Friday, May 27, 2011

From Bundt Cake to Philosophy in 22 Clicks

My husband is a fan of the webcomic XKCD. The other day he showed me a strip that claimed, in the mouse over text, that if you take ANY article on Wikipedia, click on the first link that is not in italics or parentheses, and keep repeating you will eventually end up at Philosophy. Naturally we tried it. You can see from the title of this post that it TOTALLY WORKED. Every single random thing he tried eventually ended up at philosophy.

I tried a few myself.

Stapler to Philosophy: 17 clicks
Baby to Philosophy: 16 clicks
Nathan Fillion to Philosophy: 20 clicks
Twinkie to Philosophy: 25 clicks
Ant to Philosophy: 9 clicks

Everything leads back to philosophy.

How does this relate to writing? Well, because everything leads back to philosophy. Think of your characters. What is their philosophy? Do you know? You should. Because our philosophy determines how we look at the world, how we think about and solve our problems, and how we live our lives. I don't think you can really know your characters, know where they are going and how they will get there and what they will do once they reach their destination, unless you know how they think. That's philosophy.

So take a moment to think about how your characters view the world and themselves. And in the meantime play the game. What random thing can you think of and how long does it take you to get back to philosophy?


  1. Deep thoughts! And I need to try that. Not surprising Twinkies took twenty-five clicks.

  2. I love Nathan Fillion. I would follow him anywhere! Moving on...I think a character's interest in philosophy is very important in their development. It is one of the questions I answer when sketching them out. Do they care about philosophy? What concerns do they have? What does that say about the character? How does it affect and influence their actions in a story?

  3. Wait, a stapler is only one more click away from philosophy than a baby? Lol.

  4. Plato to philosophy: 23 clicks (22 if modern philosophy counts).

    So he's got a ways to go to catch up to Nathan Fillion.

  5. Alex, I admit with Twinkies I was deliberately trying to think of something as un-philosophical as I could.

    Laura, who doesn't love Nathan Fillion. Even my husband has a weird man-crush on him.

    L.G., yeah, it's funny actually how closely stapler and baby followed the same path to philosophy.

    Hektor, that is hilarious. My husband says that philosophy back to philosophy was about 12 clicks.

  6. Now *that* is neat! Love how it relates to writing too!

  7. Wow. I really liked this post. Nice opener and great payoff! I have been an on-again-off-again fan of XKCD. Sometimes Randall really nails it, other times, erm ... ??

    Anyway, it's an interesting little bit of cyber trivia but the question about a character's philosophy is absolutely pivotal, in my opinion. There is always a ton of focus on plot and mechanics in discussions on craft but a fully-developed character will have a worldview that drives the tale.

    Loved this post!

  8. Lol. This is so awesome! I did Frodo to philosophy in 19 clicks and chocolate to philosophy in 25.

  9. I like this game. Guess what I'll be doing after work?

    Loved how you related it to writing and characterisation!

  10. That's hilarious. I'm giving it a try. A whole new spin on the Kevin Bacon game. And that bundt looks delicious. Yum!

  11. Two things:

    First, my man-crush on Nathan Fillion is not at all weird.

    Second, it is 20 clicks from Kevin Bacon to Philosophy. I think I just broke the internet.

  12. Also, I just got to Philosophy in 3 clicks. Boom. Sex was 12, though. Still pretty close. I think that means something.

  13. Vacuum to Philosophy was 5 clicks.

  14. Brian, nobody's crush on Nathan Fillion is weird, man-crush or otherwise.

    And Sarah, what an awesome game! Although you realise you've now given me a whole new way to waste time on the internet? :)


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