This is an article called "The Laws of Cartoon Motion" adapted from the
book, Elementary Education by Mark O'Donnell.
The Laws Of Cartoon Motion
by Mark O'Donnell
Any body suspended in space will remain suspended in space until made
aware of its situation.
Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He
loiters in midair, soliloquizing fippantly until he chances to look
down. At this point, the farmiliar principle of 32 feet per second per
second takes over.
- Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter
Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon
characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or
an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac
Newton called this sudden termination the stooge's surcease.
- A body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming
to its perimeter.
Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the
specialty of victims of direct-pressure explosions and reckless cowards who
are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house,
leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony
often catalyzes this reaction.
- The time required for an object to fall 20 stories is greater than or
equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral
down 20 flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.
Such an object is inevitably priceless; the attempt to capture it,
- All principles of gravity are negated by fear.
Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel
them directly away from the surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's
signature sound will introduce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a
chandelier, a treetop or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a running
character or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground,
ergo fleeing turns to flight.
- As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.
This particularly true in tooth-and-claw fights, in which a
characters head may be glimpsed emerging from a cloud of altercation at
several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies
that are spinning or being throttled, and stimulates our own vision's
trailing retention of images. A "wacky" character has the option of
self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to
achieve the velocity required for self-mass-liberation.
- Certain bodies can pass through a solid wall painted to resemble tunnel
entrances; others cannot.
This trompe I'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at
least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to
trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical
space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow
into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not science.
- Necessity plus Will provokes spontaneous generation.
Dangerously palpable objects--such as mallets, dynamite, pies and
alluring female attire--can be manifested from what might previously have
been considered "thin" air, but only when the friction of immediate
jeopardy makes the object's appearance imperative. This controversial
"pocket" theory suggests these objects are drawn from unseen recesses of a
character's costume, or from a storehouse immediately off-screen, but this
merely defers the question of how any absolutely apt object is
- Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.
Cartoon cats possess more deaths than even the traditional nine lives
afford. They can be sliced, splayed, accordionpleated, spindled or
disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking
self-pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back or solidify.
- For every vengeance, there is an equal and opposite revengeance.
This is one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the
physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it
happen to a duck instead.
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