Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The Preface and Fits One and Two in their entirety … that he was born it cannot be denied, he ate, drank, talked snark & died
My Hunting of the Snark as it exists so far — the Preface and Fits 1 and 2 — can now be downloaded in an easy-to-read PDF here.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch …
Whenever asked what the Snark meant, Lewis Carroll always replied : I don’t know*. Huzzah for these cheeky Victorians and their tautological transparencies in which the meaning is the meaning, they never cease to baffle the small-minded and delight the light-hearted! But I digress …
Should we ask the Snark what Lewis Carroll meant? The Snark’s reply is, of course, the entire text of The Hunting of the Snark, excluding the Preface. Since the Snark and Carroll are ultimately the same, the Carrollian answer of one word and the Snarkian answer of 5,065 words are ultimately equivalent, an astonishing feat of commutative compression and expansion!
This business of looking into the wrong end of the telescope is the essential premise of protosurrealism, that obscure school of art which has been previously defined here as the 21st-century application of 19th-century answers to 20th-century problems. The protosurrealist telescopes his postmodern Surrealist past into the Victorian intellectual’s expected future, and as his past becomes his future, his nostalgia becomes his anticipation! Nothing is wasted!
The excellent and truly well-read nnyhav has rightfully pointed out the similarities between protosurrealism and ‘pataphysics. The difference lies in purpose : the latter was a strategy of defiance towards the pre-War culture of Europe and a precursor of Surrealism, the former is exactly the same things but 100 years too late.
Protosurrealism, like Pierre Menard writing Don Quixote, has no history or future, it’s always now and its now is always then. For this poor Snark whose very purpose in life was unknown to his creator, what better habitat for him than the pre-anachronism of protosurrealism? At last, the Snark will have a refuge where he can dwell on his comforting memories of the future and look forward to the past he will never have.
* I might reply that the Snark means : 'Pataphysics, Adlocutio, Alberto Savinio, Alexandra Xie Kitchin, Alfred Jarry, Andrei Vyshinsky, Aristotle, Arnold Bocklin, Assamese Curry, Atlas Press, Augustus Caesar, Bathing Machines, Benjamin Péret, Blaise Pascal, Boojum Tree, Book of Revelations, Buddhist Stupas, Carl Reiner, Charles Dodgson, Clochetic Rule of Three, Coconino County, Comte de Lautrémont, Constantin Brancusi, Dante Alighieri, Dora Maar, Douglas Adams, Easter Island Moias, Edgar Allan Poe , Edouard Manet, Eileen Agar, Elmer Fudd, Epistemology, Eric Satie, Etymology, Eugène Delacroix, Exquisite Corpse, Flann O'Brien, French Language, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Herriman, George Orwell, Gilbert and Sullivan, Gin-Driven Ink-Pens, Giorgio de Chirico, Golden Eagle Beer, Goon Show, Gustave Flaubert, Hans and Jean Arp, Hans Bellmer, Henri Michaux, Henry Holiday, Heraclitus, Heinz Edelmann, Hieronymus Bosch, His Master's Voice, Igor Stravinsky, Italo Calvino, Jacques-Louis David, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Jean Benoît, Joseph Bonnet, Joseph Welch, Juan Miro, Karl Marx, Kiki de Monparnasse, Krazy Kat, La Guida di Bragia, Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Byron, Louis Aragon, Récamier, Man Ray, Mark Antony, Martin Heidegger, Matthias Grünewald, Max Ernst, Mel Brooks, Michelangelo, Nautch Girls, Nectarines, Old Scratch, Omnium, Orientalism, Oscar Dominguez, Paranoaic-Critical Method, Peter Greenaway, Piero di Cosimo, Plato, Poutine, Procris, Protosurrealism, Père Ubu, Railway Surrealism (Anglo-Italianate), Raphael, Raymond Roussel, René Magritte, Robert Walser, Salvador Dali, Scholasticism, Sebastian Brant, Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, Sir Alma-Tadema, Sir John Tenniel, Socrates, Stephane Mallarmé, Sylvie and Bruno, The Globe and Mail, The Isle of the Dead, The Line of Beauty, The Number 42, The Rake’s Progress, The School of Athens, The Ship of Fools, The Snark as an Ontological Argument for a Godless Universe, The Temptation of St. Anthony, The Third Policeman, The Yellow Submarine, Théodore Géricault, Turin, Une Semaine de Bonté, V.I. Lenin, Valentine's Day, Vincent van Gogh, W.H. Auden, Walt Whitman, William Hogarth, Witold Gombrowicz and Yves Tanguy.
Some readers may call all of the above just logorrheiac-name-droppings rife with an surfeit of posthumous collaborations (AKA plagiarisms), shot through and through with half-truths, quarter-truths, and even eighth-truths and of course (my personal favorite as an independently impoverished artist), a brazen contempt for the clearly stated wishes of the hapless author, expressed by indulging in a particularly vicious (and Flaubertian) brand of semiotic and typological miscegenation hitherto only seen in the utterly depraved final days of the Roman Empire!
But you can’t say that because I said it first and now I got dibs on it! Plus, all those big words — they could put your eye out!