Existential Comics gave me a laugh this morning when most quasi-political attempts at humor have failed, and I suspect this one was in the works before last week’s upheaval anyway.
We read “Das Kapital” in college, but I don’t remember much about Marx’s personal life. On the other hand, I have encountered this monomoniacal True Believer over and over, and I’d have laughed at this anytime.
It’s just a little more ridiculous at the moment.
My experience is that political extremists — left or right — share a childlike tendency towards magical thinking, the same sort of belief system that makes an eight-year-old think that, if only he’d picked up his toys regularly, Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t be getting divorced.
Post-puberty, it’s a little more maturely exhibited as a binary belief system in which one side is completely right and the other side is completely wrong.
An example would be a missionary nun in South America who, realizing how the government has been exploiting the peasants, becomes convinced that the rebels are therefore totally righteous and begins helping them smuggle guns. (This example is fact-based, but I don’t remember details except that the rebels were Shining Path.)
That is a nicer way of explaining it than saying political extremists share the trait of having very tight asses, but there’s your shorter means of expressing the same observation: Honor students morph into Weathermen.
The negative, in campus politics and I think beyond that, was that the over-the-top nonsense espoused by these folks tended to drive away potential allies of a more moderate temperament.
It also produced some odd outcomes: We had an injunction hearing on campus that named a dozen students and sought to keep them from gathering in the administration building, but the only one the administration could show to pose an actual threat was a knucklehead who, interviewed by the local TV station, said that, if nobody listened, “maybe we’ll have to break some windows.”
The result was that the injunction was only upheld against him, so that he was legally enjoined against gathering with himself, whatever the hell that means.
Speaking of people with set agendas, this Will McPhail cartoon from the New Yorker got a smile in part because I’ve started hearing from these folks again recently, and in part because the New Yorker has gotten into a pattern of gentle self-congratulatory whimsy lately, and it’s good to see some more pointed criticism again, for a change.
It used to be a mix: They celebrated upscale whimsy for years with an ad featuring a cartoon with a tanker truck of chardonnay cruising the suburbs, but they also, for example, had a cartoon with some wealthy white folks sitting around singing “Ole Man Ribber” in blissfully vacuous dialect.
It was hip for awhile to trash children — “sprogs” and “anklebiters” — then it wasn’t, and now I’m hearing it come back a bit, so McPhail is offering criticism of a revival I wish would fail.
I mean, if you don’t want kids, for god’s sake, and certainly for the kids’ sake, don’t have them.
But we were issued naughty bits for a reason and you can expect a little criticism for going against the societal default.
BTW, McPhail was smart to feature a guy, in order to make it a light, funny critique of shallowness rather than a woman, which would have dragged in some heavier expectations.
Juxtaposition of the Day
And this New Yorker cartoon does fall under the category of gentle self-congratulatory whimsy, as does Maria Scrivan’s piece, but that’s an appropriate way to discuss the issue of dressing up dogs.
My considerable experience with dogs is that they either like winter, are indifferent to it or hate it, and that they feel the same way about clothing.
I had one dog who thought wearing clothes was hilarious and would prance around and play the fool in a T-shirt, but I had another who assumed he was being punished and would refuse to move at all while dressed.
I’ve also had dogs who dutifully trudged behind me in the snow, but then raced back to the car as soon as I turned around, and dogs who frolicked happily in the stuff.
These factors never matched up the way they should have, so that dressing the dogs who hated snow only added to their misery, while it did nothing for the ones who enjoyed being out there anyway.
My new pup is an ecdysiast. She owns three jackets and can be out of any of them within 20 feet of the car.
Dan Thompson treads a narrow path in this Brevity (AMS): His intended audience is intellectual enough to know who wrote “The Jungle” and yet downhome enough to recognize Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley. (For my part, I always confuse the Sinclair brothers, Upton and Lewis.)
Make that slice of the pie any thinner, you’ll be able to read the comic through it.
But I like to see a cartoonist reach a little. Better than watching them play it safe all the time.
And, besides, sometimes a dumb joke is just what you need. There are so many logical flaws in this Argyle Sweater (AMS) that any kind of analysis would simply kill the gag.
Suspend and enjoy.
Though lordamighty I have no idea what to do with this past Sunday’s Luann (AMS) and I can’t help analyzing it.
That is, I think I get the joke, but I can’t figure out the other joke, the more G-rated explanation to avoid Mrs. Grundy going through the roof.
Maybe there isn’t one. For the past several weeks, Bernice has been no longer portrayed as the intellectual voice of reason but, rather, as a repressed figure out of DH Lawrence, ever since Mrs. D gave her a bodice-ripper to read.
Maybe Mrs. D was projecting a little middle-aged frustration over the fact that the need for firmness and uplift in her marriage is no longer confined to her cheekbones.
Anyway, Bernice is now having highly symbolic, erotic dreams and, in her waking hours, lusting after men-of-the-soil types.
Like, y’know . . .