The Fourth Monkey

There was a Fourth Monkey?

This pulchritudinous primate piece portraying the proverbial principle “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” is sent to us by Millen, from New York City.  Very formal with their muted-red vests and bowties!  Fast thoughts: (1) odd for them to get all dressed up to take a bath together; (2) Why are they using a banana leaf as a boat? Where could they possibly be going?  (Probably getting the #@*! out of NYC these days!) (3) Hypothesis: this “3 Wise Monkeys” genre and the 1,200 year old origin of the proverb is not about wisdom, but was intended to be a public service announcement during whatever plague was ravaging the earth back at the time. Since they didn’t have surgical face masks, they just had to ask everyone to keep their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths when out in public? (4) The weirdest thing about it, has to be that Millen’s step-mom keeps that thing on her bedside table. Could you fall asleep with that next to you?

“Hey Dave, what are the monkeys names?”

Funny you should ask! When I started this piece, I did not know the monkeys had names. I really like monkeys, and I really really like funny stuff and it never even dawned on me that the monkeys might actually have names! While I was researching the origin of the proverb, lo and behold the monkeys have names! From left to right, Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru! Ha! That’s awesome. Can’t wait to bring that up in casual conversation, or need a name for a new pet, or …something. Like many great proverbs, this one is actually a Japanese play on words and a play on the names of the monkeys. Similar to the Swedish, “There’s no bad weather. Only Bad clothing.” “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder” See? It rhymes. A play on words — that’s where wisdom comes from!

“You’re still writing. You obviously want us to ask what else you learned about the 3 monkeys. …. So?”

This is GREAT! Our extensive research found that there is sometimes included a fourth monkey crossing his arms or covering his genitals or holding his nose. That’s a fact — I found it on the internet. SURELY that supports my hypothesis that the origin is more likely a public service announcement about being safe during a plague — cover your mouth, ears, nose and eyes (and …genitals?) when going out in public. It’s the 1,200 year old version of “wear a mask!” And, since there were no t-shirt iron-ons, local authorities made monkey statues to place around town to get the message out. Probably kiln-fired clay or chainsaw tree-trunk carvings.

There is even a book called, “The Fourth Monkey.” How great is that title?

“What about Gandhi? Surely he must have had something to say about the 3 Wise Monkeys?”

Per that same Wikipedia entry, “Mahatma Gandhi’s one notable exception to his lifestyle of non-possession was a small statue of the three monkeys – Bapu, Ketan and Bandar. Today, a larger representation of the three monkeys is prominently displayed at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where Gandhi lived from 1915 to 1930 and from where he departed on his famous salt march. Gandhi’s statue also inspired a 2008 artwork by Subodh Gupta, Gandhi’s Three Monkeys.”

“Wait!! WHAT!????”

Yeah, that’s what I said!! Gandhi had one possession. ONE! And it was this statue! Think about that!! Same statue as on Millen’s step-mom’s bedside table. Gandhi peacefully changed the history of the world against the largest empire on the planet with one monkey statue. Hmmmmm….. interesting. I guess the message is, we could all benefit from having a little more monkey art in our lives. Way to go, Millen’s step-mom!

The Wikipedia entry on the 3 Wise Monkeys is an enlightening and really interesting short read. And you can read all about the fourth monkey.

Big thanks to Millen in NYC for sending this in! Who knew the 3 Wise Monkeys had names? And the Gandhi thing! Mind = blown.

Learning from Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys

Top Five Hilarious Interpretations of Gandhi’s Three Wise Monkeys

Go Cubs Go!

In timely fashion for the World Series, a reader sends us a pic of a Chicago Cubs sock monkey.  Judging from the adjacent pillows and the stemless wine glass, this pic is apparently from someone who is a Cubs fan, a real “baseball guy,” and also a person who has aspirations to someday be a “wine guy” (cute, but baseball guys should probably stick with baseball and boats — wonder what box of pinot they were serving?).  It is also obvious from the attention to detail on the pillows and the cushion piping that there was a world-class designer involved in creating the interior of this boat.  Love both this nautical craftsmanship and devotion to primates. Go Cubs Go!!!

Cubs Sock Monkey

Pic sent to us from Newport Beach, CA.

Monkey Holding Dual Lamp Shades

1606 Lamp Monkey

This monkey looks societal pressures right in the eyes, smirks and then gives it the double “long bamboo stick,” if you know what I mean. 😉  😉  Conventional wisdom says a tall, skinny monkey should avoid a one-button blazer —unless he is wearing a vest.  Dual Lamp Shade Monkey has so much confidence and presence that he made the decision 70 years ago to wear a one-button blazer despite being tall, and he is probably the trend-setter responsible for that style making a comeback in recent years.  Normally, the tall skinny guys wear at least 3 buttons.  The matching hat is a nice touch and I hope that makes a comeback soon, as well.

It kind of look like he’s wearing a monkey-vest under his blazer, doesn’t it?

Some of you may argue that if you look closely directly underneath the bottom of the blazer, the top two buttons on the white material clearly imply the presence of a vest underneath the blazer and that this monkey is much less daring than I have credited him.  The counter-argument to that line of thinking is that when wearing a blazer, the most critical portion of the vest is the part that shows above the blazer-button line and below the neck-line.  No vest showing up there, so that comment is moot, regardless of the 2 buttons below the blazer possibly signifying a vest or more likely a fashion-foward, untucked, cool monkey shirt of some sort.  Probably an early version of John Varvatos.

Monkey Holding Dual Lamp Shades was sent to us from a reader in Minnesota.  (We are killing it in MN!)  The pic is from Dixie’s on Grand Ave., in St. Paul.