Have you ever seen these people who claim that the world is going to end, and carry signage made of cardboard and wood to prove it?

Yeah, me neither.  Or at least, I haven’t seen the truly crazy – I’ve been given the odd literature now and again while walking down the sidewalk, but that person seemed relatively sane.

And yet, the true “the world is ending” fanatics persist as a minor cultural phenomena – perhaps it’s because they’re useful in movies, to play the “wise old man who is considered to be insane but really perhaps only was driven insane by the fact that he’s the only one who truly sees what’s going on” character.

Did you hear what the crazy old man said?  Why, he’s foreshadowing what’s about to happen with surprising precision, but we discount it as irrational because he seems irrational!  And when he turns out to be correct, why, we’ll realize that it was foretold all along!  Foreshadowing!

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It works for a reason.  And that reason is that we understand what the crazy old man/woman/child/math teacher signifies – the truth that we all seek yet cannot attain, for it would drive us batty – much like it did them.

In fact, if you’re interested, I have this lovely paper that I wrote back in graduate school where I discussed the significance of the archetype as compared to the “wise master” type found commonly in Eastern film and literature, and in particular highlighting–


–sorry about that.  I blacked out for a minute.  I’m just now reading over what I was writing – I think that was my “inner graduate student” – trying desperately to justify the money I spent to study film theory (again).  I do my best to keep him locked away, but there are times when he just sort of shows up and ruins the party.

Anyway.  Aren’t you glad Spencer is back?