Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Canis Complexo Cattus


Affection in Garfield is an aggressive emotion, its most frequent expressions normally portrayed as unwelcome and overbearing. In its most common manifestations, we see Jon's desperation for love from Liz, and companionship and respect from Garfield, Odie's indiscriminate attacks of physical ardor, Nermal's narcissistic longing for praise and attention. This is not to say it is a negative, or destructive impulse, just that the infrequency of characters exhibiting reciprocity to caring and understanding give affection a specific power and commodity in the world as Garfield sees it. The means by which Garfield copes with this shortage is to channel desire into aesthetic passion for food, sleep, TV, flowers, etc., which he variously decimates or overindulges and exhausts the love-object. This is less self-delusory than an act of self-deprivation; in the interest of sustaining control over his surroundings and self, Garfield eliminates from his nature those desires which cannot be reliably self-fulfilled. In effort to maintain his Cool, love takes a backseat.

So when faced with warning that his tactics for moving through the world emotionally unscathed may be undermined by force, Garfield panics, and casts his normally cooling, penetrative gaze about in comic impotence. Love comes crashing, blundering in sudden and huge, but unstoppable even with forewarning. Garfield finds himself pressed face-first into a heart that mirrors his own technique of avoiding communication by taking what he wants by force; his eyeballs smushed the unavoidable reality of love's existence. You may be scared, but can't deny it, when it its clutch.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a week filled with "Beware Dog" signs, is it significant that the only one to register with Garfield as deserving of alarm is the one which signifies loneliness? Is it possibly because he is aware, having lived with Jon all these years, just what aggressive, socially inept behavior might result from such a conidition? If so, his fear is justified in the strip by the lonely dog's overbearing reaction to the discovery of a newly alarmed (but not fleeing victim): perhaps Garfield is still somewhat clueless about the effects of loneliness, or perhaps, somewhere deep inside, he actually wants to help.

luke said...

Re today's strip: whoever made the comment about Odie having an acid trip on October 15th spoke WAY too soon.

Jordan said...

haha, Odie is going through some special changes


-Jordan

quinn said...

Would you interpret Garfield's ostensible expressions of affection for Jon and Odie in Holiday-themed strips as purely perfunctory, cynical facades calculated to maximize gifts received, or genuine lapses of his pretenses to indifference?

Peter said...

I'm sorry, this might be the first Garfield strip to ever make me laugh out loud...