Dots like lines more than squiggles
January 24, 2012 3:25 AM   Subscribe

The dot and the line is a romance in lower mathematics starring a dot and a line. It won the 1965 Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
posted by twoleftfeet (22 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:02 AM on January 24, 2012

Ouch. Google let me down. metafilter dot line didn't show that previous post. Oh well, the video link from six years ago doesn't work mow.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:21 AM on January 24, 2012

mow is now.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:22 AM on January 24, 2012

metafilter dot line didn't show that previous post.

Putting the name of the site as a search term doesn't usually work that great. You want a "" in there. Although in this case, that doesn't work either. But "the dot and the line" does, probably because "dot" and "line" are such general terms they appear in a lot of threads.
posted by DU at 4:26 AM on January 24, 2012

It's just laziness on my part, and an unreasonable faith in Google. I mean, somehow "metafilter" as a keyword ought to do the same thing as and even though "dot" and "line" are common terms, Google should have been able to spot the reference in the top ten results.

I blame society.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:34 AM on January 24, 2012

I think I have a copy of the book somewhere.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:45 AM on January 24, 2012

Old post's YouTube link no longer works, though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:57 AM on January 24, 2012

Delightful. Just delightful.
posted by Faintdreams at 5:58 AM on January 24, 2012

From the 2006 thread's comments:

They used to show us this probably on a yearly basis in school

Of course they did; It was a love letter to conformity (rebranded as 'personal discipline') against the perceived threat of 'beatniks' and 'hippies' in general, and the Beatles in particular.
posted by Herodios at 6:00 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

The anti-improv lobby got it's money's worth with this one.
posted by oddman at 6:17 AM on January 24, 2012

Metafilter: Mow is now.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:23 AM on January 24, 2012

Oh, I liked The Phantom Tollbooth so, so much more than this.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:40 AM on January 24, 2012

It was a love letter to conformity (rebranded as 'personal discipline') against the perceived threat of 'beatniks' and 'hippies' in general...

Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but I don't think that's completely true. Line doesn't conform to his line friends. He branches out in a completely new direction by inventing angles and a whole "language" based on them.

There's definitely an anti-hippie vibe there, but then again that particular hippie isn't doing much interesting either. "Personal growth" != "personal discipline" != "conformity".
posted by DU at 7:10 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I spent years, YEARS I TELL YOU, watching hours of cartoons, poised over the VCR's "record" button in the hopes of capturing this gem. And now here it is on YouTube, just a click away. Oh, internet.
posted by mefireader at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2012

Heh. My liberal parents took me to all these foreign films and anything with Sidney Poiter in it and this was one of the shorts before the movie, back in the good old days, before they played trailers, and worse, advertisements, before the feature.
posted by kozad at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2012

Redeemed by the punchline! (punch.. LINE.. ) I wonder if they animated the whole thing just to get to that gag.

Love this old thing and haven't seen it in years, thank you!
posted by Erasmouse at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2012

To read it as a tale about conformity is missing the point entirely. I'll give you that the Squiggle is probably sort of a stodgy take on beatniks or long hairs or whatever, but the Dot doesn't love the Line when all he does is stand around stiff as a board with all his uptight friends, either. The difference -- the KEY difference -- between the Line and the Squiggle in the end is that the line GREW. He realized what he was capable of. It's not even that he had to change himself to be loved by the Dot, it's that he (as a line, you know) was always capable of brilliant, complex, beautiful things, only he never realized it because he never challenged himself or saw himself as the type to be free or unbounded.

The Squiggle on the other hand could never be anything more than what he already was: A self-involved (self-contained) mess. Free, yes, but as meaningless as a melon! Imagine! Who would want to spend their life with someone who can only do one thing or be one thing or exist purely in their own limited self-conception, even if they have good taste in music?

So while there's probably a whole other discussion to be had about why the female character has so little agency, it's essentially a story about refusing to accept what your limitations should be just because you look like a line (or a, uh, square) and about having the self-confidence and drive to learn to move in new angles, and hell, probably even just about dating outside your own goddamn comfort zone every once in a while.
posted by StopMakingSense at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yes, but is mathophilia wrong?
posted by orme at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2012

"Sex is the mathematics urge sublimated." - M.C. Reed
posted by fings at 9:23 AM on January 24, 2012

It's also worthy of a new post because I managed to mangle the author's name in that post 6 years ago and it was never corrected... I think I'm going to watch this again.
posted by jrb223 at 9:23 AM on January 24, 2012

Wow. Now that I watch this as an adult woman, it seems like such a tale of wish-fulfilment from an involuted Nice Guy. "I slaved in secret to master my craft! Love me!" The plummy tone of the narrator didn't help either.
posted by egypturnash at 11:37 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, this brings me back to watching cartoons as a kid. WSBK or WLVI would play this in the midst of their "Tom and Jerry" slot sometimes.
posted by not_on_display at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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