Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Something Cuddly to Keep You Company

Many years ago, some friends of mine were going into the stuffed animal business. I was very excited about it, and felt the need to inflict my ideas for stuffed toys on them. I wrote them a long email explaining my idea for a line of stuffed religious figures: a stuffed Ganesh (how cute!), a plush Buddha, a soft set of disciples, a felt Noah inside a big stuffed whale, a sock Jesus, a cuddly L. Ron Hubbard, etc. I considered the Islamic ban on images, and proposed, as an alternative to a plush Mohammed, some plush Arabic characters that would be equally huggable. Sadly, my friends didn't respond to my email. They later gave up on the stuffed animal business and went to grad school.

A few years later, I saw a set of plush philosophers, writers, and economists at some horrific store in SoHo called "Trust Fund Baby". (I've also seen the Jesus action figures, and the Allah action figure (the container is empty -- get it?).) My friends really could've cashed in. Plus, if parents had given their kids sets of religious figures outside the parents' faith, my friends could've helped expand religious understanding in the world.

The urge to hug certainly precedes, or is deeply tied to the latent, prelogical and prelinguistic urge to believe. Cf. William James:
[T]he logical reason of man operates in the field of divinity exactly as it has always operated in love, or in patriotism, or in politics, or in any other of the wider affairs of life, in which our passions or out mystical intuitions fix our beliefs beforehand. It finds arguments for our conviction, for it indeed has to find them. It amplifies and defines our faith, and dignifies it and lends it words and plausibility.
The Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture XVIII.

Looks like someone has beaten me to it. I really want this furry Hanuman.


toddy said...

As a highschool student I authored a comic strip about Moses. Moses was a cranky old man with a bald head and a long beard and would zap people whn he got annoyed.
I think remember being much funnier when I was in high school. But it could have been the drugs.
Perhaps I still have those comics I drew. If so, i will post them for you.

Octopus Grigori said...

Sounds awesome.