Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe —
But the crew would do nothing but groan.
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 …
NB. A tip o’ the poutine-sodden solar-topee to the Poetry Foundation, who have very kindly furnished their readers with a link to this Snark Hunt. Comix lovers should reciprocate with a look at the Poetry Foundation’s on-going series, The Poem As Comic Strip. It’s an encouraging development in the often overly-commercial world of sequential art and deserves more attention and hopefully, imitation and expansion. Besides, poets are even lower than ink-stained illustrators on the capitalist food-chain, they deserve a respite.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The languid pacing and incongruous imagery of this Fit, exemplified in the cunningly delineated page-spread seen above, is a perfect example of what a recent edition of a certain Canadian newspaper’s Book Review referred to as a "posthumuous collaboration". I must tip the soiled brim of my sauerbraten-stained turban-cum-tuque in genuine respect at the linguistic dexterity of the joining-together-today-in-the-sight-of-god-and-man-of-these-two-words: posthumuous collaboration.
The mind boggles. But afterwards, it resumes its reconsiderations and rereflections. Must it cavil and carp so? Is not a posthumuous collaboration with the dead also the postmortem plagiarism of the dead upon the living? Or perhaps even the prenatal borrowings of the as-yet-unborn intra-reincarnative? In fact, dear reader, may we not say, in truth, that all art is but a posthumuous collaboration with a penurious but talented past, an artists’ community of the not-so-grateful-dead which is willing to overlook our modern deficiencies as long as the check is in the mail?
For too long, certain narrow-minded artists have Canadianized the living and the dead into twin solitudes. Pshaw to all that! As the late, great, Douglas Adams* once noted, life is wasted on the living. It’s high time we frittered away the time and energies of the dead! Tally ho to posthumuous collaboration and the Boojum of Originality!
* Mister Adams was gracious enough to assent to a prior posthumuous collaboration with me, vide Fit One, Page Four, Panel Two. And as nyhav (an occluded 'pataphysician, I suspect) astutely noted earlier, Protosurrealism is in many respects a posthumuous collaboration with Alfred Jarry. However, it shall be noted that Protosurrealism intellectually predates ‘Pataphysics, an anachronistic precaution necessary to create that frisson of uncertainty as to who is colloborating with whom … and who is post- and who is pre-mortem.
NB. I encourage all readers interested in Lewis Carroll to visit and bookmark the newly-launched blog, Let "Universe" Be "Books", a production of the associate editor of the LCSNA's "Knight Letter Journal". Onwards and upwards, with forks and hope!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
But the danger was past — they had landed at last,
With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view,
Which consisted of chasms and crags.
All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely Snark hunters: they have their exits and their entrances; and one Bellman in his time plays many parts, his acts being eight Fits. Today being the feast-day of St. Valentine (patron saint of lovers and apiarists), we have arranged things so that our decahedroid players shall now disembark into a romantic comedy of the sort calculated to warm the cockles of even a Boojum’s heart.
While our snarkistes peek backstage, the action downstage is upstaging them. A painted backdrop of the Desierto Pintado has set the mood. Love is in the air and will soon compel the Mouse pictured at stage-left to propel a fortuitous Brick upon the noggin of the unsuspecting Kat.
But is it true love, ask the critics? Is Mouse + Kat + Brick = Love a suitable proposition for the hardnosed, Gradgrindish theater of today? A Boojum in Surrey … a Brick in Coconino … an allegory of the search for happiness or a quick krease to a Kat’s noggin … the course of true love never did run smooth.
I say pshaw to the critics, the play's the thing! When confronted by such dismal antivalentinians we must follow the sterling example of the sublime Mr. Herriman and summon the local gendarmerie! Offisa Pup, take ‘em away, the l’il dahlinks! Yezzah …
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Another wordless sighting of the HMS Snark, observed tacking ‘round the Bonnet-Maker, whose resemblance to Friedrich Nietzsche borders upon the implausible. But plause we must, nonetheless. After a promising start in hunting Snark on the Continent, Nietzsche was surprised by a Boojum on the streets of Turin* in 1889. The shock was fatal … in his own words …
"Since I am condemned to amuse the coming eternity with bad jokes, I have set up a writing business which actually leaves nothing to be desired … Last autumn I attended, dressed as lightly as possible, my own burial twice … negligé of one’s attire is a pre-requisite of good form … I go everywhere in my student jacket, here and there I tap someone on the shoulder and say : ' Siamo contente? Son dio, ho fatto questa caricatura (Are we happy? I am god, we did this caricature today) . " **
Apart from this, our communal Snark enterprise, to this day no one has ever taken Nietzsche at his final word, preferring instead his earlier, less humorous work. What a brilliant career this Prussian Snark-hunter could have had in the realm of Wilhelminian nonsense literature …
Let this be a lesson to all those who hunt the Snark — some Boojums one will never discover, unless one invents them first!
NB. By habitually linking the words "Friedrich Nietzsche" with the word "Bonnet", I plan to create the germ of the seed of the beginning of a informational non-sequitur (triggered by some unusually google-gullible undergraduate searching for a quick copypasteprint) which will bring western civilization as we know it to its arthritic knees. Après la snarque, le deluge! Cue evil laughter here!
* Empty piazzi, depopulated train stations, the eternally recurring backdrop for our Snark hunt, de Chirico, Hebdomeros, Savinio, Calvino … all the lost and emptied portmanteaux of European protosurrealism.
**Black Letters Unleashed: 300 Years of Enthused Writing in German, Ed. by Malcolm Green, Atlas Press, London, 1989. Do we detect the perfectly light and razor-sharp touch of Robert Walser in these sad lines? Walser … the only genuine heir to Cervantes of the last century (and both of them the definitive book-ends to European literature) … oh, these delicious literary bread-crumbs with which we encrust our Wiener Schnitzel of postpostmodern protosurrealist angst!