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Pinocchio

From the beginning to today

Created in 1883, by the mind of Italian writer Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio has become a sort of rebel and phallic symbol over time, mainly due to his best-known characteristic: the nose. It grows in length when he is under stress, especially while lying — this appears in chapter XVI of the original novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. Collodi himself, in Note gaie claims how “to hide the truth of a speculum animae — mirror of the soul — face is added to the true nose another papier-mache nose”.

The abundance of jokes and popular superstitions concerning the symbolic equivalence between nose and penis justifies speculation on the matter in Pinocchio’s case. The question is how much to make of it. Jung’s statement that the penis is only a phallic symbol is much to the point here. When, no sooner than it has been formed, Pinocchio’s nose lengthens inordinately and, it would seem, voluntarily, while a frantic Geppetto keeps cutting it back, the nose may be taken as a phallic symbol of aggressive self-assertion rather than mere sexuality.

Collodi originally intended the story, which was first published in 1881, to be a tragedy. Pinocchio’s enemies, the Fox and the Cat, bind his arms, pass a noose around his throat, and hang him from the branch of an oak tree. A real execution of an existence who Collodi describes as a “rascal,” “imp,” “scapegrace,” “disgrace,” “ragamuffin,” and “confirmed rogue,” with even his father, carpenter Geppetto, referring to him as a “wretched boy.”

Upon being born, Pinocchio immediately laughs derisively in his creator’s face, whereupon he steals the old man’s wig. His bad behavior, rather than being charming or endearing, is meant to serve as a warning. An intention that today appears definitely upside down.

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