I recently received an email from my local artist friend, Chris Ruggia. It includes the brief comic strip above. I find it to be marvelous and am much flattered by it, even though there is a touch of the satirical in it.
You see, Chris and I meet every other Friday morning at my apartment for about two hours of coffee or juice, and conversation. Our topics range widely, but they are usually much more “on point” and satisfying than the conversations I’m used to in the bars and coffee shops.
I have occasionally expressed to Chris my hope that he will eventually pause for a while in his production of comic books about animals and do something involving only–or mostly–humans. I have also tried a couple of times to convert him to poetry by showing him my favorite poems by Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Robert Browning and Emily Dickinson. The reference in the second panel of the comic strip is to Emily’s poem about being startled upon perceiving the movement of a supposed snake in the grass. (Also note the poet in the tree—a mockingbird, my mystical messenger.) I was unsuccessful in bringing Chris up to the level of poetry-appreciation I cherish: Don’t even try anymore.
I should explain a little about the “fear and trembling” note in the first panel, and the humans in the last. A few months ago, I was reading for the second time Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling — a difficult book to understand, not because it is too deep but because Kierkegaard wandered about too much in his sentences and paragraphs and because he allowed his emotional break-up with his fiancée to affect his writing (according to Bob).
Hopefully, this background will give you some sense of what is going on in the final panel. Kierkegaard’s fiancée did not leave him; he left her. And then he entangled the whole angst episode up in the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Kierkegaard reportedly was slightly shocked when the young lady, as Bertrand Russell opined, “very sensibly married someone else”.
I have no idea yet what the fiancée, in the last panel, is waving in her hand. Is it a brush with which she brushed Kierkegaard off? I’ll ask Chris Friday.⇓<See postscript below.>
For a fuller sampling of Chris’s comic book creations (three now), click on or copy-and-paste this URL http://www.jackcomics.com/ onto whatever that line at the top is called. (The main character in his comic books is a jackrabbit.)
POSTSCRIPT: Friday, January 23> Well, I discussed this post with Chris Ruggia this morning. He told me that he “loved” the way I connected the last panel of his cartoon with Kierkegaard. However, he added, he and his wife had recently watched one of the film adaptations of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, and he had been thinking of that movie while drawing the cartoon. The hair of the man in particular had been modeled on the hair styles of two of the movie’s characters. (Kierkegaard’s hair actually was fuller and puffed up in front, comparable, I imagine, to Justin Bieber’s.) Also, Chris explained that the woman is admiring a long, dry thistle—which she prefers to listening to her suitor.
I told Chris that I still like my assumption that it is a brush—in fact, a toilet bowl brush.
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