137: Dreams

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
In Connor's second thesis it is stated 'There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.' Does the routine destroy our creativity or do we lose creativity and fall into the routine? Anyway, who's up for a road trip!
Title text: In Connor's second thesis it is stated 'There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.' Does the routine destroy our creativity or do we lose creativity and fall into the routine? Anyway, who's up for a road trip!


In the first panel of this comic, it is clear that Cueball has just written some comment that his friend thinks will lower his chances for getting a job in the future. This is common advice given to teenagers and young professionals, given as a warning that their posts online could be seen by a potential future boss.

In the next panel, Cueball replies with a seeming non-sequitur: when did we forget our dreams? Without explanation, this seems like one of the overly philosophizing, ultimately meaningless questions that also happen to pop up on social media sites. Cueball's friend is confused by the sudden shift in conversation.

The long monologue Cueball delivers focuses around the fact that as people get older, their lives becomes narrower and less filled with possibilities and novelty. This is a speech made in the manner of someone getting older and missing the simpler days of youth, where everything was much more exciting. From this point, he explains that part of the deadening process is responding the same way to each event that happens, and creating a routine. Routines, Cueball believes, remove our ability to act on our dreams.

Finally, Cueball gets to relating this monologue to posting inappropriate material to social media sites: he will not let his concerns for a nebulous future hinder the outlook on life he has now. He will not limit his choices in order to conform with the expectations of an uninspired future. He ends with the clear and simple explanation of his choices—"Fuck. That. Shit."

Cueball's use of periods between words in this closing phrase is itself another reference to practices on social media sites; people will sometimes put a period after each word in a short phrase to show emphasis.

Connor's second thesis from the title text is a quote from the character Sarah Connor in the film Terminator 2. The message expressed is a restatement of Cueball's monologue: While it sounds trite, each and every one of us has the ability to change our situation, whether by quitting the job we don't like, telling that person that we love them, or some other action. Our action (and inaction) creates our future, including the way in which we react to those things outside our control.

The title text also poses the question of whether the more creativity lost to conformity, the more routine life becomes, or the more routine life becomes, the less creative you become. This is a chicken and egg type question, which is dramatically broken by the suggestion of a roadtrip. This is the situationally unexpected break that shows that the speaker is willing to break out of the routines threatening to set in.

Other comics with a similar theme about finding or taking unexplored paths, instead of fitting into the mold, include 59: Graduation and 267: Choices: Part 4.


[A friend is standing behind Cueball, who is typing at a computer.]
Friend: You should be more careful what you write. Future employers might read it.
[The friend still stands while Cueball looks at his computer.]
Cueball: When did we forget our dreams?
Friend: What?
[Cueball stands beside his friend.]
Cueball: The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out before us. We see the same things every day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.
Cueball: And no, I don't have all the answers. I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn't involve tempering my life to better fit someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up.
Cueball: This is very important, so I want to say it as clearly as I can:
[The next three panels are Cueball standing.]
Cueball: FUCK.
Cueball: THAT.
Cueball: SHIT.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


This seems a very short explanation that doesn't reflect the depth or passion of Cueball's speech :P. Or maybe I'm just overly affected by it. --Mynotoar (talk) 17:40, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

The mistake is that {{incomplete|the possibilities are countable at any fixed time}}. Because space-information (as opposed to space-time-information) is countable. But Who would have guess that. (there are other problems, but honestly if people expect me to fix all the worlds problems... I have some bad news)This is the algorithm now. 17:41, 12 January 2014 (UTC) -- Anomulus (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

What makes you think "space-information" is countable but "space-time-information" is not? Under mainstream quantum physics (and GR), space is continuous, as are many properties besides location. That means that, even if space is finite, there's uncountable information at any given slice of time. There are theories that try to quantize spacetime, some of which also lead to quantizing all other continuous values, but that leaves space-time just as countable (and, often, finite) as space. There may be some obscure theory you're aware of that I'm not that somehow has continuous spacetime despite discrete space and discrete everything else, and it's even possible that obscure theory will turn out to be true, but unless you think that's actually an established, knowable fact, there is no mistake in the comic or the explanation. 23:19, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

I think that's white hat with the bumps on his head, even though he is hatless User:halfhat, 21:46 12 January 2014 (UTC)

~ ~ ~ ~ Could the road trip be a reference to the plot of T2 I.e. travelling to destroy Skynet? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

YOLO 22:51, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

If the transcripts of the comics are supposed to make the comics accessible to people who are, say, using a screen-reader, then this transcript does them a disservice by simply bolding the text "Fuck. That. Shit" I realize that the official transcript doesn't describe these three words being very large and getting their own panel, but the particular arrangement of those three words really isn't conveyed by just making them bold, especially because I'm pretty sure screen readers don't announce when a word is bold. 05:00, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

I have made the text bigger in the transcript, like this. I don't know if it fixes it, but it's something. Beanie (talk) 11:00, 17 March 2021 (UTC)