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A Sunday Kind of Love

Calamity's picture

For this paper, I chose to represent William James and two other persons from our discussion in comics. Comics bring a different, more humorous, mentality to “reading” James. Working with this paper gave me more respect for cartoonists; comics are, in some ways, easy to think up—the tricky part is translating what’s visually in my head to the paper. They also take a significant amount of time to draw. 

“Metaphors for Sale”






















We have discussed James’ unusual and vivid metaphors in class each day, and I think no conversation about William James is complete without some reference to them. 

For our discussion of the shrunken heads, the goldfish bowl, and mosaics see “Notes towards day 21 ‘Various Optics.’”

The Ph.D. Octopus is from James’ 1903 essay of that name.

“Hofstadter’s Discovery”




















This comic was inspired by our class discussion led by Paul Grobstein. An animated version of the sign, along with Douglas Hofstadter’s description of his experience can be found here.

“Stein v. Microsoft”




















During our discussion of Gertrude Stein’s poem “Tender Buttons,” this scenario—a frustrated Stein word processing her poems—came into my mind, along with the conclusion that she was happier writing in the twentieth century than she would be writing in the twenty-first.

“The Young Jameses: Bubbles”





















The James family is so interesting and complicated, and it would have been fascinating to see or experience what their lives were like as children. I wanted to explore that idea and create an imagined world of their youth.



Paul Grobstein's picture

Hofstadter's discovery

Love the cartoon.  Any chance of getting a copy from which I could make a somewhat better photo?

Anne Dalke's picture

A stream of words and/or Images?


We found Menand's account of the pragmatists hilarious, but until we reached The Metaphysical Club, much of our semester-long encounter w/ the James family has been rather ponderous. So now I am of course laughing out loud @ your humorous rendition of the Jameses and their followers, as wordsmiths and players with reality. Of particular delight to me is your first cartoon, w/ its imagining of William James "shopping" for metaphors (explicitly not similes, since part of what makes his language so striking is his use of the magical assertion that which is not, is, which is the metaphor). Be sure also not to miss exsoloadsolem's further exploration of the candy store of James's metaphors.

The last Jamesian text, upcoming, "The Gospel of Relaxation," which he delivered @ Bryn Mawr in 1907, exhorts us to "Unclamp... your intellectual and practical machinery, and let it run free....Just as a bicycle-chain may be too tight, so many one's carefulness and conscientiousness be so tense as to hinder the running of one's mind." Playing with images--as a mode of doing academic work--is certainly one way to do that. As we've discovered in my genre course this semester, playing words against images, as occurs in many contemporary graphic narratives, is another way to unleash the form of associative thinking to which James called our attention, and mark its complicated relation to the stream of consciousness....there's much more to say (and do, and draw) here, about the difference between easily PERCEIVED images and words, which need more work to be RECEIVED (=decoded).... Do you want to go on exploring in these domains for your final project?