I've been thinking about penguins lately. Professional reasons. There comes a point in a guy's life when he is paid to think about penguins.
Here's what I've learned so far: We've seen so many hyper-stylized cartoon penguins that we've grown used to the stylization. In fact, we've grown so
used to it that when someone slams our eyeballs with a picture of a real
penguin, our first reaction is: "No. Not right. That's
not a penguin."
Allow me to prove the point:
See? Real penguins aren't round. They have really bendy necks. They have long, pointy beaks. They have small heads and really small eyes. They have tails. And most of them aren't black-and-white. Also, baby penguins are fuzzy.
In short: Real penguins are nothing like the penguins skittering around in our collective visual imagination. Real penguins look wrong.
Isn't it strange that our minds have come to prefer the lies told to us by cartoonists? Doesn't this odd fact tell us something massive and disturbing about the power of popular culture? For example, how did the "cartoon Russians" of our Cold War imaginations compare to actual
Yes, I have finally managed to politicize a trivial Sunday post about penguins.
Please share with the rest of the class if you have any thoughts about penguins -- or about the deceptive treasure house of imagery we carry around in our unconscious. Or unconsciouses. Or should that be "unconsciousnesses"? What is
the plural of that word? Is
there a plural?
Added note for the two or three of you who care about classical music.
I'm listening to Bizet's Djamileh
right now, and it's really good. Bizet wrote lots of good music that wasn't Carmen
. So why is Carmen
the only Bizet work that people know? (Djamileh
doesn't have much of a story, but who cares? If you want a story, read a book.)