1. Are those two pictures, or is one of them a window onto their actual outdoors?

    And if one or both are pictures, that still need not have anything to do with the special quality of picture that we have come to associate with the name Dorian Gray.
    … Because here that special magic relation has been recast to hold between the two people.

    “Retroaction”? What is that? Undo-ing? Like real-world Ctrl-Z?

  2. She’s old. He can’t provide a picture for her that will retroactively de-age her.

  3. She must have asked to have had herself included in the original, portrait—

    Because, just look at how she has aged!

  4. …and so you’re off writing your post and somebody beats you to it and you look like you didn’t read the post preceding yours.


  5. @ SingaporeBill – Except that Dolly’s word is not made up, it’s simply misspelled. My sister used to pronounce it correctly: “basghetti“. Of course, that was nearly five decades ago, usage may have changed since then.

  6. Not made up. Copy-and-paste from an old Websters:
    Retroaction /Re`tro·ac´tion/ (?), n. [Cf. F. rétroaction.] 1. Action returned, or action backward.
    2. Operation on something past or preceding.

    My problem was it had two meanings and neither made sense to me until explained by previous posters here.

  7. @Kilby: Although it is well-crafted, I hope that you are aware that not everyone here will understand hypersarcastic surrealism, even when they can see your name on the comment.

  8. Speaking of “invented” words, I always thought that Watterson’s use of “transmogrify” was a poor construction. It wasn’t until years later that I chanced to look it up, and discovered (much to my surprise) that the term has been in the dictionary for decades, if not centuries.

  9. Three seconds earlier, Dorian’s wife asked him, “Can’t you be more retroactive?”

    The cartoon shows his response.

    To tell the truth, I’m not exactly sure why she would be asking that. It seems like it might be a question used in another language — that doesn’t translate directly to English. So the person translating the question to English had a choice: To either keep the literal phrasing of the question, or change it to a more oft-spoken phrase in the English language.

    Changing it to another question risks losing the pun of the cartoon, so the cartoonist decided to keep the literalness. And that’s one way to end up on this website, kids!

  10. I wondered if maybe this was a line from the novel (novella?), but searching a couple of online texts didn’t turn up anything. Searching for retroaction and Dorian Gray turned up several academic articles, but the number 1 hit was this very page. Maybe it’s a line from one of the many movies.

  11. Simple. Instead of the picture aging for him, his wife ages for him. Whatever wish he made to make that happen, he can’t go back and make it not happen.

    Now in the book, the picture didn’t age so much as become more and more hideous looking to reflect the viler and viler crimes he was doing. Which makes the wife’s position even worse. She can be looking in the mirror and see a sudden change telling her Dorian has gone and betrayed or murdered someone else.

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