Friday, February 02, 2007

Hobbesian Friday, Wanton Indulgence of Animals Edition

I'm going to try and start a new tradition here at Nerd Country, with the introduction of "Hobbesian Friday". Every week I'll post a favorite "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon that is in some way relevant to current affairs, and maybe post a little commentary on it.

(Click for a larger version)

I'd say this one pretty much sums up me and Annie. Calvin and I stand on a hill, pontificating about various philosophies and our relationship to the rest of the universe, and then start flinging snowballs at passersby as we revert to "Seven Year Old" mode. Meanwhile the much wiser Annie/Hobbes points out that the only true happiness comes from the wanton indulgence of animals (specifically, one presumes, Annie and Hobbes themselves).

It's been so long since "Calvin and Hobbes" stopped its run (more than a decade ago now) that I think we forget just how great it was, on a consistent basis. There's nothing else on the comics page today that even comes close to the level of artistry Watterson displayed day in and day out. These strips are just as relevant, just as funny, just as unique today as when they were published.

I also find the strip relevant to the subjects I cover on this blog. Religion from the historical John Calvin, founder of Calvinism, juxtaposed with purely mechanical political and social engineering from Thomas Hobbes, mixed in with super-heroes, science fiction, dinosaurs, and the absolute absence of any kind of filter between brain and mouth -- me and this blog in a nutshell.

People characterize Hobbes as Calvin's conscience, and there's a lot of truth to that. But he's more -- as in this strip, Hobbes to me represents our animal nature. Not in the negative sense that the modern era has ascribed to that description, but in its best sense -- Hobbes represents all that animals have to teach us, in their wisdom and maturity and single-minded focus on the next meal. They're the perfect couple for showing us what's best (and worst) in our natures, that wide-eyed childlike ability to see the possibilities that lie beyond this thin veil of "reality" and the grounded animal with both feet firmly rooted in the practical now.

Plus, they're wicked funny, and without humor life's just not all that worth it.

I hope you enjoy "Hobbesian Friday" here at Nerd Country. Have a good weekend!


Anonymous said...

Cool idea and well put.

As soon as this particular toon started to come up it flashed whole in my mind, I didn't have to wait for my dial-up to load it. I remember it well, and my own feelings it echoed at the time. If only we could all indulge our inner animal a little more freely in harmless innocence :) Just once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I actually have a column written about Calvin and Hobbes and how much I miss them. Calvin may come off as a terror, but in reality, he's that dreamer inside of all of us, who regrets when he does something wrong, cries for injustice and hungers for revenge. When he zips off into his Spaceman world and dogs ole Susie, the snowmen scenes he creates, when he hides from the bully and mourns the loss of life, you can't help but love this kid. And that father with his wonderful words of wisdom! I miss you, Calvin. Come back and play!! Thanks, Jeff, for bringing ole Calvin back. -- Denise