Overall, I found Principles of Uncertainty to be an interesting concept. The incongruity, humor, and creative drawings mixed with a sense of fear and doom made me confused to say the least. Maybe because I was reading this for a humor class, I was expecting to laugh out loud like I had reading many of the other pieces, but I instead found myself with a twisted look on my face, to the point where my friend asked me if I was feeling okay. Although I struggled to relate to many of the references in this book, I was able to find bits of humor as Kalman spoke of our impending death mixed with colorful drawings.
If I had to describe what reading this book made me think of, it would be like watching the thoughts of a person with ADD and anxiety. The incongruent thoughts and whimsical drawings were confusing but honest and humorous at the same time. For example, for the month of July, Kalman’s thoughts travel from thinking about her dream of travelling around the world to walking around cities, to magnificent chairs, to pickle tags, water towers, pom-pom hats, the Gracefully Gracefully building, to the random people seen around the city, and finally focusing on the old people and how she feels and interacts with them. Although the incongruence of these thoughts is confusing, we can all relate to walking behind an elderly person and having no idea what to do or say. The added humor at the end, where she says “I suppose not everyone is that angelic” (43) helps keep the reader engaged.
Although Kalman’s inner thoughts seem humorous and random, I could not help but feel a sense of darkness underlying this book. Many of the thoughts relate back to death, and the uncertainty associated with it. Because of her uncertainty, Kalman seems to avoid thinking about death by focusing on almost anything else or discussing how life goes on anyway, like in her September chapter. On page 82, she writes “The world is coming to an end. What to do? What to do?” She then answers her own question by saying “I know what to do. Spend the day on the subway. Oh wonderful life-affirming two-dollar subway ride.” The chapter then continues on to talk about the people on the subway and then a dental and foot care clinic. It is almost as if Kalman uses her subtle humor and creative drawings to help the reader avoid death and the uncertainty and fear that comes with it.