Going thicker….

No sorrow, dad!

True, I will never incarnate,

And my nose

Will go longer day by day,

Yet, I pledge

To leap myself into the fireplace

When you feel cold.



“Love” and “Hatred” in Rezayee’s title refers to the ambivalence which has structured the world of poem. Love and Hatred, here, exist not in contrast with each other, but rather as two contiguous terms which complete each other. Since Papa Geppetto is the creator of Pinocchio, the narrator-as-Pinochio has equated Geppetto’s position with God. In a normal father-son relationship, it would be expected that Pinocchio should both love his father/God and resent and resist his authority. The paratexts, the quotation by Croce and the poem’s title, seem to reinforce that notion by suggesting the thematic schemata “Humanity is Pinocchio” and “Humanity’s destiny is Pinocchio’s destiny.” Pinocchio’s fate in the conclusion of the story could be read in two ways: 1) he may be reincarnated in a fully human form or 2) he may be recreated simply in his dreams and not in real world. All the entities, from objects to human beings, have been over and united with the nature, the soil.

“Having you sandpapered my face” in line 1 does not only point to the suffering in the narrator-as-Pinochio’s life, but also refers to the creation of his new identity. The implication is that to become an individual one must suffer, in the words of the narrator-as-Pinochio, being “sandpapered--” suffering and tolerating life’s troubles in order to become a complete identity and at the same time a changed one.

“I‘m over now” in the second line refers to moving from one developmental phase (a block of enchanted wood) into another (becoming a puppet) and later into another (becoming human), each phase a variety of rebirth. Being “over” not only means being completed (changed in form) but also signifies within this frame of meaning the permanent end of each particular phase.

The ambivalence of the title is mapped on the end of the poem to make a dual reading. Love is revealed in the surface structure, while hatred is built into the deep structure.

So the fireplace has associated with the hell, the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death. Pinocchio leaped himself into the fireplace to warm his father/God in the surface structure of the poem, but to be punished for his sins in the deep structure.

Since Pinocchio is famous due to his lies, his naive and self-serving actions, and his impulse toward self-destruction, so the fireplace and the hell are blended together to show his life. The response to the question about Pinocchio’s hatred toward his dad could be decoded through the meaning of the fireplace, here. 

The narrator/Pinocchio is criticizing the philosophy of being, living, suffering for the promise of heaven and punishing in the hell. He hates the structure of such a nonsense world. Pinocchio's salvation (redemption), according to the narrator notes, is rather realized by his annihilation than any transmutation from one being to another. However, a various number of artists are inspired of Pinocchio in their works. Rezayee has selected that part of the story which indicates Pinocchio’s suffering through his life. Then, in her poem, she has mapped that part on the human’s suffering and has projected the fireplace as the essence of the world. She has not even considered any salvation for the human as puppet. Rather she has imagined two sorts of hells in the life: firstly, during Pinocchio’s living as a puppet, secondly, after his death as a puppet (entering a new phase of life). So, in the narrator’s point of view, good fate is a dream for reaching the next phase, deferring the salvation to the no existed future (next phase).

Though Christopher Jackson has mapped a different part of Pinocchio’s story on his poster in terms of his different points of view. He has focused on mental fertility and productivity of a human being and drawn a brown horizontal line with a grown leaf which signifies Pinocchio’s nose. It is a metonymy of Pinocchio himself which begins to be longer due to being similar to a tree. In fact, the wooden nose does not only refer to the Pinocchio’s telling lies in our presupposition, but also refer to a growing tree. In Jackson’s view, this image expresses a story about Pinocchio’s nose sprouted. That is Pinocchio’s existence as a big and advantageous lie is developed and spread over the world. On other words, the creation of the human being is a big and fortunate lie sprouted continuously leading to civilization. The suffering space is omitted from this poster’s domain due to not being Jackson’s issue. Another reading of this poster could be based on the transmutation from one being to another. Pinocchio has move from being a log to a growing tree, from insensitive to a sensitive entity, from uncivilized to civilized individual, from wood to a tree, while in Rezayee’s poem, the movement is from being sensitive to insensitive, from an entity to a log. In both art works, there is a mental journey, but in two different ways: the journey in the poem is from being a puppet to being a human and finally a log. It is metaphorically the human’s life path from birth to death. In the poster there is a journey from cold, solid, barren, insensitive and exhausting world to a warm, growing, sensitive and enjoyable world. The growing nose as the metonymy of Pinocchio refers to spreading life, being green and productive like a tree, being patient for preferred development and rejecting solidity and prejudice.

This poster has translated semiotically just the positive features of being Pinocchio in contrast with the poem; that is, productivity, dynamicity and being modified through a process. According to the poster, the only salvation of Pinocchio is not being a human and working in a farm, but is productivity and dynamicity. Based on the poster, if we suppose Pinocchio as a metaphor of human being’s different phases in life, what might save him is his belief in being a tree and growing, his belief in breaking the barren and wooden limits, changing them into rooted situations which could change the society?


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