CSotD: Explanations

Pia Guerra is not the first person to observe that keeping kids locked up in concentration camps or guest cages or whatever you call them is a great deal more expensive than makes sense.

However, she is the first I’ve seen to take advantage of the “Picture is Worth 1,000 Words” rule, and that is, after all, what cartoonists are supposed to do: Translate an argument into images so that more people will get it.

And let me note that an argument does not have to be two people yelling at each other. It can simply be a well-formed expression of opinion, similar to the usage of “apology” in Socrates’s Apology in which he most certainly didn’t express a whole lot of regret.

Her use of a scanned image to verify her point is admirable, and I say that because I’m about to use the same technique myself.

This isn’t aimed at any particular cartoonist except that I’ve already seen the Biblical passage misused in two cartoons and I’d like to nip it – nip it – in the bud.

That is from the American Heritage Dictionary, and I particularly like the Macaulay quote, which is a nice bit of serendipity given the topic covered in Guerra’s cartoon and this oft-misconstrued passage from the King James Bible:

I’m not sure why anyone would think that Jesus was calling upon little children to be made to feel pain or distress etc etc, but it’s an archaic translation that is, today, nearly always more plainly rendered.

So stop misquoting the Bible to make your point.

Only registered Christians are permitted to do that.


Though they are also permitted to simply pull terms out of their nether regions, as demonstrated in today’s Candorville. 

And speaking of people coming up with creative ways to justify what they are unable, or unwilling, to resist, I ran into a great quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer in my reading last night, the context being that it’s 1933 and, while nobody is being sent to “comfy camps” yet, it’s becoming difficult to pretend you can’t see what’s going on:

If you board the wrong train, it’s no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.

And yet how we try.

By the way, it is not always necessary to be clever and inventive to make the point that must be made, and sometimes, cleverness simply gets in the way of a message that would be more effectively made in plain terms.

As one of our more clever and inventive editorial cartoonists demonstrates.

It’s not just knowing how to be clever and inventive that matters. It’s also knowing when.


Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?

Let’s lighten up the conversation, if not the menu.

Here’s an explanation prompted by a particular New Yorker cartoon by Roz Chast, a particular New Yorker cartoonist whom I particularly admire but who demonstrates here why people in New York City should come to New England more often.

There, you’ll find that their old-timey breakfasts often include pie, though not cake.

Because you can’t be archaic and eat it, too.

They still start their mornings heartily in New England, and, once you get out of the city, which is no longer Dahl’s Boston

… doggonit …

… you will find baked beans on the breakfast menu at most places not confined by distant, corporate ownership.

If you’re really in Yankee country, you’ll get a slice of apple pie for breakfast as well, and some real oatmeal, not that wallpaper paste they sell other places. And eggs, yes, and ham, and home fries and either toast and jelly or a stack of pancakes.

That wasn’t a list of choices. If you pick a good diner, they’ll have to set some of your breakfast over on the next table.

When people like Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg and C.W. Post began pushing vegetarianism and corn flakes, it was in reaction to those hearty, heart-stopping breakfasts.

And I suspect if they’d only pushed vegetarianism and corn flakes, instead of including temperance and chastity in the mix, they might have gotten farther.

In any case, if you go to Northampton, Mass., you’ll find a very popular restaurant there named for local hero Sylvester Graham, and, if you don’t mind searching for a parking spot and then waiting an hour or so for a table, you can dig into an excellent menu that would give Graham a massive case of the collywobbles.

Though simply strolling through Northampton today would probably kill him anyway.


There are several places — well, Five, anyway — in the Northampton area where you can study Existentialism, or you could simply go to Existential Comics for the current lecture by Jean-Paul Sartre.

And it does sound like a wonderful philosophy, sophomore year. Sophomores are all existentialists. Yes, even the Smithies.

I’ll let you go read the full comic for a more immediate disillusionment, and more laughs, than you would — or did — get by studying it in real time.


On a lighter note

Tim Rickard must have been to a 60s Movie Festival, because he’s currently riffing on musical montages in Brewster Rockit.

I think we can blame the Czechs for this, though the Wikipedia article on their New Wave doesn’t mention montages.

But they broke up the screen into little breakout panels and did a whole lot of other things which were great as inventive concepts but then became de rigueur and went from that to simply being tiresome.

I thought the technique was charming and effective in “Charly, the Cliff Robertson/Claire Bloom adaptation of “Flowers for Algernon,” and it was adapted extraordinarily well for the chess scene in (the real) “Thomas Crown Affair,” but that stupid bicycle montage brought “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to a screeching halt (though the NYC montage later in the film wasn’t bad).

Anyway, it’s working for Brewster.

And note that he used both the montage and the little breakout panels.


(If montage lasts for more than four hours, see your doctor.)


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