Pony Thought of the Day: I cannot WAIT until Sunday…

So here’s something I couldn’t find a place to fit into the article on “Return of Harmony”: Food. It’s not at all surprising that the first sign of Discord’s return is cotton-candy clouds, chocolate rain, and corn popping in the fields, anymore than it’s surprising that Pinkie Pie has a voracious appetite. Food is intimately connected with one of the major literary precursors to both modern cartoons and postmodernism in general, nonsense literature. Nonsense literature (which was mostly a Victorian British thing, and eventually got more-or-less absorbed into later artistic movements in the 20th century; the most familiar examples to modern readers are Lewis Carroll’s Alice books and Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat”) worked by taking the arbitrary logics of every day life and replacing them with new, equally arbitrary logics.

 For example, consider eating: we have arbitrary rules about which foods are higher-class than others (200 years ago lobsters were considered garbage), arbitrary rules about which foods are eaten when (I love eggs and bacon and so forth, but the idea of eating that before noon makes me queasy–I’d much rather have a salad for breakfast and save the omelettes for dinner), arbitrary rules about how to eat (pasta and lo mein are both noodles with sauce and chunks of veggies and meat, so I use chopsticks for both), and so on. Because of their familiarity, we forget that these rules are arbitrary, and therefore violations of them strike us as weird and funny.

Because it’s so fraught with rules yet so familiar, food behaving strangely is pretty much intrinsically funny (or creepy–the line between humor and horror is always thin). Nonsense literature tended to employ that intrinsic humor frequently, which is the real reason Alice keeps ingesting foods that do weird things to her. (Lewis Carroll was alarmingly sober in his daily life, and never did drugs of any sort. He barely even drank.)

Food, to sum up, is a necessity to us all, and one that we wrap up in lots of rules. So of course any invocation of chaos, especially one trying to be light or funny, can violate those rules to show how order is breaking down.

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