May 8, 2017

"It turns out that the characters in your favorite TV shows and the like are actually dead, dreaming, dying or don't exist."

I enjoyed this episode of Stuff You Should Know, "Some Nutso Fan Theories."

I was not previously aware of the Tommy Westphall Universe. Nor had I heard the detailed evidence that "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" actually take place at the same time. (Why do the Flintstones celebrate Christmas when Jesus was born after the Stone Age?)

And I was motivated to go in search of Dark Garfield and found "The Scariest Comic Of All Time Is A ‘Garfield’ Story From 1989." Did you know that story led some people to theorize that the comics character Garfield is alone and starving and all those strips about him being fat and eating lot were hallucinations*? For the record, the artist (Jim Davis) has laughed at the theory, but you could theorize that's exactly what he'd do if the theory were true and he wanted to keep it secret.

I love things like this, playing with theories without needing them to be true. It's like a game I invented for my sons when they were little, What If You Had To Argue. The point to be argued wasn't true. It was just fun to think of evidence and explain why it would support the proposition.

____________________

* Reminds me of "The Little Match Girl."

26 comments:

tcrosse said...

"Doctor, is it true that I don't exist?"
"Who wants to know ?"

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It's like a game I invented for my sons when they were little, What If You Had To Argue. The point to be argued wasn't true...

Inflicting Con Law on young children is probably a form of child abuse.

Sebastian said...

"playing with theories without needing them to be true." We've noticed.

"It was just fun to think of evidence and explain why it would support the proposition." Who needs evidence? If you don't need "theories" to be "true," it's even more fun to dispense with evidence to "support" a "proposition." Instead, you could just focus on esthetics or originality or political convenience or logical coherence or emotional resonance with a jury. Come to think of it, quite a few people in public life and in law play with "theories" that way.

Read and Enjoy said...

Ah, so . You recognize fiction as a breed apart from made up real stories. Now we are getting somewhere. Did you hear the one about a man made Global Warming catastrophe.

Ann Althouse said...

"Inflicting Con Law on young children is probably a form of child abuse."

A good proposition to use if you want to try playing this game yourself would be: Playing this game with children is child abuse.

Ann Althouse said...

""playing with theories without needing them to be true." We've noticed. It was just fun to think of evidence and explain why it would support the proposition." Who needs evidence? If you don't need "theories" to be "true," it's even more fun to dispense with evidence to "support" a "proposition." Instead, you could just focus on esthetics or originality or political convenience or logical coherence or emotional resonance with a jury. Come to think of it, quite a few people in public life and in law play with "theories" that way."

People who don't enjoy playing with theories are, to me, boring. Do you never read science fiction or fantasy? Do you fail to miss the point of satire (like, e.g., "A Modest Proposal")?

CJinPA said...

For another take on Garfield, try "Garfield Minus Garfield."

Powerful!

http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

Oso Negro said...

The Little Match Girl! A story inflicted upon me as a child in a vain attempt to inculcate empathy and compassion. Thank God, I managed to avoid it!

YoungHegelian said...

Garfield: A Straussian Reading.

Please, professor, don't give anyone any ideas!

Ann Althouse said...

"For another take on Garfield, try "Garfield Minus Garfield.""

I've blogged that before and it is talked about in the podcast linked here. It's very good.

Wilbur said...

Paul is dead. Really.

Guildofcannonballs said...

What's wrong with child ab use anyway?

Abdominal muscles can come in handy when attempting physical activities, can they not?

I used my abs when I was younger and so I guarantee no one is gonna be washing any damn clothes on them for some reason, like I am an object and not a person; they function perfectly well because of hypertrophy.

DanTheMan said...

Q: Hey, man... what if we are all figments of our own imaginations, which doesn't exist to imagine us anyway?
A: Put down the bong, and go to bed.

Unknown said...

3eanuts is also an interesting idea: Three panels of Charles Shulz's "Peanuts" without the final 4th panel (Peanuts had a mandatory 4 panel format for much of its run as some papers would print it as a 2x2 grid box).

I find it works better on earlier ones.

Unknown said...

As in here.

Virtually Unknown said...

What if you had to argue that it wasn't Hillary's fault that she lost the election?

Ann Althouse said...

The game won't be any fun if the propositions to be argued aren't intriguing or delightful. It's not easy to start the game. You can't just use it as a way of expressing your disapproval of a political idea. Then it's just like an ordinary debate where you begin believing pro or con and you assign others to be the debaters you think you can demolish.

In the game, nobody argues the other side. Your game play is evaluated by how interesting and entertaining you have been. It's possible occasionally to actually hit upon and argument that flips the whole game and proves the seemingly unprovable proposition. I'll always remember the time one of my sons proved the unprovable, when I made the proposition "What if you had to argue that the water in this glass" — a yellow plastic glass — "is yellow."

I like the "what if you had to argue" phrasing because it creates a sense of urgency. Your life depends on it!!! Quick!

CJinPA said...

I've blogged that before and it is talked about in the podcast linked here. It's very good.

As soon as I posted that I tried to think of where I found it. This is not the first time with me that and interesting site/topic has come full circle, back to the blogger who tipped me off.

Sebastian said...

"People who don't enjoy playing with theories are, to me, boring." Same here. I enjoy it even more if the theories played with contain actual truth claims. My point did not question the value of "playing with theories" but the boring constraint of needing to find evidence when the theories don't need to be true. If you suspend the need for truth, other standards of judgment come into play, making the game more fun.

"Do you never read science fiction or fantasy?" I get plenty of theories that don't need to be true on this blog alone.

"Do you fail to miss the point of satire (like, e.g., "A Modest Proposal")?" I never fail to miss the point of satire. Or of anything. Except quantum mechanics and Buddhism. Honest.

gerry said...

I used my abs when I was younger and so I guarantee no one is gonna be washing any damn clothes on them for some reason, like I am an object and not a person; they function perfectly well because of hypertrophy.

I can wring out my wet laundry with my waistline.

Chris Lopes said...

My favorite TV related "what if" is what if Klink knew what Hogan was up to all along. It would explain much of his behavior, and he had no real incentive to expose Hogan once he discovered it. Admitting you had a spy/sabotage running out of your pow camp is a one way ticket to the concentration camp/firing squad of your choice.

Fernandinande said...

CJinPA said...
http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/


Excellent.

Here's my "Gallery of Garfield". Start with #5.

Birches said...

The St. Elsewhere bit was wacky.

Also, did I have playback issues? Sometimes, I'd hear an exchange after it just happened. Repeated. Super annoying.

CJinPA said...

Fernandinande said...

Nice. So much material to work with

Lewis Wetzel said...

The dead physically exist. They are buried somewhere, or burned to ashes, or crumbled to dust. Fictional characters have no physical existence. They can't be dead. They can't be alive, either.
Gene Wolf wrote a novel called Peace. It's a life told as a series of flashbacks experienced by an old man in a ramshackle house. The reader is never certain if the narrator is senile and alone or is actually a ghost. Wolf is that kind of writer, his stories are meant to make the reader a participant in the fiction. I suppose Wolf believes that is a metaphor for human existence.
The writer John Crowley has a similar style. In Little, Big Crowley writes about a man who marries into a family of what may be elves ("Midsummer's Night Dream" elves, not Tolkien elves). At the end he finds that of course they are elves -- and so is he, and all of our world is Elfland (or that's my interpretation, anyhow).

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