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28 December 2006 @ 18:42
Cory Thomas, the author of the Quixote  

I am spending the holidays in a town that is increasingly unfamiliar to me, and whose local newspaper runs a couple of comics I don't ordinarily get to read. One of these is Watch Your Head, by Cory Thomas, and for the last few days, one of the characters in it has been writing blog posts under the rubric of "What I Learned This Year," in his blog "Diary of a %$#@ed Off Black Man." The large print of the posts, and the accompanying illustrations, suggest that these are reflections on some of the more distressing news items of 2006, as, for example, in Tuesday's entry:

But what about the smaller print? Let's take a closer look:

[En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor. Una olla de algo más vaca que carnero, salpicón las más noches, duelos y quebrantos los sábados, lentejas los viernes,]

"En un lugar de la Mancha..."! This pissed-off black man, it seems, blogs in Spanish, and, it seems from further perusal, in a somewhat old-fashioned variety of Iberian Spanish at that. Indeed, he seems to be telling the story of a certain hidalgo who kept an old lance at home and who fancied himself to belong to an older, more chivalrous age. It seems a distinctly odd thing to write about in a blog post that at first glance appears to be alluding to an unfortunate incident back in February in which Harry Whittington was pumped full of birdshot by the Vice President of the United States.

Or is it so odd, after all? Perhaps Thomas (or the blogger in his cartoon) is inviting us to see a connection between Whittington, who was gracious to a fault in his injury (and is represented pictorially by the absurdly apologetic bowler), and the knight of the mournful countenance, who was ever solemn and intent upon doing righting wrongs, but often a little murky on exactly who the wronged party was. Or perhaps Cheney is the Quixotic figure here, an old man who goes out with a weapon he can't quite handle in search of glorious exploits, and who ends up inflicting more damage on his friends than on his foes? Or is the angry black blogger himself the hidalgo's true counterpart, nobly taking up the hopeless task of embodying a higher standard of conduct, which the world thinks mad, but which in fact serves to point out the world's own madness?

The matter becomes even trickier, though, when we discover that this same text appears in all the pissed-off diarist's posts in this series. If Cheney or Whittington is Don Quixote, then so is Michael Richards! And so is Orenthal J. Simpson, and at least one of three Academy Award-winning rappers, and whoever the subject of tomorrow's entry may be.

At any rate, it is difficult to imagine a Quixote more different from that of Cervantes than this one, published serially, on line, by a fictitious twenty-first-century African-American. It is, I think, a wholly original achievement.

Henrytahnan on 29. December, 2006 01:44 (UTC)
There's no doubt: Pierre Menard would be proud.
鉄観音isolt on 29. December, 2006 02:37 (UTC)
Hmmm. I wonder what it says that the [bleeped]-off black man is blogging in something incomprehensibly archaic and foreign to most? Even if it is a great classic?
(Anonym) on 30. December, 2006 09:40 (UTC)
Hey there!

Nice blog! :)