I have to begin by saying that this has easily been my favorite reading so far. The vehicle in which McCloud chose to publish his work could not have been more ideal – this emphasized by a point McCloud makes on page 36, when he asks if we would have paid attention to what he was saying if he looked more realistic than the cartoon form he gave himself. And honestly? I wouldn’t. Just like this could not have made me think the same way if it had been presented in a typical essay/article format.
In another blog post by Huong Le, I found the connection between Welling’s “Ecoporn” and McClouds “Comics” to be interesting; we as humans are automatically wired to see ourselves in everything, from the face we see in a car to the decapitated cow we saw in the PETA ad. But is this projection of ourselves out of a desire to be empathetic or because we’re so selfish we can’t connect with anything unless we see ourselves in their shoes?
I commented on the matter in the blog post linked above but I couldn’t help but ponder the idea for a little bit. Are we selfish or are we just trying to understand? I don’t know what the cow feels when it’s going to get slaughtered. I imagine it would feel fear, it would feel dread, knowing it was entering the last few minutes of it’s life. But does it? I don’t know what a cow feels. It could feel nothing. It could know it’s being killed and be okay with it. Some of these cows must know their purpose is to eventually become food...right?
But I don’t know these things. We’re always projecting our own feelings and thoughts and emotions onto others that we’re never actually looking at something objectively. McCloud makes the comment that the ability to see a face from two dots, a line, and a circle, is just our empathy (or selfishness) at play; in able to relate to something, we have to see ourselves in it. But are we trying to understand something out of compassion or can we not be compassionate because we can’t unless we see ourselves in it?