The Wonkavator started in late summer 2006 because I was bored and kept finding random beer caps strewn around the contours of my apartment like stale New Years’ eve confetti and decided I might as well immortalize my drunken larks by plastering them inside the interior of my kitchen cupboard so every time I flapped open the lethargic eyelids of the diminutive doors above my sink in idle search of a clean coffee cup I would be nominally greeted with a favorable acrostic connoting all things hoppy and beechwood aged. I became a daily drinker in May 2005 but the Wonkavator was my way of justifying the realization that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was an aesthetic connoisseur, an aficionado of quality ales. That I could jive beer-speak jargon with the best craftsmen in the country even while I was tippling out of control.
At its height there was close to 2000 different beer caps, each one chugged by a certain impecunious author with an overstuffed manuscript and an intractable liver, doting the interior of my kitchen cabinets like unblinking eyelids or failed political campaign buttons.
Don't fuck with me when it comes to Willy Wonka.
When I left my apartment and moved back to West Peoria in early 2009 the Wonkavator was officially retired although I kept the beer caps in a vacant coffee can and once (when I was drunk and going through a serious Carl Jung phase) made a mandala out of them.
The Killians my friend Scarlet planted outside my door on St. Patrick's day and told me it was from a Leprachaun.
The Shiner Bock I stole from my friend Matt Brown's fridge in Dallas when I was 19 and smuggled on the flight back home.
There was the numerical cap derived from the Fullers 1845 bitter which I drank in the spring of 2007 which just destroys me. The feral feline coating the top of LION stout (from Sri Lanka) which was indelible. The Utenos cap which looks like it comes replete with a zipper. The New Belgium Fat Tire which I submit is completely overrated nutty and disgusting, like using a fecal sample in lieu of mouthwash (and also a testament to keen marketing).
Each cap seemed to be endowed with its own narrative. Each cap seemed to ferry its own story. Like the buttons on Willy Wonka's elevator, each beer cap reeled me slantways to a lost epoch of the past.
Since this forty days is an inward quest for enlightenment as well as it is a heavenly hiatus from alcoholic nirvana here is my own personal rendering of the hero’s quest via THE MOVIE version of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (I’m using Robert Bly’s IRON JOHN as a reference since that’s the closest epistle I have of a working Jungian text with me at work as I write this)…
We enter the journey just a little bit blind and not possessing the foresight to anticipate knowing what is ahead harboring the hopes that we might see again, or as Joesph Campbell eloquently notes referencing a grail legend,
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else's path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else's way,
you are not going to realize
The earthly paradise of the chocolate room is not only the realm of pure imagination it is the womb of unlimited human potential. It is the garden of Eden where dreams sprout from the sugary soil of infinite possibility. This room is emblematic of an artists' "epiphanic calling" a spiritual catharsis or vision or moment of ecstatic awakening experienced early (and briefly) in the artist's career.
It is this vision of paradise that compels the artist to create. But in order to create he must again be re-born. The grotesque 'tunnel' scene is a re-enactment of rebirth, the tenebrous chunneling of following Persephone into the inscrutable wink of the underworld. The male initiation amidst the cave paintings at Les Tres Frere. Christ being buried for three days in order to rise again.
Once entering the underworld there are many trials Charlie and his vestigial cohorts endure. They find themselves privy to a type of alchemical magic where metal is altered and dreams are reborn in cumulus wisps of longing.
While being shuffled through the dream-like cogs and labyrinth of the factory they are given the gift of eternity matrix-molecule of an everlasting gobstopper.
As Stephen Daedalus notes in Ulysees, Am I walking into eternity along sandymount strand?" As Joseph Campbell pontificates, "“The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. Heaven is not the place to have the experience; here is the place to have the experience,” or as this impecunious wayfaring writer christened a blogg after a little known Wittgenstein quote, "If eternity is understood not by temporal duration but by timelessness, than he who lives in the present lives eternally."
In other words, each of us are freely given eternity here on earth although we have a hard time discerning it (mainly due to the sociological vicissitudes).
Slowly they begin to witness the music makers. The fumbling of frivolity. The dreamer of a single dream.
My favorite scene (from Jungian perspective) transpires when Charlie and Granpa Joe defy Willy Wonka's mandate and sip from the forbidden Fizzy-lifting
drink as Robert Bly notes, "Young men when lifted up may become white swans, grandiose ascenders, "flying boys," just as young women similarly when lifted up become flying girls and both make love with invisible people at high altitude. (i.e., see Puer Aeternus)...flying people, giddily spiritual, do not inhabit their own bodies well, and are open to terrible shocks of abandonment; they are unable to accept limitations and are averse to a certain boring quality native to human life."
Unlike Icarus, it is the human element (music, the anatomical burp, fortissimo of flatulence) that saves Granpa Jo and Charlie.
We all yearn to sip something that is forbidden.
We all yearn to fly.