Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus

The Nietzsche Family Circus is a web page (tip of the sombrero to Paul Hsieh here) that juxtaposes a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Nietzsche quote.

The illusion of quote-to-picture relevance is laugh-out-loud funny. This illusion, I think, is closely related to a classic idea from film theory, the Kuleshov Effect, in which a given shot is interpreted, sometimes with startling results, in terms of neighboring shots. This is one of the many illusions that, according to my favorite theory, are always going on when one is watching a film. An even more closely related one is the illusion in virtue of which we hear various sounds in the sound track as if they were coming from various areas on the screen, and not out of a mesh-covered box next to it.

And this, my young friends, shows how powerful a meaning-finder the mind is, so powerful indeed that it often finds meaning where there is none. And thank God for that! Also, I suppose, thank that for God. That could be one of the origins of religious experience, after all.

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