18 January 2004

Crossing the memes

There's a style of humor that I'm not sure has a name: combining two disparate styles of things into a whimsical fusion that rewards a familiarity with both. My favorite example of this thing is Nathanial Daw's little masterpiece Republic Dogs, which mixes the dialogues of Plato and Quentin Tarantino.
Aristotle: Well, allow me to demonstrate. Let's say there was an imaginary city, and all the people were divided into three groups. Let's say I represent the Gold group, I'd be Mr. Gold, you, Socrates would be Mr. Silver, and, you, Alcibiades, Mr. Bronze.

Alcibiades: Why do I have to be Mr. Bronze?

Aristotle: Because it's only a demonstration. So me, Gold, I'd be the philosopher king--

Alcibiades: But why can't I be the philosopher king? Look, Socrates, I'll trade with you.

Aristotle: [Draws a gun, fires a shot into the air, and points it at Alcibiades] Interrupt me again, motherfucker. Interrupt me again. Nobody's trading with anybody. This is my allegory.

The recasting of the Talmud I linked to in my last post is another example, as is Star Trek by Dr. Suess.
Picard: LaForge, please give us factor nine.

LaForge: But sir, the engines are offline!

Picard: Offline? But why? I want to go! Please make it so, please make it so!

This kind of humor is beloved of hyperarticulate lovers of intricate systems of detail -- like both academics and hackers, so no wonder it's all over the web. And what else do those folks love? Meta-humor.

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