32: Pillar

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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 characters 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 lefty asks if righty can get him down from the pole he's been standing on for the entire comic. Righty'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 righty doesn't like lefty's idea of questioning all of human existence, and mocks that philosophy by pretending not to see that lefty is on the pole.

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

This one is mostly by my little brother, Doug.
[Cueball on a tall pillar is talking to his friend on the ground]
Cueball: 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.
Cueball: Well, you might as well call into question all of human experience. Who really knows what world someone else sees?
Friend: Yeah, I guess.
Cueball: Anyway, can you help me down from this pole?
Friend: What pole?

[edit] Trivia

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I have oft wondered about the color thing. 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! 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". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
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