1 min read

Is it a pen? Or, a chew toy?

I haven't watched the latest Marvel streaming series, Moon Knight. I haven't watched any of them. But for some reason, I watched a summary of the fifth episode, The Asylum, which features the main character, Marc/Steven, in what appears to be a mental asylum delusion populated by other characters in the series.

In one clip, the apparent villain, played by Ethan Hawke, explains to the hero Marc/Steven the nature of reality as being "psychic"—a construct of our minds. He holds up a pen and says, "to me, this is a writing utencil. To my dog? It's a chew toy."

Ethan Hawke in Moon Knight

Whoa. This is an illustration of the buddhist concept of "emptiness". Emptiness is the idea that nothing has inherent nature aside from its interdependent relationships with other things. And, in fact, it's literally the illustration, nearly word for word, used in this decade old text-to-speech cartoon called The Middle Way School of Buddhism. (At the 1:40 mark)

The Middle Way School of Buddhism
Suppose you were holding a pen and a dog walks in the room and wants to
chew on it. Is it really a pen or is it a chewy toy? It's a pen to me, but a chewy toy to a dog.

Because this cartoon was generated through a text-to-speech program, I'm curious if its script is original or taken from some other source. A search for an excerpt of its dialogue only turned up articles on training your dog not to chew on things. Either way, an astonishing connection in my head.