Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Fit Three, Page 19, Panel 2 … my object all sublime, I shall achieve in time, to make the boojum’s fit the crime
"I skip forty years," said the Baker, in tears,
And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.
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 dangerously litigious times for us 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 (finally getting some good reviews in the notoriously anti-Heine NYT) 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 truly inspired and genuinely missed 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.