Surreal Beer

Today’s Bizarro/Wayno collaboration goes to the neighborhood taproom:

> (#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

There’s the question of why Toper 3 can’t find his beer. That has a simple answer: the apple obscures his vision.

Then there’s the claim that Toper 3 is a surrealist — but actually he’s a surrealist character, not a surrealist (an exponent of surrealism). That does make the cartoon surreal, bizarre, because it juxtaposes two ordinary topers at a bar with a fictional character (one from surrealist art, to make the scene more delicious).

To get this cartoon, you need to recognize the “glass half full, glass half empty” formula, to recognize that Toper 3 comes from a painting by René Magritte, and to know that this painting is a surrealist work.

The formulaic expression. From Wikipedia:

“Is the glass half empty or half full?” is a common expression, a proverbial phrase, generally used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty), or as a general litmus test to simply determine an individual’s worldview. The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one’s point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble.

Toper 1 is an optimist, toper 2 a pessimist.

Toper 3. From my 7/19/12 posting “Magritte”:

> (#2)

surrealist René Magritte‘s “The Son of Man”, a painting that combines Magritte’s focus on identity (often involving a figure much like his own) and his use of an apple as a thematic element … This painting has been much parodied.

Lexicography. The English derivational morphology that figures in #1 is complex. A quick take from NOAD:

noun surrealist: an artist or writer who is an exponent of [surrealism,] the avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. [adj. surrealistic]

adj. surrealist: relating to [this movement].

adj. surreal: having the qualities of surrealism; bizarre.

Magritte was a surrealist, an exponent of surrealism — indeed a major figure of the artistic movement. Toper 3, on the other hand, is not (so far as we know) a surrealist, but rather a surrealist character, a figure from surrealism, from surrealist(ic) art (he’s the guy in “The Son of Man”).

So to be completely accurate, the title of #1 should be

not “Optimist, Pessimist, Surrealist”

but “Optimistic, Pessimistic, Surrealistic”.

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2018 at 7:06 am and is filed under Art, Derivation, Formulaic language, Linguistics in the comics, Morphology, Understanding comics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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