(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘comic

“What would your good do if evil didn’t exist”*…

What, Agnes Callard asks, is (literary) art for…

… There are many complex theories about the nature and function of art; I am going to propose a very simple one. My simple theory is also broad: it applies to narrative fiction broadly conceived, from epic poems to Greek tragedies to Shakespearean comedies to short stories to movies. It also applies to most pop songs, many lyric poems and some—though far from most—paintings, photographs and sculptures. My theory is that art is for seeing evil.

I am using the word “evil” to encompass the whole range of negative human experience, from being wronged, to doing wrong, to sheer bad luck. “Evil” in this sense includes: hunger, fear, injury, pain, anxiety, injustice, loss, catastrophe, misunderstanding, failure, betrayal, cruelty, boredom, frustration, loneliness, despair, downfall, annihilation. This list of evils is also a list of the essential ingredients of narrative fiction.

I can name many works of fiction in which barely anything good happens (Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, José Saramago’s Blindness, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jon Fosse’s Melancholy are recent reads that spring to mind), but I can’t imagine a novel in which barely anything bad happens. Even children’s stories tend to be structured around mishaps and troubles. What we laugh at, in comedy, is usually some form of misfortune. Few movies hold a viewer on the edge of their seat in the way that thrillers and horror movies do: fear and anxiety evidently have their appeal. Greek and Shakespearean tragedy would rank high on any list of great works of literature, which is consonant with the fact that what is meaningful and memorable in a novel tends to be a moment of great loss, suffering or humiliation…

A fascinating case: “Art Is For Seeing Evil,” from @AgnesCallard in @the_point_mag.

And a case in point: Bob Dylan, demonstrating both Callard’s point and why he won the Nobel Prize in Literature:

* Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

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As we go dark, we might we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that Charles M. Schulz published the last daily Peanuts strip- art that treated the dark with lots of light. (The final Sunday panel ran on on February 13 of that year.)

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January 3, 2023 at 1:00 am

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language / And next year’s words await another voice”*…

As we pivot into 2023 (Happy New Year!), a retrospective on the way that 2022– Ukraine, the economy, China, climate change, pivots at Facebook and Twitter, the lingering pandemic– changed our language…

The story of a year is sometimes easy to identify: the financial crisis of 2008, the Brexit-Trump populist wave of 2016 or the pandemic of 2020. The most wrenching event of 2022 has been the war in Ukraine, yet those earlier stories have lingered in the headlines. For language-watchers, all that meant much new vocabulary to consider…

[After considering a number of other candidates…]

After the lockdowns of 2020, followed, in 2021, by a slow return to the office, 2022 was the year that hybrid work settled in. Working at home some of the time has advantages (decongesting cities and fewer painful commutes), and disadvantages (fears of lower productivity combined with a sense of never being off duty). In the spring Twitter announced a policy of unlimited working from home for those who wanted it. When Elon Musk bought the company he promptly decreed the opposite. But most firms have not gone to either extreme, instead trying to find the best of both worlds.

As a coinage, hybrid work is no beauty. But it will reshape cities, careers, family life and free time. That is ample qualification for a word of the year…

From @TheEconomist: “And the word of 2022 is…

Here are some candidates for this year’s “word of the year”: “23 items of vital vocabulary you’ll need to know in 2023.”

And because it’s New Years Day, and it’s appropriate to look forward, not just back, some advice-like thoughts on 2023″: “Blank Page.”

* T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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As we name it, we might recall that, on this date in 1995, the last installment of Gary Larsen‘s comic strip The Far Side (which had premiered on New Year’s Eve, 1979) ran. Carried by more than 1,900 daily newspapers, the strip was translated into 17 languages, and collected into calendars, greeting cards, and 23 compilation books; reruns are still carried in many newspapers. Indeed, after a 25 year hiatus, in July 2020 Larson began drawing new Far Side strips offered through the comic’s official website.

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January 1, 2023 at 1:00 am

“Then we got into a labyrinth, and when we thought we were at the end, came out again at the beginning, having still to seek as much as ever.”*…

Can you identify this painting’s creator?

On the heels of Wordle‘s extraordinary success, there have been a rash of variations: e.g., Crosswordle, Absurdle, Quordle, even the NSFW Lewdle.

Now for the National Gallery of Art, another nifty puzzle: Artle.

Enjoy!

* Plato, Euthydemus

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As we play, we might recall that it was on this date in 1934 that Mandrake the Magician first appeared in newspapers. A comic strip, it was created by Lee Falk (before he created The Phantom)… and thus its crime-fighting, puzzle-solving hero is regarded by most historians of the form to have been America’s first comic superhero.

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June 11, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard”*…

American fruit and nuts…

Pascale Georgiev, editorial director at Atelier Éditions, was researching botanical artwork a few years ago when she came across the US Department of Agriculture’s pomological watercolour collection, an archive of 7,500 watercolours of fruit and nuts grown in the US between 1886 and 1942, mostly created before photography was widespread. The discovery led to a new book, An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts (Atelier, £44), full of images that Georgiev describes as irresistible. “The belle angevine pear… makes my heart sing and I’m partial to a plum named tragedy.” She’s also proud that the book showcases women working in science: “Nine of this US department’s 21 artists were women. A rare thing at the time.” Most of all she’d like readers to think about biodiversity. “I hope they share my delight in discovering the history of the fruit we consume, alongside beautiful artworks.”

A glorious collection: “Get fruity: vintage botanical watercolors,” from @guardian.

* Walt Whitman

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As we ruminate on ripeness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1950 that the daily comic strip Peanuts premiered in eight newspapers: The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Tribune, The Allentown Call-Chronicle, The Bethlehem Globe-Times, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, and The Boston Globe.  Its creator, Charles Schulz had developed the concept as a strip (L’il Folks) in his hometown paper, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, from 1947 to 1950.  At its peak, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages.

First Peanuts strip

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October 2, 2021 at 1:00 am

“There is no ‘ordinary person'”*…

 

Tobar Mayo in Abar, the First Black Superman

As Black Panther continues to slay at the box office, a look at one of that blockbuster’s less well-known– indeed, virtually anonymous– antecedents…

Abar, the First Black Superman is truly a cinematic marvel. It has its heart in the right place and fumbles spectacularly in every way possible—the painfully preachy dialogue, the scrappy special effects, the too long running time. But even if it’s not anywhere close to the achievement of Black Panther, it’s a fascinating product of the time and more proof that black superheroes have long existed outside the Marvel universe. And just like Black Panther, their superpowers are almost always political…

An extraordinary story: “One of Cinema’s First Black Superheroes Is Not Who You Think It Is.”

* “The disciplines of physical exercise, meditation and study aren’t terribly esoteric. The means to attain a capability far beyond that of the so-called ordinary person are within the reach of everyone, if their desire and their will are strong enough. I have studied science, art, religion and a hundred different philosophies. Anyone could do as much. By applying what you learn and ordering your thoughts in an intelligent manner it is possible to accomplish almost anything. Possible for an ‘ordinary person.’ There’s a notion I’d like to see buried: the ordinary person. Ridiculous. There is no ‘ordinary person’.”   – that most super of superheroes, Ozymandias, in Alan Moore’s Watchmen

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As we don our capes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1935 that America was introduced to Little Lulu (in the February 23 issue of The Saturday Evening Post), appearing as a flower girl at a wedding and mischievously strewing the aisle with banana peels.   Created by Marjorie Henderson Buell (whose work appeared under the name “Marge”), Little Lulu ran as a regular panel in the Post through 1944; then as a comic book and a comic strip into the 1980s.  She also appeared in a series of animated theatrical cartoons and in a number of TV series and specials.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 23, 2018 at 1:01 am

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