Vigilia Nativitatis Domini

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Key to Red Bear's allusions in panel 4
1. Bricolage: "the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things which happen to be available; a work created by such a process" (Wikipedia)
2. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936)
3. Andy Warhol, especially Campbell's Soup I (1968)

Historical note: the first pet I had as a child was a dog named Puppy. Our cat was named Kitty. So, yes, my toys really are named Fencing Bear, American Girl, Red Bear, Teddy Bear and (unusually) Sugar Bear. I'm not sure whether this makes me a nominalist or a realist at heart, although I suspect I am a realist (names carry essences, if not universals) with nominalist tendencies (it takes many names to pray to God because no one name can ever be adequate to express divinity). Perhaps it makes me a Hobbit. In my head, I live in the City by the Lake and teach at the University. You get the idea.


  1. So, the hat makes it look like they are trying to disguise themselves as Hasidic Jews--Isaac Singer meets Shakespeare? That and the hijab, and they have a real multi-cultural cross-dressing them going here.

    I am unclear on the metaphor of who, exactly, they are petitioning. Their copyright holders? A deity who can grant them independent existence?

    Our bear, by the way, is named Bear. There is also Rhino, Dino, Sheep, Armadillo, Limulus (he has a Latin name, a little more formal) and Triceratops. The badgers, an international crew, are named Tasso, Gravel (short for Gravling), Barsook, Brock and (uncharacteristically) Ginger. Ginger is the Badger Bakery mascot. Oh dear, now I am feeling dreadfully unimaginative.

  2. "I am unclear on the metaphor of who, exactly, they are petitioning. Their copyright holders? A deity who can grant them independent existence?"

    Now that you put it that way, I'd say both, since they have been carrying on a conversation on multiple levels all along. They are, after all, praying for redemption on the night of the birth of the Redeemer.

  3. But is redemption the same as independence? Or is it the opposite, being given the assurance that you are going to be cared for (with attendant limits to freedom)?

  4. Yes (it is the same), if you think of redemption as being freed to be our true selves. What the toys want is not simply to be cared for, but to have the freedom to create what they will. This is what it means to be created in the image and likeness of the Creator: to have the capacity to (sub)create in turn, albeit "sub-" because we never actually create anything from scratch (de nihilo).


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