Daily Archives: August 4, 2011

A Bedtime Story

My two good friends and colleagues Paul Bloom and Karen Wynn visited me recently and had a great stay just before heading off to Edinburgh where Paul gave his amazing TED talk on the Origins of Pleasure and essentialism. They had a great time as I showed them the fun of living in the countryside and the joy of flame-throwers and chain-saws. They just don’t have these toys in Yale. Anyway, they sent me the weirdest thank you present. It was a set of pillow cases with “A Bedtime Story” printed on each. The story began,

One day I was walking in the woods when I heard the terrible roar of a monster. It filled me with fear and I ran back to the village to alert the community…

The story goes on about how the community were convinced that there was a monster in the wood and that they had to make sacrifices to the Gods to protect them but no offering seemed to satisfy. Eventually, they went into the woods only to discover that the roar came from a pair of loudspeakers connected to a recorder that had been put there by scientists from the University of Bristol to study their behaviour.

It was a strange story to say the least but I guessed Karen and Paul were referring to my work on supernatural beliefs in an artistic sort of way. They had obviously commissioned some company up in Edinburgh to print up the pillowcases. I was intrigued to learn more about the company. Imagine my surprise to discover the work was actually a famous modern piece by the artist David Shrigley and was in the Tate museum. Here is the story from his website as it appears on the pillowcases.

David Shrigley "A Bedtime Story" 2010

I emailed Karen and told her that I thought that it was weird that David Shrigley had produced this piece of art and that I was mistaken in thinking that it was a story they had composed. Karen replied how more weird of me to think that they would do such a thing in the first place!

I have tried to contact David Shrigley to ask where he got the idea for the story – I am convinced I am implicated. Alas he has not responded but if anyone knows, please contact me. I will sleep much better on these pillowcases knowing!

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