Richard Nixon


I was going to let node stand on its own forever, but obviously no one is getting the reference. So here's the story:

Way back in the day when usenet and the internet were synonymous, there was a newsgroup named alt.non-sequitur. As was the custom in those days, all newsgroups had a FAQ associated with it. The FAQ for alt.non-sequitur read simply: "Richard Nixon".

See? It's funny.

A beautiful comic strip appearing single-paned black and white during the week and multi-paned color on Sunday. Authored by Wiley Miller. The current strip as well as archives can be found at the site's home page, www.non-sequitur.com/.

Non Sequitur is, in my opinion, extremely witty, intelligent, and pleasurable to read. It deals with a variety of things, but focuses on politics and "the new economy." The only recurring character (besides Homer, whom I'll discuss in a second) is "Obviousman," a take-off on Superman, who appears in situations that are in desperate need of logical correction. He wears a cape and a shirt that has the word "duh" with a slash through it (ie. "no duh"), and though he is introduced to the situation with great force and mightiness, by the end of the strip it usually becomes apparent that his efforts to introduce logical thinking to the situation are to no avail, at which point he recedes into a cynical businessman type who people call "O-Man".

Homer: The Reluctant Soul was sort of an alternate comic that would appear in place of Non-Sequitur on Sundays in 1996 and 1997. It told the story of an angel, Homer, who would was repeatedly put on Earth in various situations, most of them unfortunate in one way or another. From being born in a bear cave to Medieval Europe to a life of politics, Homer saw quite a lot. From what I can tell, though I wasn't following it too closely at the time, Wiley first decided to move Homer into a comic strip of its own, but it wasn't in high enough demand to get press syndication. So he decided to try an online version, with subscriber fees of $2 a month, but he only got 1,200 subscriptions, not enough to warrant the amount of effort it would take. So he's now working on a series of Homer books instead.

Besides being witty, Non-Sequitur is gorgeous visually. The daily strips are usually drawn isometrically, and make beautiful use of shading. The Sundays are even more appealing, Wiley makes excellent use of color, unlike most comic strips which seem shallow or blocky. The expressions he paints on peoples faces are great, too.

The strips "mascots," if you'd call them that, are the hummingbird-penguin and the pencil-headed hatchling, names I just invented to describe wonderfully ironic beings of his own creation. Visit the website, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Puts stupid and annoying comic strips like "The Family Circus" to shame.

As Webster kindly points out, non-sequitur translates to "that which does not follow". As is was pointed out at the bottom of this node, "FISH FRY" is a kind of non-sequitur, as it does not logically follow from the rest of the node content.

In terms of logic, it is defined as an argument whose conclusion does not logically follow from its premises (Wikipedia). In other words, given that (eg.) a) all computers with the Intarnut have access to E2, and b) you have access to E2, it is a non-sequitur to say that you own a computer with the Intarnut. It may or may not be true (i.e. I could have a computer or a mobile phone), but it does not follow from the argument.
This form of non sequitur is called affirming the consequent, as opposed to denying the antecedent. An example of such is as follows: if a) you are in London, you are in England; and b) you are not in London, then you are not in England.

A different type of non sequitur is used in humour. Often a random word cried out can constitute a non sequitur. It may sometimes even be a sentence that is detached and unrelated from the rest of the speech, as is the case of a speech made by Rowan Atkinson in Not The Nine O'Clock News:

(as a judge in a courtroom) This case has been one of the most difficult and embarrassing of my whole career. You are an evil and malicious young trollop who has wilfully committed an evil crime, and yet you have come to this court, and without any consideration forced this unfortunate young man to behave like a cross between a human vegetable and Ronnie Barker! (Griff Rhys-Jones had earlier been mispronouncing legal words) You are someone who wantonly thrusts herself upon men for sexual fantasy wherever you may find them. Perhaps you'd like to join me for lunch?

If one is careful, once can combine the two types of non-sequitur: if all people dream when they sleep, and I am asleep, then my trousers are purple.

IMHO one does not appreciate humour until one appreciates irony, anticlimaxes and the non-sequitur. Carry on.

Non seq"ui*tur (?). [L., it does not follow.] Logic

An inference which does not follow from the premises.

 

© Webster 1913.

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