Comic Talk and General Discussion

Rant: A Moment of Self-Discovery
reconjsh at 10:27AM, March 21, 2007
posts: 663
joined: 12-18-2006
(Please read entire post if you plan on commenting. This post actually has nothing to do with religion… it has to do with investigation of truth)

Ever read “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll? It was through that poem that I discovered something about myself.


I've read it a few times and had a few theories on what it means. I always thought that the Walrus represented big business or government and the Carpenter represented religion and/or specifically Christianity (jesus was a carpenter).

I kind of confirmed within my mind this imagery when one of my political science college professors (years ago, btw) used it to help illustrate a point and also when Matt Damen's character said it in Dogma. (lol - Dogma is full of subtle and insightful imagery of religion. I guess I subconciously applied the truth of other things in that movie to the truth of the walrus/carpenter shucking lines)

Yesterday I, for some unknown reason, found myself reading wikipedia about this poem. Here's an excerpt from wikipedia's entry on the subject:

There are many interpretations of the poem, the majority of which depict the Walrus and Carpenter to be corrupt leaders (whether it be in politics, religion, or business) leading their followers astray (in the form of the little oysters). The poem is often suggested to illustrate the nature of genocide.

Martin Gardner noted in The Annotated Alice that when Carroll gave the manuscript for Looking Glass to illustrator John Tenniel, he gave him the choice of drawing a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet (since each word would fit the poem's meter). Tenniel chose the carpenter. Because of this, the carpenter's significance in the poem is probably not in his profession. Although the two characters of the poem were interpreted later as two political types, there is no indication of what Carroll may have intended; Gardner cautions the reader that there is ‘…too much intended symbolism in the Alice books.’
… and thus the link to christianity and jesus as a carpenter becomes less likely.

Needless to say, it made me really rethink why I thought the carpenter was a symbol for religion or christianity in the first place… and consequently, I was forced to consider that there's A LOT of things I may ignorantly hold as fact just because it makes sense to me and it's stated by someone or something that is reasonably credible (like my pol. sci. professor).

My intent here isn't to start a debate about the poem or religion, the actual meaning of the carpenter/walrus is irrelevant to the point that "I really didn't put enough legwork into knowing whether or not what I thought was actually a fact“. I just wanted to rant/vent for a minute and say ”damn, that was pretty stupid. I might want to consider this new discovery before I speak in the future". Generally, I'm pretty careful to only speak things that I can substatiate as this is one of my pet-peaves (stating “fact” without proof)… but I'm forced to see the reality that my definition of “things I can substantiate” should now include every thing I hold as fact, no matter how trivial or minor that fact might be. I think this is profound since most us probably accept some tiny, minor, insignificant “facts” as truth - without putting any real thought into it and I realized that I'm included in that group.

This was just one of those moments for me that seemed like personal growth. And I thought I'd share that with anyone willing to listen. ;)

Anyone else got an example of this? Rant with me! And congratulations if you actually read this entire thing. ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
The mediocre one at 1:03PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 846
joined: 1-15-2006
I just wan tto say I think this is going to spiral out of control. You might have good intentions, but religeon always sparks a huge amount of fire.
Paper Mache Cataclysm
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:15PM
reconjsh at 1:57PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 663
joined: 12-18-2006
The post isn't about religion though. And it'd be obvious to anyone who reads my post entirely.

Axe grinding is for a different thread. But you're probably right. Some people will read the first 2 paragraphs - if that - and go immediately into a religious or political rant. It's my hope that they don't.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
LIZARD_B1TE at 2:05PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 3,308
joined: 6-22-2006
One time I had an enlightenment about victory and defeat in PE class while playing shuffleboard with myself.

But I forgot it after I realized that shuffleboard was the sport I was good at.

Of course, this has nothing to do with the poem, I just felt like temporarily drawing attention to myself. Please, continue. This thread interests me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:36PM
Neilsama at 2:19PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 432
joined: 1-2-2006
No, it's absolutely not about religion. In fact, it's brilliant.

Needless to say, it made me really rethink why I thought the carpenter was a symbol for religion or christianity in the first place… and consequently, I was forced to consider that there's A LOT of things I may ignorantly hold as fact just because it makes sense to me and it's stated by someone or something that is reasonably credible (like my pol. sci. professor).
The ability to say “I don't know” and “I might be wrong” are the two greatest things you could ever say. I have infinitely more respect for you based on this paragraph alone.

It's easy to simply appeal to authority in casual conversation. For example… “This is supposed to be a good movie, because John said so.”. You're assuming that someone you know is an authority on good movies, because you know them. Or perhaps your experience is that John consistantly picks good movies.

It gets tricky when you start to apply this sort of logic to more political and scientific thought. In a scientific realm, the word of a scientist is infinitely meaningless next to his ability to demonstrate. The reason, obviously, is that unlike John, you don't know this guy, so he has the burden of proof on his statements.

On the other hand, we don't exactly have the luxury to go around to every scientist and insist that he repeat his tests for us, but this is also why we have documentaries, museums, and stuff like that. And admittedly even those can be fixed, which is why continuous inquiry is so important. If you burden yourself with an unmovable assumption, you only cheat yourself.

So as Ms. Frizzle would say: Ask questions, make mistakes, and get messy!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:10PM
Phantom Penguin at 2:26PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 1,075
joined: 1-6-2006
The Carpender could mean Jesus. It could mean a carpender building a solid strong object out of many useless things.

I don't know, just throwing it out there.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
mechanical_lullaby at 2:33PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 1,905
joined: 1-7-2006
I adore Lewis Carroll. His work is a very nice thing to find yourself in.

My moment was while listening to Imagine by John Lennon. I decided that try to live by that for the rest of my life. It was simple because I found the lyrics described what I was trying to be anyway. The world that concerns itself with the now, and with each other. Unfortunately it's kind of the best-case-scenario thing. All the things you wish didn't exist, exist, but wouldn't it be lovely if they didn't?

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:56PM
reconjsh at 2:49PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 663
joined: 12-18-2006
Neilsama - ;) Thanks. Obviously we can't just go around not accepting everything we can't physically prove ourselves, but I liked how you worded “continual inquiry”. Sounds epic, lol.

I've always questioned things before I accept them as fact. This wasn't exactly a revelation to just question things (I made that long ago), but rather to question even the most simple or tiny things. Of course I realized I the need to verify things long ago - I was a late bloomer though… as I really stopped regurgatating what my dad said around 9th or 10th grade and started discovering my own truths. (like 12 or so years ago)

An example for clarity:
* “Godfather III was a bad movie”. I've said this before but honestly, I've never seen it. It's a very common belief, and from what I understand, probably true. But I'm wrong for saying it's a bad movie.

mechanical_lullaby - Imagine is a pretty powerful song. It's overly idealistic… but even if 10% of what he's saying can be realized, I think we'd all be doing pretty okay. I especially like A Perfect Circle's cover of the song… it think it takes a message of hope and turns it into a message of defeat - a statement about Lennon's vision not being realized.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
kingofsnake at 3:16PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 1,374
joined: 9-27-2006
I liked Godfather 3. It wasn't as good as Godfather 2 but it was still a pretty good movie. It just gets a bad rap for not living up to people's extreme expectations after how good the second one was.

The walrus and the carpenter being about religion is a pretty commonly held misbelief. I wrote my thesis on Alice's Adventure's through the Looking Glass. It was my belief that the whole book was about the nature of maturity, childhood, and aging, and really nothing else. I had a pretty strong case for it that I wanted to expand on but still just haven't found the time. Plus, Lewis Carrol lived his life a devout member of the church of england. It wouldn't make sense for him to write that poem about a religion he practiced, unless it was parody. I don't remember fully how that particular poem tied into my thesis. Too often literature is disected in such a way that the overall philosphy that the author was trying to convey is lost for smaller symbols or points of view that may be correct with that specific character, but not correct when viewed against the idea of the book as a whole.

You should read “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt, it's excellent, and describes at a philosophical level exactly what you experienced. Plus it's a short read. I picked up “On Truth” by him as well but haven't had a chance to read it yet.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
The mediocre one at 5:44PM, March 21, 2007
posts: 846
joined: 1-15-2006
Hm, guess I didn't understand it, sorry.
And thanks for not jumping on my ass about it, either.
Paper Mache Cataclysm
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:15PM

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