Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Weirdest Puzzle

I wrote several years ago about our family Thrift Store Puzzle Philosophy, and we still hold to it. I can't tell you the number of puzzles that have come and gone over the years--certainly more than our house could hold if we'd had our hearts set on keeping them all!

This puzzle, though, is something special. First of all, it's round, which is unusual:

Primarily, though, this puzzle is just very, very strange:

Okay, yes, it's all cats. That is very, VERY weird.

But these cats? They're also all consecrated religious, and they are acting VERY irreverently:

Yeah, that's a feline nun. Dancing. With a feline monk.


Dancing while TOUCHING.

Very irreverent, indeed!

The entire puzzle represents male and female consecrated religious have a giant party. I can't imagine what on earth the artist was thinking. There are SO many weird things going on here.

For instance, check out this act of charity:

So those are anthropomorphized consecrated religious cats, sitting on the steps eating from a plate, and there are non-anthropomorphized cats around them begging for food.

Are the non-anthropomorphized cats meant to represent the laity? Are they begging for the fruit of salvation? Or... did the artist just think that it would be cute to have cats begging from cats?

It's all so deeply suspect, yet presented so lightheartedly, that I can't figure it out. It's as if Martin Luther, instead of writing his 95 Theses, decided to draw an adorable cartoon and never tell anyone whether or not he was being ironic.

Because OMG look at this!!!

Was the artist trying to make a statement about sexual impropriety between nuns and monks, or is it just supposed to be cute? Is that non-anthropomorphized black cat next to the cat nun meant to symbolize witchcraft, or is it just... there?

Because the implications make a VERY troubling set of statements, but the whole thing is so cute! Does anyone really make a set of statements this troubling by means of a cartoon this cute? I mean, normally when you want to draw worldly sin, you channel your inner Hieronymus Bosch, you know? Not your inner Charles Shulz.

Here are another couple of weird excerpts. We've got a feline Mary and Jesus (but an avian dove)--

--and a domestic cat Adam but a lion God, but domestic cat angels, and there are more non-anthropomorphized cats:

So in this reality, God did not make his creatures in his image, or is the artist making a broader statement about species identification and implying that we should respect monkeys and apes as also containing the divine spark?

If I was still an academic, I would write SO MANY PAPERS about this puzzle.

I'm not, though, so when we were done, I flipped it over and painted a new puzzle for the kids on the back. That was only because there were a few pieces, though--if this puzzle had been intact, I would be hoarding it as-is forever, probably painted with one of those Puzzle Saver solutions and hung on my study wall with all my other weird things.

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