Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Book I Shred


What happens to those who engage in destructive hobbies? The larger story of Garfield, who dives into the deadly sins with a show-off's flare, is of a creature defined by self-destructive interests. Conventional wisdom and practical observation tells us that the binge drinker, amateur pyrotechnician and drug user tend to destroy themselves in the process of indulging their interests. Garfield says as long as you can't dodge the bullet, you might as well run headlong into it.

So what becomes of the vandal, the pugilist, the sharpshooter, those hobbyists who specialize in defacing property, injuring others, causing destruction? They deal with the ephemeral in a special way, and today's strip ponders their dilemma. While they may have their trophies, equipment, periodicals and club T-shirts, the collections are snapshots of the event. As a collector, I ask myself a lot: is the true fun in having the rare book, record or Garfield T-shirt, or the thrill in the chase? The answer for the collector is "both". Garfield tries to mix the event-oriented hobbyist appreciation of the moment and the collector's aesthetic sophistication. Because his only way to relate to love objects is to do violence to them, Garfield ends up with nothing but scraps. Scraps, and something to brag about as master contrarian.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like how much of a non sequitur the beginning of the strip is. Reminds me of Ralph Wiggum.

Ryan Ferneau said...

How can it be a non sequitur if it's the first panel?

Chantelle said...

Couldn't one also argue that the act of clawing (violence) is what gives meaning to the objects he claws (rather than he claws objects that he already loves)? In which case, we could interpret this strip as Garfield's desperate attempts to create meaning in his world and build a "loving" relationship between himself and the otherwise alien things around him. Tragic, really.

Anonymous said...

Or you could stop trying to find a deeper meaning in a cartoon strip.

Nah, nevermind....

Nyperold said...

Well, it kind of is, in the sense that, being the first panel in the strip, it quite literally "does not follow". Agreed that it's not what people usually mean when they say it, however.

But then, it's not like every Garfield strip must follow up on the previous one. First anonymous should see the one where it's revealed that Garfield shaved Odie and looks, according to Jon, like a giant rat... but then he's in the very next day's strip, looking normal.