September 14, 2004

Seinfeld, Time Travel, and Philosophy

This entry from Fametracker (on vacation till next week) seems like it raises some interesting philosophical issues:

We're not saying that the Seinfeld actors should never work again. All we're saying is that their collected, post-Seinfeld work has been so unfunny that it's actually traveled back in time and made Seinfeld less funny. Not seem less funny, mind you. Actually less funny. It's like they killed Larry David's grandpa or something.

Not that I'm going to address those issues, or even try to say what they might be. It just seems like it raises some interesting philosophical issues.

Posted by Matt Weiner at September 14, 2004 10:06 AM

Since you don't even suggest what the issues would be, I'll chime in with an opinion as to what they are not. The question is not whether time travel like this is possible.

Obviously, the ending of a book can contribute it to being a bad novel. The bad ending can detract from whatever aesthetic value the introduction of the book would otherwise have had.

Consider also that a sequel can detract from the original movie. The original becomes sullied by being part of a bad series. (Opinionated aside: This did not happen with the Matrix movies, despite whatever trash someone might want to talk about them. I'm thinking of Highlander here.)

So the so-called 'time travel' does occur with novels and film series. The interesting question is whether shows in the career of an actor function as an aesthetic unit in the same way that a novel or a series of films does.

Also: Should we say that Word&Object retroactively diminished the philosophical quality of Two Dogmas?

having put too much thought into this,

Posted by: P.D. at September 14, 2004 11:36 AM

I think the issues are also not not whether there's a sensible distinction between being funny and seeming funny.

Now, Timothy Williamson's Knowledge and Its Limits raises some interesting issues, but I'm not going to say what they are.

(Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at September 14, 2004 01:24 PM

The "not not" in your reply is so cunningly typo-like that it might just be a typo. Yet perhaps you find double negation jokes not unfunny. (Myself, I never do.)

Posted by: P.D. at September 14, 2004 02:24 PM

(diabolical chuckle)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at September 15, 2004 10:45 AM