The Thinker — or how the “Mandela Effect” gave him second and third thoughts
There used to be a time, when you wanted to remember a moment in history, you enshrined it in stone and it would last forever… The Thinker sculpture by Auguste Rodin is the change that cemented the fact that the Mandela Effect is not a case of misremembering or confabulation, as I’ve seen it in THREE different poses so far!
Something is amiss!
Last year was the first time I noticed the statue was different. I expected to see it with his fist against his forehead, but instead, he had his chin resting casually on the back of his open hand. I was shocked, The Thinker is a pretty ubiquitous artwork, and this was a wholly new pose! A description from someone else who spotted the change, “it is resting on the top of his outstretched hand with his fingers pointing toward his throat.”
Shane Robinson made a video about the new pose, and posted it to his Youtube channel Unbiased & On the Fence, March 2017. In it, he’s clearly shaken by the experience, but what makes it an interesting watch, is that he demonstrates the Thinker’s pose by placing his chin on the back of his hand, fingertips against his throat.
I took to checking on The Thinker every morning because I was still in disbelief. Was it just bad memory at play? And if so, how could other people be sharing the same “innacurate” memory with me?
In early November, my morning routine was disrupted, because improbably he changed AGAIN! This time he had his knuckles crammed into his mouth, fist pressed to teeth, and his “hair” was looking more like a florentine cap.
The evidence that the Thinker may have once had his fist-to-forehead is overwhelming and some of it very strange. The photos of people and children trying to imitate his pose “incorrectly” is a head scratcher, but there are also countless descriptions and depictions of the original Thinker in art books and popular culture.
Here are just a few from print and the web:
From an art book: “It appears that Rodin showed himself from his right profile, naked, crouching, his left hand to his forehead, his right hand by …”
From ‘Language in Use Upper-intermediate Teacher’s Book’: “(Auguste Rodin: The Thinker, 1880) This is a sculpture of a man sitting with his forehead supported by his fist, lost in thought.”
From a novel by Ralph Milton: “I put my right hand across my forehead, and my right elbow on my right knee. I got the idea from the sculpture by Auguste Rodin called The Thinker.”
From a non-fiction book: ‘Homeland Security Principles, Planning & Procedures:’ The “thinker” pose, elbow on the knee, fists on forehead, means the person is probably faking paying attention”
From: http://wholesalesculptures.com/thinker-small-by-auguste-ro…/ “This is a fine copy of the thinking man in his famed hunched pose with his fist on his forehead.”
From: http://reviewing.co.uk/…/how-movement-can-help-thinking-and…"Rodin’s thinker sits with his head bowed, forehead resting on his clenched fist. This is the classic static thinking pose.”
Tebowing is a photo fad named after Tim Tebow that involves getting down on one knee, placing one’s elbow on the knee and fist against the forehead, similar to a prayer or Thinker’s pose, named after the Rodin sculpture. We really should call it ‘Rodin-ing’
When seen side by side, how does “Tebowing” even relate to the statue anymore? Stranger still are the constant comparisons of Tebow to the Thinker.
“The Thinker Totally Looks Like Tim Tebow”: http://cheezburger.com/5496477440
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw used to model for Auguste Rodin, and posed for this famous photo on the night The Thinker was unveiled.
Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 -1966)
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW IN THE POSE OF “THE THINKER”
Carbon print on platinotype
H. 29.2 cm ; W. 23 cm
“George Bernard Shaw opened numerous doors for the young photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, when he arrived in England in 1904 with the ambitious idea of making photographic portraits of all the celebrities of the day. Shaw introduced Coburn to Rodin, whom he knew well, having posed for a bust modelled by the sculptor. In 1906, the photographer and the writer attended the unveiling of The Thinker . On the way home, Shaw suggested that Coburn make a nude portrait of him, in the same pose as the sculpture, thereby launching a genre that would become popular in the 20th century.”
Among Sir Bruce Forsyth’s biggest fans are a group of friends who worshipped him so much that they have recreated his famous “THINKER” pose wherever they have been around the world for the past decade.
Auguste Rodin on “The Thinker”
“What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his CLENCHED fist and gripping toes.” — Auguste Rodin
Looking at the statue, it’s obvious there’s no clenched fist to speak of, yet Auguste surprisingly also offered this description of his famous statue, “Guided by my first inspiration I conceived another thinker, a naked man, seated on a rock, his fist against his TEETH, he dreams. The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain. He is no longer a dreamer, he is a creator.”
IBM Personal System 2 (1989)
An interpretation of The Thinker’s statue was found in an old IBM commercial from 1989. It’s not quite the exact pose that many remember, but his hand is balled up into fist and pressed to his head. I guess he got distracted by all those shiny beige computers being rolled off the assembly line.
Even more evidence
If those weren’t enough to at least set off some red flags that something is amiss in this universe, there’s plenty more evidence continually being discovered that suggests The Thinker had its fist to forehead!
From a novel by Garrison Keillor: “Betty drove him to the hospital: The Thinker, hand to his forehead. He remained in serious thought”
From the book: ‘The Men’s Health Guide To Peak Conditioning’: “Sit with your arm on a table, then bend your elbow 90 degrees and touch your fist to your forehead, like you’re posing for Rodin’s The Thinker”
From a non-fiction book: ‘Visual Difference: Postcolonial Studies and Intercultural Cinema’: “Hounsou seems to lean in to the next photo to speak to Madonna who effects the pose of Rodin’s “The Thinker,” hand to forehead, gazing into space.”
From a novel by Deirdre Martin: “Gemma feigned the pose of The Thinker, putting her fist to her forehead”
From book: ‘Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook: A Self-care Guide for You’: “Extended periods of the “thinker’s pose” (resting your forehead on your upright fist or arm)”
From a novel by John Clark: “Uli flexed his muscles like Popeye; and Siggi adopted a thinker’s pose, forehead resting on clenched fist,”
From: http://mchistorical.tripod.com/id63.html “Michelangelo’s allegorical sculpture Night (part of a sculptural pair — Night and Day — for the Tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici). is perhaps the inspiration for The Thinker. Night, personified as a reclining woman, rests her forehead upon her hand in a pensive manner.”
From: https://www.chess.com/…/17-hand-positions-every-tournament-…(see hand position #6) “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin is a world-famous bronze sculpture that depicts stoic philosophy. Chess players employing this pose will usually be as still and hopefully as thoughtful.
From Michael O’Brien’s novel: “He rested his forehead in his hand, like Rodin’s thinker, and closed his eyes.”
What pose do you recall The Thinker striking?
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