Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bible Stories for Our Friend Noght

Is it just me, or does Zero strike everybody as the most refreshingly imaginative character in Beetle Bailey? Unlike Sarge, Beetle, Killer, and the rest, Zero tends to think outside the box. Sure, he can be seen as sticking within his stereotype--Beetle is Lazy, Sarge is Violent, Killer is Lustful, Zero is Stupid--but in Zero's naive approach to the world is a child's boundless creativity. Why, he asks today, do we complain of days without sunshine? Are there nights without darkness? If day and night are utterly opposed, how can we possibly have days without the sun? Wouldn't such days be nights? Would nights without darkness be days? When the sun hides behind clouds, can it actually be said to be "gone"? If it were, wouldn't it be night? Isn't "day" more than the mere apparent absence of sun? If there is no sun, why is there light?*

Ah, Zero...sweet Zero. Your words clearly constitute a medieval-style leading question designed by the "lerned" to teach the "lewed" about the Bible. Look how perfectly Zero's query sets up a discussion about Genesis 1:4-5, in which God separates the light from the darkness, calling the former "day" and the latter "night." God doesn't separate the sunshine from the darkness...oh, no. Day is light; night is dark. We can't have a whole night without darkness because the darkness is night! And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Zero's question may seem foolish, but it contains more potential for wisdom than Beetle's griping. Silly Beetle: there are no days without sunshine. The sun is always there, lurking just on the other side of the clouds. Follow the Philosophy of Zero, Beetle. It will teach you how to survive the unchanging, stereotype-clogged landscape that constitutes your world.

**Yes, I have had this footnote before. I shall have this footnote again. Get used to this footnote.


D Hurst said...

Zero speaks in riddle! Perhaps he channels the scribe of the Exeter Book--or, perhaps the foibles of the denizens of Beetle Bailey are modern versions of the poems and riddles of that ancient MS? A tad prior to Middle English, but worthy of discussion anyway, perhaps.

Angry Kem said...

d hurst: It would be great if one day Zero just stood in the middle of the mess hall and said something like: "I breathe, and yet I do not live. My skin is soft and malleable beneath flame but rigid and unbendable in darkness. Some love to stroke me on my belly; others cannot bear my touch. Who am I?"

I bet that would get a good response from the enlisted men.

Jessica said...

Perhaps I rode in on the short bus, but I am mystified as to how "Forty-two" annotates the question "If there is no sun, why is there light?"

Is forty-two the number of bottles of beer on the wall?

Angry Kem said...

You didn't ride in on the short bus; you just don't know your Douglas Adams. "Forty-two" is the Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It's just too bad that no one knows what the Question itself is. The only way to come close to figuring it out is to go around applying the Answer to various random questions in order to see if it fits. It never does, but it's still quite fun to do.

Jana C.H. said...

Jessica-- Forty-two is the number of roads that a man must walk down. A woman must walk down eighty-four in order to get credit for twenty-one.

Angry Kem, is that wisecrack medieval? Or older?

Jana C.H.
Saith Floss Forbes: If you don't know the tune, sing tenor.

Angry Kem said...

Jana: I believe that joke first appeared in Sumerian in the marginalia of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Jessica said...

Thank you. I am now properly schooled.

Jana C.H. said...

Does Gilgamesh mention that she has to walk down those roads backwards in spike heels?

Carrying a toddler.

A screaming toddler.

Jana C.H.
Saith Lily Tomlin: The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat.

Angry Kem said...

Jana: No, but it mentions diapers somewhat obliquely.

dmontag said...

According to "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe", the Ultimate Question is:


Of course, since we're talking about Douglas Adams, 6*9 != 42

Angry Kem said...

dmontag: That is, in fact, the Ultimate Question produced via prehistoric Scrabble tiles and distorted by the subconscious mind of an entity not meant to be part of the original computer program. Have I read those books too many times? Yes, I have!

Brian said...

... and removed from the computer matrix ten minutes before the program finished running, don't forget. (I always liked to imagine that the last ten minutes were going to be spent with the computer managing to refine the question until it got to "What do you get when you multiply six by seven?" whereupon it would report its successful output to the mice, who no doubt would then have given up trying to understand things and forever more.)

I can't figure out the riddle in #2. What's the answer??

Angry Kem said...

Brian: Re. the riddle: no idea. I was just generally parodying the Anglo-Saxon riddles. I suppose that was really quite cruel of me.