Thursday, August 9, 2007
Fit One, Page Five, Panel Two
"His form is ungainly--his intellect small —"
(So the Bellman would often remark)
"But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark."
He would joke with hyenas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
"Just to keep up its spirits," he said.
A nautical though nice bit of ink-stained gallimaufry in which we see the Baker's character (still anonymous though!) in a better light, perhaps even the light which shines down from above, the light to which the Baker refers with his finger, in fact, the light for which one does not lack when heaven guides the way. If one were to see the Baker in a philosophical light, one might say that he carries about him a certain Platonic air, a mystical faith in a universal flashlight which he carries about with himself wherever he goes and which enlightens his path in even the darkest caves of the human mind. It is this mental flashlight which provides him with the aplomb necessary to navigate through the thickets of hyenas and bears in which he finds himself today. Note also that he smiles at his tormentors, a Mona Lisa sort of smile which says to his would-be tormentors: I know that you are not real, that you are merely shadows of a Higher Hyena and Bigger Bear.
The ursine fellow to the Baker's left is a Gradgrindish sort of fellow, well-schooled in the Facts of Life, ma'am, a scholastic air about him, Aristotelian even, judging by his know-it-all headware. He has no need for invisible flashlights (or torches, as LC would say), he relies upon Facts, just the Facts & their Causes, perhaps even some Numbers, and that's That! He carries a book, not for idle speculation but for assaulting lesser-minded weaklings such as the Baker with.
At their feet we see a personage in the guise of a drawing of a hyena taken from a xerox of a photograph of Heraclitus copied from a painting of a second-hand redaction of the life of Michelangelo as told to Vasari. This reflective beast (first mentioned in Fit One, Page Three, Panel Three) is lounging pool-side, debating whether 'tis best to plunge entirely into the waters or better still to merely dabble the tips of one's toes in the waters. He is consumed with doubt lest he be unable to bathe in the same waters twice. Incidentally, it appears as if he is also consumed with a petty jealousy over the excellent design of the panel in which he finds himself depicted. Not only is it a cunning gloss upon the above Stanza, but it also illustrates the wisdom of obtaining one's artistic training at a qualified and accredited institute of higher learning, a precaution which this hyenaic gentleman's rival, the infamous Raphael (not shown here) attended to by graduating cum laude from the Roman campus of the School of Athens.