23 Comments

  1. Is it because they are all odd ducks in one way or another, so there is no answer to her question? By not providing the answer (all of them), she would truly be teasing the brains of the quiz takers causing frustration and annoyance. This would be fun for her.

  2. Ok, ok, I see it. I just said there is no answer, then gave an answer. However, the question is “Which is THE odd duck?” and there’s no real answer to that question…that’s what I meant. Seriously.

  3. In fact, none of them are ducks. Ceci n’est ce pas une pipe, and all that. They’re all drawings, and none of them of real ducks but representations of a inked cartoon creation, a windup metal toy and a weird human.

  4. Stan has it.

    She’s going to be amused by people racking their brains trying to solve or argue a best answer when there is none. It’s like the “why is a raven like a writing desk” riddle. Even though people can and inevetibly will argue would should be best, there is never actually an intended answer.

  5. Actually, this is an electronic pixel representation of a printed copy of a drawing of a painting of a pipe. Well, not this but that above. Well, not above, especially if your iPad is flat on the bed, but previously. Before, but spatially before. (Tricky stuff).

  6. If you take it too far as in my opinion that comic did, it gets sophomoric. There nothing shallow or remiss, nor paradoxical or failing, about saying this is a representation of something and we can simultaneously have it serve the purpose and faith that it is that thing while also acknowledging it is in actuality w work of representational art.

    I also always thought the Aha-gotcha of “It *isn’t* a pipe; it’s a painting of a pipe” missed the point. He could just as easily written “this is not an image of a pipe”. Or he could have written “this is a fish” or he could have invited a friend over and held a pipe in his hand and said “This isn’t a pipe”.

  7. Woozy: yes! I agree with your second point, it’s been subconsciously bothering me this whole discussion; thanks for voicing it!

  8. As far as I can determine, all of these are actually just a sequence of photons striking photoreceptors in my eyeballs, or something like that. (Or possibly I’m dreaming, and all of these are random neurons in my brain imagining that I’m experiencing a sequence of photons striking photoreceptors in what my brain imagines to be my eyeballs.)

  9. narmitaj: I don’t see any representation of pipes spatially above your comment. Can the representations of the pipes really be said to be “above” when they’ve scrolled off the screen? Discuss.

  10. woozy: I thought that was the point of the painting. So what is the point, then? What is the message if he writes “this is a fish,” or says it while holding a physical pipe? That Magritte is a filthy liar?

  11. Yes, that’s what I always thought the point of the painting was. That an artist can and always does lie. It could be yes, this is *not* a pipe; it’s a painting. But it’s further. The sentence is not a sentence; it is brush strokes. If we expect the sentence to be a sentence it is a sentence that is false. It says the painting is not a pipe but it clearly is. We can resolve it with “but, hah! the painting isn’t a pipe! It’s a painting” but if we accept the sentence to be what it appears to be– a sentence– then we are being inconsistent in not equally demanding that the painting be what it appears to be– a pipe. Dishonesty is occurring but where? Well, … everywhere! And narrative and perception is inherently dishonest…. maybe… What is truth is a difficult question and and the painting forces you to think about it but offers no solution. The “aha! Gothcha!” is a … er, pipe dream and misses the point (even though it is not wrong.)

  12. woozy: It seems to me that if it was nothing more than “the artist is lying,” then the painting would actually be a lot less interesting.

    The sentence is a sentence. It is also brush strokes, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a sentence. If it had been an unambiguously false sentence, like “this is a fish” then that doesn’t seem very interesting to me. What’s so interesting about being told a straightforward lie? I can hear those all the time. I think what’s intriguing about the statement is that there’s a valid perspective from which it’s true, and a valid perspective from which it’s not. The fact that there’s a valid perspective from which it’s true is an important part of it. You’re calling that an “Aha-gotcha,” but I wouldn’t put it that way. It’s not that it’s some puzzle where the “correct” solution is “Yep, the statement is true, because I figured out the gotcha.” It’s that there’s not a correct solution, but two valid ways of looking at it.

  13. My complaint is with the *MANY* interpretations, such as the cartoon cited above and the dialog in Godel Escher Bach in 1980, that seem *sooo* convinced that they *have* solved it and figured it out and that they are *sooo* clever and mature for realizing that images aren’t reality unlike all the plebian yahoos who believe a that a image must *be* something and a story must *tell* something.

    There’s *nothing* wrong or childish in thinking a picture can be a representation of something and in faith serve as a surrogate for a manifestation of the concept *while* being also only a representation. ANd there’s nothing mature about refusing to get “caught” and figuring a solution. In fact these solution are unsophisticated and miss the point and avoid the issue.

  14. I always saw it as a brilliant multilayered exposé of propaganda, trenchantly apropos for its time. It’s basically confronting you with how propaganda baldly and boldly lies to your face, unashamedly claiming that black is white, up is down, and good is bad. The quasi-definitive interpretation, that it is true, because it is only a picture, not the thing itself, was a further layer of the exposition, how those who use propaganda will justify it with some prevaricating semi-explanation, that while technically true, is not in any way, shape, or form True. My interpretation has me agreeing with woozy, because to focus on only one layer is to miss the bigger point I always thought it was raising.

  15. “There’s *nothing* wrong or childish in thinking a picture can be a representation of something and in faith serve as a surrogate for a manifestation of the concept *while* being also only a representation. ANd there’s nothing mature about refusing to get “caught” and figuring a solution.”

    There are people who are not sufficiently aware of the difference between an image and the object it represents. They are like those that don’t distinguish between words and the concepts they represent. The latter are those that think there’s something deep in “There is no I in TEAM”. They are the people who get new information from the General Semantics statements of “the map is not the territory” and “the word dog does not bite”. They’re the people who go to Orlando and insist on an ocean view (because they’ve looked at a map and can see that Florida is skinny).

    If you’re smart enough to see Magritte’s “pipe” as mere wordplay, you might not be the target audience. But that audience exists. And some of us who were already aware of the differences appreciate the wit of how that difference was illustrated.

  16. The team leader: “There’s no ‘me’ in team.” Me: “Um, yes, there is.”

  17. MiB: I heard that phrased a different way –

    Team leader – There’s no “I” in team!
    Sarcastic little kid – True, but there is “me”.

  18. woozy, I feel like you’re reading a harsher background into others’ interpretation than is warranted. I took the cartoon similarly to other comments in this thread about “photoreceptors” or “electronic pixels” – just good-natured silliness about the multiple ways to interpret/describe things. Not as a superior statement claiming that anyone who uses a different interpretation is “plebian,” “childish,” or “immature.” I’m actual not sure where you see all these negative undertones.

    Similarly, it’s been a long time since I read Godel, Escher, Bach, but I found it playful and fun, not snobby.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s