Ever since I began to understand that everything is pointless, I've started noticing existential angst in the most normal of places. In fact I'd go as far to describe it, as like a big pink elephant sitting there in plain sight, only I was just to stupid to notice it!
And so when I happened across an article which discussed the existential merits of Charles Schulz's 'Peanuts', I was shocked that it has taken me many years to finally appreciate it! From PhilosophyNow:
Over at the NewStatesman, I found a similarly interesting article about the importance of Peanuts:
Existence is problematic and disturbing. In one weekend strip, Schulz succinctly describes the horror of discovering one’s own existence in the world:
'Linus: I’m aware of my tongue ... It’s an awful feeling! Every now and then I become aware that I have a tongue inside my mouth, and then it starts to feel lumped up ... I can’t help it ... I can’t put it out of my mind. ... I keep thinking about where my tongue would be if I weren’t thinking about it, and then I can feel it sort of pressing against my teeth ...'
Sartre devoted an entire book to this experience – his 1938 novel Nausea in which his character Roquentin is alarmed to discover his own actuality. But Linus sums the point up very well in a few frames.
Peanuts was part of my life because it was part of my parents' lives. On my father's dresser was a model of Lucy in a wooden booth, dispensing advice over the sign, "THE DOCTOR IS IN - 5 CENTS". My father was a preacher, a strong but gentle speaker with messages usually on the theme of "Be nice to each other". On one occasion, the church elders half-joked with him that he would be fired if he used Peanuts yet again in his sermon; the next Sunday, he opened with the story of Charlie Brown's eternal infatuation with the little red-haired girl. When life imitated Lucy's booth and he became a marriage and family counsellor, my father decorated his office with Peanuts posters. My mother, who taught high-school psychology, remembers the slogans on her posters - Charlie Brown complaining: "I've been nervous so long that, when I relax, it makes me nervous" and "Even my anxieties have anxieties".And so perhaps I might benefit from a long afternoon's perusal of Peanuts strips, because as the PhilosophyNow article concludes:
While it is difficult to say what Sartre would have thought of Peanuts, we do know what Schulz thought of Sartre: “I read about him in the New York Times, where he said it was very difficult to be a human being, and the only way to fight against it is to lead an active life – that’s very true.” If any character has shown us the difficulties in existence, it is Charlie Brown