Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the suburbia of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Did frame thy fuzzy, cuddly symmetry?
Oops! Sorry Mr. William Blake. I’ll be more careful in the next stanza.
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine appetite,
Calvin thinks he can scare them all
Alas, eating fat children raises fears of cholestrol.
Oops, I did it again. Guess this is not the tiger that William Blake wrote about, is it? Absolutely not. Before the more literary ones amongst you charge me with heresy and condemn me to burn on the stake, let me tell you that the tiger here is Bill Watterson’s Hobbes. I want to clarify upfront that the lines above have not been written by Bill Watterson. I take sole responsibility for this trash, which I have tried to pass off as poetic excellence. Although, I can take credit for writing lines which rhyme, can’t I?
I am sure Calvin would have loved Hobbes to be like William Blake’s tiger – with lusty sinews, fiery eyes, mandibles of death and razor sharp claws. Hobbes has always disappointed Calvin on this count. He refused to eat Moe, saying that fat children have cholestrol. He also refused to tear Susie apart and instead let her cuddle and kiss him, much to Calvin’s chagrin.
However, Hobbes has tried to help Calvin with his homework on a couple of occasions. It is another matter that the result has always been disastrous.
Does Hobbes exist only in Calvin’s imagination or does he really spring to life when no one else is around? This question has always perplexed me. I have had serious discussions and debates with other Calvin & Hobbes aficionados on this topic. This is what Watterson has to say on Hobbes’ dual nature:
“When Hobbes is a stuffed toy in one panel and alive in the next, I’m juxtaposing the grown-up version of reality with Calvin’s version, and inviting the reader to decide which is truer.”
So is Hobbes real or is he imaginary? I think it is really upto the reader. What does he want to believe. In Watterson’s words:
“Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than dolls coming to life.”
Hobbes’ reality is in the eyes of the beholder. There is no concrete definition of Hobbes’ reality.
Anyway, how does it matter? What matters is that Hobbes has thoroughly entertained us over the years and continues to bring smiles to our faces. Even today…14 years after he went away with Calvin to ‘explore this magical world.’
William Blake wondered if the tiger was created by God or Satan. He found it difficult to believe that the same God who created the gentle lamb created the ferocious tiger.
I don’t have any such questions in my mind. Because I know who created ‘my’ tiger. It is a man named Bill Watterson.