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Hug the Elephant by StephenMcCranie Hug the Elephant by StephenMcCranie
Does beauty exist? What do you think?

This essay is part of a book Im writing on sustainable creativity. To read 100 more pages of comics like this, head over to the website!

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:iconestherella:
Estherella Featured By Owner Edited Sep 26, 2014
I like this. For so long, I've been trying to figure out what the best way to communicate my feelings would be, and I thought, "Why can't I do this with art?" This comic explains how. If I were to even try to express these deep feelings through my drawings, they wouldn't make sense unless they were carried out in a way someone could understand - or at least in a way that they could interpret on their own. Maybe they won't feel the exact same things I felt while making it, but if it touches their heart somehow, or if they understand it even a little bit... That's an accomplishment, I think.

(Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts and comics, by the way! It's very inspiration and motivational.)
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Professional
I agree-- even a thread of connection is meaningful-- it means there's something that we share as people.
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:iconkittysplasher:
KittySplasher Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like elephants..
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Professional
Me too.
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:iconpokepower888:
Pokepower888 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"Grapple him with a bear hug"

I love it ^^

I also love how you can put so much depth, comedy, and explanations in one strip! Amazing! I also especially love the three blind men and the elephant, with their perspectives of how it looked and what it was.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014  Professional
Thank you!
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:iconjonmkl:
Jonmkl Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Professional General Artist
ALL OF THIS! I have friends that I have tried to explain this to and some have even gotten upset with me, as if I was trying to take away their freedom or their personality. We may not have the full picture of what beauty truly is but it certainly has bounds, it has edges, forms, and all great artists wether it's musicians, painters, or poets touch some part of it. That's what makes art resonate, that's what makes it true. To me art is communication, and you can't communicate without a language.

Because if it's not communication isn't it just.. pointless self gratification?
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014  Professional
Yeah-- I've had the sometimes cynical view that if art doesn't change someone-- it's as if it never existed! Art should reach out and touch people. Art should communicate.
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:iconluchianguyen:
Luchianguyen Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I love this, the part where the three blind men where talking about what they think an elephant is. That's such an accurate analogy. Personally, I believe that beauty is simply everywhere. IT's kind of like how Jack Frost in the Rise of the Guardian is everywhere, but only the ones who believe in him can see him. Beauty is everywhere, but only the ones who can appreciate it will see it.

On an unrelated note, I'd love to get a physical copy of your book, but the shipping cost for the $20 pledge is a bit rough on my piggy bank, so I was wondering if it would cost the same if not more if I bought it after the kick starter project ends?
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Professional
Yeah-- wait until after-- that 20 dollar fee is just a fixed rate, and if you're in Canada/Mexico or somewhere closer to the US it'll definitely be cheaper.

Or you can get the digital book, that's an option too!
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:iconsezali:
SezaLi Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I feel that the gap in logic between the blind elephant and things not existing was too big. My friend and I were reading it together and both felt lost.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2013  Professional
I guess what I meant to say was that many people will tell you that because we all see things just a bit differently, truth must not exist. But that is not a logical statement when you think about it-- how can you derive a conclusion about truth from a statement about perception? It just doesn't follow through. Does that make sense? :)
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:iconcharmed-ravenclaw:
Charmed-Ravenclaw Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This made me smile. I love the expression of that elephant in the last panel.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2013  Professional
Thanks Ravenclaw! :w00t:
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:icontitearumi:
TiteArumi Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ahah, wow, this one is one of my favorite ! ♥
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:iconelegantgeisha:
elegantgeisha Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That was, for a lack of a better word, beautiful.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconlelpel:
Lelpel Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
I honestly love reading these - move over Scott McCloud ^_^
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional
Thanks! Ha ha. yay.

How are you doing these days, Lesley?
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:iconlelpel:
Lelpel Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
Not bad - very busy, but good busy - it's keeping me occupied ^_^ I've also got lots of different jobs which makes things a lot more interesting... get to do a bit more illustration as well as the usual design work
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional
Yay! Sounds like a life that doesn't get boring easily. Keep in touch!
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:iconlelpel:
Lelpel Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Nope - just the way I like it ^_^
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:iconnonokohime:
NoNoKoHime Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
I watch you for a long time and I want to say ... you tell me always the same story. It is true! In the last ... possible 10 comics you told me very similar things. I don't want to make you angry or sad. I only want to say ... well, that what i said.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Professional
It's intentional-- these essays are all about learning and how to learn. Thanks!
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:iconpaper-plein:
paper-plein Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Its soo beautiful*A* Really inspiring as always!
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconbudgieluver:
budgieLUVer Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome! >w< Really touching.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconiamaricecake:
iamaricecake Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Student General Artist
Beautiful :>
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconqueensies:
Queensies Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Simple yet profound as always
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
Thank you! :party:
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:iconerisabesu-kuro-gosai:
erisabesu-kuro-gosai Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Student General Artist
:iconooohplz:

Right on!
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
Thanks!
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:iconerisabesu-kuro-gosai:
erisabesu-kuro-gosai Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Student General Artist
no problem! :)
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:iconsteve-c2:
Steve-C2 Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
I saw a while back that the title of your next comic would be "Hug the Elephant" and I was interested from the get-go to see what topic it may cover. After seeing the end, and reading the strip again, I have to say that the title is most certainly quite appropriate for the topic.

Once again, your comic here is timely for me as a person, since it addresses something I'm working through, personally. It is uncanny - and yet, pleasant.

Right now, I'm working on a writing project. It's a work of fiction, but I have found myself reaching for the dictionary many times to ensure the word I want to use is correct; and more than once I have actually used an encyclopedia to confirm a concept I was using would be appropriate. I do this so that my readers can lean back and enjoy the story if they wish, without worrying about inappropriate use of "artistic license." In other words, I want to follow the rules. In the process, I find myself "hugging the elephant" and learning more overall.

You're right - following a set of rules with art is quite liberating and enjoyable.

Thank you for taking the time to write and draw these essays.

Cheers.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
I'm glad they helped! You're welcome!
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:icondeevad:
Deevad Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Fantastic comic. When the printed one gathering all the other will be available ? Have you a pre-order ? shipping in France is Ok ? :=)
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
I haven't made all the plans for printing yet-- but it's going to happen! I'll let you know when it does--I'm sure we can work out international orders some how...
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:icondeevad:
Deevad Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
oh thanks ! ! !
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:iconsakunaiotaku:
Sakunaiotaku Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love your comics! They are well drawn, structured and explain things so clearly!
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
THanks!
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:iconthe-helmbeastie:
the-Helmbeastie Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm totally your opinion ... _
Your comic shows it really great.
I like it! ^_^
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
Thank you! :party:
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:iconkaikaru:
kaikaru Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This is absolutely wonderful. Your choice in words and visuals are always so spot on! There are some people in my life who could definitely benefit from reading this. :>
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
Awesome! Thank you! :party:
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:icontobproject:
TOBproject Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
*similar to
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:icontobproject:
TOBproject Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
I have always thought that, like may other concepts or feelings, beauty does exist; not in the physical world, though, but in our mind. That's why it's different for everybody.

Beauty could be considered a mental entity that is slightly (or not so slighly!) differently for each person. Because we all are human, very often our concept of beauty may be similar of that of other people, but it doesn't necessarily have to be so.

I think, simply, that artists should focus on what they personally find beautiful :) Create, imitate, try to reach the kind of beauty that they enjoy, and also look for new kinds of beauty they may have overlooked.
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:iconstephenmccranie:
StephenMcCranie Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional
I respect your view on this. Like I said in the comic-- I can't prove beauty is out there, so I really have no foundation to argue one way or the other.

I suppose I prefer the concept that beauty is outside of us because it gives us something to pursue and discover, it gives us something to argue about and debate on and grow towards. It's very motivating! When I think beauty might contain principles and constants, it fills me with a hunger to learn, like a scientist trying to figure out what makes the universe tick. It moves me to action, to pursuit. The scientist searches because he assumes there is something to find.

My struggle is that I feel like our culture is constantly telling me I am not allowed to be a scientist in regard to art. People seem to find the idea of universal beauty distasteful, even wrong. I think this might be because a statement about beauty is a statement about humanity, about the eyes that perceive the beauty, about ourselves. We are very hesitant to say anything definite about ourselves, because we don’t want to be perceived as absolutist or dogmatic. But I think our hearts betray us– universal statements about humanity brings out our passions and hungers and hopes that we are not alone, that we are not so different that we can’t relate to each other.

When you look out in the world it does look pretty dark and unfathomable. There are two ways of interpreting the darkness. Either we can see, but there is darkness in the world, as our culture seems to tell us, or we are blind but live in a world of light. I would rather believe the world is full of light and I am blind, because at least I’d have something to look at if I ever find a cure for my blindness.

Thanks for sharing!
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:icontobproject:
TOBproject Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012
I understand your way of thinking :) Very interesting read, thanks for your explanation! I love talking about this kind of things.

As a person who enjoys 'mindplay', as to speak (concepts, ideas and theorizing about them), I personally think that there actually is no difference between what is 'outside' us and what is 'inside'. Look at it from this point of view: everything we see and feel we actually see and feel in our mind. What is real to us is the impression that things give us, and not the things themselves. We actually can't prove that the world exists outside of us (Descartes talked about this, I think); because, from the day we are born and until we die, we'll only see the world through our own eyes.

So it doesn't really matter if things exist or not, does it?, because to us they do :) And that's what's really important.

At the same time, our mind is so complex that we don't know almost anything about ourselves, and we keep discovering and developing thoughts, opinions, views, feelings, during all our life; maybe they had been in our mind all along, maybe they appeared later, who knows? But we don't really know ourselves completely, each new situation brings a new side of us and that is what's the most exciting about life. Maybe the only times when we can see a bit more of that 'unconscious' part of ourselves, naked, is when we're dreaming and through art (or creativity, our beauty, however you want to call it).

So I don't think that beauty does 'need' to be an external entity in order to be able to be discovered and defined 'scientifically', as you said :) Because in fact everything in this world is somehow mental. So I agree with you about the fact that beauty is not so different from other things that we usually consider 'physically real'. By this train of thought, if you consider, for example, a tree to be reachable and definable, why not beauty as well? So I can agree with you, because we're actually talking about more or less the same thing. I just have a tendency to add layers and layers and layers or reasoning... but what you say about 'not being able to prove it, but believing it because I prefer to' is more or less it.

In response to this (what a great sentence!): "Universal statements about humanity brings out our passions and hungers and hopes that we are not alone, that we are not so different that we can’t relate to each other."

I'm currently studying Language and Literature, and there's this concept in Linguistics that we often talk about, which is called Universal Grammar. Each person is different, but, at the same time, we're all human and we share most basic aspects of our being. One of them is our language capability. Thanks to the fact that we all 'think similarly' (as scientists would say, we have more or less the same brain), all languages in the world share a lot of aspects, structures, sounds (Universal Grammar); even if those languages have never been in contact at all.

Isn't that amazing and surprising? :) Words represent our views on the outside world at the most basic of levels (for example, 'beauty', as we're discussing now), so this means that there are thousands of ways to see the world, because each person speaks a bit differently even inside of the same 'tongue'. At the same time, though, all languages are the same at their deepest level. Doesn't it make you think about art, and the passion for life that you have described, and the mystery and thrill of trying to find out more about ourselves and humanity? I consider this fact to be beautiful.



In a more personal note: in my everyday life, I just know that I have my views on 'beauty' (beauty in nature, in people, in things that I enjoy to do, in art, in life), that are different from those of other people, and I try to find this beauty and touch it and enjoy it and even discuss it. But, apart from cases like right now, I don't really question what it is, exactly; I just know it's there, and it's important to me, it makes the world richer and more enjoyable and it gives me fuel to go on and be curious and learn. The rest doesn't matter to me :)

It's hard for me to explain this kind of thing in English, I keep repeating the same things and taking too long, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Thanks again for your wonderful and inspiring comics. I wish you happiness and luck!
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