Living in A Cartoon Universe
When cartoons tell you more truth than your government does.
a ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, or one-dimensional portrayal or version — Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I have come to the realization that often we must turn to fiction, even cartoons for our news rather than the government and media. Our government is hesitant to admit even the basic facts. Our lives have been upended by a virus, war, and now galactic federations. Nothing is off the table, even fish falling from the sky. Keel understood the caricatural nature of the world, how just weird everything seemed to be. God seemed to have a mind of its own, maybe a demented mind. Cartoons often express this dementedness, a cosmic humor often expressed as satire.
“If you had dared to suggest one hundred years ago that God and the devil were in cahoots, you would he invited to attend a barbecue in the public square, and you would be the barbecuee. But today it is apparent that the same force that answers some prayers also causes it to rain anchovies and is behind everything from sea serpents to flying saucers. It distorts our reality whimsically, perhaps out of boredom, or perhaps because it is a little crazy. God may be a crackpot.”
― John A. Keel, THE EIGHTH TOWER: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum
Cartoons are used in everything from political expressions to dirty jokes. Political cartoons have often played a role in swaying public opinion. Often being the way we express uncomfortable truths in a polite society. Without cartoons we would have to listen to Lester Holt blabber on about Luhansk in some dour broadcast.
Satirical cartoons like South Park or Futurama are often the way in which current or past events can be understood without resorting to some serious debacle. I love this Futurama scene from the episode Roswell That Ends Well where the lone conspiracist is allowed to film the encounter between Truman and the alien. It reminds me of the purported meeting between Eisenhower and humanoid extraterrestrials.
Rick and Morty’s portrayal of the “Galactic Federation” is weirdly prescient. There are other aspects to the cartoon that make me wonder whether they know more than they are letting on. One must wonder whether Dan Harmon is just getting laser beams sent into his head. I seriously wonder what’s going on with him and the writing room. There’s a part of this interview that I find interesting where Harmon says.
When bad things happen to good people, when our friends get sick, when we get sick, when governments change hands, when you can look at a map and imagine how many stray dogs and cats are out there being neglected, and you start trying to look into that box of “What Reality Really Is,” it’s the creative part of your brain that pulls you back out of your box, and says, “Yeah, but here’s the thing: There’s white hats, and black hats, and high noon, and there’s shootouts, and there’s stories and there’s love, and there’s passion. And there’s transformation, and there’s change.” When you feel that mental breakdown happening, that means you’re about to get smarter. You’re growing. You’re inheriting the universe. You’re becoming closer and closer to a thing called “God,” and “you’re gonna get through this. You’re gonna get trough this.” It’s like when you have a bad trip on mushrooms or acid, your friend who says, “This is cool. This is normal. Even though the walls are talking to you. You just need some orange slices. You need to get through this, and it’s important that this is happening. It’s giving you perspective.” Otherwise you’d just be like, “This is insane, so I’m insane, so nothing matters, so I think I’ll go do something horrible in public.” — Dan Harmon
Harmon understands how fucking weird reality is and like a psychedelic trip you just have to enjoy the ride. We live in a really strange universe, and people don’t really understand how strange it is. Most of my psychedelic experiences have reinforced how absurd everything is. I often look to fiction as a facsimile of our universe. There were times when I thought our universe even was the Rick and Morty universe. It even scared me at times to think of it. Nowadays it’s not that I think we live in a cartoon universe but we live in a cartoon of a cartoon. We are the cartoons of the cartoon universes.
I often find myself confused and afraid of what the world really is. Are we in some horrid simulacra where evil aliens want to eat our brains? Are we apes in some cosmic game of clowinstry? It’s almost like god draws us as caricatures of itself. I hope as Leibniz thought, we really do live in the best of all possible worlds, somedays, I’m not so sure. Cartoons and fiction in general often represent some untold facts of life that we are yet to admit. Cartoons like King of the Hill and Family Guy do this often in regards to American cultural idiosyncrasies. Rick and Morty a caricature of psychedelic culture and the way in which certain psychedelics let you explore the multiverse. I find it interesting how in Shane’s DMT experiences he found himself becoming a cartoon character.
When I had Covid I had strange fever dreams which I suspect were related to endogenous DMT. Whereat times human pictures turned into scrapbook caricatures. Covid in my opinion affects the human mind in ways we don’t understand yet. I took it to reflect some caricatural nature of our universe. We are maybe cartoons of god, representations of its nature. Reality is stranger than any fiction we could dream up, however. I don’t even understand it, nor can perceive it. We call this in modern psychiatric terms, derealization, however, it is more accurately described as a realization of the unreal. It’s not a mental disorder, but an understanding of the insanity at the core of our universe.
’Tis strange — but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; — Lord Byron. Don Juan, Canto the Fourteenth, Verse 101
I can’t wait for season two of Earth it seems to get interesting in the last part. Someday I feel like someone will write about this time like Gibbon wrote about the last days of the Roman empire and remark on how utterly weird, vexing, and life-changing it was. One must wonder where their place is, mine I feel is to bring greater truth and beauty to the world through family, writing, music, and mathematics. However, that’s not everyone’s place, I can’t expect it to be.
Some of the children born today might become starship captains of the Earth’s version of Starfleet. Our technology is expanding and some of it is given to us from the beyond. What marvels are awaiting us on the edge of the next year? A wonder today is normal tomorrow. I think as time goes on we’ll find that our lives are inextricably linked. One day we might even end up joining the galactic federation. If one thing has been made clear to me in recent days it is that we live in a cartoon universe for sure.