Apple men

The Wayno / Piraro Bizarro cartoon for 10/11 — Wayno’s title: “Surrealism Syndrome” — brings together the green apple of Magritte’s Son of Man with the apple William Tell legendarily shot off the head of his son Walter:

(#1) Yet another Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoon; the therapist is Wayno’s caricature of the surrealist artist René Magritte (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

Magritte’s green apple. The original:


And then in my 1/18/22 posting “The infested apple”, 7 riffs on The Son of Man. Plus #1 above.

William Tell and his son Walter. Come with me now to the legendary 14th century. The beginning of the story, from Wikipedia:

William Tell … is a folk hero of Switzerland. According to the legend, Tell was an expert mountain climber and marksman with a crossbow who assassinated Albrecht Gessler, a tyrannical reeve of the Austrian dukes of the House of Habsburg positioned in Altdorf, in the canton of Uri. Tell’s defiance and tyrannicide encouraged the population to open rebellion and a pact against the foreign rulers with neighbouring Schwyz and Unterwalden, marking the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy. Tell was considered the father of the Swiss Confederacy.

… It is Tschudi’s version that became influential in early modern Switzerland and entered public consciousness as the “William Tell” legend. According to Tschudi’s account, William Tell was known as a strong man and an expert shot with the crossbow. In his time, the House of Habsburg emperors of Austria were seeking to dominate Uri, and Tell became one of the conspirators of Werner Stauffacher who vowed to resist Habsburg rule. Albrecht Gessler was the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, Switzerland. He raised a pole under the village lindentree, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before it.

(#3) Grosvenor Prints site: hand-colored wood engraving, c.1840

In Tschudi’s account, on 18 November 1307, Tell visited Altdorf with his young son. He passed by the hat, but publicly refused to bow to it, and was consequently arrested. Gessler was intrigued by Tell’s famed marksmanship, but resentful of his defiance, so he devised a cruel punishment. Tell and his son were both to be executed; however, he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son Walter in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.

Gessler nevertheless arrested Tell, but Tell escaped and then assassinated Gessler. And Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden joined to become the germ of the Swiss confederation.

(Magritte, by the way, was a Belgie, neither a Frenchie nor a Swissie.)

3 Responses to “Apple men”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    My first reaction when I saw this cartoon in my morning paper was “This one is right up Arnold’s alley”. The one detail that escaped me was that the psychiatrist was a caricature of Magritte himself.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Wayno admits that it’s not a very good caricature.

      Knowing Wayno, I stared at that face for some time, sure that it was supposed to be someone specific — but then Wayno often uses faces of friends, especially other cartoonists, in his drawings, and I’m unlikely to recognize them.

      Then the penny dropped. If I hadn’t become some kind of minor-league Magrittologist (because of the Magrittean Disadvowal), I wouldn’t have recognized even a faithful likeness. I certainly wouldn’t have expected a non-specialist to recognize Magritte himself.

      But yes, Magritte + Swiss, and I pretty much had to be on the case.

      I chose to let the gay / queer / incest subtext — the father piercing the son’s apple with his arrow — just lie there, unremarked upon.

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