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Back in the early 1980s, when I was working as a technical writer/editor in a company that manufactured mini-computers, I was also reading books of literary criticism and more books about mainstream metaphysics and the 19th century occult enlightenment. I had also recently started a correspondence course on meditation and the Qabalah with a Famous English Author. Although the Famous Author and I soon decided, both of us at the same time, that his course of study wasn't for me, all of these circumstances led me to write “Popeye as Deity.” If you’ve had any English lit classes and read any literary criticism (known to those in the know as lit crit), then you’ll recognize the High Scholarly Style. (This is in fact how scholars talk to each other. I’ve heard them with my own ears.) I also made up a lot of fake but very scholarly footnotes for this piece. Yes, indeedy, I had way too much time on my hands at the computer company.
Green Egg published "Popeye as Deity" in 1997 (when it was still a print magazine). What follows is an excerpt to give you a taste of the parody. Yes, I repeat: scholarly literature sometimes really goes like this. Take a deep breath before you start.
Possibly the most endearing of all anthropomorphic manifestations of the godhead is the archetypal hero re-created as a gruff yet winsome character which sings:
I yam what I yam
And that's all what I yam.
What this ostensibly fictitious cartoon persona, created early in the second fifth of the twentieth century, enunciates in his ditty is, of course, nothing less than a jaunty echo of the Divine Declaration:
I Am That I Am.
In accordance with the universal law of parsimony, the most profound utterance is couched in the simplest phraseology.
How does the modest scholar cognize the profundity of the Popeyeic periphrasis? Obviously, it is a statement of germinal identity, the sonic boom of the Genisisistic Word which signals the projection of the uninitiable, illimitable, essential substance of the supreme Atziluthic existence. The humble English sentence, "I yam," is a modern, mundane re-creation of the pregnant I AM, which sound reiterates the Big Bang, the overflowing of cosmic energy from Kether to Chokma, from the Supreme Non-manifest into the yet unmanifest by seminal dissemination of creative puissance, from the unknown no-thing to the potentially knowable res, from the topmost Sphere of the Tree of Life to the Second Supernal.
In proclaiming, "and that's all what I yam," the Divine Sailorman is renewing his confirmation of his universality, the simple yet absolute unity and identify of deity and universe, the parameterless Being. From the very beginning, before any humanly cognizable primordium, the Deity projected the universe; it is that projection which subsumes the entirety of the galaxy, nay, of the very cosmos itself. As has been stated in another cartoonic context, "That's all, folks."
The portion of the Popeyeic Utterance is also an authentication of the individuality of the hero, a simple and evident yet somehow mysterious universal yawp signifying that he personally apprehends his eternal identity, recognizes his own essence, and is satisfied thereby to be what he is (and, possibly, dissatisfied to be less than "all what" he is). How, however, could he be less, being all? No neo- or pseudo-analytic identity crisis here. Popeye is declaring—nay, is vociferously announcing—that he has attained his full potential: that which he is, is, and that which he is, is all that he is, indeed all that he can possibly be. He has, as it were, topped the Maslovian hierarchy. He has attained succinctity in the brevity of his expression of his isness.
It is in the very name "Popeye" that we are able to discern additional evidence for our conclusions concerning the divinity of our brave, gallant, and resourceful being. Let us examine the two syllables of that Name: "pop" and "eye." The first syllable, "pop," is onomatopoeic; and what else is a "pop" but a diminutive expression of the aforementioned Big Bang? How appropriate is this reductio to one whose persona has voluntarily entered the human level and sphere and absurdum. How charming an example of noblesse oblige: the cosmic thunderclap minified to our puny human aural capacity and understanding so that as children of a loving Father we may indeed begin to hear and understand that which we stand under.
For, as we consider this initial syllable of the Great Name in its familial context, we soon infer that parental implication: the Hero is the archetypal father figure, once more manifested in human guise: the Father of All the Universe is the careful and foresighted father of the postmodern age, for as Zeus, for example, zealously endeavored to populate the whole of his petty universe by fathering heroes and monsters galore, our modern Popeye is chastefully faithful to his Olive Oyl, and our "Pop" thus engenders not mere heroes and base monsters but rather inspiring spirit and towering essence, the spirit of courage and the essence of fidelity.
And it goes on, with increasingly bogus scholarship and rising unintelligibility. Well, actually, if you know anything about the Qabalah, it does make a sort of warped sense. A philosophy major once told me Popeye was "far out." I took that as a compliment.