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29.6.04

Hobbes Vs. Hobbes

Today I learned, much to my chagrin, that there is at least one instance of Bill Watterson being unable to keep his characters' philosophies straight. I ran across thise quote from William Joes:

To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do.


The source points out that a similar sentiment was expressed by Hobbes. After Calvin declares that he's going to stop doing his homework because his self-esteem shouldn't depend on accomplishments, the tiger replies "So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they're already met?" (The Days Are Just Packed, p. 23)

I was a little confused, though, because one of my favorite strips involves Hobbes expressing just the opposite idea. In response to Calvin's question, he declares that if he could wish for anything in the world, he'd want a tuna sandwich. Calvin exclaims "A sandwich?!? What kind of stupid wish is that!?! Talk about a failure of imagination! I'd ask for a trillion billion dollars, my own space shuttle, and a private continent!" Then, in the final panel, we see Hobbes smugly eating a sandwich and saying "I got my wish." (There's Treasure Everywhere, p. 44).

Granted, Calvin switches philosophies as well, and far more radically -- in the first strip, Hobbes isn't proposing anything as grandiose as a private continent. But Calvin isn't supposed to have any actual philosophical commitments. As demonstrated in the strips about postmodernism and psychobabbble, Calvin uses philosophy as rationalization.

(UPDATE: Added the cite for the second strip -- I'm embarassed by the laxity of my Calvin and Hobbes recall, as I had clearly imagined that strip as being from before Watterson broke free of the tyranny of standard Sunday panels, which would have put it in one of the books I don't have. I also added a new paragraph about Calvin's inconsistency.)

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