Not that my proclivity towards nigh-arrogant ranting and circuitous introspection demands any apologies*, but I realized this weekend there are some significant though well-concealed advantages to being a self-absorbed navel-gazer.
You’re going to need me to back that one up, aren’t you?
OK, let’s start with this brilliantly clever circle graph that received its fifteen minutes of fame when it landed on the front page of HuffPo last Friday.
To some, this may seem like an outright insult to Christians on a national level. To others, it comes off… well, it comes off exactly the same way; it’s just that this group of people delights in the insult instead of taking offense to it. It’s why we have wars, you know.
But what if the philosophical implications of this graphic are deeper than either of those cramped assumptions? Isn’t it possible the obvious joke is only there as an appetizer for your brain? Could there be something beyond the glib comparison of three movie monsters to the Messiah?
And if I can get you to see what I’m pointing at, can I then use the same similes and metaphors to confuse things and diminish the entire thing back down to a trite GraphJam entry?
Only one way to find out, I guess.
So anyway, being an artist by profession, I have an appreciation for color that perhaps my non-creative friends lack. Nevertheless, most people who see the above image would take note, albeit to varying degrees, of what could potentially be the most significant aspect of the illustration: that the hues change tint as they overlap. Oh sure, it’s done primarily to distinguish the individual circles while avoiding the clutter of each circle having a black stroke around it. But if we’re willing to assume a respectable level of intelligence for the graphic artist, we can very easily contrive some other, more important symbolism in this design.
For example, considering the person’s artistic nature, we can decide that the three circles are a subliminal color-mixing palette. Voila! Instant Philosophical Proposition! We are now conveniently positioned to make the symbol represent whatever we want simply by piously stating, “The final question is this: do you see God as additive or subtractive?”
The beautiful cleverness of this is that we’ve now opened up the argument for what defines something as additive and what makes something subtractive. Further applying these parameters to an omnipotent being keeps the idea immortal by giving rise to mutually exclusive factions, each with its own specialized and unequivocal interpretation of the image.
The Three-Circle Purists say the underlying message merely reinforces the graphic’s original idea that God is the culmination of all monstrosities to the point of becoming the blackest monster of them all. They refer to the very manner in which the tints darken as they progress towards Jesus Christ as their evidence. Declaring him to be a subtractive deity, they give God the name “Simmik” (spelled cmyk) and dub him the Bringer of Blackness.
The Paradoxicals, however, insist that the diagram represents Jesus’ tendency to spend the majority of his ministry in the presence of the most misguided, baleful sinners and that the choice of colors is intended as a subtle testament to that necessary irony. They claim repeatedly – almost to the point of recitation – that it is light from which God and all good things are born and thus, just like light, God must be additive. To them, the completeness of God results in a clean, perfect whiteness. He is given the title “Regrebloo the Pure”. Countless hymns are composed rejoicing in the promise of that glorious day when all colors will come together to form the most perfect White.
Of course, the cynical 3-CPs are all over that with shouts of racism and accusations of a religiously driven eugenic agenda. Science fiction novels begin to be regularly presented as oracular tomes. PK Dick and Isaac Asimov become revered as great prophets.
The Doxies then issue a collective sardonic snort by taking out full-page ads and erecting billboards likening fundamentalist 3-C doctrine to that of the Church of Scientology, citing as fact the very arguable notion that L. Ron Hubbard was also a science fiction author. This campaign fails miserably, however, as does their droll attempt to humiliate their adversaries by referring to them as “C-3POs”.
The battle rages for decades. Nonsensical self-help books emerge with titles like I, Robot. U Can’t Subtract! and Paradoxicals Do It With Guile. Passion becomes petulance and devotion turns into duress. A purist menacingly holds a 2×4 like a baseball bat and a doxie pulls his handgun…
Then, only after countless lives have been lost to the argument, does the illustration’s creator (by now aged 106) finally issue a public statement declaring that he is, in point of fact, completely colorblind.
And just like that, the sum of time and energy dedicated to either side of the debate is fully devalued. All the stock placed in both ideals is instantly obliterated. Every measure of strength and motivation imbued by the conflict is just as effectively depleted.
There was really never anything more to the illustration than an insensitive jape…
*In fact, some people actually like that sort of thing. I simply provide a service – an abrasive but oddly arousing service. So do hookers, but unlike a prostitute, I service you free of charge.