Michael Chabon, in an elegiac essay in the new edition of the New York Review of Books, rues the loss of the “Wilderness of Childhood” – the unparented, unfenced, only partially mapped territory that was once the scene of youth. It is by now an old theme, but he gives it a vigorous workout:
As the national feeling of guilt over the extermination of the Indians led to the creation of a kind of cult of the Indian, so our children have become cult objects to us, too precious to be risked. At the same time they have become fetishes, the objects of an unhealthy and diseased fixation. And once something is fetishized, capitalism steps in and finds a way to sell it.
Huck Finn, now fully under the thumb of Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas, spends his unscheduled time wandering the fabricated landscapes of World of Warcraft, seeking adventure.