Tuesday, 26 January 2016

rarebit or why do we call them comics

Atlas Obscura presents a really fascinating essay that deconstructs a constellation factors that make up the hallmarks of modernity through the lens of a turn of the century comic strip that centres around midnight-snack, indigestion fuelled nightmares with the blame laid squarely on an “imported” (the focus seems to be mostly from an American perspective as the caricatures were but is surely of a universal character since internationally people were experiencing similar cultural shocks) delicacy called “Welsh Rarebit,” basically cheese-toast soaked in beer as a sort of hair-of-the-dog ballast for late-night revellers.
Assiduously, Winsor McCay, under the consultation of his series “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend,” documents the development of rather Freudian fantasies as carried out in the restive slumber of the indignant, whose psyche and drives might be explained mechanically as an assault by cheese as heartburn. Far from funny, at least to contemporary viewers—much like a lot of the reserve content of the funny pages—McCay portrays secret and vengeful scenes that one would rather not disclose, lest one shows his or her vulnerabilities and suppressed desires. As easily, however, people were willing to adopt a litany of compromise to gain modern conveniences—the electrified dwellings that invited staying up through the night, the logistical coordination that allowed people to live in growing urban-settings (to cultivate such routines and support surplus consumption), I believe that the illustrator though that his readership could recognise that something other was driving this feeling of being unsettled besides just alcohol and cheese, unlike the spectre of Jacob Marley who was initially dismissed as a spot of gravy gone bad. Such fiendish behaviour reflected perhaps made the world more receptive to adopting new customs and paradigms, like the psycho-analysis and other accommodations (and necessary back-lash) that came in its wake. Check out the thesis for further details and panels. Turophiles, what do you think?