Monday, November 13, 2017

So how bad has it gotten

So how bad has it gotten? 
The news coverage of our politics has gotten so bad that, trumpet players have taken up the cornet.

Don’t leave. I’m NOT going to write anything more on that sad subject.

extra charge for this guy's pedi

Instead let’s discuss fantasy characters and maybe a myth or two. Regular readers of A Few Clowns Short know the myth topic is seldom covered here. Really I don’t have the time to cover all the odd ideas that cross my synapses daily. Most of those odd ideas could be turned into a decent myth. I wrote about myths way back in 2011. (link )

Much like that 2011 post and many others for that matter, this post came about in a convoluted manner. Do you care? If no, then skip ahead.

I have in-laws who subscribed to the New Yorker (they would like the one liner at the top of this post). They started moving around frequently and decided to send the magazine to our house. They typically read it online anyway. You may know/experienced the high quality of writing in the New Yorker. I suspect some people may get it just for the cartoons.

I found this piece titled, “Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them” in Nov. 6 issue very thought provoking. (link )

I must say the first thing that caught my attention was at the very top of the page - Dept. of Speculation

Wow that’s exactly what I need here. I would certainly appoint myself as the first head of the department. Call myself Chief of Speculation. Enough about my organizational plans.

The author, Kathryn Schulz, writes, 

“One of the strangest things about the human mind is that it can reason about unreasonable things.”

The article centers around the workings of “willing suspension of disbelief”. I learned that idea goes back to the 1790’s. Even if you don’t belief in Spiderman or Wonder Woman you can still get very involved in their stories. How does this suspension of disbelief work? Ms. Schulz offers up various ideas about this ranging from the creature's biological makeup (size of Big Foot) to the physical nature of their powers (transformation of a vampire).

Within her discussion on judging the plausibility of fantastical beings there is a suggested game for your next party. Create a list of supernatural/mythical beings and ask your guests to rank their plausibility. I plan to try this and expect some interesting conversations. Now if it is a Christmas party, I suggest not including Santa or his elves.

Here’s my list:

  • Wonder Woman
  • Mermaid
  • Big Foot
  • Extraterrestrials visiting earth
  • Angels
  • Zombies
  • Vampires
  • Werewolves
  • Flying fire breathing dragons
  • Ghosts (do you agree an angel is not a ghost?)

Remember you do not need to actually believe in these creatures just rank them. If you are wondering, I rank mermaid as most plausible and flying dragons as least.

I agree with what she writes toward the end:

“Yet, in the end, what’s most remarkable is not that our fantasies contain so much reality; it is that our reality contains so much fantasy.”


“Better, perhaps, to know that what we feel in our happiest moments has some truth to it: life is magical.”

Unrelated to this speculation exercise - I found a TED talk that Kathryn Schulz gave on the importance of embracing our own fallibility. It was given in 2011 and still applies now as it did then. Maybe more so. Worth watching.

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