Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Emotion of WTF

WTF should be an emotion. There isn't yet a single word for the sense of seeing something that totally boggles the mind; it's related to confusion, but not the same thing. Confusion is aversive, while WTF leads to LOLs and a state of blissful unawareness of what's going on. It's more like confusion feeding into a jolt of happy surprise.

The Dadaists and surrealists didn't quite have a name for it either, but they certainly understood WTF. While they wrapped their work up in a philosophical movement and reaction to existing art, it would never have caught on if people didn't have an inborn love for the non-sequitur.

Many artists get their inspiration from dreams, and dreams illustrate that we all have nightly encounters with WTF. When left to their own devices, our brains rejoice in the random. We're built to like it, and I suspect this serves an evolutionary purpose. Love for the outlandishly mysterious is part of the same drive that allowed early humans to figure out why the clashing rocks and the sparks and the fire always went together. It's the same stuff that fuels science today.

We must celebrate the random. Bathe ourselves in nonsense. WTF.

Some more pictures from the internet's leading source of WTF, Picture is Unrelated:


Edit June 3: See also Calvin's flattering post that expands upon the notion of WTF.


Anonymous said...

Where can I find a mini version of the baby on tank? I would love to put that in my apartment

Phronk said...

Good question. I want one too. Actually, I want the full version to park on a front lawn.

shine said...

I'd even settle for baby on tank on a T-shirt. I think we can make that happen, no?

SharkBoy said...

Is that a dead Hitler action doll?
I need my eBay account number

Phronk said...

Shine: YES.

SB: Hehe, I looked and there are NO Hitler action figures on eBay. But this exists somewhere.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

That is pure genius of an insight. I remember when David Letterman would start some phrase that he kept plugging until he himself heard a random person using it - this is just like that. You are so right...we have no term better to express a WTF moment. Again Sir, you are ahead of the curve.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Tell me you have seen the Disney/Dali movie that is making the blog rounds...if you are into him like I am and I think you are you have to see it

Phronk said...

I'm very much into Dali.

Wow, just saw the Destino thing now. I had no idea that existed.

Amalia Dillin said...

Totally late to the party but: What about in other languages? Dead languages? A lot of dead languages were incredibly imprecise. In Latin for example, you often run across words with meanings that have odd juxtapositions of emotion or aspects. Things we wouldn't necessarily put together into one word in English. Things we wouldn't think have anything to do with one another.

The word Animus, for example, means:
Intellect, understanding, knowledge, courage, pride, delight, confident hope, opinion, imagination, will, disposition...
and a bunch more which I'm too lazy to type. It's a word encompassing much more than we normally would put together.

It might be worth investigating.