32: Pillar

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Pillar
A comic by my brother Doug, redrawn and rewritten by me
Title text: A comic by my brother Doug, redrawn and rewritten by me

[edit] Explanation

Two Cueball-like guys ponder the unanswerable philosophical question of whether all people observe the universe the same, or whether, for example, what one person sees as "red" might be what another see as "green". They muse that no one really knows how anyone else sees the world.

The misdirection and punchline of the comic comes when the pole-guy asks if his friend can help him down from this pole where he's been standing the entire comic. The friend's reply indicates that he does not see a pole, proving that one person does observe the world differently than another; in this case, in a far more extreme and unexpected way than color differences.

Another interpretation of the punchline is that the friend doesn't like pole-guy's idea of questioning all of human existence, and mocks that philosophy by pretending not to see that he is standing on a pole.

In any case it is not possible to indicate which of these two Cueball's that are the protagonist so neither can be designated as "The Cueball" for this comic.

The concept on a philosopher on a pole is likely a reference to many "performing monks" of the late antiquity period, most famously Simeon Stylites. Such practitioners were common throughout the Roman Empire, and their goal was to show their devotion as proudly as possible.

Unlike most other xkcd comics, the "panels" of this comic are not divided and are drawn within a single frame.

As noted at the title text, this comic is based on a comic drawn by Randall's brother Doug, although Randall apparently redrew and rewrote it.

[edit] Transcript

[At the top of the panel is a black frame with the following text:]
This one is mostly by my little brother, Doug.
[A Cueball-like guy stands on a the top of a tall pole and talks to his Cueball-like friend on the ground. The drawing is repeated three time in the same panel, once for each comment by the two guys.]
Pole-guy: The sky is so blue, and all the leaves are green.
Friend: Haven't you ever wondered if we really see the same colors as everyone else? It's all perception.
Pole-guy: Well, you might as well call into question all of human experience. Who really knows what world someone else sees?
Friend: Yeah, I guess.
Pole-guy: Anyway, can you help me down from this pole?
Friend: What pole?

[edit] Trivia

"Oops, I totally forgot to update yesterday afternoon. Well, I haven't slept, so I say it's still Friday. It's been a weird couple days and I was just thinking it was the weekend. Anyway, the first version of this strip was drawn by me and then written by Doug. I redrew/wrote it and now you are reading it! Cool, huh?
Also, all the barrel strips are now here for easy linkage to people you think might like them."
  • The link (now here above directing to an webarchive) used to direct to a collection of all six The Boy and his Barrel comics.
  • It seems Randall had a long Friday back then. So long that he forgot to post this Friday comic before midnight.
  • And although he still had not slept when he posted it, the time-stamp reads 7:55 AM on Saturday.
  • This thus became the first comic to be released on a Saturday.
  • This also happened to him the next Friday/Saturday. And then two times more before he closed LiveJournal. Since then it has not happened.
  • This comic was posted on xkcd when the web site opened on Sunday the 1st of January 2006.
    • It was posted along with all 41 comics posted before that on LiveJournal as well as a few others.
    • The latter explaining why the numbers of these 41 LiveJournal comics ranges from 1-44.
  • One of the original drawings drawn on checkered paper.


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Discussion

I have oft wondered about the color thing. 71.178.11.180 21:49, 23 October 2012 (UTC) Bigger problem- how do you know there are other people?

The incessantly thumping bass from your neighbour's "music" is a bit of a clue. :-) BinaryDigit (talk) 09:23, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Is that Comic Sans (the font) in the top left? Caagr98 (talk) 15:06, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Augh, it is Comic Sans! 173.245.52.29 21:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Also, it could be that Righty doesn't see a pole, but a pillar, as suggested by the title of the comic. That's why he asks, "What pole?", implying, "I only see a pillar". 173.245.62.75 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The song "Shpadoinkle" from Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "Cannibal! The Musical" begins with the line, "The sky is blue, and all the leaves are green." Trueflint (talk) 17:15, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
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