Thursday, February 21, 2008

Triangle Man vs. Universe Man: Who Wins?

I've been wondering about this for years now, and I don't feel like I'll ever have closure on the subject. Triangle Man and Universe Man are the two surviving, undefeated parties at the end of The Song. We're left hanging. There is an obvious classic matchup in the offing, but we're never treated to the particulars. It's sort like the AFL and NFL before the leagues instituted a Super Bowl to settle the matter.

I should qualify this talk about a "classic" matchup, as well as my AFL/NFL comparison, by noting that by no means is Universe Man a champion. He is not battle-tested. He is undefeated, but only by virtue of never having fought. Could I get behind a fighter with an 0-0 record in a contest of this magnitude? Would I put money down on him? Let's do a tale of the tape:

Location: Universe Man is the size of the entire universe, man. Simple logic commands that whatever venue the promoters select for the fight will be familiar and comfortable to him. He has per se home field advantage. That is, unless the fight breaks out in Triangle Man's house, in which case I declare it a neutral field.

Size/Agility: I cover these characteristics in tandem, for reasons you'll understand shortly. This is obviously a David and Goliath-style matchup. We don't know Triangle Man's dimensions. In fact, we don't know anything at all about him, except that he's chippy. He's chippy, and he channels hatred well. I think, though, that we can safely assume that Universe Man, at the size of the entire universe (man), will tower over Triangle Man. As the smaller party, Triangle Man is certainly the more agile combatant. For my purposes, I define "agility" as "litheness, ability to move, ability to escape and elude an attack." Universe Man takes up all the space in the universe. In theory, this renders him completely immobile, and that immobility hurts his case. On the other hand, for these same reasons Universe Man is inescapable. He completely envelops Triangle Man, thereby neutralizing Triangle Man's greater agility. (I should add that by this analysis, I find it pretty likely that this will be a lousy fight, from a spectator standpoint. By definition, Universe Man and Triangle Man must be in a clench at all times, and no amount of refereeing can separate them and make the combat worth watching.)

Shape: Cosmologists have ventured a number of theories as to Universe Man's shape. I won't presume to declare one of these models to be better or truer than another. I will say, however, that Triangle Man is pointy. Pointy is sharp, and sharp can hurt. In fact, pointy-sharp can arguably tear through the space-time fabric, if its wielder is sufficiently motivated and skilled. Advantage: Triangle Man.

Essential Qualities: As I have noted, we know very little of Triangle Man, except that he has an unblemished record, and he appears to have been the party who picked the fight in both instances. Triangle Man's irrational hatred of others fuels his aggression. He's a dynamo, no doubt about it. But remember that Universe Man has a watch with three hands, and when they meet it's a happy land, and for this reason, he is a powerful man, Universe Man. That three-handed watch may be the trump card here. If the alignment of hands conjures up happiness throughout the land, one would expect its spell to be binding on Triangle Man as well. Its effect should be to neutralize Triangle Man's aggression, thereby rendering him a substantially less formidable opponent. So long as Universe Man can hold out until minute hand, millennium hand, and eon hand meet, he has a shot here.

Deeper Analysis: Clearly Triangle Man is the symbolic embodiment of fascism, and clearly The Song means to leave us to consider the challenge of fascism to certain "universal" truths. We know the destructive effects that pointed, militant, simple-minded hatred can have on particles and persons. But what threat does it pose to the universe writ large? Are we talking about the collision between matter (in the form of Universe Man) and anti-matter (in the form of Triangle Man)? What follows? One would think an absolute canceling-out is what would follow. We're left with nothing. Emptiness, a void. Silence, you might say. When one considers that this is the likely outcome, we finally understand why The Song never reaches the point of reporting on this fight we're so curious to see. The Song doesn't mean to tantalize is. It does not mean to deprive us of this gold medal round. That's not the case. The Song just ends: it ends like everything must if Triangle Man takes up arms against Universe Man. The silence does not mean that the fight never happened. It means that the fight did happen. Do you see?

So who won? Well, it depends on how you look at it. If Triangle Man and Universe Man definitionally obliterate one another, then arguably no one wins. However, it's important to note that Triangle Man is not self-reflective. Triangle Man is entirely outward focused. That is, he fights not to vindicate some important interest of his own — he fights because he hates the opponent. If Triangle Man joins a fight, and the outcome of that fight is that both parties are destroyed, then Triangle Man has achieved his principal objective and lost nothing. He has destroyed Universe Man, the object of his hatred. That he is also destroyed is immaterial. He accomplished what he came to do. Triangle Man wins.

Thus, Triangle Man, Triangle Man, Triangle Man hates Universe Man. They have a fight, Triangle wins. Triangle Man.

This is where I stand right now, today, but if past history is any guide, I will surely revisit this question again some weeks down the line, and I can't promise I won't come round to the view at that point that Universe Man is the obvious winner. Right now? today? It's Triangle Man.


Mithridates said...

So Triangle Man is a lefty?

But this is absurd. You're gathering lots of tiny pieces of evidence in favor of Triangle Man, but ignoring the one piece of overwhelming evidence in favor of Universe Man. Universe Man is a giant, powerful man and will squash Triangle Man like a bug.

Further, one of Triangle Man's touted "victories" came against unimportant Particle Man. That victory doesn't move him up in the power rankings at all.

Phutatorius said...

Well, what do we know about Universe Man? He's usually kind to smaller man, and he has the watch. I accounted for the watch, and I think his gentle nature works against him.

Now I suppose I could put more weight on the "usually" part of "usually kind," which suggests that there are instances in which he can be unkind, or stern, or possibly even malicious and brutal. Triangle Man no doubt qualified as "smaller man," so maybe Universe Man has it in him to fight Triangle Man dirty, if he has to — and so bring all his power to bear on the situation.

All that said, I still stand by my position of mutual destruction inuring principally to the benefit of Triangle Man. But I'm less convinced than I was a moment ago.

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