Seeing the Invisible Man

Popped up on Pinterest, this Bizarro from 12/13/04:


A pun that takes advantage of an ambiguity in see: ‘perceive with the eyes’ (something one does not do with the Invisible Man) vs.sense 4c from the  NOAD see entry:

verb see: … 4 [a] meet (someone one knows) socially or by chance: I saw Colin last night. … [c] meet regularly as a boyfriend or girlfriend: some guy she was seeing was messing her around.

Similarly in a David Borchart cartoon, #2 in my 7/25/14 posting “Cartoon ambiguities”:


NOAD2 has over 20 entries under see, not counting idioms and other fixed expressions (the consequence of many centuries of semantic extensions and syntactic innovations, in many different directions); this is fairly conservative, but even if some of these can be viewed as the “same” lexical item in different syntactic contexts, it seems inevitable that we’ll need to posit more than one lexical item see. In particular, the ‘perceive with the eyes’ see and the ‘consult’ see in #2 are just homophonous verbs, only historically related. The caption in #2 has a striking ambiguity in it, and it’s all the funnier because the two verbs involved are so semantically distant from one another, and the first is so absurd in context, while the second is unremarkable (in the sociocultural context).

The Invisible Man. From my 10/23/12 posting “The Invisible Man”, about:

(#3) The cover of a reissue of the H.G. Wells book

the Legacy Collection box on The Invisible Man, a collection comprising the 1933 original and four more on the theme — The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), Invisible Agent (1942), and The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) — plus some extras.

… [plot summary of the book and original film:] Griffin is a former medical student who left medicine to devote himself to optics. He invented a drug that made bodies invisible and, on an impulse, performed the procedure on himself. The film begins with his frantic, thwarted attempts to find an antidote and then follows him as he descends into madness caused by the drug.

Later spinoffs include Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), played for laughs, rather than the Science Amok theme of the 1897 H.G. Wells book and the original movies.

And now, from Wikipedia:

The Invisible Man is a 2020 Australian-American science fiction horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell, loosely based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells. It follows a woman who believes she is being stalked and gaslit by her abusive and wealthy boyfriend even after his apparent suicide, and ultimately deduces that he has acquired the ability to become invisible.



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