Editorial

"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Monday, September 24, 2012

Funny Wonderful Life

Funny Wonderful Life


Physics equations?
Are you sure you want to be a cartoonist?

A Comment on Insight & Humor

As a small tribute to
"Science is an integral part of culture. It's not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood.
It's one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition."
Stephen Jay Gould
Insight & Humor

The wit and humor in the recognition of a truth are often important inspirations and by-products of scientific insight (and other areas of human endeavor). Humility like science has a tendency toward self-correction. I've always believed you should take your work seriously, but not necessarily yourself too much. We often laugh at jokes or cartoons because of the surprising insight it points to, or to hidden faults in logic it reveals, especially by turning stale ideas on their head. The right twist will get you hooked. Being able to communicate these insights with wit and humor goes deeper than mere entertainment.

In my opinion there are no better communicators of  joyous science (and life) insights than Stephen Jay Gould and Gary Larson.  Both obviously passionate about science and life as well as masters at the art of communication. One by words and the other by images (with captions), they put forth revelations about nature, science and especially ourselves with warmth and humor. Sharing with us their precious view of our funny wonderful life!
Jokes can't be explained.
The enjoyment comes from just "getting it". However, when it's rendered with great talent what you get are hilarious perspectives.
A Quick Lesson on: The Farside
Gary Larson
Species: Garylarsonus (beetle)
Serratoterga larsoni (Ecuadorian butterfly) 
Strigiphilus garylarsoni Clayton, (owl louse)
"I considered this an extreme honor.
Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along."
Gary Larson  The Far Side

My Personal Favorite







Strigiphilus garylarsoni
From the Foreword of Gary Larson's Far Side Gallery 3

"...I also think I know why Gary Larson is numero uno by a mile among my colleagues - and that gives me something to write about. Being funny is surely a criterion, but simple chuckles do not explain why we have spontaneously chosen Gary Larson as national humorist of natural history. He has won by informal acclamation because he understands science so well. And I don't mean factual knowledge (this is available for the asking from textbooks and courses); I refer to the subtle nuances and insights - hundreds of them, sometimes several per cartoon - showing that Gary Larson knows the intimate details of our daily lives and practices...

Gary Larson is a natural historian. The foibles of human relationships with the natural world, and the bad habits of culture and society thus reflected, provide his central theme...

Everyone has a favorite based on his own career- and I expect that the items on doors of my colleagues are personal statements. I think we all feel that Gary made one just for us. In mine, a group of Protozoa are watching a slide show, and one says: "No wait! That's not Uncle Floyd! Who is that? Criminy, I think it's just an air bubble!" Why did this put me supine in the aisles? Well, when I took embryology in college, we had to make serial sections through a chick embryo. I made a technically perfect set of sections; I was so proud. But when I put my product under the microscope, I discovered that I had made a perfect serial section through an air bubble, and caught the embryo at some useless angle. I abandoned laboratory work and became a paleontologist.

One final comment that says it all. It is the caption of another Protozoan cartoon, but take it more generally as the real reason, not only for Gary Larson's success, but for the deep respect that he has won from us: Two amoeba are watching television, and one says to the other: "Stimulus, response! Stimulus, response! Don't you ever think!" Most of us live like the amoeba, but Larson won't let us. There is no more important intellectual lesson, however it be taught."


by Stephen Jay Gould

1986 Gary Larson interview on 20/20
© 2012 MU-Peter Shimon

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