Cartoons have in them embedded so much life, much more than what meets the eye. What about Garfield? Does he just belong to the animation world or is he a figment of the blessed lazy mind of the real world? Let’s face it. We feel the way Garfield does in times of distraught conclusions drawn from the undesirable experiences of our lives. We can’t be Garfield forever because of the flashes of hope and optimism that energize us into action. Optimism and pessimism are parts of the vicious circle that one is inclined to call life. So what is one to do when experience controls the traffic of mankind? You may simplify your predicament by saying that when you hit low you would take up reading Garfield comic strips to take refuge in cynicism. When you feel energized you can choose to be active. But Garfield will tell you, it’s not that simple. Garfield’s way of life is very difficult to imbibe because for one you need an extraordinary sense of humour that is cynically bent and you need to maintain your cynicism even in times that tempt the normal man into optimism. So you need to sleep not only when there is little hope but also when life is beautiful. It is what Garfield would call the approach of one-sided equanimity.
Having your food on the plate presents a problem for sure for Garfield will eat it. There is no uncertainty there. Not only will Garfield continue to put on weight, you will thank your lucky stars for losing yours. But Garfield will be quick to point out that you are starving and remind you that starving is a pain not worth the substitution. Solution to this menace could be to introduce another pet named Odie. You will begin to learn that being Jon is by far the easiest job on earth. Jokes apart the two pets are among the most lovable characters in comic literature. They will make you smile for a while so that you relax. Garfield will want to see you relax. You may be on the brink of finding the most penetrative answers to the most mind boggling questions but Garfield has no ear for them. Garfield is not seeking. You then learn from him that the end of seeking is the beginning of enlightenment. You cannot hopefully turn to Odie because his ears are deaf to all your phrases. He will simply duck and let your phrases blow above his head.
That Garfield would like Mornings better if they started later epitomizes a great irony. There is the natural in the irony for morning represents routine, rush and discipline and obviously some of us who do not fit in the established order at all too well will wish for it to start much later or to never start in the first place. This is ironic for if it were the case then mornings are not mornings. We would have to assign a different label. The wit Garfield employs very often is on these lines. He plays more with both linguistics and logic. It is this trait that makes Garfield unintentionally creative. Garfield has a non-verbal rapport with Jon and other friends around. Although it is non-verbal it makes for a solid union or relationship. The absurd pranks that he continues to play on the idiosyncrasies of Jon and others may be interpreted to be attempts to get the reader to spot the pitfalls of seriousness and the illusion of sincerity. Garfield may be sardonic but he is never too slow to track Jon’s psychology.
Garfield has no real hopes of Jon getting a date but it is as though he passes pessimistic remarks to get Jon to prove him wrong. Odie is not spared either but Garfield gets practical with Odie because Odie lacks sophisticated communication. All his jokes are action oriented without too much energy spent on sarcastic commentary of which he is the master, no doubt. Garfield gets stimulated by visuals and converts them into witty verbal enterprise, a rare trait at the cost of perennial inactivity. He does not face many situations but within the limited range of his exposure, he gets you digging at the lighter side of life which is incidentally the caustic side of it. The settings are simple and punch lines are quick without time to think in between lines and when he finishes what he has to think, you just begin to laugh or chuckle, so Garfield gives you no time for confrontation.
So when you feel lonely, low and disappointed with the way life is turning out for you, it would be a rewarding idea to have a pet like Garfield who reminds you that life is just too precious to be spent without sleeping. He is a different cat as you will observe, different from all other cats so life’s debacles are miniscule when compared to the pranks and antics of the one and only “Garfield”.
By Ajay Seshadri