Captain Hook and the Rainbow

by Philip McPherson Rudisill
cir 1998 and slight editing on 5/5/2016

Captain Hook, the great antagonist of the Arch-hero, Peter Pan, finally developed a hypothesis regarding the rainbow.

The facts he gathered through careful research:

1. Whenever any one is near him, and Hook spies a rainbow, the others admit also to seeing the rainbow, but

2. those who are not near often refuse such admission; and

3. when Hook does not spy a rainbow those near also say they see no rainbow, but, sometimes,

4. when they are further off they say they do see a rainbow even though it is clear to Hook that there is no rainbow.

In general: no one has ever contradicted Hook while close to him, nor in the absence of rain. (He has never had this problem in the absense of rain, for the rainbow has never yet appeared in the absence of rain) He has also never noticed any such penchant to contradict him with regard to other things, e.g., the rain itself, but only with the rainbow. It could be, he thinks, that the rainbow affects people mentally and drives them to taunt Hook (and perhaps other right thinking men), somewhat as people are occasionally alleged to be the affected by the full moon.

Solution (Hook's hypothesis): People (are driven[?] to) have no respect for Hook in rainy weather and think he is a fool, but are afraid to admit to that when they are close to him, for they know he will beat them.

He is as yet unable to account for this phenomenon,* except that in the sun-lit rain others gang up on him to make sport of him. And this he will not tolerate!

* I assume that the reader knows that rainbows are not in the rain at all, but only in the looking at, or viewing of, the rain and thus only in the eye (or camera); thus to see a rainbow requires a particular configuration of rain, sun and perceiver/focus. Otherwise they miss the humor of this appendix, much as children, who are too young, miss the humor of Peter Pan's shadow being rolled up in Wendy's chest-of-drawers.

Observation: if Hook looks at a rainbow in the same way that he does the rain and chairs, etc., then in the same way that the rainbow is funny, all things would be funny,* only we will not yet have noticed a like penchant for coming into and going out of existence like that exemplified by the rainbow. Then missing objects would not be stolen so much as merely have gone out of existence, or to rainbow land, wherever that might be.

* But then, of course, nothing would be funny/strange/queer (in this regard) for nothing would be different, and questions regarding this behavior would never come to mind. It would be like trying to grasp the notion of time and or space from experience--since time (as well as space) is omnipresent, it could not even be noticed, like a certain buzz in one's ear from birth to death.

Further consideration of Hook's frame of mind: it is a sheer viewing to notice the spatial and temporal sightings of any specter, e.g., a rainbow or the rain. and that, since we are limited to subjective, split-finger space, is only possible if we dream up a so-called real space into which our own subjective, split-finger space might fit as a view point of that, and indeed it is only by means of this what we can make these spatial and temporal observations.

Another Hookian consideration. Last week on the way home (on August 4, 1998), while riding my motorbike toward the foothills of the Georgia mountains and some distance in front of my wife (who was driving our motor home), a deer and I collided. While I remained upright (and I was only slightly injured), the deer (a doe) was tossed onto its back with legs kicking in the air before righting herself and scampering off, a bit dazed, but apparently physically none the worse for the encounter. My wife reported to me later that at first sight she thought the deer were a piece of brown cardboard (trash on the highway) which I had sought to avoid hitting by swerving (when the deer actually collided with me) and which had been tossed up into the air through the wind that I was causing with my bulk and speed; and then as she came closer, she saw that she had been mistaken, and that it was actually a deer.*

* Which means: it was a deer all along! It is my strongest conviction that such an experience as being mistaken in this way cannot possible arise in the context of the empiricist schools of epistemology, nor even in the rationalist schools, but only the capacity of human recognition as envisioned by Kant. It certainly could not have been an intuition, i.e., a direct, intellectual (or spiritual?) sighting, for, in that case (it seems to me), it would never have been thought of as a cardboard in the first place.**

** Kant's greatest insight in his development from the Inaugural Dissertation to the Critique of Pure Reason was, in my opinion, the realization that the objects of this world are not givens which are intuited (Dissertation), but are merely specters/appearances (Erscheinungen, things appearing, retinal objects) which we then assemble into objects and experiences with them (and which is the validation of the categories of pure understanding), and which we then see, as objects, so clearly before our eyes that we must think that they always existed as such, and which is precisely the meaning we give to the objects of experience. See Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section 118. This first came to me when I realized that little children were not imposed upon by the fact that Peter Pan's shadow was rolled up in Wendy's chest-of-drawers, but were more sadden by his plight of having lost that shadow.]

Had Captain Hook viewed this same scene in the place of my wife, his experience would have been quite different, for he would have been able to report that I had struck a piece of cardboard and then almost immediately, the cardboard turned into a deer and scampered off. "Damnest thing you can imagine! turned suddenly into a deer.* Probably a magician disguised to do me harm, and was suddenly surprised by Philip on his motor bike and his evil intention against me thwarted."** ****

* Except why would Hook be surprised? This sort of thing would be happening all the time. The dog on the side of the road ahead morphs into a mailbox as we get closer. The telephone pole not only approaches us as we approach it, but swells in size at the same time. Etc.

** According to the rationalist school, when we see the deer, this means that we would know immediately that the cardboard were only a mirage (Erscheinung). This is very close to the notion of an intuition, only here, with the rationalists, the senses would be charged with the perversion of our sighting and then corrected by the intellect. So perhaps intuition is an integral part of the rationalist system. Kant, of course, rejected the rationalist system when he realized that it would be impossible for a rationalist, like Hook, for example, to tell the difference between his left and right hand, for the description of the one would match perfectly the description of the other, when no reference to an externally encompassing space were made.*** Hook might marvel that his gloves fit sometimes (the left glove on the left hand) and not at others (the left glove and the right hand), but would have to ascribe that to some magic, and he might even figure out a counter-magic, e.g., switching the gloves, perhaps when saying some Hocus Pocus words.

[*** The reference to space were only of temporary benefit in the rationalist system, and would be dispensed with eventually when everything were seen by us, like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, in the same way that we are seen by God, i.e., immediately, without need for categories of any sort. For example, I am sure Leibniz would have used an example like this: we say "the fellow over there" until we learn his name, and then we say "Joe" or whatever the name might be.

[**** The rationalist, once having come to the conclusion (sheer awareness?) that the cardboard and the deer were related, since they would assert the principle of sufficient reason, would doubtlessly appeal to magic of some sort, or God, to account for the sudden change.#]

# I think there is a basic inconsistency in this system in that I don't think that you would ever have come to the thought for a need of causation and adequate reason if you reasoned from within this intellectual system from the very beginning since, by Leibniz' own admission, each monad is a self-contained system or world and what we call causation of one thing to another is merely the march of the internal states of the monad, i.e., its perceptions and depictions, and so (the question must arise): what is the relationship of the depictions to real things existing independently of them and to which these depictions are supposed to refer? Especially since the rainbow is not an external thing, but looks as much external as the retinal image of the rain.

If told that he must have been mistaken and that it only looked like a piece of cardboard, Hook would have most surely struck the speaker for his insolence and would have straightaway ordered him not again to use nonsense words (à la surds of Leibniz) like "looked like".

Hook's compatriots soon learn, through many beatings, not to contradict their leader and never to use "seems to be" or "appears to be" for they can never find any example of such to be used to show Hook what they mean with these terms.

[See also this humerous Onion article on size of humans (added 12/25/2013).]

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