Violent, hate filled, psychopathic Ignatz Mouse throws a brick at sweet, but dimwitted Krazy Kat, who perceives the act as an expression of love from the mouse, whom he adores. Authoritarian Offica Pup, who admires Krazy, locks Ignatz in the Coconino County Jail but there is no “three strikes, you’re out” law to keep the cycle from happening again the very next day !
The genius of cartoonist George Herriman was that he could create variations on this theme in a daily comic strip and keep it fresh via poetic wordsmithery, the ever shifting surreal desert landscape, and the different schemes Ignatz comes up with to connect brick to Kat.
I was reading a reprint volume of Krazy Kat strips from the 1930s and began to wonder about the subversive effects this repetitive cycle of violence on the subconscious. See …being immersed in yoga culture and an emphasis on ahimsa, or non-violence to one’s self and others… I think about these things nowadays! Quite a shift for someone who’s favorite movies include Bonnie and Clyde and A Clockwork Orange!
So, does being a good yogi mean having to do away with such entertainments? And what about those chaotic Warner cartoons featuring predators Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, and Elmer Fudd seeking the deaths of Roadrunner, Tweety, Bugs, and Daffy? Does the virtue of ahimsa rule out the appreciation of genius expressed through depictions of violence?
Maybe it’s possible that viewing violent entertainment does not compromise the soul when the proper frame of reference is observed, and can result in positive reinforcement! Think about it … in Krazy Kat, the only person who suffers from the effects of his violence is Ignatz Mouse, the perpetuator himself. Krazy feels a blissful state of love and does not suffer concussions, pain or death; in fact, he misses the bricks when they don’t appear with regularity. Offica Pup gets the satisfaction of doing his job and protecting Krazy. Only Ignatz, locked away in his cell, suffers.
Likewise, Wile E. Coyote reaps the brutal violence of his efforts to destroy the Roadrunner as they backfire while the bird zips off into the horizon, oblivious that he was even under threat.
These violent cartoons actually provide a karmic metaphor, teaching the virtues of ahimsa as practiced in zen beatitude by Krazy, Roadrunner, Bugs, et al; while warning us of the cosmic futility of the evils of violence!
In conclusion, I invite you, in the spirit of non-violence, to spend some time today in the following meditation: Find a place where you can sit quietly without interruption, begin taking long smooth breaths, and repeat the sacred mantra “Eh, what’s up, doc?” for approximately 15 minutes.