Wascals of Wationalism
Pascal, flanked by his couple of infinities,
gets the cold shoulder before this cosmic
jugglery that emphasizes the obsession of
changing size. From the dust under foot to the
clouds in the sky, Tex Avery scoffs at all
notions of landmarks, metric systems, scales
Benayoun, "Tex Avery, ou le cosmos en
perdition" in Le Dessin anime apres Walt
Disney (Paris, J.-J. PAUVERT, 1961)
"There is one kind of humor, in our
opinion specifically modern, which is
based on the rational structures of the
mind so as to disarticulate the mechanism
of these structures by means of the
absurd. To characterize this critical
humor by means of an image, let us say
that it is nowhere to be found in the
Disney cartoons, but is omnipresent in
those of Tex Avery."
Valorbe,"L'humor critique" Medium:
Communication Surrealiste No. 1,
(The time: 1649. The place:
France. The scene: Blaise Pascal's living
room. The television is on and the great
philosopher and scientist of the French
Enlightenment is fidgeting nervously as he
waits for "his program" to come on.
Precisely at the stroke of 6 p.m., the
Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies opening jingle
fills the air. Pascal's wife, Sherry, is "in
the kitchen," as they used to say in
17th-century France, "whipping up some
"...and if we're so damned
enlightened, why can't we get a light on
this stove, so I can see what I'm burning?!
Blaise, my sweet, qu'est que c'est
cette musique la? Time for
Elmair and ze Bunny Bugs, n'est-ce pas?"
"Oui, cherie. C'est
da-da-daaah, ya-ta-ta-taaah! What is Lully
compared to zis?! Bah! He is a pig! I tell
you, cherie, zis is confrontation between rationalisme
and ze absurde. Elmair, ze cool
mind, much like myself, put upon by ze likes
of zis vermin of a monsieur bunny
wiz his "What is up, doc?" Bah! What do I
care what is up, doc?! Ze typical
question of ze – ah! watch out, Elmair! Ze
little bastaird he has a carrot! I mean,
behind ze carrot, he has a hammair. Watch...
(WHAM!) ...oooooh! mon Dieu!
how can zis be?! Look, cherie!
Elmair's head it is squished flat like a
crepe! ...but...but... and his eyes, look
how zey have gazoomed out of his bald little
skull almost to ze horizon!
Impossible! All elementary force
vectors must be parallel! The internal state
of stress is determined by pressure alone,
and the pressure must be uniform over any
horizontal cross section! But monsieur
Elmair's head! His eyes!"
"Hammairs zey do not lie, my
"Yes, but look at zese
couple of infinities I have devised, they
show... here, look!" (Pascal hands two
infinities to Sherry as she comes out of the
kitchen with his supper. They are very big,
and Sherry has to balance both the wine
glass and the supper dish on one hand so she
can clamp the infinities under her free arm
and carry them to the sofa, where she lays
"Very nice, Blaise."
"Oui. Well, maybe it
should be something like, 'if a hammair
hits... no... if a bunny and a hammair apply
non-parallel force vectors... no... wait..."
"It needs more work, my
"Hmmm, maybe I talk zis
ovair with Descartes, if Monsieur
Enlightenment Big Shot he gets off his high
horse! 'Cogito ergo sum unable to
come to the phone right now!" Hah!
Anyway, cherie, what do you think of
zis? I worked it out yestairday: "If God
does not exist, the skeptic loses nothing by
believing in Him, but if He does exist, the
skeptic gains eternal life by believing in
"That definitely needs more
work. Here." (Sherry brings him his supper,
a dish of finely crafted French peasant pie.
But she has put so much hot pepper in it,
that at the first bite, in quick succession
Pascal's head turns into a wildly clanging
fire-alarm bell, smoke shoots out of his
ears and as he screams, great tongues of
flame erupt rocket-like from his mouth with
enough force to propel him backwards and
carom him off the wall, then the ceiling and
finally out through an open window and into
the birdbath in the garden, where he comes
to rest, happily extinguished. As the scene
ends, Sherry, the infinities, and the finely
crafted French peasants left over in the
kitchen are seen making a break for the