A Solution for the Most Important Open Problem!

A few days ago Asaf Karagila brought up a seemingly not that serious puzzle from The Middle of the Film part in the comedy movie,  Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, and challenged people to find the fish in the puzzle what he called “The Most Important Open Problem!”. You can find the video of the puzzle on youtube.com

Here I would like to suggest a possible solution! Though, I’m not sure whether my proposed solution exactly matches the film makers’ original choice or it is just a personal interpretation of the signs in the movie. I also don’t know whether Asaf himself found any solution for this riddle or not. Anyway I think the points that come later are worth mentioning because even in the case that they are too far from the true answer, it shows how strangely someone can see a piece of a movie!

1. The Script of the Puzzle

Here is the full script of the puzzle available from montypython.net.

LADY PRESENTER: Hello, and welcome to ‘The Middle of the Film’, the moment where we take a break to invite you, the audience, to join us, the film- makers, in ‘Find the Fish’. We’re going to show you a scene from another film and ask you to guess where the fish is, but, if you think you know, don’t keep it to yourselves! Yell out so that all the cinema can hear you. So, here we are with… ‘Find the Fish’.

[music]

STRANGE MAN: I wonder where that fish has gone.

DRAG QUEEN: You did love it so. You looked after it like a son.

STRANGE MAN: And it went wherever I did go.

DRAG QUEEN: Is it in the cupboard?

AUDIENCE: Yes! Yes! No!…

DRAG QUEEN: Wouldn’t you like to know? It was a lovely little fish.

STRANGE MAN: And it went wherever I did go.

MAN IN AUDIENCE: It’s behind the sofa!

DRAG QUEEN: Where can that fish be?

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Have you thought of the drawers in the bureau?!

RANDOM: Shh!

DRAG QUEEN: It is a most elusive fish!

STRANGE MAN: And it went wherever I did go.

DRAG QUEEN: Ooooh, fishy, fishy, fishy fish!

STRANGE MAN: A-fish, a-fish, a-fish, a-fishy, ooooh.

DRAG QUEEN: Ooooh, fishy, fishy, fishy fish!

STRANGE MAN: That went wherever I did go.

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Look up his trunk!

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Yeah, it’s hidden in his trousers!

[gurgling]

FISH #1: That was terrific!

FISH #2: Great!

FISH #4: Wonderful.

FISH #2: Yeah!

FISH #5: Yeah.

FISH #3: Best bit so far.

FISHES: [mumbling]

FISH #2: Fantastic!

FISH #1: Yeah.

FISH #2: Yes! Really great!

FISH #6: Very piscine. [piscean?]

FISH #5: Ha ha hah.

FISH #6: Yeah. Hee, hee, hee, hee.

FISH #4: Oh!

FISH #6: Ahh.

FISH #1: Heh.

[pause]

FISH #2: They haven’t said much about the meaning of life so far, have they?

FISH #1: Well, it’s been building up to it.

FISH #4: Has it?

FISH #2: Has it?

FISH #3: Yeah, I expect they’ll get on to it now.

FISH #5: Personally, I very much doubt if they’re going to say anything about the meaning of life at all.

FISH #6: Oh, come on. They’ve got to say something.

FISH #3: They’re bound to.

FISH #2: Yeah.

FISH #4: Yeah.

FISH #1: Yeah.

[pause]

FISH #3: What do you think the next bit will be, then?

FISH #1: Caption, I expect.

FISH #6: What? About the next stage of life, you mean? Oh, yeah. Here we go.

2. On My Analyzing Approach

People may think that a comedy film is a superficial collection of funny characters and events just for entertainment. But it is not a case when you are watching a philosophical film like Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life or any other comedy film that investigates a fundamental philosophical concept or an important social phenomena. Sometimes comedy is the only possible genre in which you can discuss serious matters and bitter realities of life!

The fairly ambiguous language of this particular film and its seemingly irregular and shattered parts in combination with several cases of nihilistic themes that appear in various occasions in the film (e.g. In the suicide of the leaf in the Death part) may convince one that it is suggesting a nihilistic philosophy, that nothing in life including the movie itself has any particular meaning or purpose. In this sense The Middle of the Film which plays a key role in the entire movie could be interpreted as a reminder for the point that searching for the meaning of life is as silly and meaningless as searching for finding the fish!

But there are signs in the movie indicating that nihilism is not the message behind this film or at least it is not the whole message! The evidence is the emphasis in the last part of fishes’ conversation in the riddle:

FISH #5: Personally, I very much doubt if they’re going to say anything about the meaning of life at all.

FISH #6: Oh, come on. They’ve got to say something.

FISH #3: They’re bound to.

FISH #2: Yeah.

FISH #4: Yeah.

FISH #1: Yeah.

Thus it seems acceptable to assume that the answer of the question “Where is that fish?” is something more complicated than “Nowhere!” or “There is no fish!” The filmmakers are trying to assure us about the existence of the mysterious “fish” that is the key for decoding the entire message of the movie. Thus I’ll try to search for a concrete answer based on available evidences.

In some sense the fish itself is the true message of the film. It is possibly the answer of another key question of the movie “What is it all about?“. A question that refers to both film and life simultaneously. The importance of the “fish” is clear from the following passages which indicates that the entire movie after this part is just a “caption” in comparison with the message hidden in The Middle of the Film. They are just some explanations for what we have seen in this part. In some sense The Middle of the Film is the end of the film because it is where the filmmakers accomplish delivering their main messageto their audience.

FISH #3: What do you think the next bit will be, then?

FISH #1: Caption, I expect.

FISH #6: What? About the next stage of life, you mean? Oh, yeah. Here we go.

My approach is based on interpreting the symbols and words in The Middle of the Film, mainly with respect to the cultural backgrounds of the film, namely Greek-Roman mythology and Christianity. I barely refer to the other parts of the film because I think The Middle of the Film, as the abstract of the entire movie, carries the main message thoroughly and could be interpreted independently. In fact the Lady Presenter emphasizes on this independence by saying:

LADY PRESENTER: Hello, and welcome to ‘The Middle of the Film’, the moment where we take a break to invite you, the audience, to join us, the film- makers, in ‘Find the Fish’. We’re going to show you a scene from another film and ask you to guess where the fish is, but, if you think you know, don’t keep it to yourselves! Yell out so that all the cinema can hear you. So, here we are with… ‘Find the Fish’.

Also inspired by astrological puzzles in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and many other parts of Western literature, I’ll use astrological facts in my interpretation. However Dante’s Divine Comedy is not a comedy in the true sense but I think Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life shares many points with it. At least both works discuss religious matters seriously and both are searching for the meaning of life.

3. Who is the fish? Where is the fish?

Despite of several appearance of the fish and its related symbols and characters in the other parts of the movie, I don’t search for the lost fish inside the film, particularly inside The Middle of the Film! Don’t forget our assumption! “The fish” is deemed to be the main message of the film. The meaning of life! Do you really like to find the meaning of your life somewhere in the scenes of this bizarre film?! Personally if I had to make a choice, I would prefer to find the meaning of my life in one of the scenes of Kurosawa’s Dreams, say in the Peach Orchard!

Anyway the movie never makes such a claim that it will show you the meaning of life directly. Itd implicit claim at the best is that it will tell you something about the meaning of the life that possibly will guide you to find it by your own. Thud it could be everywhere and most likely somewhere outside of the film in the real world where the real life goes on.

Back to the main question, “Where is the fish?

My answer in short words is: it in the sky between Aquarius to the west and Aries to the east! More precisely I think by the “fish” the filmmakers are referring to the Pisces constellation which according to Hellenistic astrological traditions is deeply connected to the Greek-Roman god of love Eros (also known as Cupid).

In this sense the meaning of life as suggested by this film is “love” or “lust” or a combination of both. This could be somehow similar to Epicureanism. In the upcoming sections I’ll try to justify my special choice for the “fish” by interpreting the signs inside and outside of the puzzle using some other facts from linguistics, history, mythology and religion. Though, they are just my personal interpretations of the signs and not that certain or unique.

4. Why searching for a fish among the stars?!

The space and stars play a very significant role in this film. Possibly the most important emphasis on the role of cosmos in determining the meaning of our life is in the Live Organ Transplant part when a man in Pink suit sings The Galaxy Song for Mrs. Brown in a background of night sky. The song is essentially nothing but a sequence of scientific facts about the number of the galaxies and the largeness of cosmos in comparison with humans who live on an ordinary planet orbiting around an ordinary star at the edge of an ordinary galaxy which is just one of the billions of the other galaxies in the world. In fact the film is implicitly suggesting that:

In order to understand the meaning of your life you should look at the stars!

Despite of its clear materialistic undertone this message could have a very different meaning, that is exactly what astrology is based on, the connection between one’s life and what is going on in the stars. This “space theme” in the movie suggests possible astrological interpretations for the symbols, characters and events of the film, the approach that I choose to look at hints in The Middle of the Film. But why did I choose Pisces among all other constellations of the Zodiac? Let me explain more in the next sections.

5. Very Piscean!

The word “Piscean” (or possibly something so similar to it in pronunciation) is the word that one of the fishes in the aquariumuses:

FISH #6: Very piscine. [Piscean?] 

Literary it is derived from “Pisces”, that is the plural form of the Latin word for the “fish”. It is an interesting coincidence specially when we are searching for a fish! But we need more. Let’s continue …

Note that there is a similarity between the situation of this scene, “Fishes & Aquarium”, and the situation of constellations in zodiac, namely “Pisces and Aquarius“.

In a scene the Drag Queen forms a triangle-like shape with his right hand. It could be a reference to the true shape of Pisces constellation in the sky as you see in the picture.

In another scene the Strange Man forms a \Psi – shape figure with his body, head and hands. This also could be a reference to the Pisces’ Domicile sign which looks like a \Psi.

6. The Beloved Son!

Look at the first three sentences of the puzzle:

STRANGE MAN: I wonder where that fish has gone.

DRAG QUEEN: You did love it so. You looked after it like a son.

STRANGE MAN: And it went wherever I did go.

….

DRAG QUEEN: Wouldn’t you like to know? It was a lovely little fish

Drag Queen’s sentence indicates that our lost fish has or had a role as a son and he was a beloved one for his mother/father. The second sentence by the Strange Man which is repeated several times in the show, may indicate that this son and his parent are inseparable and are possibly very close to each other.

Back to the symbolic value of Pisces constellation two different interpretations are desirable. I personally believe that the first one matches the situation better but the second possibility is not deniable as well. Maybe a combination of these two gives the right interpretation. I will continue my explanations in the direction (A) in the next sections.

A) Eros & Aphrodite in Greek – Roman Mythology: 

The Pisces constellation consists of two fishes. In Greek myths it symbolizes the goddess of beauty Aphrodite and his beloved son Eros (Compare with the word “Erotic”). The Pisces fishes are also associated with Venus and Cupid in Roman religion.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros.

As it is clear, all signs are present in this interpretation. We have a mother and her beloved son who are turned into two fishes and are attached to each other through a cord made by stars. Also the illustrations of Eros often demonstrate it as a little boy or a very young teen which seems so similar to the “little fish” description in the film.

B) Jesus & Mary in Christianity:  

It is worth mentioning that the Pisces constellation, particularly its corresponding astrological age (The Pisces Age), is deeply connected to Jesus and Christianity in many ways.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

The Age of Monotheism, Spirituality, and the Fish

The age of Pisces began c. 1 AD and will end c. 2150 AD. With the story of the birth of Christ coinciding with this date, many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fishes. The figure Christ himself bears many of the temperaments and personality traits of a Pisces, and is thus considered an archetype of the Piscean. Moreover, the twelve apostles were called the “fishers of men,” early Christians called themselves “little fishes,” and a code word for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, “Ikhthus.” With this, the start of the age, or the “Great Month of Pisces” is regarded as the beginning of the Christian religion. Saint Peter is recognized as the apostle of the Piscean sign.

Jesus’ second return or coming of the Messiah is also symbolically related to Zodiac constellations, particularly to the end of the Pisces Age and beginning of the Age of Aquarius:

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

Pisces has been called the “dying god,” where its sign opposite in the night sky is Virgo, or, the Virgin Mary. When Jesus was asked by his disciples where the next Passover would be, he replied to them:

Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in.

— Jesus, Luke 22:10

This coincides with the changing of the ages, into the Age of Aquarius, as the personification of the constellation of Aquarius is a man carrying pitchers of water.

Also note that other elements of the conversation in the show are also present here. For example Jesus is known as the son of God/Mary/human by Christians. He accompanies God/Mary in Heavens and according to trinity principle he is not separable from God and Holy Ghost while being different from them. The “little fish” as a description for a Christian person or or demonstrations of Jesus as a little kid lying in Mary’s lap could also match this phrase.

 7. Cupboard, Machines and the Drag Queen!

DRAG QUEEN: Is it in the cupboard?

AUDIENCE: Yes! Yes! No!…

The Drag Queen is the central character of The Middle of the Film and the one who knows the location of the fish and is trying to guide us to it. When he asks the audience about possible location of the fish in the cupboard, they give him a contradictory answer: “Both Yes and No!” What does this mean? Possibly it is a simple indication to the cupboard love which may or may not be counted as the “true love” in comparison with unconditional love. This is a fairly strong relation between cupboard and our fish, Cupid.

But let me present a more personal analysis in a slightly different direction. I think the “Yes & No” answer could be also an indication to “approximation” between “fish” and “cupboard”, in the sense that they are trying to tell us that the fish is near the cupboard but not exactly in the same place!

Back to the Greek mythology and in connection with our “Eros in Pisces” interpretation for “the fish and its location”, we can look at Pisces’ neighbor constellation, Aquarius. Interestingly it is also related to the story of a young boy, Ganymede, who is Zeus’ beloved one and cup-bearer.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

In Greek mythology, Ganymede ([…] Greek: Γανυμήδης, Ganymēdēs) is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. He was the son of Tros of Dardania, from whose name “Troy” was supposed to derive, and of Callirrhoe. His brothers were Ilus and Assaracus. In one version of the myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals:

[Ganymedes] was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus’ wine-pourerfor the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.

— Homer, Iliad, Book XX, lines 233-235.[3]

The myth was a model for the Greek social custom of paiderastía, the socially acceptable erotic relationship between a man and a youth. The Latin form of the name was Catamitus (and also “Ganymedes”), from which the English word “catamite” derives.

Note that the word “erotic” is derived from “Eros”. Also in the myth of Ganymede a kind of erotic relationship between people of the same gender plays a key role . The theme that is closely related to Drag Queen‘s character and his outfit. Even in some scenes the long hand Strange Man emphasizes on this special aspect by showing some erotic behavior towards the Drag Queen. Furthermore Ganymede is related to Eros in both astrological and astronomical ways.  

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

All the gods were filled with joy to see the youth, except for Hera, Zeus’s consort, who regarded Ganymede as a rival for her husband’s affection. Zeus later put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, which is associated with that of the Eagle (Aquila). A moon of Jupiter, the planet named for Zeus’s Roman counterpart, was named Ganymede by the German astronomer Simon Marius.

Thus in this sense we can consider the place where the characters in The Middle of the Film are, as a symbolic demonstration of the home of the gods, Olympus, where they manage the entire world through machines that could be found there. Note that how similar the machines in the building are to the equipment in a “control room” for a complicated industrial facility. By this interpretation the Drag Queen is Zeus and the other characters could be also symbolic demonstration of mythic gods and deities. The cups are pointing to Ganymede and Aquarius constellation as a hint for the approximate location of Eros in the nearby Pisces constellation.

8. The Elephant’s Trunk!

It seems Zeus is not the only god in the world’s control room! Possibly the strangest character in The Middle of the Film, who has no dialogue, is an elephant-head butler. As this film is British and in India, the British ex-colony, elephant is a symbolically very important animal, one can immediately understand that this creature in The Middle of the Film has something to do with India. In fact it is so similar to Ganesha, the elephant-head Indian deity. It is related to the entire symbols of The Middle of the Film in several ways.

Ganesha is known as the god of removing obstacles which is quite related to the nature of The Middle of the Film as a visual puzzle. It is interesting to know that Indian students often pray for Ganesha before an exam!

On one hand Ganesha’s role, as the god of knowledge and wisdom, in the Indian mythology is somehow the opposite role of Eros, the god of erotics and love in Greek-Roman myths. In fact the Ganesha worshipers are supposed to be able to control their erotic desires (often symbolized as a mouse beneath Ganesha’s feet) in order to achieve the wisdom. But on the other hand this special deity can also be a symbol of many erotic interpretations.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha’s names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya [Compare with Buddha]. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean “fond of”, and in a marital context it can mean “lover” or “husband”, so the name may mean either “Fond of Intelligence” or “Buddhi’s Husband”.

Ganesha’s birth story which is based on the relationship of Shiva (in his half-male half-female form known as Ardhanarishvara) and Parvati (a female goddesses) also connects it to the Drag Queen who is somehow half-male and half-female. Read more about this here.

Ganesha is also closely connected to his mother Parvati. Their strong mother-son relationship appeared in many stories about him. In fact this deity lost his original human-shape head for protecting his mother when she ordered him to prevent anybody from coming close to her while she is bathing. Then Ganesha tried to prevent Shiva from becoming close to Parvati and in response he cut his head and then revived him by attaching an elephant’s head to his body.

But possibly the most relevant symbolic aspect of Ganesha to the puzzle of The Middle of the Film is his Trunk!

[Ganesha’s] trunk is a novel instrument. With its help, Ganesha removes the obstacles from the path of the aspirant. Its orientation towards the left, the right or centre is symbolic in connection with the three principle subtle energetic channels: Ida Nadi, Pingala Nadi and, respectively, Sushumna Nadi. When it is raised to the sky, it signifies the ascension and stability of Kundalini at the level of Sahashrara. In the tantra tradition, the trunk and sensuous mouth of the elephant are connected to the masculine and feminine sexual organs. [See here and here for reading more]

Now compare the above passage with the following part of the conversations:

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Look up his trunk!

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Yeah, it’s hidden in his trousers!

Note that the word “trunk” in English could have different meanings including “elephant’s trunk” and “swimming trunks”. And what do you find if you look up your son’s swimming trunks? The answer is an elephant’s trunk in the sense explained above! The same meaning is applicable to the “trousers” (in the U.S. “pants”).

All these signs show that the seemingly irrelevant elephant-head butler is closely related to Eros in the Pisces which is in this butler’s trunk and trousers in some sense!

9. Behind the Sofa!

MAN IN AUDIENCE: It’s behind the sofa!

Sofa means couch and I think no more explanation is needed for this part of the puzzle when we note that we are talking about Cupid (the fish) and there is something called Cupid’s Couch, a kind of sofa specially designed for worshiping the god of love!

Just as a side comment for those who are interested in etymology, let me add that the word “sofa” is not of an Indo-European origin. In fact it is derived from a Semitic root meaning “raised section of a floor, covered with carpets and cushions” what in Arabic is called “Soffeh” (صفه). Its original ancient root is not certainly clear but there are several Arabic and Hebrew words with similar meanings and pronunciations.

10. The Drawers!

MAN IN AUDIENCE: Have you thought of the drawers in the bureau?!

To see the relation between this sentence and Cupid, it suffices to note that the word “drawers” in the phrase “drawers in the bureau” or “chest of drawers” refers to a kind of old-fashioned underpants for women. See also Wikipedia article on open drawers.

11. A Fish Chasing a Cat!

The director insists on showing us the cat-shape mustache of the Strange Man in a close up. He repeats the following sentence:

STRANGE MAN: And it went wherever I did go.

Well, we are talking about the god of love and love goes wherever women go! Interestingly there is an English word related to Eros, that is common for referring to the cats and women. What is it? Go on and make a guess!

12. Erotic theme in the other parts of the film!

Eros is present in many other parts of the film. You can search for him in every single detail in the scenes. However discovering some of his presences don’t need that much effort. For example:

  • In The Miracle of Birth part specially in the story of the Catholic and Protestant man.
  • In The Autumn Years part where we have this.
  • In the Death part specially the story of  condemned man.
  • In The End of the Film part where the Lady Presenter comments about those “gratuitous pictures of …” which brings people to the cinema!

13. The Elusive Fish!

DRAG QUEEN: It is a most elusive fish!

Recall that we are talking about a fish-shape constellation not a real fish. Thus clearly it is an “elusive” fish because it is really “difficult to describe” it with a group of stars!

14. Fishy Fish!

DRAG QUEEN: Ooooh, fishy, fishy, fishy fish!

According to Greek-Roman myths, Cupid as well as many other gods and goddesses could be very tricky. The story of Cupid and Psyche clearly shows why Cupid could be called “fishy” (i.e. Dishonest). He disobeys Venus’ order.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

There was once a king and queen, rulers of an unnamed city, who had three daughters of conspicuous beauty. The youngest and most beautiful was Psyche, whose admirers, neglecting the proper worship of the love goddess Venus, instead prayed and made offerings to her. It was rumored that she was the second coming of Venus, or the daughter of Venus from an unseemly union between the goddess and a mortal. Venus is offended, and commissions Cupid to work her revenge. Cupid instead scratches himself with his own dart, which makes any living thing fall in love with the first thing it sees. As soon as Cupid scratches himself he falls deeply in love with Psyche and disobeys his mother’s order to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous. 

In the next section we will return to this influential story in the Western culture once again. As a side remark it is interesting to know that “Psyche” in Latin means “butterfly” and “soul”. The word “Psychology” is derived from “Psyche” and in most of “Psyche” portraits you can find a butterfly or see her with butterfly wings as it is demonstrated in the picture with Cupid.

 15. The Egyptian Pose!

There are elements from ancient Egypt in The Middle of the Film. In one scene the Strange Man moves his two hands on his front and back like the way that is found in the ancient Egyptian pictures. Also the Drag Queen wears something so similar to Egyptian Nemes.  These could be some stereotypical signs about Egypt for us to search for our lost fish among ancient civilizations and myths. (Here the Greek mythology)

However I think it could have a deeper meaning as well. In the Roman empire era the cult of worshiping the famous Egyptian goddess of marriage Isis was a serious trend.

[Quoted from Wikipedia]

The religion of Isis thus spread throughout the Roman Empire during the formative centuries of Christianity. Wall paintings and objects reveal her pervasive presence at Pompeii, preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. In Rome, temples were built and obelisks erected in her honour. In Greece, the cult of Isis was introduced to traditional centres of worship in Delos, Delphi, Eleusis and Athens, as well as in northern Greece. Harbours of Isis were to be found on the Arabian Sea and the Black Sea. Inscriptions show followers in Gaul, Spain, Pannonia, Germany, Arabia, Asia Minor, Portugal and many shrines even in Britain. Tacitus interprets a goddess among the Germanic Suebi as a form of Isis whose symbol (signum) was a ship. Bruce Lincoln regards the identity of this Germanic goddess as “elusive.” 

The Romans associated her to Venus, the same planet that is associated to Roman goddess and Cupid’s mother Venus. By the way the evidence of such a connection between Isis and Venus and some aspects of Isis cult in the 2nd century CE including the Navigium Isidis, are recorded in the novel Metamorphoses, of Roman writer Apuleius.

Interestingly this novel is about the adventures of a young Roman man, Lucius, who accidentally turns into a donkey! Adultery and searching for the meaning of life are the main themes of this semi-comic novel. Also the first book of Metamorphoses contains an event about fishes.

In the middle of the Apuleius  novel (Books 5, 6) there is a character (an old woman) who tells the thorough story of the love of Cupid and Psyche for another character (a young girl)! Furthermore the novel is written in a special structure full of the side stories that are seemingly independent from each other in the first view but in general form an overall experience of the protagonist, Lucius, about the meaning of life.

I wonder whether this degree of similarity between Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses is just a coincidence or the film is inspired by the Apuleius’ novel?

16. The Meaning of Life!

As I said I’m not sure whether my suggested solution for the puzzle in The Middle of the Film is true or not. Maybe I interpreted some signs incorrectly but frankly I won’t be that surprised if someone comes and says that my answer is correct. Not because I rely on my analyzes very much but because there are few other options that a Western culture can suggest for the meaning of your life besides “God”, “Matter” and “Love”. So you always have a \frac{1}{3} chance to find the solution of such puzzles correctly even if you guess randomly!

Finally don’t forget the main questions of humanity that are still open:

“What is the meaning of life?”,

“What is the meaning of death?”,

“Will we understand the meaning of life if we understand the meaning of death or vice versa?”,

“Will we understand the meaning of life when we die?”,

Think on them and if you found the solutions, don’t keep them to yourselves! Yell out so that all the world can hear you! 😉

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