Monday, October 13, 2008

But, of Course, There Is No Spoon

Vote, Canadians. Vote like the wind.

In the meantime:

The Family Circus is truly appearing six hundred years after its time. At its best, this one-panel cartoon acts as a fascinating window into the mores of the medieval world. Today's comic does not disappoint. Though it may appear to the twenty-first-century reader to be a trite bit of cutesy sentiment couched in utter nonsense, in reality, it is a piece of medieval philosophy so profound that it brings tears--actual tears--to my eyes. This panel, my friends, is a veritable masterpiece of obsolescence.

"Oops!" cries little Jeffy. "My spoon left me." The breathtaking simplicity of this utterance disguises its many layers of meaning. In lamenting the loss of his spoon, Jeffy is pointing out the impermanence of all material things. His spoon "leaves" him just as all his earthly trappings will one day also "leave" him. Like the eponymous hero of Everyman, Jeffy will ultimately be abandoned by all but his good deeds, which will indeed go with him to the grave; his spoon will remain behind. The moment of clarity captured in the comic panel highlights the boy's recognition of his own mortality and acceptance of the principles of mutability that govern life on earth.

Look also at the featureless void that dominates the entire right half of the panel. The artist (Jeff Keane himself!) pictures Jeffy as staring into the abyss that threatens to overwhelm him. His "spoon" has become one with this abyss, which represents the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Seven Deadlies wait for Jeffy in that blankness, lurking near the spoon that figures his temptation. In resisting the spoon, he will be resisting the sin. Jeffy, in fact, must "leave" his spoon, spurning its Satanic lure. If he is able to recoil from the void, he will be spoonless but well on the way to eventual salvation.

Jeff and Bil Keane are true philosophers. It is a pity they were born in such an inappropriate century.


3 comments:

Skullturf Q. Beavispants said...

I like this exclamation "Wei!" which has appeared at least twice now on your blog, as a translation of "Oops!'

That's always an interesting part of a language, and sometimes something they forget to teach you in class. What do you say for "Ouch!" or "Darn it!" or "D'oh!"

Angry Kem said...

I've had some fun searching for cool interjections. I haven't happened upon an exact equivalent of "Oops!" yet ("Wei!" means, roughly, "Ah!" or "Oh!" or "Alas!"), but I've learned some nice little words. Other equivalents of "wei" are "aa," "o," "alas" (or "helas") and "awei." There's also "eale," which seems to be kind of early (it's really an Old English word) and means something like, "Oh! Why!" It also sounds as if it should have given rise to "alas," but it didn't; "alas" came from the French.

I like words.

DaviMack said...

I'm also appreciating the "wei!" exclamation. It's just ... somehow very appropriate. Kinda reminds me of "waily waily" (Terry Pratchett).