WASHINGTON, DC: My friend Joe Martin, who draws the comic strip “Mr. Boffo,” uses a recurring theme about people who are “Unclear on the Concept.” In one strip, for example, a woman is looking at a police lineup, and one of the guys in the lineup is pointing at her excitedly, saying, “That’s her! That’s her! I’d recognize that purse anywhere!”
Sometimes, I feel that I’m in one of those toons. For instance, one of my favorite poems is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” which tells the story of a man walking through the desert who encounters the ruins of a huge statue of a “king of kings.” The inscription on the pedestal invites visitors to look around and see all the great works that ancient ruler had wrought, and to feel despair at their own comparative insignificance. But nothing has survived: “Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.” The poem is, of course, about the folly of arrogance and the impermanence of Earthly power.
But in a recent article, the founder of OZY, a new media company, says he chose the name because the message of Ozymandias, to him, is that you have to dream big. Talk about Unclear on the Concept.
Also Unclear on the Concept:
What you encounter: The Sphinx
Your takeaway:A long time ago, humans and lions interbred.
What you encounter:Literally hundreds of commercial products to choose from if you want to add length to your personal equipment!
Your takeaway: Good sign! Competition always makes products better.
What you encounter: e e cummings
Your takeaway:This must be the guy who invented texting.
What you encounter: Presidents’ Day
Your takeaway:George Washington must have hated paying full price for a mattress.
What you encounter: “Jabberwocky”
Your takeaway: Lewis Carroll was seriously dyslexic.
What you encounter: Two separate NFL players get fingers blown off by fireworks while celebrating the Fourth of July.
Your takeaway: Pro football players are super patriotic.
What you encounter: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Your takeaway: Martin Luther King Jr. was white.
What you encounter: Donald Trump declares that Mexican immigrants are rapists, and he immediately soars in Republican polls.
(C) 2015, THE WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP