Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dissecting Calvin and Hobbes (or at least, an attempt to)


Bill Watterson's idea of ending a remarkable comic marks a new adventure of exploration of his characters.

While I do not claim to be an expert or (shamefully) an ardent fan of Calvin and Hobbes, I have certainly been very priviledged to have grown up (perhaps with 'distorted' perspectives!) with this ingenious, beloved comic.

As per above, I marvel at how Bill Watterson could lay his sketching pencil and paper to rest, yet not signify the end of the comic itself. We may not see another brand new strip of Calvin's mischief ever, yet; the subconcious, semi-reality world of Calvin and Hobbes does not cease to exist. Calvin would still be jumping down the roof and ruining his mother's favourite rose bushes, Hobbes would still be in his philosophical nature, and Calvin's dad would still be giving his son all the wrong information about Life!

Which gets my attention to the question Descartes once asked-" How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream?" What if my life too, is a comic strip which an outside element or being reads for pleasure in the papers every morning? Alas, then the world that I have been living in is no more than a confinement of space in the comic strip that I am in!

Had not been for the thinkers who have painstakingly rationalised the makeup of Reality, I must say; we would have still been trapped in a matrix, so to speak. Not that because we are, but we thought we are; and the pursuit of Truth comes to a dead end, simply because we thought that there is simply no truth since we are only imaginery beings anyway. Descartes doubted everything in this world, insisting that he must begin with 'zero'. And the only thing that he was certain was that he doubted. When he doubted, he had to be thinking, and because he was thinking; he must be a thinking being. And it proved his existence!

And anyone would think that just about anyone could come up with "I think, therefore I am" simply without bothering to make perfect sense of the profundity beneath it. *Gulp*

So, did Calvin think that Hobbes was Real? Bill Watterson never confirmed the nature of reality of Hobbes. Hobbes may have appeared to come to life only to Calvin or that Calvin's imagination was 'reeled' into the strip itself, depicting a live tiger at times; depending on the modes of his imagination, which were then transmitted to our interpretation of Hobbes.

I particularly enjoy this 'blurred' parallels of Hobbes' personality which, Bill Watterson may have created to tone down Calvin's impulsiveness. And has anyone even thought that the character of Calvin was actually a mirror to the name Hobbes? The philosopher Thomas Hobbes (in which the name was taken from and christened upon a stuffed tiger but seemed to have enjoyed more popularity than the man himself) had a famous saying from Leviathan- that the state of nature of a human life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"— Calvin is somewhat solitary, at times nasty, perhaps poor and brutish; and definitely short! The nature of Calvin himself- a defiant kid against His Creator; who simply enjoyed challenging the idea of a Creator through his showing of 'authority' and 'supremacy' over objects (basically claiming to a weed that it is at his mercy to be given water)and through his fondness of creating several alter-egos for himself; seemed to be a humourous contradiction to John Calvin's God-fearing nature in the first place.

What is actually in the mind of Bill Watterson when he confronts issues of intellectual matters, Existence and of a Supreme Being without being too technical is simply fascinating, if not brilliant; I must say. One may read Calvin and Hobbes for pure intelligent humour but, dissect the comic and a world of philosophical influences begins to unravel itself! One then, must simply take Calvin and Hobbes beyond face value- that Calvin was not just a smart Alec who never failed to create troubles and blamed his stuffed toy tiger for them, every time he needed justification to his trouble-making antics.

My salute to Mr. Bill Watterson; among millions of others who have been purely delighted by Calvin and Hobbes- indeed, a diamond which is now buried does not necessarily mean that it will lose its shine.

P/S- Leon, do not worry that you will not be able to withstand baby Christian's curiousity over many things in life in the near future for Calvin's dad seemed to be surviving even with his no-knowledge on many things, but worry that you will be thrashed with several consensus and "Why- my- Dad- is- so- unpopular" polls every now and then. My prayers and well-wishes are with you both. :)

5 Comments:

Blogger Sze Zeng said...

The comic that occupied my childhood all the way to teenagehood was Dragonball Z. At that time, Akira Toriyama was like Geisler to me.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:45 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Haha, I grew up with the likes of Transformers and the Flinstones- nothing Edwardian about that either.:)

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check tis out:

http://stephentong.org/forums/index.php

(u can see how geisler and feinberg face off with pinnock and reichenbach in a grudge match)

2:41 PM  
Blogger Petrina said...

chuang tzu wrote a reflection: am i a butterfly dreaming i m a man? or a man dreaming i m a butterfly? between these two states...there is necessarily a border, and we call it metempsychosis...

your blog is really very profound...God bless!

1:45 AM  

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