Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fit Two, Page 10, Panel 3

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!
"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best —
A perfect and absolute blank!"

Yet another shameless Magritte pastiche, and not the last one to grace these pages, I'll wager. Shameless — the 10th Muse of Protosurrealism!

Even more shameless — this insistence that the crew of the HMS Snark use the French language for navigational purposes when it is clearly evident to anyone who has ever been lost at sea that English is the natural language of confusion. This is easily verified. Stand on a streetcorner in any francophone city and ask a stranger: where am I? If necessary, pull at shirtsleeves and wave your arms, speak very slowly while pronouncing every phoneme at the utmost decibel level.

I shall be observing you from inside the comfortable vantage point of a nearby bottle of plonk. Do not make eye contact with me or else — sapristi! Garçon, call the police, this crazy-man-anglais-cowboy-streetperson is bothering me!

Words, words, words … if only they had the decency to cover themselves up, like the Bellman & Company. They have no loyalty, they can't be bothered to mean anything anymore, they're shameless!


  1. But since the word on the map is merely a signifier for the idea of "hereness," mustn't one go back to the Magritte well another time for the (clear-as-French) clarification: "Ceci n'est pas ici"?

  2. Yes, you are quite right, ordinarily I would have to qualify the hereness as not-isness but the subject of this week's posting was shamelessness, and the construct you propose would result in "shameness".

    Clear as mud, methinks!