Existential crisis abound!By JONATHAN BALMER
A political cartoonist realized the mutability and over-simplicity of his medium, Monday. Nick Finn, 42, faced an existential crisis after finishing a cartoon on the “Occupy Wall-street” movement.
Finn says he experienced an epiphany when he saw all his cartoons followed the same basic format. A big-bad monster loomed over the good little-guy, and his cause, in nearly every cartoon. “I realized all of these things are the same! I mean, you could switch ‘Corporate America’ in one cartoon with anything and make them the monster…you could change ‘Labor- Unions’ with ‘Capitalism’ or ‘Demo- crats’ with ‘Republicans’ and make them the Terrible-Evil trying to ruin everyone’s lives.”
Realizing the limitations of his medium he commented, “It’s so easy just to divide any issue into helpless little guys who need to overcome big- bad mean guys—a regular David- and-Goliath affair. [Who] David and Goliath [are] just depend on your bias!”
Nick Finn agonized over his real- ization that his entire career was built around straw-men metaphori- cal representations of complex enti- ties and astounding simplifications of interconnected political issues. He called this the “dichotomization of everything” adding “[p]eople do this because it’s easy to have an enemy. It’s comforting. Fundamentalists make ‘secular-society’ the enemy. Everyone knows that. But even those ‘there-are-a-thousand- paths-to-truth’ types with those ‘Coexist’ bumper stickers made-up of the symbols of a dozen faiths do it. They demonize the ‘unaccept- ing’ just like the ‘unaccepting’ make whatever they don’t like an enemy.” Finn fell silent for a moment and muttered to himself.
Finn soon realized life cannot be the philosophy professors’ pipe- dream. (That is, a fantasy in which endless Socratic discussion regu- lates all decisions— theoretically keeping the world in a state of con- stant Kumbaya.).
Still pontificating, Finn droned, “You can’t wait to know everything… you would never act. People don’t live like that. You kinda… take a leap of faith. Everyone does, hopefully educated but a leap still. Learning… it get[s] you to proba- bility. Believing takes some guts, some commitment.” The cartoonist tousled his perfectly-messy mop of hair, lit a pipe and philosophized some more, “It’s a paradox, I think… [that] the only ones who can live in this world without making the guy- next-door the devil [are the ones whom] . . . realize they can’t even fix themselves. They’re helpless but not hopeless…. I don’t know what it is but I think there’s something to that.” At press-time, every wit- ness to the cartoonists’ incessant philosophical introspection suffered from a throbbing headache.
Finn, in a bought of further soul-searching, shared an idea for a new cartoon. In the background of the cartoon would be a montage of newspaper headlines warning of recent political upheavals, unem- ployment rates, tragedies and calamities. In the center a giant headline reads “What is wrong with the World!?” In the foreground, a man, in the likeness of the cartoonist, holds a sign reading: “Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly, G.K. Chester- ton” Alongside, “Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton,” the cartoonist plans to scribble the phrase “and Nick Finn” beside it. The world can only hope he hurries up and starts making cartoons again. At least that way no one will have to listen to him talk about the process and morality of drawing political doodles anymore.
Finn said he will continue com- menting on politics and the world around him but with the realization he “ain’t nothing special” but “that’s not a reason to care about nothing at all.” Finally, the cartoonist’s existential crisis subsided.Disclaimer: The contents of The Back Page are not necessarily true and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Georgetonian or Georgetown College or even its editor (but it probably does in that last case). And, yes, it is hypocritical of the Back Page to rail against oversimplification of issues while oversimplifying entire professions. You caught onto that. Good for you.