More on the Tyranny of Pairs

I’ve been thinking further about the tyranny of pairs in the world of shaker sets, which I discussed in my last post. It has occurred to me now that it’s the implied connection of the two disparate things in a pair that is, often, the source of the comedy or even the cuteness. A dog and a fire hydrant–but of course they go together. How funny. How cute. A drunk and a lamp-post. How funny. How cute. Or, heading backwards through the history of other shaker sets I’ve discussed on this blog earlier: a lobster cooking itself in a lobster pot, a buttock and another buttock, a female body and a pair of separable breasts, a mouse and a piece of cheese, an angry worker and a broken computer terminal. All funny. All cute. In each case, the single shakers go with something else that might not be the first thing you’d expect, but, once you get it, you get why it’s connected to the first thing in a cute or funny way. It’s the sort-of unexpectedness of what, in the long run, is pretty expectable, but not to begin with totally obvious–a connection between two separate and quite different things that nevertheless satisfactorily and convincingly ties them together, by means of references to old sayings, old jokes, old ideas about stereotypes. While the two separate things remain separate they are nevertheless connected, by means of language and the network of cultural repertoire they refer to and pass on.

Published by pernodel

Children’s literature critic and author of books for children

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