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character development takes time

January 28, 2014

NYTIMES: “Charlie Brown and the Gang Take Shape” by Dana Jennings reviews “Peanuts Every Sunday: 1952-1955”, which “book reprints in full color the first four years of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” strips on Sundays”:

is as fascinating to read as watching an image emerge during a gravestone rubbing. Shadows and portents slowly rise on the paper, hinting at what the final work will look like.

As the book opens … Charlie Brown’s personality isn’t yet defined — he might even be a wiseacre; Lucy is a blank-eyed zombie toddler; Linus is a baby; and Snoopy is a pointy-snouted pup who shows few signs of becoming a regal philosopher-beagle.

See also ScienceAlert: “Why the masculine face? Genetic evidence reveals drawbacks of hyper-masculine features” by Rob Brooks cites his “colleague” as using “zombie idea“:

one of those ideas with prurient appeal, but patchy evidence. It’s morphing into what my UNSW colleague Angela Moles calls a ‘Zombie Idea’: compelling and considered self-evidently true by many, but not actually that well supported.

NYTimes Paul Krugman uses this expression often, to describe economic theories that he claims disproven but still get repeated. Often these economic models are hard to understand so it’s hard to explain the proof on either side. This tends to make them slow moving and killing requires many repetitions of their proof against.

Contrast stories like “Justin Bieber’s housekeeper lifts lid on his crazy world – and warns drugs and hangers-on are turning him into a zombie” which has been repeated all over the internet in a very short time. Maybe the housekeeper said it, but who cares, the quote flies across the media before anyone can be sure what is the motives or what the housekeeper really knows. It’s a fast zombie idea and it spreads so fast because like Brooks said, it has prurient appeal and self-evidently compelling. Bieber’s people are clearly enjoying the zombie press recently, and this is just another viral headline.

Like Charlie Brown’s gallery, music‘s characters also develop. Who was Charlie Brown before he was Charlie Brown is like asking who were the Beatles before they were the Beatles. In an Hegelian way these characters became what they were not and in that ‘becoming’ thus defined themselves as what they are. Evolutionary logic relies on the reproduction of what survives. Evolution is dialectic but there is no Absolute Idea, there is no teleology, there is repetition and adaptation. Still, all things end (it is Hegel‘s truth of things), and assuming the end, we can look back and pretend it wasn’t predetermined, examine how it came to be, consider alternative possibilities. In this examination, the past performs existence into being, and the thing continues to become. Long live zombie Charlie Brown.

Vimeo: “It’s The Great Zombie Apocalypse, Charlie Brown” from Calli Higgins 4 years ago

zombie charlie brown


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