Saturday, 17 November 2012

Theories of Relativity (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Look Beyond the Curtain)

I was journeying home from a night of karaoke and mojitos, when I realised that Homer Simpson, like all fictional characters, believes he's living in a real universe. 

Now I know what you're thinking. Yes, I had had a few drinks, but I wasn't drunk as such, more tipsy/contemplative. For some reason as I was making my way across Waterloo Bridge, I remembered one of my favourite Simpsons episodes (I think one of the Treehouse of Horror specials) where Homer is transported into our universe and finds himself a 3D figure in a busy downtown US city (presumably LA). As a kid I always felt a little emotional about that ending, watching 3D Homer walking through LA, staring at everything with a mixture of awe and horror (that is until he stumbles upon a cake shop). I think it's the sense of wonder he experienced as he was pulled out of his fictional world into our world. For 30-odd seconds, he ceased to be a cartoon character and was transformed into a (rather odd) being in our own frakked up world. 

Like Homer, I'd pick Springfield over Earth any day.
It's always odd when fictional characters get a glimpse of the fragility of their existence. Another example would be Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (one of his best performances, and a precursor to his other major dramatic performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). In the film, Truman learns that his whole life is a constructed reality; he has actually been the star of a popular reality TV show since the moment of his birth. From this point on Truman fights to escape his constructed reality and discover the real world that exists beyond the TV set. It's a very good film - I've often felt it would have been made even better had Truman escaped his reality only to find the film's writer-director Andrew Niccol looking at him. The eeriness of having Truman escape one constructed reality only to find himself within another would have worked well, the equivalent of a celluloid Russian doll. 

As much as we try to trick ourselves into thinking that reality is a fixed form lacking construction, I think our existence on Earth is far more elaborate and malleable than that. Perhaps I am a man of flesh and bone with genuine control over my actions, existence and (ultimately) my fate. 

Or perhaps like Homer, I'm just a 2D cartoon on someone else's canvas. 


  1. You bring up some interesting points. Good stuff!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Perhaps drunkenness really does lead to wisdom!