Monday, January 3, 2011

Of Gulliver, Stars and Condoms

The new Jack Black movie, Gulliver’s Travels, seems to subtly play up the angle of penile size, at least in the promotional material, notwithstanding that it is aimed at the kids' Christmas holiday market.  Witness the poster above and the one below:

The issue of size in general in GT brought to mind Jonathon Swift’s observation in the original book that "Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison." Put simply, you cannot judge size except by comparison with other things.

GT dates from 1726 and was intended to be a parody on traveller’s tales, often exaggerated and fanciful, that were popular at the time. The book is a first person narrative by Lemuel Gulliver, originally a ship’s surgeon and later a ship’s captain, and sets out details of his voyages. The first is to Lilliput, where the locals are one twelfth the usual size of humans, resulting in his being regarded as a giant (dubbed the Man-Mountain by the Lilliputians - don’t ask how he puts out the palace fire). The second voyage is to Brobdingnag, where the locals are twelve times his size. Other voyages follow to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan, until he makes his final voyage to the land of the Houyhnhnms, the name of the advanced and dominant species, who have the shapes of horses.  (Nothwithstanding the far feteched concepts of little people, giants and talking horses, I still wonder how the Houyhnhnms became so dominant without opposable thumbs??). The humans – Yahoos – are a base form of life, vile, savage and primitive. The term subsequently came to be applied to any persons who are crude, brutish or obscenely coarse. Gulliver is eventually expelled by the Houyhnhnms, who come to the conclusion that he is basically a Yahoo with some reason.

Although the book is a satire about much of Europe's institutions, culture, morality and beliefs, the aspect that most seems to have stayed in the public mind about GT is that of size, especially the Lilliputian voyage where he is big in comparison.

Size may not matter in some activities and situations, but in others it can be a real eye opener. What brought this to mind is that whilst I was looking up something on You Tube, I came across a video that shows the comparative sizes of the planets and stars. An ad for the Jack Black GT movie happened to come on the Teev at the same time, whcih started me thinking about the above.

This is the video clip:

(For those interested, the stirring music is from the old Disney flick The Black Hole).

Here is a still photograph comparison of star and planet sizes (click on the pics to enlarge):

One final take on size.  Having commenced by reference to penis size, I will conclude on the same note.  This is an ad that recently appeared for new Durex extra large size condoms:

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