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Author Topic: An odd thought...  (Read 7437 times)

Blackjoker

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An odd thought...
« on: 03 Jan 2011, 01:35 »

I was going through the Archives and I realized something that seems a bit odd, I might be completely off in this, so if I am feel free to correct me and call me an imbecile or other things. But looking through it, it seems that Marten seriously has horrific things happen to him every time he's assertive or plans to be.
(Timeline is based more in terms of how it went in his life as opposed to how the comic presented it, I realize some stuff might be out of order)

1) Make a cross country move for a woman he loves in college, when he gets there he is nearly broke, she pretty much ditches him and breaks his heart.

2) Marten goes to quit his job, or as he puts it the glorified office bitchery, and finds out that he is in fact fired because the department shut down, this is more a denial of closure and "You can't quit, we just fired you, now flail in impotent rage, aww you tried to grow a spine, how cute."

3) Marten sets boundaries with Dora, Dora violates them. Marten calls Dora out on it and ends up getting dumped over it. He is currently miserable and his mother who allegedly came to help him get over it seems to be actively trying to exacerbate the problem rather than help it.

To put it another way, each time Marten tries to be assertive the universe seems to actively punish him. Any comments?
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The Seldom Killer

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #1 on: 03 Jan 2011, 03:10 »

It's what makes it funny, isn't it.
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jwhouk

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #2 on: 03 Jan 2011, 06:11 »

It's what makes it funny, isn't it.

</thread>
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Blackjoker

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #3 on: 03 Jan 2011, 07:42 »

Meh, I dunno, in some regards it's funny but after a certain point it stops being funny and more uncomfortable.
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pwhodges

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #4 on: 03 Jan 2011, 07:46 »

If that was all there was to the comic, then yes; but there are many other aspects to the comic, and to the depiction of Marten - so while I see your point, I feel it's far too simplistic.
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #5 on: 03 Jan 2011, 08:45 »

Well, he didn't get punished for going out and getting the soup :-)

There are so few times Marten has been assertive that it's not a statistical sample, although maybe he feels by now that risk taking always fails.
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Carl-E

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #6 on: 03 Jan 2011, 17:53 »

Risk taking frequently  fails.  So, when you take very few risks, it's not unlike;ly that they all will fail.  You need to take a lot  of risks to have a few successes. 

Whether or not it's worth it, is the question! 

And, off the top of my head I can think of one risk he took that didn't go south - he bought a guitar with his windfall raher than being responsible with the money, and wound up in a band.  Not too bad...
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #7 on: 03 Jan 2011, 18:21 »

Asking Hanners to join a rock band was a risk. She could have laughed in his face or moved to the moon.
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IanClark

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #8 on: 03 Jan 2011, 19:07 »

Strictly speaking only the third can really best be described as "being assertive". Moving halfway across the country was reckless and taking a huge chance. It wasn't being assertive because that would essentially imply that he was trying to force Vicky to be with him. In the second case, he ended up getting what he wanted anyway, and far from being mocking his boss was supportive and said that he could do way better than that place anyway (whether or not that actually happened...).
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akronnick

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #9 on: 03 Jan 2011, 19:09 »

Asking Hanners to join a rock band was a risk. She could have laughed in his face or moved to the moon.

That wasn't really a risk though, if Hanners had said no, he would have been in the same situation as if he hadn't asked her.

I suppose that she might have been terrible and enthusiastic and they would have been stuck with a lousy drummer, but that's a risk you take with anyone.
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #10 on: 03 Jan 2011, 19:39 »

In the second case, he ended up getting what he wanted anyway, and far from being mocking his boss was supportive and said that he could do way better than that place anyway (whether or not that actually happened...).

Did he really? Its one thing to go from one job to a slightly better one when you're fired. It's something else to make the conscious decision to leave the job you hate, prepare yourself for that "confrontation", go into work and find out you've been fired. That opportunity was taken away from him. Yes, the immediate end result was the same, Marten was no longer the office bitch, but was it the same result overall? No. Some people need to assert themselves, otherwise they end up in the same repetative cycle. And Marten is still in that cycle because he didn't get the chance to take that risk. Sure, he has a slightly better job, a slightly better wage (which I doubt is anywhere near the typical $50,000 a year an actual librarian makes), but its still the same monotonous, weary work he was doing before, just with more books and less paperclips.

Because he didn't quit like he wanted to, instead having the decision taken away from him, has Marten really grown? Self-assertion is vital, it allows people to be proactive, in that you don't see limits, but opportunities. I once did a course when I had gotten out of college, about helping you find work, being confident in interviews, etc. A lot of it carries over into the rest of your life. I remember the instructor once said that "Self-assertion is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger you become." Corny? Oh hell yes it is, but its true. So Marten has failed to be assertive like he wanted to be and is still pretty much in the same boat in strip 1831 as he was in strip 1 (albeit more hungover and a larger pool of friends).
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IanClark

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #11 on: 04 Jan 2011, 16:24 »

I see your point, but I'm not really arguing that it still worked out great for him, or that it wouldn't be better if he'd gotten to assert himself by quitting; I'm arguing that he wasn't really "punished" for it. Ultimately, it was more or less a wash, and I don't think it was a denial of closure because I don't think it mattered that way to him. It was more "work sucks" than "I'm sick of being oppressed."
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tomart

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #12 on: 05 Jan 2011, 16:33 »

each time Marten tries to be assertive the universe seems to actively punish him.

Yes, i agree - but it's the classic Everyman existential archetype, from Charlie Chaplin through a long series of excellent tragicomedic (anti-)heroes. (Many could be mentioned; my faves include Charlie Brown and Daffy Duck.) 

I've found that over time, Jeph has a good balancing tendency to reward his core character*, but when we're following his travails day by day it can seem way too much sometimes: when it rains, it fucking pours.

 * Look how long Marten enjoyed perhaps the best couple relationship in QC. 
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #13 on: 07 Jan 2011, 03:38 »

* Look how long Marten enjoyed perhaps the best couple relationship in QC. 

Yikes.  Depressing.
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Blackjoker

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #14 on: 07 Jan 2011, 15:32 »

And judging by the January 7th comic, it is possible that his mother has CONDITIONED him to not be assertive, yeesh. I am suddenly developing some hate for her.
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jwhouk

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #15 on: 07 Jan 2011, 16:16 »

She's a Domme. She's got "conditioning" (aka "training") down pat.
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Blackjoker

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #16 on: 07 Jan 2011, 16:22 »

She's a Domme. She's got "conditioning" (aka "training") down pat.


You don't do that to your own flesh and blood...part of me is just hoping that this is all a nightmare Marten is having during his nap.
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Carl-E

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #17 on: 08 Jan 2011, 15:36 »

Actually, a large number of people do  do exactly that with  their own flesh and blood.  Some intentionally, some un.  More used to do it in the past than do now, of course - the baby boomers ("your parents" to most of you forumites) promised themselves they'd never do such things, and worked hard at having better "relationships" with their kids than their parents did with them.  But before then, the social norm was absolute respect and obedience to your parents. 

Not that everyone adhered to that, of course.  In fact, most people rebelled, but left home to do it.  After all, we're not too far removed from the Victorians once you go back past the depression! 

I used to watch my father (born in '33) around his parents (both born in 1898), and it was a different world... and hs grandfather, my namesake, was reportedly a real  tyrant!
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pwhodges

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #18 on: 08 Jan 2011, 15:46 »

To illustrate how severe parental attitudes could be barely a century ago, my first wife's great grandfather had a daughter who had a boy (her father) and a girl (her aunt).  The daughter's husband was a soldier and was killed during the First World War.  When the daughter, now left destitute, asked her father for help, he decreed that she could return home as a kitchen maid, bringing only the boy with her.  The girl (my wife's aunt) was sent to be brought up by a pair of (her) maiden aunts (and ended up pretty barking mad, actually).

We had a picture of this man sitting in a high-backed chair with a pillbox hat with a tassle hanging to one side.
« Last Edit: 08 Jan 2011, 15:48 by pwhodges »
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #19 on: 08 Jan 2011, 16:41 »

As Marten would say: Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang.

I think to some extent Marten gets used as the universs's punching bag--especially this week--but it is also a lot easier, when presented with this kind of question, to remember times when it hasn't worked out than when it has.  In hindsight, a risk that worked out feels like a lot less of a risk.  Actually, there's actually a huge set of decision theory that addresses exactly that phenomenon and how it effects future risktaking.

But yeah, I think we are still supposed to see Marten as a character who can't quite get all the way on his feet--even when things are good his life is kind of in stasis instead of moving forward, and even when it's like that you get the urge to say, "It's quiet. Too quiet."
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Bass Lizard

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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #20 on: 08 Jan 2011, 20:07 »

Risk taking frequently  fails.  So, when you take very few risks, it's not unlike;ly that they all will fail.  You need to take a lot  of risks to have a few successes. 

Whether or not it's worth it, is the question! 

And, off the top of my head I can think of one risk he took that didn't go south - he bought a guitar with his windfall raher than being responsible with the money, and wound up in a band.  Not too bad...

Whatever happened to Deathmole anyway? I was really hoping that the band would give Hanners an outlet to really socialy interact. Or at the very least, make way for some hilarious band shenanigans.
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Re: An odd thought...
« Reply #21 on: 08 Jan 2011, 20:11 »

Man when you put it like that it's kinda harsh. Everytime Marten stands up for himself, and tries to make things work his way, the universe shoves him down, kicks him in the sack, and laughs whilts it takes pictures to post online. Forget taking chances. No wonder Marten's such a doormat. Wheater he's aware of it or not, subconsciously he's terrified that any asserting himself over others will lead to bad things happening to him. I can actually sort of realte really. Damnit Jeph! Why wont you just cut the kid one lucky break?
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