7-27-1978

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AlAl
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7-27-1978

Mensaje por AlAl el Jue 27 Jul 2017 - 0:00

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AlAl
Bocachánclez

Mensajes : 8785
Edad : 23
Localización : a13
Debut oficial : 19/12/2009

Re: 7-27-1978

Mensaje por AlAl el Jue 27 Jul 2017 - 0:00

07/27/1978



When I was 18... 18 years old, I saw for the first time in my life... I saw an image of clarity. I saw a comic strip... a three panel comic strip that, though simple as it seemed, changed me... changed my being, changed who I am... Made me who I am...

Enlightened me...

The strip, Garfield, the comic strip was new... no more than maybe a month and a half since inception, since... since coming into existence... and there it was before me in print, I saw it... a comic strip... What was it called?

Garfield.

The story here is of a man, a plain man. He is Jon, but he is more than that... I will get to this later, but first let us say that he's Jon, a plain man.

And then there is a cat... Garfield.

This is the nature of the world, here. When I see the world, the politics, the future, the... the satellites in space, and... the people who put them there...

You can look at everything as a man and a cat... two beings, in harmony and at war...

So, this strip I saw; this man, Jon, and the cat, Garfield, you see...

Yes... hmm...

It is about everything. This... little comic is, oh, lo and behold... not so little anymore.

So yes, when I was 18, I saw this comic... and it hit me all at once, its power. I clipped it, and every day, I looked at it, and I said "Okay... let me look at this here. What is this doing to me? Why is this so powerful?"

Jon Arbuckle, he sits here, legs crossed... comfortable in his home, and he reads his newspaper... The news of the world, perhaps... and then he extends his fingers lightly, delicately... he taps his fingers on an end table, and he feels for something...

What is it? It is something he needs, but it is not there.

And then he looks up, slightly cockeyed, and he thinks... His newspaper's in his lap now, and he thinks this...

Now where could my pipe be?

This... I always come to this, because I was a young man... I'm older now, and I still don't have the secrets, the answers, so this question still rings true, Jon looks up and he thinks...

Now where could my pipe be?

And then it happens... You see it, you see... it's almost like divine intervention, suddenly it is there, and it overpowers you...

A cat is smoking a pipe.

It is the man's pipe, it's Jon's pipe, but the cat... this cat, Garfield, is smoking the pipe... and from afar, and someplace near, but not clear... near but not clear... The man calls out... Jon calls out, he is shocked. "Garfield!" he shouts.

Garfield. The cat's name.

But, let's take a step back... let us examine this from all sides, all perspectives... and when I first came across this comic strip, I was at my father's house... a newspaper had arrived, and I picked it up for him, and brought it inside.

I organized its sections for him and then, yes, the comic strip section fell out from somewhere in the middle, and landed on the kitchen floor... I picked up the paper pages and saw, up somewhere near the top of this strip... just like Jon, I was wearing an aquamarine shirt.

So I thought, "Ah, interesting. I'll have to see this later." I snipped out the little comic, and held on to it... and five days later, I reexamined it... and it gripped me, I needed to find out more about this. The information I had was minimal, but enough...

An orange cat named Garfield...

Okay, that seemed to be the lynchpin of this whole operation, yes. Another clue... a signature in the bottom right corner, a man's name...

Jim Davis.

Yes, I'm on to it for sure.

So... one: Garfield, orange cat, and two: Jim Davis, the creator of this cat...

And that curiously plain man.

I did not know, at the time, that his name was Jon. This strip, you see, had no mention of this man's name, and I'd never seen it before.

But I had these clues; Jim Davis, Garfield.

And then I saw more, I spotted the tiny copyright mark in the upper left corner. Copyright 1978 to... what is this? Copyright belongs to a... PAWS Incorporated...

I use the local library and mail services to track down the information I was looking for...

Jim Davis, a cartoonist, had created a comic strip about a cat, Garfield... and a man, Jon Arbuckle. Well, from that point on, I made sure I read the Garfield comic strips, though as I read each one, as each day passed... the strips seemed to resonate with me less and less...

I sent letters to PAWS Incorporated, long letters, pages upon pages... asking if Mister Jim Davis could somehow publish just the one comic, over and over again... "It would be meditative," I wrote, "the strength of that."

Could you imagine?

But... no response... The strips lost their power, and eventually I stopped reading, but... I did not want my perceptions diluted, so I vowed to read the pipe strip over and over again... That is what I call it, "The Pipe Strip."

The Pipe Strip.

Everything about it is perfect. I can only describe it as a miracle creation, something came together... the elements aligned... It is like the comets, the cosmic orchestra that is up there over your head... The immense, enormous void is working all for one thing, to tell you one thing...

Gas and rock, and purity, and nothing.

I will say this... When I see the pipe strip... and I mean every single time I look at the lines, the colors, the shapes that make up the three panel comic...

I see perfection.

Do I find perfection in many things?

Some things, I would say... Some things are perfect... and this is one of them. I can look at the little tuft of hair on Jon Arbuckle's head... it is the perfect shade... The purple pipe in Garfield's mouth...
How could a mere mortal even MAKE this?

I have a theory, about Jim Davis...

After copious research and, yes, of course, now we have the internet, and this information is all readily available, but...

Jim Davis, he used his life experiences to influence his comic...

Like I mentioned before, none of them seem to have the weight of the pipe strip... But you have to wonder about the man who is able to even, just once, create the perfect form, a literally flawless execution of art, brilliance! Just as in a ward... I think there is a spiritual element at work...

I've seen my share of bad times and... when you have something... Well, it's just... emotions, and neurons in your brain, but... something tells you that it's the truth...

Truth's radiant light.

Garfield, the cat? Neurons in my brain, it's... it's harmony, you see? It... Jon and Garfield, it's truly harmony, like a... continuous, looping, everlasting harmony... The lavender chair, the brown end table, the salmon-colored wall, the fore's green carpeting, Garfield is hunched, perched... perhaps with the pipe stuck firmly between his jowls... His tail curls around. It's more than shapes too, because... I...

Okay, stay with me... I've done this experiment several times.

You take the strip. You trace only the basic elements. You can do anything, you can simplify the shapes down to just... blobs, just outlines, but it still makes sense...

You can replace the blobs with magazine cutouts of other things, replace Jon Arbuckle with a... car parked in a driveway sideways, cut that out of a magazine, stick it in... Replace him there in the second panel with a... a food processor... Okay, and then we put a picture of the planet in the third panel over Garfield...

It still works.

These are universal proportions. I don't know... how best to explain why it works, I've studied the pipe strip, and analyzed Jon and Garfield's proportions against several universal mathematical constants.

E, Pi, the Golden Ratio, the Feigenbaum Constants, and so on... and it's surprising... scary even, how things align. You can take just... tiny pieces of the pipe strip, for instance, take Jon's elbow from the second panel... and take that, and project it back over Jon's entire shape in the second panel, and you'll see a near perfect Fibonacci sequence emerge...

It's eerie to me... and it makes you wonder if you're in the presence of a deity, if there is some larger hand at work...

There's no doubt in my mind that Jim Davis is a smart man...

Jim Davis is capable of anything to me... He is remarkable, but this is so far beyond that, I think we might see that... this work of art is revered and respected in years to come.

Jim Davis is possibly a new master of the craft, a... a genius of the eye; they very well may say the same things about Jim Davis in five hundred years that we say about the great philosophical and artistic masters from centuries ago... Jim Davis is a modern day Socrates, or... Da Vinci... mixing both striking visual beauty with classical, daring, unheard-of intellect...

Look, he combines these things to make profoundly simple expressions...

This strip is his masterpiece... The Pipe Strip is his masterpiece... and it is a masterpiece and a marvel...

I often look at Garfield's... particular pose, in this strip. He is poised, and statuesque... and his cat stare is reminiscent of the fiery gazes often found in religious iconography... But still, his eyes are playful, lying somewhere between the solemn father's expression in... Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal Son," and the coy smirk of Da Vinci's "Saint John The Baptist".

His ears stick up, signifying a peaked readiness... It's as if he could, at any moment, pounce; he is, after all, a close relative and descendant of the mighty jungle cats of Africa that could leap... after prey. You could see the power drawn into Garfield's hind quarters, powerful haunches indeed.

The third panel.

And I'm just saying this now, this is just coming to me now... The third panel of the pipe strip is essentially a microcosm for the entire strip itself... All the power dynamics, the struggle for superiority, right?

WHO has the pipe? WHERE is the pipe? All of that is drawn, built, layered into Garfield's iconic pose here. You can see it in the curl of his tail... Garfield's ear whiskers stick up, on end, the smoke billows, upward... drawing the eye upward... increasing the scope...

I'm just... amazed... really, that after 33 years of reading, and analyzing the same comic strip, I'm able to find new dimensions. It's a testament to the work...

For six years, I delved into tobacco research, because... can a cat smoke? This is a metaphysical question... Yes, can any cat smoke? Do we know? Can just Garfield smoke?

The research says no. Nicotine poisoning can kill animals, especially household pets. All it takes is the nicotine found in as little as a single cigarette.

[ *Okamoto M, Kita T, Okuda H, Tanaka T, Nakashima T (Jul 1994). "Effects of aging on acute toxicity of nicotine in rats". Pharmacol Toxicol. 75 (1): 1-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0773.1994.tb00316.x. PMID 7971729 ]

Surely, Jon's pipe hold a substantial amount of tobacco, and it is true that pets living in the homes of smokers are nearly 25% more likely to develop some form of cancer... most likely due to secondhand smoke... but these are facts of smoking, its tolls on our world.

But after visiting two tobacco processing plants in Virginia... and the Phillip Morris cigarette manufacturing facility, I came no closer to cracking the meaning. I was looking for any insight. A detective of a homicide case has to look at every angle, so I'm always taking apart the pipe strip.
I focused on every minutiae, every detail of this strip.

Jon Arbuckle's clothing... I have replicas. I'm an expert in textiles... so, you see, this smoking thing was a hang-up for me... but it was the statement here... until...

This is key, this is the breakthrough.

The pipe is not a pipe, really.

Obviously there is symbolism at work here... I saw that from the beginning, and I looked at the literal aspects of the strip to gain insight into the metaphors at play... I worked at a newspaper printing press for eighteen months, in the late 1980's... I was learning the literal to inform the gestural... the subliteral, the in-between...

Jon reading this newspaper means so much more than just... Jon reading the newspaper... but how could you ever hope to decipher the puzzle without knowing everything there is to know about newspapers?!

Okay... for example... Jon holds his newspaper up with his left hand, thumb gripping the interior. I learned that this particular grip here was the newspaper grip of nineteenth century aristocrats... and this aristocrat grip was a point of contention that influenced the decision to move forward with prohibition... in the United States, in the early twentieth century!

So Jon's hand position is much more than that, it... it is a comment on class war... and the resulting reactionary culture... but I didn't know about the aristocratic newspaper grip until I came across some microfiche archives at the printing press.

It's about information. You have to take it apart.

...and the breakthrough on the smoking cat came late... just eight years ago, actually. "Smoking cat" is an industry term. It's what the smoking industry calls a tattletale teenager who tells on his friends after they've all tried smoking for the first time... and it is actually a foreign translation, bastardization of the term "smoking rat"... But the phrase was confused when secret documents went back and forth between China and America...

These documents are still secret, and the only reason I know about the term is because I know a man, my friend. Let's call him "Timothy," yeah... yes, it's a fake name, for his protection. Timothy worked for Phillip Morris for sixteen years, and he had seen the documents... and when he told me, it was an Aha moment... and he said, "But how? How could this cartoonist, Jim Davis, know about this... obscure term from the mid-70's, used exclusively by a few cigarette companies!?"

This is still a mystery to me... but I connect the dots by noting Jim Davis' childhood experiences on a farm. He must have seen something...

What could it be?

Timothy went on to tell me there was one particular smoking cat, a boy, from... yes, Indiana, a boy named Ernie Barguckle, who became a thorn in the side of the tobacco companies for a couple of years... He did more than tattle to his parents; he and his family took legal action, and they eventually received a huge settlement payout...

But that name is too similar... Ernie Barguckle...

Jon Arbuckle.

Jim Davis must have used this.

There's more here. Ernie Barguckle spent nearly half of that settlement money on experimental medical procedures to cure his... impotence. He was impotent.

So... he was a smoking cat with a... a metaphorical pipe, that did not work... Are you starting to see the layers here? This is exciting stuff, you start to get a whole picture here, and it informs the work! It's... it's just remarkable.

Jim Davis took these raw ideas, these... pieces, and he transformed them into smart social commentary that is... all so ravishingly beautiful.

I have cried.

I've cried, I've cried... I've cried, cried over this piece. It just... gets in my soul.

I try to explain this to people, I have... the newspaper articles about Ernie Barguckle... People have fought me on this, they don't see it, or they're close-minded, "How could a comic strip about a cat smoking a pipe mean any more than that?"

But it is more... and when I feel spiritual, or start to think existentially, I still see this comic.

Here's something from 1981 that I wrote in thinking about the implications of this strip; this is just an excerpt here... there's more before and after, but this part is the essence to me... If a comic about a cat smoking a pipe can be the only thing in the universe... then maybe this is the strongest evidence for that.

*fumbles with tattered sheet from 1981*

"Many of you say, 'Oh, but I am not blind. I have never been blind,'... But when you truly see, you will understand just how truly blind you once were to even think it right to say you were not blind.

What does a blind man see?

Blackness.
Darkness.
Blankness.
Blank darkness.
Dark blankness.

The absence of things, quite literally NO thing. No things. Nothings.

So, you see nothing, and I bring you into the light. A cat has your pipe! You've been blind, do you understand this!?

The cat has your pipe.

You can't fully immerse yourself, you don't have the light. You don't have the radiance, the radical light, the radically radiant light of truth and truth's belonging love, and nature of light, and loving truthful radiance.

So don't be bold, and make bold statements. I know of you.

The cat has your pipe.

The.
Cat.
Has.
Your.
Pipe.

Remember that."

*puts paper back in pocket*

That writing, well... It's kind of rough... Kind of an... early eighties feel... and I see that, but I'm still... I'm still proud of it.

Sometimes I imagine that it is the editorial column in the newspaper Jon Arbuckle is reading. It's an exercise in recursion, it's like a vortex opens up... It's like you hold two mirrors up to each other, one is reality and the other is a cartoon strip.

Let's see here... Oh yes, I must bring this up, because I think, surely, Jim Davis is again speaking on multiple levels by including the details set before us in the comic.

Notice the glimpse of Jon Arbuckle's foot in the first panel. The size of the shoe would indicate that maybe the man just has small feet... but a deeper investigation takes us to the footbinding rituals of certain Asian cultures. Inflicted usually on women for the desire of men, this practice was incredibly painful and crippling...

Aha! Mister Davis is, here, presenting us with a man, or rather... "man", who engages in footbinding, a body modification for women, on top of "being without his pipe"... or impotent. This is a man facing extreme inner turmoil, the panels tell that story... subconsciously.

Notice the background wall shading of the first panel points inward toward Jon in the second panel... and the sharp tapered end of the purple pipe in the third frame also points at John in the second panel, inward; the eye is drawn to the center panel. You can connect these points and draw a triangle across the panels, and this triangle will align with the reoriented points of Jon's collar! This, this is majestic artwork!

...and to uncover this hidden order is... bliss like I've never known.

Comforting, in an empty world.

I can't help but read the thought bubble, over and over again.

Now where could my pipe be?

Now where could my pipe be?

It is a profound question.

Why am I here? What is my purpose? It is reflection and self-examination here. It is facing the dust, the misery of a cold, careless universe. You can feel the weight of it.

But where could my pipe be?

One imagines the author, Jim Davis, teetering on the edge of insanity... his rationality, his lucidity, hovering over the void... and he seeks the truth.

You can see it in the line quality of the drawings; the thoughtful, controlled outlines mixed with the... occasional, chaotic scribbles at work in the shadows and Garfield's dark stripes.

It's almost as if Garfield is chaos himself.

Yes, he is the embodiment of chaos, disorder, hatred, fear... Thievery, death, destruction, desolation!

These are the things Garfield represents; HE stole the pipe, HE sits with his back to Jon, Garfield... Garfield, this chaos cat, Garfield has turned his back on everything, everyone!

One recalls the great existential forces in literature... Camus' Meursalt, Kafka's Gregor Samsa, or Sartre's Antoine Roquentin... Garfield the Cat sees the hopelessness of life, which...ah, yes...

This is why Jim Davis has chosen smoking. It represents a recklessness, a... a disregard for what some would define as the beauty of life. Garfield may die from the nicotine, he may not... He defies life; he sits defiant, saying nothing, but looking as if he could say... "Then let me die... it does not matter."

It does not matter.

...and we are faced with this; Could Jon behave the same? Is Jon the glimmer of hope?

He seems to be unsure. Again, his question... "Now where could my pipe be?" indicates that he is wrestling with his own existence. The center panel centers the issue, and again, this hearkens to many of the great religious works of art.

I'm talking about the Pipe Strip in relation to religion. It's... it's interesting to assign the roles of God... and anti-God, or, as many know him to be, the devil... or on a much larger scale, simply the forces of... good and evil. Garfield, the thief-cat, evil and malicious... He is the devil, placed to the right... and note, the two forms of Jon; the Jon on the left, still innocent, still draped in the... delight, of the lack of knowledge. He is... the humans in the Garden of Eden. He feels for his pipe... but he has yet to eat from the tree... and Garfield, the sinister serpent... and notice, notice how Jim Davis has framed this... The center Jon is locked in a struggle, between his innocence, and his knowledge of the truth... knowledge of the existence of evil.

It is stunning. The great struggle, the struggle that transcends time... and Jim Davis floats over all this, as creator... the God, of sorts, in his own right.

... and he presents this cautionary message to us all; it is as if he is speaking from high and... he is saying, unto our awaiting ears...

Where will you be, when the cat reveals himself? [-Jim 7:27:78]

I can tell you where you'll be. You will have a choice; you can face endless suffering, and eternal misery... You can be forced and beaten down with barbarians, who claw at each other just for a view of salvation. They'll tear your eyeballs out, and rip your gizzards from end to end. They worship this cat, this... this false idol! This evil, horrible cat, do not be seduced by the cat and the pipe!

Garfield... thy name is a mark of the demons of hell. Something like this, and to those listening, it is a stark reminder to follow the path of the first panel Jon; be humble, be grateful, honor the law, and honor thyself. Be true, and be good, and no harm will come to you... Pray for salvation, and it will be granted unto you. Be like Jon Arbuckle, as he lowers his head. Be like Jon Arbuckle as he lowers his paper, as he turns his head. Bow with Jon Arbuckle, and praise unto the creator, Jim Davis... and banish demon Garfield from your life.

So, what is all this? What am I saying? Aha... hmm... What does all this mean? Why is this one comic strip so important to me... and why do I feel the need to share this?

Obligation. I have an obligation to you all. This is a redemption, this is a belief in redemption, a sacrifice of all the obvious trappings of this false modern life.

Look at the simplicity in this strip, in the pipe strip. Look at the simple clothes Jon wears, look at his simple, basic furniture... No adornments on the wall, even the very pipe his cat Garfield stole; it is a plain, modest pipe... and I have adapted this way of life, it speaks to me.

In our times... well... you don't need me to point out the hyperbole of our times; you have children being born eight or nine at a time, you have more money being spent on a single Hollywood movie than some nations can spend... feeding their starving people. Torture, distrust... Look around you, it's overwhelming.

What can you contribute?

...and every day, I look in the mirror, and I hold this comic up to the mirror, and I look into the mirror, and at this little comic strip.

Be humble.

Be thankful.

It is a reminder, be respectful.

You are a statue. You are fragile... and when you break, when you shatter... Where will those pieces go?

Ask... ask, ask, ask this question. Will you ask?

Humankind is only as great as you, YOU, the individual, it begins and ends with you! You must treat this expedition, this search, this... life, with a reverence and intensity found only in the smallest sticks. The littlest leaf, the tiniest stone! The most miniscule grain of sand... on a beach of billions!

This is the secret.

Do you want the pipe?

Do you want to know where the pipe has gone?

You ask yourself, you ask... you ask... you ask...

Now where could my pipe be?

When I was a young man... remember, now, I first saw this comic when I was eighteen years old... Ages ago... but I was youthful, vibrant. For weeks, I didn't hide that a comic strip was having such a profound effect on me.

I was much like Jon Arbuckle. In this middle panel, he says, "Now where could my pipe be?"... you could look into his eyes, his half-lowered eyes, and think to yourself... "Now, surely, Jon... Surely, you cannot be this naive... This is nothing new for you..."

And if you've read more of the Garfield comic strips by Jim Davis, you understand what I am saying now; Garfield the cat does things like this all the time. He will take things from Jon; food, items, anything... This is his very nature.

So you see this, and you want to say, "Jon Arbuckle, come now. You are lying to yourself. You are lying to yourself, and to all of us, if you pretend to have not... any idea of where your pipe has gone. Perhaps you think you've left it somewhere else, but... hmph, you're not so forgetful. You are lying to yourself, ah... yes...

You are lying to yourself, Jon Arbuckle. You know that Garfield has the pipe... somewhere, deep down, you know this. You don't even need to think the question."

And that was me when I saw this strip. One week passed, and each morning I'd open my drawer and slam it shut again. I would go to look at the comic... but I'd pause, and think... "Oh no, I don't need this comic, I don't n... I don't NEED to look at it..."

But there I was, lying to myself.

I DID need to see it, and so I did, it's... cathartic. You give in, and that is the transition, from the second panel of life, to the third panel of life! It is a simple story structure, the passage from the second act to the third, the twilight of things. Jon gives into his suspicions; he knows the truth, he's ALWAYS known the truth, he yells out, "GARFIELD! GARFIELD! GARFIELD!"

It is like... pressure from a steam valve, being released; the buildup is unbearable, and then... PSSHHWW, it's gone.

So it is like this... when I speak about the truth... the truth, the light, the radiance, this... this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. This is the essence of this brilliant work of art, the practical mixing, meeting, agreeing with the spiritual, it is all HERE.

...but spirituality is not an easy thing to confront. You might find yourself able to wrap your mind around a simple math problem, or a basic newspaper article, or... but intellect... is much less subjective.

What is spirituality... and how have I found spiritual peace and serenity in Garfield?

A long time ago, after I encountered the Pipe Strip... I spent some time, as I mentioned before, soul-searching. When something impacts you, or alters your very perception so greatly, there is a long period of confusion, recovery time...

It's as if you don't know who you are, and that can be a... a very scary prospect, especially if you thought you had a good grasp on that sort of thing.

Imagine if Jim Davis did not know who he was. Would he be capable of shaping the cultural landscape as he's done?

No. No, of course he wouldn't.

...and how about his characters? Jon... what if Jim Davis suddenly woke up, and didn't know who Jon was? What if he couldn't make the informed decisions to accurately depict Garfield's personality, because of... he could no longer specify, or demarcate the boundaries of Garfield's behavior?

What kind of comic would THAT be? You see?

So draw the parallel. I saw this comic and, yes, I was disoriented... and if I didn't reconcile this issue with myself, what kind of person would I be?

Undoubtedly dire circumstances, but remember; this was not a math problem, this was not an article, this was not something I could just... figure out... and as skeptical as I was, I realized that faith and spirituality were avenues that... required exploring.

At first I tried... long nights, reading Garfield by candlelight, or... aromatic meditation settings, while thinking of Garfield, but... nothing snapped. Nothing clicked, I still felt lost... but I kept it up, I hired a shaman, and a young... personal Yogi Sikh Guru; Avram Dahb Singh Sahib. I pushed and pushed, determined to find myself.

And then, a miracle happened.

Upon retrieving my morning paper, to clip the Garfield comic... I noticed a young girl, selling lemonade two houses down. She sat, occupied at her stand. She had no customers in sight.

So, I approached, and saw that she was coloring. I looked at her drawing...

Three rectangular boxes.

A man, in a blue shirt. An orange cat.

I knew what this was. Even in her crude scribbles, I knew EXACTLY what this was.

She was drawing a Garfield comic.

I looked at her words, and I saw that, in her strip, Jon asked Garfield to retrieve a newspaper. Heh, funny... since I'd done just that with myself... Garfield is sarcastic, but agrees to. He returns and calls Jon... "Sahib".

Jon exclaims that the paper's all chewed up, but then Garfield says, and I quote, "Sahib asks fish, paper is wet. Sahib asks cat, paper is holey." I remember the words, and ran back to my house, and thought, "How odd that Sahib shows up in the strip, and my spiritual advisor's name is Avram Dahb Singh Sahib!"

Coincidence surely, but, nonetheless, I spent the next sixteen hours poring through my clipped Garfield comics, looking for the strip this young girl had been coloring... I couldn't find it... and I eventually fell asleep, right on my kitchen table.

Next morning, I retrieved my paper again, and I clipped the Garfield comic. The date was July 12th, 1983.

There it was.

The Sahib Strip, in all its glory.

The girl had been drawing the next day's strip!

So, I ran right out of my house, I ran back to where she was... but she was gone, and in place of the lemonade stand was a "For Sale" sign.

They'd moved out.

I rushed back to my house to call Avram, but... I was informed that he'd moved away as well. I reeled, for several hours, and then it all connected for me.

It was meant to be. It w... it was meant to be this way! Jim Davis... Jon, Garfield... It was always meant to be this way for me.... They move to the forefront, and everything else fades away, EVERYTHING else; the girl, the lemonade stand, Avram Dahb Singh Sahib, it all existed to show me the way, and when I'd found the way...

Everything else melted away.

It was a beautiful miracle... and if July 27th, 1978, the day I first saw the pipe strip... was the first day of my life, then that day, July 12th, 1983, was the second day of my life.

I've never looked back. Garfield has transformed me... and I am a man, born anew, because of Garfield.

When I was in my mid-thirties, I was interviewed for a documentary... It was a documentary on the subject of cat behavior. Now, I've had cats my whole life; I have three cats now, and at the time of this documentary interview, I had four cats. I sat down for the interview and was joined by a veterinarian who specialized in felines: Doctor Caroline Wellmitz was her name, I believe... and the doctor discussed colorblindness in animals, and how it affects their behavior.

She specifically brought up the fact that cats are red-green colorblind; they can see colors, but they can't tell the difference between red and green ...and look at the color choice in this strip here.

Garfield sits on a green floor, behind a pinkish red wall.

I heard this, and I immediately pulled a copy of the comic from my wallet to show to the doctor... I moved so fast, I'm sure I nearly scared her, I... pointed at the paper and said, "Like this! Like this! Look, at this here! This cat, Garfield, he's colorblind, he must be! That must be the answer here... like this."

As over-excited as I was, I managed to take in her response; she said "Yes, a cat in this room would have a hard time differentiating the wall from the floor. Add to that a cat's known spatial confusion, and you have the makings of a Cat Rage room." Now, she informed me that this isn't exactly common knowledge among cat owners... but a seasoned cat owner, or someone particularly perceptive will have picked up on it.

So what's incredible here is not only is Garfield's behavior symbolic of the devil, and all the evil constructs in the world, but... but, but... but also, it is rooted in science and scientific fact.

Look at that. You cannot spell fact without "cat".

Hah, just a little joke there... just some wordplay, but getting back on track...

...and you can't spell track without "cat."

Okay... I digress. I gotcha, I gotcha, enough... kidding around.

It is established here that Garfield is in a rage; an ultimate rage of fury and hatred, caused by colorblindness. We know the "what", we know the "why"... but let us examine the "how", the how of his rage is particularly interesting here.

We've looked at his posture and called it "powerful", "in control", "statuesque", "etc., etc." Composed rage... It's peculiar, and I've talked to a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, and even a couple of anger management therapists about this concept...

Could we see the same kind of behavior in a human? Is Garfield representative of something more specific than just chaos and rage? Deciphering this is going to take some perseverance. for sure.

The psychologists pointed to a phenomenon in humans, and, yes, I believe one of the anger management counselors brought it up as well. The idea that people, oftentimes, will bottle their rage... Garfield the cat, here... well, he could be bottling his anger, inside, shoving it deep into his cat gut, to ignore and deal with at a later time.

Eh, well... No, that's not exactly right. Garfield has already acted out, he's already stolen the pipe... he's SMOKING the pipe, he's already dealt with his anger. He's already lashed out, so, psychologically, what is going on here? What is this cat doing, and how does it impact his owner, Jon Arbuckle... psychologically?

Well, Garfield is angry. He is acting on his anger... but is this passive anger, or aggressive anger?

Passive. It is passive because if Garfield has a problem with Jon specifically... he's choosing a passive way of dealing with that problem. He has not confronted Jon, and said, "Jon, I have a problem with the way you've decorated this room; as a cat, I am colorblind, and this room sends me into a rage... You've created a rage room for me here, and I don't like it; I want you to change it."

Instead of that confrontational approach, though, Garfield has chosen to steal Jon's pipe... and that, in turn, angers Jon... but Jon decides to be aggressively angry, and yell at Garfield, so... now, instead of a calm conversation between two respectful parties, you have two... heated, angry individuals, each with a problem and no direct line to solving it.

The layered emotions here tell a story with tight, focused brevity that would make Hemingway weep. This is an entire drama, in just three panels, people.

...but let's not be remiss, and miss the humor of the situation, the... absurdity of it all... for certainly, there is a reason that the visual shorthand for drama includes both the crying mask AND a laughing mask. Comedy and tragedy complement each other, and meld together to create drama, tension, the height of humanity, the peak of art, that reflects back to us our own condition...

...and here... in its basest form, we can laugh at this comic... yes, COMIC, in which a cat smokes a pipe... Hah... when was the last time you've SEEN such a thing in your life?

Never, I presume... I certainly never have...

The Greek muse, Thalia's presence is strong in this work of art, here. Comedy, it is COMEDY... and if you look at the structure again, you'll see this perfect form of thirds works magically for the transmission of, yes, YES, a JOKE.

The joke.... is as old as time... even cavemen told jokes, and the joke here is that Jon has lost his pipe... or he thinks he has... but lo and behold, it is the cat, Garfield, who has the pipe.

Surprise, surprise, the cat is smoking!

Again, the transition, from set-up to punchline takes place between the second and third panels... but make no mistake, the comic is more than just a comic... Yes, it IS funny, of course it is... it is operating at the height of sophisticated humor, on par with any of Shakespeare's piercing wit.

On the one hand, Garfield the comic, with Jon the man, humor as art... the other hand, Garfield comic, with Jon the man, stirring... no, RIVETING drama... as with everything, it is tension, and release. TENSION... and RELEASE...

A cycle.

I keep returning to this idea, because it is so omnipresent. Yes, you could... and yes, I have done this, on more than one occasion... you could print this comic strip on a giant piece of paper. The dimensions would be something like... thirty-four inches by eleven inches.

Now, tape the ends together, with the comic facing inward. Stick your head in the middle of this Garfield comic loop and READ, start at the first panel; Jon is reading the newspaper... he feels for something on the end table.

Second panel; he sets the newspaper down, something is not right...

"Where could my pipe be?" he thinks.

...and then, the payoff; the third panel, Garfield has Jon's pipe, and is smoking it.

But, aha! The paper is in a loop, around your head... so that you can see that, once again, Jon is in his seat, reading the paper... and so on, and so on, you can literally read the comic strip for an eternity!

I spent many a relaxing Sunday afternoon reading this strip, over and over... reminded of the Portuguese death carvings, which always begin and end with the same scrawled image.

[fig. 6b - Portuguese Death Carving c. 1330]

So, this idea of repetition, of the beginning being the end, and the end being the beginning... It's not new, it is an ageless tradition among the best storytellers humanity has ever offered... and I'm not wrong to include cartoonist Jim Davis in that exalted set for this particular strip alone

I'm not foolish enough to deny that great art is subjective... divisive, even, and that some people see this Garfield comic and shrug with no real reaction... but I will say that I believe everyone in the world should see it; at the very least, see it!

You should all see it. Read it. Spend some time with it. Spend an hour reading it... what's an hour? Yes, you could watch some television program, you could play some fast-paced video games or computer games, yes, you could do all those things...

But it's just an hour... and if you give this strip a chance, if you look into Jon Arbuckle's eyes... if you look into Jon Arbuckle's SOUL...

You might find that you'll really be looking into your own soul.

It is self discovery, that is what I'm talking about here... YOU have the opportunity, the possibility... it could change you. Don't be afraid.

You know, just last week, I was eating lunch near the Municipal Court... like I do every Thursday, and... there was a plumbing banner... a plumbing van, parked out in front, uh... and a man, a plumber, would step out from the court, and retrieve something from this every so often.

A few times, this happened... I thought nothing of it; just a plumber, doing some work at the Municipal Court... but then he came out, and looked through his van, and it was clear...

He couldn't find something.

I noticed, and thought, "Well, that's sort of similar to the Garfield comic, in a way. Someone looks for something, can't find it,"... but, yes, that probably happens billions of times a day around the world...

...but then, this plumber... put his hands on his hips... then, he scratched his head, and he said aloud...

"Now, where could my pipe wrench be?"

Well, at this, I leaped off the bench, sandwich still in hand, and I rushed over, I shouted, "What was that you said!?"

He looked at me and said, "What? I can't find my pipe wrench, " and I said, "No! No, no, say it... like how you just said it..."

He scratched his head, and repeated, "Now where could my pipe wrench be?"

I slapped him on the back and said, "Garfield!"

He looked so confused, so I said it again... then, I said "Your orange cat took it!"

Heh... ah, then I laughed and laughed... and he smiled, and went back into the courtroom.

I walked away, knowing that the plumber and I, two complete strangers, bonded over this Garfield comic... You see, life imitates art, becomes a common ground.

I have a feeling that if I see this plumber again, we'll be sharing stories like two old friends... because we've been united by art. We have a common love for Jim Davis and his characters, his writings... The humor, the drama, the... that rascal Garfield, the cat...

Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering what I was having for lunch that day, it was a ham sandwich with an apple and potato chips... in a bag, I had a soda as well.

I think it's important to view the Pipe Strip in philosophical terms... We've touched briefly on the notion of existentialism; that theme is very prevalent in this strip. Garfield is, in fact, a modern existential anti-hero... but if Garfield embodies the bewilderment in a meaningless life, what is Jon? What are the telltale signs that inform Jon's philosophical standpoint? His approach, what style of thinking he represents?

Jon is depicted as being grounded in the material world... a world of things; he is surrounded by objects, and he touches these objects, he interacts with them. The newspaper, the end table, the chair... his clothes, all these physical things make up Jon's world. In some sense, even his cat Garfield is an object to him, a thing...

The first ideology that comes to mind when thinking of objects in the tangible world... is pragmatism... Is Jon Arbuckle a pragmatist? His beliefs stem from a useful, coherent view of his environment... a sort of cause-and-effect understanding of his world helps him.

A: Deduce that his pipe is missing... and B: Catches his cat, Garfield, using the pipe.

This kind of empirical and logical thinking lends credence to the idea that Jon is, indeed, a pragmatist... Although, it is hard to entirely ignore the rest of the Garfield comic canon.

While Garfield is consistently anarchic, and embraces the chaos and absurdity of life... Jon Arbuckle exhibits an erratic, unpredictable mix of philosophical behaviors. At times, he is borderline; delusional, an idealist, an almost slap-happy version of Don Quixote. Other moments, he is rigid, nearly to the point of being obsessive... somewhat like a structuralist, and certainly has streaks of sarcasm and negativity that might classify him as a skeptic.

...But isn't there some universal truth in this approach? How can any one man, how can Jon Arbuckle be just one thing? How can any of us be just one thing? We're... an amalgamation of ideas, of emotions... conducts and functions, thoughts and feelings... Jon Arbuckle may very well inhabit tenets of nearly every major philosophical tract known to man.

We all might.

Characters are reduced, to make them recognizable, definable; a story needs a good guy, a story needs a bad guy... but rarely is one person defined in such black and white terms. Even Garfield, with all his bad behavior, Machiavellian motivation and general ne'er-do-well attitude, can be kind and thoughtful.

You just have to find that rare strip.

Speaking philosophically about the entire Garfield franchise, it's an incredibly accurate depiction of life. Its bold lines and bright colors are merely a facade, a... a red herring, a lie. This cartoon is not a cartoon at all, it is not a... caricature. It is not caricature despite adopting caricature as its visual style and tone.

...but I don't really like to speak in broad sweeping generalizations about Garfield.

The comic has been running for over thirty years, and to try and boil that all down is just, well... it's impossible. I think the only way that any historian worth his salt will agree with me is to look at individual moments... isolated instances, single comic strips.

Can I discuss this one strip in the context of the entire run of Garfield? Yes, I do that just as a film historian might analyze one movie in relation to the history of all movies, or a war enthusiast might look at a single battle's impact on an entire war.

The Pipe Strip is just an instance in the lives of Jon and Garfield.

Perhaps Jon is not a pragmatist at all... let's look at this again. Maybe Jon is exhibiting the traits of a rationalist thinker; his question, "Now where could my pipe be?" is a clue that his thought process stems from the early rationalist questions posed by René Descartes. The well-known quote, "I think, therefore I am," attributed to Descartes, is applicable.

Another close look at the strip, and we see that Jim Davis chose to draw Jon thinking his question.

"Now where could my pipe be?"

Jon does not speak this question aloud, so Jim Davis is also exploring the mind/body duality... Jon's question operates on the level of a literal question... but it also examines the nature of reality. Jim Davis' epistemological approach tells us something about the human condition; Jon's thoughts remain the focal point of this strip.

The comic is, quite literally, centered around his thought.

"Now where could my pipe be?"

This is his reality, this is where cognition, and the power and function of the mind take over. As Plato believed, the body is just a shell for Jon Arbuckle; yes, he can use his physical body to read his paper or cross his legs, but these inputs of touch, sight, hearing, et cetera, these senses are the triggers of the mind, as we see here, the mind... is something greater. It is the originator of ideas, and ideas are forever. Immortal.

Immortality through thought, a... a major theme in literature and philosophy...

...and isn't that what Mister Jim Davis himself has achieved?

Will he live forever?

The universe will continue to spread, and spread outward, and... entropy will turn a chaotic infinity into a homogenous, controlled system. This will take billions of years, and in that time, humans will push technology to heights we can't imagine. We'll explore and inhabit space, and occupy more and more of the universe, just as time allowed our ancestors to... multiply in numbers, and populate more and more of the Earth.

...and as the specific people come and go, their physical bodies will be born, and grow, and die... but their thoughts will remain... and Jim Davis' comics, his glorious Garfield comics... are recorded ideas of his, that will still be here.

Even when the Earth is no longer inhabitable, and humanity has long since moved away to bigger planets, they'll carry with them a record, a record we all keep; mark my words... and look at what we've started, what is... What is the internet? What is the online world, if not a record? Never-ending feed of ideas, immortal ideas... forever placed in the ether of dualism.

What is an idea? Where does it live? How does it manifest itself? Can it live forever? Will it live forever, outside of these physical husks of ours, our bodies?

...and Jon Arbuckle, and Garfield, started merely as thoughts... but they've become so much more. That old cliché rings true, they've taken on a life of their own... and life may not be what we think. Life brings to mind a beating heart, breathing lungs, blinking eyes...

...but the real life is in our imaginations... and who better embodies the definition of imagination if not a simple man... a cartoonist, who puts his ideas to paper so that they may live on, so that our children, and our children's children, and their children's children's children can access the wealth of ideas that have accumulated thus far...

They will plug themselves into an information grid, and they will have access... They will read every Garfield comic, 80,000 years from now, a child will see a simple Jon Arbuckle, reading a newspaper. He will feel around for something, but that something is not there... He will lift his head and think...

"Now where could my pipe be?"

...and Garfield will be smoking the pipe, and Jon will yell "GARFIELD!"

...and what then? 80,000 years from now?

The child reading this comic will smile... and that smile will transcend space and time and the physical limitations of this existence, whatever they may be, however many dimensions exist...



There will always be Garfield... and there will always be its creator...





Jim Davis.







"It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection."
-Oscar Wilde

    Fecha y hora actual: Miér 22 Nov 2017 - 14:00