Hobbes is real, of course.  He's as real as childhood.

Hobbes is real, of course. He’s as real as childhood.

Who doesn’t hate a sour-faced prune soul lecture-dissecting the true meaning of humor, or some jowl-faced blowhard huffing and puffing as he slooowly explains the joke? Of such people, one can only hope they pratfall to death. What can be worse than them?

Answer: such people who are also hypocrites. The writer of this post, for instance.

Inflate the lungs, men. Make a face like your DNA sucked lemons. Activate the academese. Someone has to take laughter seriously, and it might as well be us . . . here . . . today. [Music swells.] We’re going in.

Calvin and Hobbes is one of the great works of Western civilization.   I don’t know if it will still be read and loved centuries into the future, but if not so much the worse for centuries into the future. Centuries into the future ought to write “Time Machine” on the side of its cardboard box and zoom back here for some of the good stuff.

Like all great art, Calvin and Hobbes addresses Serious Themes about the Human Condition , albeit (brace yourselves for a shock) in a funny way.

Love and death:

Calvin and Hobbes - don't die little raccoonLeibnizian optimism:

Calvine and Hobbes--it's never so badThe laugher of God:

Calvin and Hobbes - so you want some waterThis last comic in particular I could write an essay about, and probably will someday when the eyes around me seem lacking in glaze.

On the other hand, the great majority of the strips aren’t much about Adler’s Great Conversation. They’re just jokes.

Calvin and Hobbes - I'm safe!

orCalvin and Hobbes

That’s right, no eternal insight, just funny.  Calvin and Hobbes is a strip whose central question seems to be, is the stuffed tiger real? Plato never got around to that. Neither did Shakespeare.

So much for Calvin and Hobbes. Yet some of the more thoughtful people I come across keep coming back to it, even, or especially, to the question of Hobbes being real.

Or we accept that Hobbes is alive: I mean really alive.


This would mean that Hobbes is really alive, but alive in some way and form that is not generally recognized by the simple categories of modern thought.

And I think this is true – indeed I think it must be true; and to deny it involves denying very deep emotional intuitions – to violate which tends to make us inhuman and evil.


-thus Bruce Charlton from his essay, “Is Hobbes Really Alive?.”

I’ve been mulling it over the last couple of days. What is so serious about Calvin and Hobbes? Why do I, personally, keep thinking about it?

The hint I needed came from one of my favorite writers:

What if our imagination should become as a little child’s? What if receiving the kingdom of heaven as a little child mostly meant imagining heaven differently? Not stern and beautiful like Milton, but jolly and abundant.

The imagination of children is whimsical. They don’t see the unseen world as just eldritch or fey. To them, the transcendental and supernatural can be friendly, fun, whimsical, domestic.

The childish imagination is Calvin and Hobbes.

-from Hobbes and Hobbits.

Christ made childishness one of the great questions of human existence. Following him, we now know that it is of the stuff salvation is made of. For the Christian, childhood is part of the Great Conversation and Calvin and Hobbes is a classic work.  It’s silliness is soulcraft.







Continue reading at the original source →