Saturday, May 08, 2010


Garfield and Odie engage in the dialectical death struggle, but this master-slave conflict will never resolve, never synthesize. One side is too dumb to resist or surrender. Garfield is playing Hegel's game correctly, but his opponent barely qualifies as a self-consciousness to be battled.

Garfield's behaviors are cultivated and perfected or at least self-aware. He may not be able to control his food addiction, but he frames it as an artform, a lifestyle, a moral certitude. Odie's body simply cannot be regulated. He is beyond choice, out of control, outside the boundaries of self-awareness. His tongue protrudes, eyes bulge, body spasms because he cannot help it. Odie cannot follow Garfield's rules because he cannot process them, but also through the sheer force of the rampaging lifeforce that Garfield would annihilate.

Finally, Garfield defines himself through sheer opposition to the Other, even as he tries to conscript Odie into his own behavioral patterns. Though he can name the activities that define the dog, he looks into the core of what makes a cat — his own identity — and comes up empty.

Attempting to curb Odie's behavior through orders couched in the form of a sort of game, Garfield makes two weird logistical moves and the sum comes out less than zero.


Dave said...

No comment about Odie's expression in Panel 3, which resembles irritation?

Anonymous said...

Delightful. Hilarious analysis. I used to read this blog years ago, and am overjoyed to discover a. that it still exists and b. has been updated!

doncherry said...

But what would considering this strip tell us?