The infested apple

Today’s Price / Piccolo Rhymes With Orange, again with the apple:

(#1) Just silly-surreal… unless you know René Magritte’s 1964 surrealist painting The Son of Man (French: Le fils de l’homme), in which case it’s second-hand surrealism

From my 7/19/12 posting “Magritte”, about an earlier Rhymes strip:


The reference is to surrealist René Magritte‘s “The Son of Man”, a painting that combines Magritte’s focus on identity (often involving a figure much like his own) and his use of an apple as a thematic element:


This painting has been much parodied.

Parodied, yes — examples follow in the 2012 posting — but also played on, as in #1 and #2. And in at least five other cartoons on this blog. The roll call as far as I can recover it:

— in this Bizarro of 8/24/12:


— in this Rhymes of 12/10/17:


— in this Bizarro of 5/16/18:


— in this Bizarro of 7/1/18:


— and in this Zippy of 1/30/21:


Most of these are simple second-order surrealism, taking the figure in #3, Magritte’s original, to be an actual person — call him ManSon — acting in the real world: in #1, going to a doctor to get treated for his apple’s worms; in #2, hanging up his (bowler) hat, coat, and apple when he gets home; in #4, taking his apple before leaving for work; in #6, having a beer with his buddies.

#5 is about a fictive Magritte, not ManSon, indeed this Magritte as a child, as his apple-fixation is developing; in this crude version of what was to come, Magritte’s creation ManSon is a snowman, merely a simulacrum of a man, and the apple is his head, rather than being affixed to it.

#7 is simple second-order surrealism, but from the viewpoint of MSApp (ManSon’s Apple) rather than ManSon — MSApp, being admired by other fictive fruits (a peach, an orange) for his cleverness in inserting himself into a photo of ManSon.

And #8 would seem to be third-order surrealism, since its protagonist is the painting The Son of Man, not either of the fictive figures — ManSon and MSApp — in it.

A very Zippyesque move. Zippy the Pinhead is, after all, a cartoon in which the cartoonist Bill Griffith regularly appears as a character, interacting with the fictive figure of Zippy as a fellow human being (of the Pinhead race, from the town of Dingburg); and in which, every so often, performers who play the figures Griffy and Zippy are introduced. That is, the relationship between simulacra and their models (what they’re used to represent) can be reproduced at another level, with those simulacra then treated as models for other simulacra — and so on up the line.

It’s a lot like the relationship between names and their referents (what they’re used to refer to), which can be reproduced at another level, with those names then treated as referents for other names — and so on up the line. For names, the great text comes from Lewis Carroll, in chapter VIII of Through the Looking-Glass (1871). From the Wikipedia entry on “Haddock’s Eyes”:

The White Knight explains to Alice a confusing nomenclature for the song.

“You are sad,” the Knight said in an anxious tone: “let me sing you a song to comfort you.”
“Is it very long?” Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
“It’s long,” said the Knight, “but very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it — either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else —”
“Or else what?” said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
“Or else it doesn’t, you know. The name of the song is called ‘Haddocks’ Eyes‘.”
“Oh, that’s the name of the song, is it?” Alice said, trying to feel interested.
“No, you don’t understand,” the Knight said, looking a little vexed.
“That’s what the name is called. The name really is ‘The Aged Aged Man‘.”
“Then I ought to have said ‘That’s what the song is called’?” Alice corrected herself.
“No, you oughtn’t: that’s quite another thing! The song is called ‘Ways And Means‘: but that’s only what it’s called, you know!”
“Well, what is the song, then?” said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
“I was coming to that,” the Knight said. “The song really is ‘A-sitting On A Gate‘: and the tune’s my own invention.” [the Knight proceeds to sing this (quite lengthy) song]

To summarize:
– The song’s name is called Haddocks’ Eyes
– The song’s name is The Aged Aged Man
– The song is called Ways and Means
– The song is A-sitting on a Gate

I note that Bill Griffith feels under no obligation to make his cartoon world coherent. But we can try to work things out as best we can.

3 Responses to “The infested apple”

  1. J B Levin Says:

    I also like the extra surrealism in #6, where the surrealist’s beer is present only its reflection in the surface of the bar, unlike the other two persons’ glasses of beer.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    Martin Gardner, in his Annotated Alice, points out (or quotes someone as pointing out, I think) that A-sitting on a Gate is yet another name, and properly speaking the Knight should have simply launched into the song after “The song is“.

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