Consider the Donut
Or, From There to Here With the Simpsons
Old episodes of The Simpsons are great. The other night “Bart After Dark” was on and I really enjoyed seeing it again. It’s from season eight, the one where Bart ends up working in the Maison Derriére. I thought it was older; mind you, this makes it nineteen years old. When I thought about the episode later on that evening, I realised how the story anarchically set out in multiple directions before settling into its main storyline. This still happens in newer Simpsons episodes, though the show is rarely as joyfully chaotic now as it was back then.
It made me realise that my life has followed this same pattern. Settling in to a particular state of affairs after a period of anarchic abandon, with diminishing returns as the years go by. I don’t believe, as some people seem to, that The Simpsons isn’t funny anymore. It just can’t use the same techniques to make its way as it used to, it just got older. I feel the same myself: I used to get by making it up as I went along until something stuck, but nowadays I feel less convinced in my ability to do so.
In the very next episode (Yes! Two consecutive episodes on two consecutive nights! Finally!), “A Milhouse Divided”, Homer consoles Marge with the following advice: “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on.” There’s a lot to be said for the wisdom of Homer Simpson - even it is of the broken clock variety. There is a wonderful sense of non-attachment in both that quote from Homer and the scattershot opening to the “Bart After Dark” episode (which, in case you’ve forgotten, veers from V-chip to crashed oil tankers to satirising celebrity charity work to garbage angels to North by North West to caterpillars - before even reaching the burlesque house).
Marge: Homer, is this how you pictured married life?
Homer: Yeah, pretty much, except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.
So even though the episode (s) made me think about the cyclical nature of life, they’ve also reminded me of how important it is to embrace life’s events in the moment. I too can rock and roll from one situation to another and be confident that it’ll all make sense in the end. And yeah, things may go around and repeat themselves but that’s a cause for celebration. To repeat the words of Homer: “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on.”