Monday, April 28, 2014

Sense: This Picture Makes More Than You Thought

I got three great responses to my call last week to make sense of a certain meme. Today, I’ll take up those responses and talk about “making sense” itself.

All three of my worthy commenters mentioned an element of the picture I hadn’t noticed before writing last week’s post; a feature of the image which saddened me a little because it seemed to ruin the absurdity. Namely, that Darth Vader is pouring sea water from a water filter into another bottle.
Exhibit A: the image in question.

Now, first of all, Brita-style water filters (which use activated carbon to filter water) cannot remove salt. Secondly, I’m pretty sure Darth Vader would know this and, even if he had to filter water, he wouldn’t frickin’ stand in it while he’s filtering it. So, the presence of a water filter doesn’t make this image somehow practical, or believable, or not really stupid and silly. What it does do though (and this is what all three commenters picked up on) is cause it to “make sense” pretty easily. Even if only a clumsy idiot would attempt this thing (and we doubt that Vader is one), that clumsy idiot dressed like Darth Vader is attempting something rational by a means which, although misguided, is not totally off-base: filtering water to make it potable.

So then, what is this “making sense”, and why would we want to do it? Or, why would someone want to publish, for all the world to see, an image that they claimed didn’t?

Well, when I asked my worthy commenters to make sense, two of them offered explanation; they took what they were given, and suggested context and intent that fit with it (however ludicrously). “Make sense” is a good phrase for that, because it makes something visible in a metaphysical sense; it makes a situation or purpose appear before the mind’s eye, which wouldn’t have before (whether that vision is the truth in any sense is another, important question). But, the third commenter (the one who talked about the image vainly invoking the pathos of Darth Vader’s plight at the end of A New Hope) didn’t explain, he pointed out some really wacko symbolism present in the image. I don’t think we can deny that the elements he pointed out are present in both the picture and what must have happened to Darth Vader (a desperate attempt to use technology to acquire the necessities of life). He “made sense” of it by pointing out its real connection to something else; goofy as all get out, but as valiant an effort as can be expected given what he had to work with.

Exhibit B: An image that makes far less sense.
So, why do either of these? Well, first, to have a good time, you stick-in-the-mud. Why just look at something so nutty and go “hur hur” once, when we can fly off on amusing and mentally stimulating tangents like a dizzy Sith Lord in a Tie-Fighter? We might even learn something; I hadn’t thought about what Darth Vader would have to go through between A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back. I’m pretty sure that was a short-range fighter, and space is big, and all his friends and minions had just blown up. And, as far-fetched as it might seem, it does bear some relationship to the actual difficulties of space-travel.

The other reason to do it is that it’s one of our jobs. We make sense, we find things out and learn what they are and why (the squirrels sure aren't doing it), and if we aren't in the habit, then more and more of what we see might not make sense, but just seem absurd.

As to why anyone would want things to be absurd (or what good it could be to want them to be) we will discuss that next week.

© 2014 John Hiner III

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Darth Vader is in a large freshwater lake and he is wearing his outfit rather than stripping down to a bathing suit because it is cold and he want's the dark fabric to catch the heat of the sun. But wait there's more, his mask has a special drinking tube.