Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Happy birthday Tove Jansson

Today the boy was asking me to sing happy birthday to someone as I was washing his hands. I frantically scrolled through Wikipedia and got as far as Jean Piaget (1896). And while it seems particularly appropriate to sing happy birthday to Piaget with a five-year-old, if I had scrolled farther I would have discovered that it was also Tove Jansson's birthday, which is much more exciting.

Tove Jansson, such a talent! Of course the melancholy twee comics nerd in me is a big fan of the Moomins, but her novels and short stories are great too. You can probably read The Summer Book in a hammock in a single summer afternoon. Take it from me, highly recommended.

I clicked through to the Wikipedia article, which offers this origin story for the Moomins:
Jansson said that she had designed the Moomins in her youth: after she lost a philosophical quarrel about Immanuel Kant with one of her brothers, she drew "the ugliest creature imaginable" on the wall of their outhouse and wrote under it "Kant". This Moomin later gained weight and a more pleasant appearance, but in the first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood (originally Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), the Immanuel-Kant-Moomin is still perceptible.

What kind of maniac loses philosophical quarrels with her brother about Kant when she is a youth and then proceeds to draw a caricature about it that goes on to change lives and launch theme parks? 

I can guarantee that my brother and I did not get into quarrels about Kant, and while I retain some fondness for the horrific comic I drew in my youth ("Hardon the Mutilator") and his band's songs "Need Bullets," "Gun Kill," and "The Philosophical Ramifications of Ontological Theory", let's just say there is no comparison.