[Ads-l] Pogo on intelligent life in the universe

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 16 18:10:45 EST 2017


Thanks for your insights, John.  Also, thanks to GAT and Robin
Hamilton for Pogo information off list.

The Pogo comic strip about extraterrestrial life was remembered in an
article published in "The New York Review of Books" dated April 29,
2004 titled "Stumbling into Space" by Timothy Ferris. The correct text
of the strip was given in a footnote. Interestingly, the publication
date specified for the strip was rather late: July 28, 1973. In fact,
the strip from 1959 was reprinted on that 1973 date. Full copies of
the strip on both dates are viewable via newspapers.com for
subscribers. For example: Type "July 28, 1973 Pogo" in the search slot
and select an appropriate match.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2004/04/29/stumbling-into-space/

[Begin footnote 6]
Porkypine: "I been readin' 'bout how maybe they is planets peopled by
folks with advanced brains. On the other hand, maybe we got the most
brains… maybe our intellects is the universe’s most advanced. Either
way, it’s a mighty soberin' thought." Pogo, July 28, 1973.
[End excerpt]

The Way Back Machine has a snapshot from a website called
halexandria.org  on June 4, 2003 that shows the modern version of the
quotation was in circulation at that time. A Usenet post from 2004
referred to this website.

https://web.archive.org/web/20030604045335/http://www.halexandria.org/dward370.htm

[Begin excerpt]
An additional famous quote from Kelly was Porky Porcupine -- in
commenting on the possibilities/probabilities of extraterrestrials --
said, “Thar’s only two possibilities:  Thar is life out there in the
universe which is smarter than we are, or we’re the most intelligent
life in the universe.  Either way, it’s a mighty sobering thought.”
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
> I think it's unlikely that this is a line that was used more than once.  While Walt Kelly frequently re-used individual lines, this one would require an entire set-up.  He did re-use the strips that ran in the Star, but this was probably too late to be among the re-used strips.  I don't recall seeing this line in the Pogo Comics that preceded the strip, and it does seem more characteristic of a daily strip than some panels from a comic book.
>
> The Wikiquote version cannot be correct.  This is not language that Porkypine would have used; it is too formal and correct, and the only variant spelling is "thar," which is not good Okefenokee ("they" would be more likely in the strip, as in the bona fide quotation given below).  Presumably it is based on someone's faulty memory.  I see that it was added to Wikiquote by an anonymous editor in May 2004 as one of several "attributed quotes," and the editor wrongly called the speaker "Porky Porcupine," see https://en.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?title=Walt_Kelly&diff=prev&oldid=9640.
>
>
> John Baker
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
> Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2017 2:32 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Pogo on intelligent life in the universe
>
> The Wikiquote webpage for Walt Kelly lists the following Pogo quotation.
>
> [Begin Wikiquote version]
> Thar’s only two possibilities: Thar is life out there in the universe
> which is smarter than we are, or we’re the most intelligent life in
> the universe. Either way, it’s a mighty sobering thought.
> [End Wikiquote version]
>
> The passage above was highlighted with a companion photo. It was also
> selected as Quote of the Day in 2004. Unfortunately, Wikiquote does
> not provide a citation. So, I decided to attempt to locate the precise
> comic strip.
>
> The quality of the text created by OCR (optical character recognition)
> for Pogo is terrible which greatly impairs searchability. But fortune
> smiled and I eventually found a candidate. The text was markedly
> different, but the overall semantics and the punchline matched the
> target quotation.
>
> [ref] 1959 June 20, The Honolulu Advertiser, Pogo Comic Strip by Walt
> Kelly, Quote Page B3, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]
>
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/259239643/?terms=Pogo
>
> [Begin Comic Strip Text]
> Porky Pine: I BEEN READIN' 'BOUT HOW MAYBE THEY IS PLANETS PEOPLED BY
> FOLKS WITH AD-VANCED BRAINS.
>
> Pogo: UM
>
> Porky Pine: ON THE OTHER HAND, MAYBE WE GOT THE MOST BRAINS...MAYBE
> OUR INTELLECTS IS THE UNIVERSE'S MOST AD-VANCED.
>
> Porky Pine: EITHER WAY, IT'S A MIGHTY SOBERIN' THOUGHT.
> [End Comic Strip Text]
>
> Question for list members: Does a Pogo comic strip exist that more
> closely matches the text specified by Wikiquote? Did Walt Kelly cover
> this topic more than once?  Alternatively, is the Wikiquote version
> based on a faulty memory?
>
> Garson O'Toole
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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