Ludwig II of Bavaria was also called the Fairy Tale King because he was obsessed with building castles. He avoided politics and lived in his own fantasy world; this, along with his pathological shyness, caused others to diagnose him as insane. He didn’t care about practical things, like his kingship or his extravagant debt; he only cared about Wagner music, theatre, and castles. He died mysteriously, of what appeared to be a suicide drowning, though no water was found in his lungs. He probably wasn’t actually insane, but he might have been a werewolf.
The first nightmare I remember having was about talking wolves surrounding me in a cold, empty castle. I woke up right as one of them was about to bite off my ear. For this reason, I have had a lifelong fear of wolves, and consequently, I have feared the woods. Mostly I think I am afraid of being lost. The very concept of lostness is frightening. Especially lostness in the woods, though. As a child, “lost” and “woods” were synonymous. I have a peculiarly good memory, but I am very bad at remembering where I am. To be lost in the woods would be death, and wolves could very well be involved.
I enjoy thinking about what it would have felt like to live in Paris in 1450, when a whole pack of man-eating wolves was stalking the community and killing people off. There’s a sort of magic in thinking about the things that scared you the most as a child.
What I like about King Ludwig II is that, even though he had real-world power, he was more interested in having power over a fantasy world. He would be thrilled to know that Disney World modeled the Sleeping Beauty castle after one of his own designs. I have never cared much about fantasy worlds, but pretty colors have always been paramount to my mental and emotional status. Cakes were not cakes if the icing was not a pretty color. When I think about my inner self or how I like to mentally exist, I think about pink glistening bubbles flying through the air. Yes, they pop. The reason why purple is my favorite color is that Mary Poppins rode on a purple carousel horse. That shade of purple is still my favorite.
One of Ludwig’s cousins asserted that he wasn’t really insane. He was a creative introvert, just an eccentric daydreamer occupied by his own flights of fancy. Thus, random castles kept popping up in Germany.