Monday, September 24, 2018

Fry My Snark!

The flavor of Snark, being animal, vegetable and mineral all at once, lends itself to all manner of cookery and here at Chez Snark, we dine on snark in every season and think nothing of it — it is the original slow-food and since the Snark is a beast easily found everywhere, its carbon foot print is the lightest imaginable! The following recipe perfectly captures the flavor and ambience of freshly-caught snark in its South Asian incarnation — you won’t be disappointed!

South Indian Snark Fry
• Fetch to home by any means possible (palanquin, scooter-rickshaw, forkéd stick) approx. 2 lbs. Snark fillets. If your fishmonger has no Snark, use any skinless, boneless, firm-fleshed fish fillets such as tilapia, cod, catfish. Perfectly fresh soft-shell crabs are widely considered to be the best approximation of Snark.
• 2 tablespoons of ground coriander, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper and as much ground red chili (cayenne) as you care for
• A half-cup of grated onion
• 3 cloves of garlic, grated
• Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
• Sufficient flour to dredge the fillets, a mixture of one-half all-purpose plain flour, one-half corn meal

Combine the spices, grated onion, grated garlic and oil in a non-reactive bowl, then place the snark fillets inside the bowl, making sure that the fillets become thoroughly coated with the mixture. Let stand (refrigerated) for at least an hour or two. When ready to cook, gently dredge the coated fillets in the cornmeal-flour mix, taking care that the onion & spice mix remains on the fillets. Fry them in a pan with sufficient oil at high heat. The crust should be golden brown and not at all greasy. Serve immediately.

You may indeed serve it with greens such as a simple garden salad. You may also fetch it home in the company of a thoroughly chilled crisp India pale ale. You may even use it for striking a light along with some lime pickle. But if your Snark fry be a Boojum, then just softly and suddenly vanish away … and let that Boojum do the washing-up for a change!

Onward, with forks and hope — to the table!

NB. Readers may also find my recipe for Assamese Snark Curry of interest. True Carrollians love their curry!

Monday, September 10, 2018

If necessity is the mother of invention, then snark hunting is its uncle

Yes, that’s all very well, dear reader, aren’t you clever to have remembered that Lewis Carroll’s doppelgänger, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was named after his dear uncle, Robert Wilfred Skeffington (gesundheit) Lutwidge.

I also know that you made arrangements to force your attentions upon some local chorus girls and impress upon them the coincidence of the Snark’s origins; how Lewis Carroll commenced that poem’s composition in the town of Guildford on July 18, 1874 — the precise time and place where Dodgson himself was playing the role of "dear uncle" whilst nursing a terminally ill, tubercular nephew.

But there’s more. While going through an old dustbin the lid flew off and you emerged clutching the proof positive of an avuncular trifecta : a dog-eared account of dear uncle Robert Wilfred Skeffington Lutwidge being fatally wounded by a lunatic armed with a large rusty nail, the point of which had been recently sharpened in anticipation of its lethal purpose. (When the English go nuts, they stay really focussed, eh?)

Enough of these dear uncles and these dear readers! It's this defective pen of mine, it will not draw uncles properly — curse these cut-rate penmongers! This hand-me-down drawing of a telegram of a newspaper clipping of a photograph of a simulated second-hand uncle will have to do for now … at least until that time when all our dear uncles, like laughter, are doomed to disappear.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Watch out where the Boojums go and don't you eat the yellow snow

The story so far … there once was a Snark … but it will be a Boojum, alas!

The Baker is suffering from what we now know to be angst. Once upon a time we would have pinned the label of big fat crybaby upon him but these are dangerous times for thought-criminals. 

Boojum-angst was first used as a legal defense by the Baker’s legal counsel, the Barrister, AKA Martin Heidegger, in his seminal brief (naughty boy!): Sein und Zeit. He excused the Baker’s regression into a second childhood with the then-novel defense of angst, which he explained as an objectless and generalized dread occasioned by the growing presence of Nothing. The boojum, a nonexistent being, fit this description nicely and the Barrister won an acquital for his client on the grounds that he was an idiot anyway. We shall see more of the Barrister’s weasel-skills in Fit the Sixth.

From whence comes this fashion to label all things boojum in the German language? Angst, schadenfreude, strafe (straffen), weltschmertz — all of ‘em teutonic and hardly a laugh in the lot. May we quote the poet Heinrich Heine on this subject :

"… the Germans have the curious custom of always attaching a thought to whatever they do.”

Schnitzel for thought, indeed! All it needs is this mustard-like condiment, from the cupboard of the American illustrator, Edward Gorey :

"I have a dumb theory that a creative piece of art is only interesting if it purports to be about something and is really about something else."

Milord, the defense rests in its usual, pretzel-like position. Like the Baker, at play in the ontic fields of the lord, to all the above charges of unlawful boojumizing and multiple neologizing we shall plead : ignorance, madam,pure ignorance. Or in the very best Clochetic-cum-Orwellian manner : ignorance, madam, double-plus pure ignorance.

Monday, July 30, 2018

My Life in the Bush of Snarks

Achtung snark hunters! Avoid any authors unwilling to suffer their own characters’ fate. Eschew the likes of Samuel Beckett and whomever was behind the Book of Job, spurn the fictions of Dante and the Marquis de Sade, and turn instead to more generous raconteurs such as Lewis Carroll. Carroll’s sudden referral to childhood in this stanza provides some therapeutic respite to the Baker’s boojum-anxiety complex.

The Baker has responded positively to this authorial auto-suggestion and has infantilized both himself and his parents into an easily digestible and perfectly oedipal size, as we can see above in this fine drawing. I will not tell you which of the several nursery room objects are the Baker’s parents, I’ll leave that to you to work out! Just place one after another into your mouth whilst cooing and gurgling.

The more indolent reader might be wondering how this authorial auto-suggestion works. In short, the Baker "hears" his author’s narration and description, etc., as a voice inside his head. Naturally, he has told no one else of this phenomenon. Please note that I have chosen to provide the Baker with the physiognomy of Lewis Carroll himself and thus created an epistomological escape hatch (or trap door) of sorts for the Baker, bless his farinaceous heart.

With all this in mind, the Baker is enjoying a rich and satisfying internal life these days. He goes through the motions of a Snark hunt with his fellows whilst simultaneously believing himself to be a 42-year old Oxford mathematics don plotting the destiny of a hermetic and even pseudo-gnostic Snarkian Multiverse (similar in nature though larger in scope to The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius) which revolves and devolves and evolves solely and utterly upon a nonexistent entity which only he can comprehend — and which only he, the Baker, will apprehend!

The infinite melancholy of a long-ago summer’s day in Guildford, compressed into the infantile desire to say-that-which-is-not and to-read-the-thing-that-is-not … this Snark could be bounded in a nutshell and still count himself king of infinite space! It’s all child’s play for the talented Mr. Carroll.

Monday, July 23, 2018

I'm a Man of Constant Snark

Martin Gardner, in his indispensible Annotated Snark, cites Eric Partridge’s assertion that the Baker’s use of antediluvian is "one of those rare instances in which Carroll uses a standard word in a completely whimsical sense". Gardner also notes the opposing theory of antediluvian being used as a foreshadowing of the Baker’s tears-to-come.

However, you and I know that he’s speaking Adamic, the universal language spoken before the Flood and the dispersal of tongues at the Tower of Babel. This antediluvian language, designed to facilitate Edenic communication between discreet data points in a secure and lossless environment (think FORTRAN or KVIKKALKUL), remains the Baker’s preferred flavor of postlapsarian blarney*. If we waxed poetic, we might even say it’s the angelic language in which animals dream and children babble when the adults are gone to bed.

But we’ll wax not, as yet, for deep, deep, deep underneath the surface, the Baker’s very shallow. Bless his simple Adamic soul but he’s just an idiot-savant suffering from untreated postdiluvian stress syndrome. He sees the sun going down and the world spinning round and he macadamizes a postmodern, postlapsarian, postdiluvian and postbabelian man of sorrows on the comeback trail.

As for the Baker’s curious epithet of Ho; it is a typical bit of Snarkolinguistic bandinage, an orientalist snarkwallah’s reference to the eponymous language spoken in eastern India and Bangladesh, a language whose word for man is ho.

The word, the language, the man — all together now — tally ho! 
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* The reconstruction of the Adamic language is a wholesome pastime for the protosurrealist insomniac. Its a priori ontological perfection requires a vocabulary in which every word is a homophone of all the others. All conjugations in the infinitive, all declensions nominative, no prepositions needed since every speaker is every thing and thus consubstantial, no interrogatives since they imply a lack of faith, etc. Might we conjecture that Adamic survives today as the uneasy silence between phonemes? Or does it all sound like French? I dunno …

Monday, July 9, 2018

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Snark

The very mention of that hateful word Boojum had sent our Baker into a swoon and he now reclines artfully upon his hot-buttered-charpoy. His duenna, a woman whose two-faced duplicity beggars the imagination, intercepts the stimulating nourishment which rains upon him like pennies from heaven. The ice, greens, jams and muffins, all of ‘em will vanish into her outstretched apron to reappear in a day-old half-baked no-goods shop she runs on the side. The Baker is left with only a conundrum to guess. Naturally, the conundrum is to guess what the conundrum is.

Oh, these Boojums! Is there no deviltry that they will not stoop to? Great god, save the earth from ever bearing such monsters! No history has proved that there were any such. Through the efforts of the authorities, no one will be exposed to them any longer.

To-say-the-thing-which–is-not and to-draw-the-thing-which-is-not is the Way of the Boojum! That way leads to the Dark Side! Fortunately, our Baker is a simpleton and his foolish mind is the hobgoblin of more consistent ones. Like those buxom Greek girls locked up in bronze towers by their upset daddies, he has no need for conundrums, he just wants to have fun!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Snark à la mode

Utter bedlam has broken out amongst the B-Boyz at the mention of the B-Word! The Baker, mortally wounded by the tusks of the dreaded Boojum, languishes in the arms of the cytherean Beaver, who tenderly nibbles the ear of her farinaceous Adonis. 

The Billiard-Marker, wracked by hunger pangs, is searching for the hidden compartment within the Baker with which he transforms stones into bread for the crew’s sustenance. 

The Banker is auctioning off the Baker’s personal effects to pay off his creditors; he is demonstrating a telescope made of copal to the Bonnet-Maker, who ignores him entirely, the latter is measuring himself for a strait-jacket. 

The Boots’s evolutionary solipsism has taken a turn for the worse, the frightened Butcher wrings his hands in despair at his monarchical frenzy. In the lunatic sky of the Desierto Pintado, startled doves take flight, fleeing the preternaturally sinuous lineaments of the bioglyph upon which the Bellman’s magic lantern rests.

Only the Bellman retains his wits! He has seen this before, this nesting of parody within parody, reference within reference, this rake’s progress towards the inevitable bankruptcy auction of all one’s semiotic inheritance and then — off to bedlam! Oh, shun this Boojum of Infinitely Regressive Reference, this Snark’s Progress to protosurrealist ruin!

Monday, June 11, 2018

If the Snark Fits, Wear It

The Bellman continues his Indictment with the accusation of Ambition, tempered by the observation that all Snarks, like the intestines or the Carolinas, are further divided into two parts*.

First, you have your biting Snarks, those goody-two-shoes who brush their teeth every night and limit their ambitions to lime jello with their salisbury steak dinner. Their bite is as gentle as the nibblements of curious goldfish upon a giggling baby’s bum, a mere trifle. They are the best of Snarks, the heppiest of Snarks, no ill wind will ever ruffle these li’l ainjils’ feathers. 

Then there are those other scratching Snarks, addicted to back-room jobbery in used woolen underwear and race-track skullduggeries. They are Snarks fallen from grace, who loathe hairnets, electrolysis and the consumption of soup and cotton candy. 

We see an example of this latter Snark in the above illustration. He is lost in his own private pandemonium, shuffling to a distant armegeddon in his mismatched, postlapsarian slippers, forkéd tail and second-hand wings. He has been consumed entirely by the itch of Ambition, an old itch for an Old Scratch! 

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*An odd inconsistency which seems to have escaped most Snarkologists. The Bellman commences his Indictment by specifically stating that there are 5 Snarkian qualities The feathered-whiskered speciation that follows the 5th Indictment is obviously another distinct, yet unannounced 6th Indictment. In light of the Bellman’s demonstrated inability to enunciate the number 6, might we conjecture that the number of this particular beast is 6? One's pursuers certainly cannot hunt what they cannot count, or so goes the Snark's reasoning. Using the Clochetic Rule-of-Three, we might even bandy about the number 666, a number of apocalyptic import which might well presage the lethal approach of the dreaded Boojum!

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Infernal Bathing Machines of Dr Hoffmann


Given : Only with one’s bathing-machine can one bathe properly and thoroughly.
Given : The divinely-ordained, absolute and ineffable perfection of any place cannot be achieved without a bathing-machine.
Ergo : Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Not a surprising sentiment coming from the pen of an English clergyman’s son but it is an accurate depiction of the Snark’s true character and motives? Read on, MacDuff …

Given : The Snark’s sentimental attachment to bathing-machines does nothing to improve the beauty of scenes.
Given : The Snark’s sentiments are open to doubt.
Ergo : When in doubt, do nothing. 

A Fabian approach to the hunting of Snarks but will the poilu tolerate it? History warns us otherwise! Je me souviens Cannae …

Given : The utility of a bathing-machine lies solely in its property of not allowing an observer to know what is inside it.
Given : The Snark’s chief happiness is the transportation of its bathing-machine from one place to another.
Ergo : Ignorance is bliss.

And there you have it, another Clochetic validation of the platitudinous proverbs with which we usually stave off our lexical and cognitive horror vacui. I have illustrated all of the above palaver with another infamous platitude, one of the Comte de Lautrémont’s most infamous bromides: the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing machine and an umbrella. I think the bathing machine lends a certain banality to the whole thing, don’t you? Even surrealism (and especially protosurrealism) has its sentimental, even hackneyed picture-postcard moments!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Portnoy's Snark

The story so far … the Snark stands accused of Bad Taste, Poor Timing and now — Humorlessness! The Bellman’s Indictment of the Snark seems to have shifted to the tactics of an inebriated heckler pestering a talentless Las Vegas stand-up comedian, not a pleasant scene at all for our Snark!

The Bellman’s caught our Snark doing his surrealist schtick in one of those postmodern, off-Strip venues and frankly, it hurts to watch him trying his luck with outdated material cribbed from old René Magritte routines … trying to to make the audience laugh by pulling their legs with his grave puns … untranslatable from English to boot. 

His Belgian style of humor is so phlegmatic, one might even say flemish owing to his persistent coffin … but our Snark cracks wise one last time, that old protosurrealist chestnut about Madame Récamier owing Manet some Monet and when he comes to collect, she’s such a dead-beat that she stiffs him.

Looking grave, eh? Feeling distressed? The Snark … it is you …

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tiffin at Breakfastys

The Bellman continues his Exposition of the Snark with a second accusation — Sloth!* We illustrate his text with this shameless, paranoiac-critical crib of Salvador "Avida Dollars" Dali. Dali’s paranoiac-critical method of picture-making (essentially a groovy sort of free-association delirium) is itself a shameless crib upon 20 centuries of artists lying on the sofa with their feet up and eyes shut in search of inspiration.

But beware the light of the Bellman’s magic lantern! Beware the paranoiac-critical method — it’s bad juju! Once you start using it, you can’t stop — gateway surrealism I call it! Image generating out of image, a maelstrom of vivid mental pictures at the speed of thought itself, free-association run amuck while perceptual reality as we know it disintegrates in a chain reaction of infinite visual meanings — until you’re trapped in a world in which one breakfasts at five-o’clock tea and literally thinks nothing of it!

We find our hapless Snark lost in this paranoiac-critical Ice Age (perhaps the evolutionary niche of the dreaded Boojum itself!), trapped in a world not of his own making! Within this glacial Lost World of the paranoiac-critical zone, it is only the persistence of memory which allows the Snark to find nourishment. Its primitive intellect swamped with the visual overload of everything-being-at-once, it will starve to death if it cannot remember to eat its supper, even if a day too late. It even carries on its person a railway watch (shown above) with which it plans its desperate, solitary meals.

And so … our Bellman confounds for Sloth what we now know to be Hunger! Come on, guv'nor, spare a kind thought for a ‘ungry Snark, eh? He’s not such a bad fellow after all … (cue orchestra)  for when a Snark’s not engaged in his employment or maturing his felonious little plans, his capacity for innocent enjoyment is just as great as any honest man’s. Take one consideration with another, the Snark’s lot is not a happy one!
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*It should be noted that the Bellman’s sermon upon this sin of Sloth is amplified with instances of Gluttony which are thematically derived from the Snark’s prior sin of Bad Taste. Whether the Bellman’s general exposition is a catalog of Sins (Snarkian lapses from its ideal state of nonexistential perfection) or of Elements (qualifications of the Snark’s non-qualifiable nonexistence) is for the more subtle reader to decide. The distinction is scholastic, and thus, genuinely protosurrealist. The final word on the sinful ontology of the Seven Deadly Elements might be Max Ernst’s masterpiece, A Week of Kindness. Like The Hunting of the Snark, Max Ernst’s personal composition upon this earth was finished before his decomposition, his birthday being April 2nd and his deathday being April 1st. We tug on our ink-soaked forelocks in salute to Max Ernst, the Police Gazeteer of Surrealism!

Monday, April 30, 2018

See, see, where Snark's blood streams in the firmament!

The uncooked flesh of the Snark was sufficient for our more distant ancestors but today’s gastronomes must have their Snark curried, tandoori grilled or even minced into kebabs — but never boiled à la anglaise (the hollowness vanishes leaving behind a residue redolent of a fleet of bathing machines saturated in warm, flat beer). In the spirit of nothing in particular, a recipe for cooking Snark follows, a recipe from Assam, the most Snark-ridden province of India. 

Please try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Assamese Snark Curry


Mix the following together:
• 1 kilo of Snark meat, cubed (if no Snark is to be had, use beef, goat or lamb, preferably with bones)
• 6 medium onions, minced
• small head of garlic, minced
• an inch of fresh ginger, grated
• tablespoon of turmeric
• one cinnamon stick
• one cup of oil
• tablespoon of salt
• a sufficient amount of genuinely hot green chilis, slit
• if you wish to "Indianize" this curry, also add a tablespoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon of ground coriander and a tablespoon of garam masala. This might be preferable for those who are accustomed to the somewhat ubiquitious flavors of Northern Indian cuisine and enjoy a certain familiarity in their curry. However, the authentic Assamese version has a delicious simplicity which is worth trying!

Mix and let sit overnight. Cook on low heat, with the lid on and stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add one cup of water, bring to boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. The curry should finish up with a thick gravy, not at all runny. Cook for about 90 minutes or until meat is tender. Taste for salt, etc. The curry can be garnished with ghee and/or tamarind water. If beef, lamb or goat meat was used, serve with rice, vegetables and dahl.

However, if you used Snark, serve with greens, using forks and hope. Wash it all down with copious amounts of Golden Eagle beer and the stimulating gyrations of two dissipated nautch girls named Anna and Paisa. What ho, memsahibs!
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NB. Special thanks to Farah for the genuine Assamese recipe and much, much more …

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Chariots of the Snark Gods

We have arrived now at the very omnium of Fit the Second, that critical portion of The Hunting of the Snark in which the author describes in detail the characteristics of the genus Snark. To explicate these crypto-stigmata, the Bellman has resorted to the very respectable Victorian expedient of the illustrated public lecture. His authoritarian nature naturally gravitates towards such methods of imparting knowledge to the working classes; he also favors the use of a magic lantern to illuminate the more difficult concepts of his lecture with the appropriate visual figures. These will become apparent in the following panels.

But we must turn now to a bit of textual analysis which will pique the interest of all Snarkologists. The Bellman’s preamble (which actually commenced in last week’s panel) mentions in passing three numbers. The numbers 7 and 5 appear on lines 54 and 58, which, in addition to his earlier mention of the number 4 on line 50 in the previous stanza, allows us (nay, compels us!) to perform the following simple Clochetic equation :

7x5x4=140


We now employ the number 42 (whose Snarkian significance needs no further explication to the Illuminati who frequent these parts):

140/42=3.333 …


As predicted by the
Clochetic Rule of Three, the entirety of the Bellman’s introductory remarks concerning the qualities of the Snark has also served as a cryptic verification of the truth value of 42 by multiplying that auspicious number precisely three times — in an infinite and irrational repetition, to boot! QED and bob’s your uncle.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Snarkness at Noon

There are those who might quibble and look askance at my rather ideologically vacant interpretation of this stanza. Yes, it is a trifle irrelevant … perhaps even mendacious to illustrate a purported lack of Snarks with a veritable snathe of Snarks. The concerned reader might well ask : by whose leave do you have artistic license to mangle the words of Lewis Carroll so? Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

The eminent Oxford don and man-about-town, Charles Dodgson, was probably the only person who could genuinely claim to be intimate with Lewis Carroll. Mr. Dodgson had this to say about the so-called sanctity of Carrollian texts, their meaning and interpretation:

... I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, "Let it be understood that by the word black I shall always mean white, and that by the word white I shall always mean black," I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.*

Well, that’s pretty much QED, I should think. Simply substitute the word "illustrator" for "writer"; it’s a mere sneesh of semantic and orthographic difference and expressly allowed for by the above-mentioned axiom. In fact, upon further reflection, we can see that the vast bulk of modern art, philosophy, politics and commerce is based upon Dodgson’s diabolically simple postulate.

So stop fussing over these drawings and rest a spell under the ol' Boojum tree with me. Goshdarned wordpeople, always making trouble for poor picturefolk …

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* Charles Dodgson, Symbolic Logic, Bartley, ed. Clarkson N. Potter (New York: 1977).

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Word for Snark is Boojum

The Shakespearean quotation will be familiar to all poetical and political earmongers. The Bellman has been depicted in the definitive Roman pose of imperial authority known as the adlocutio, which has been visually modified here to prove, amongst many other things, that everything old is new again.

Clothed in the rhetorical and semiotic crypto-imperial habiliments of Marxist-Leninism, the Bellman not only demands his auditors’ ears but even their arms so that he may throw them (their arms, not his audience) across the shoulders of the tottering capitalist-running-boojums and assist them into an early grave. This odd affinity (an unelective affinity?) towards Comrade Lenin is no accident, it allows us to make a second auricular reference to the rumored waxen ear which has replaced the genuine, damaged article on Lenin’s embalmed corpse.

The ear motif receives its third and final reiteration (thus fulfilling the Clochetic Rule of Three) in the somewhat maimed person of Vincent van Gogh, who stands behind Comrade Bellman (somewhat in the manner of the Laputian flappers) to encourage the enthusiasm of all concerned with his sinister aura … of menacing risibility.

Their audience, the proletarian hunters of the Snark, react to all this intellectual palaver as expected. Drinks all around and afterwards, dancing on the upper decks for the lower ranks! Huzzah for His Nibs the Bellman, huzzah for the Snark, huzzah for the revolution!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Socratic Snark

Jokes kept for a season of woe, an almost biblical undertaking on the part of the Bellman, whose storehouse of mirth has been sorely depleted by divers chasms and crags. But to this geologically disheartened hunter of the Snark, we say, in the finest demotic vulgate we can muster : lighten up, dude! Like, get a hobby!

Hmmm … how about music? Music is nice, musical tones are even nicer. How about the fiddle? It’s an instrument that’s still welcome at hoe-down and rave alike. And all the girls love musicians, especially those hirsute ones (musicians, not girls) who emote over their Boojums in smoky Parisian cabarets, the kind of place where Kiki de Montparnasse might toss her turban at sugar-dada Man Ray or Jean Ingres pops in to play some violon airs upon a g-string behind her naked bach.

But the Bellman knows it will never work out. From the vantage point of his solitary table in a dark corner, he sighs aloud and weeps a solitary English tear into his hemlock and branch water. 

He knows he’s the wisest man in the place, simply because he’s the only one aware of his own ignorance. That and the numbness creeping up his legs … and up his back …