Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fit the Fourth, Page 25, Panel 2 … Die kleinsten Schnarken sind die stolzesten

"I said it in Hebrew — I said it in Dutch —
I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
That English is what you speak!"

These headless anapaests of Lewis Carroll rollick onwards in their frolicksome procession and who are we to deny their cantering allure? Of course, the essence of an anapaest is the idea of a reversal and what better expresses the idea of reversal than the dawning realization that one is speaking in a language that no one understands? The unfortunate Baker is quite literally going backwards as the sense of what he says is instantly transformed into nonsense by his puzzled auditors.

Snarkologists call this sort of thing the Snarkosocratic Method, a kind of dialectic in which a question is responded to as though it were absolute nonsense. This in turn forces the questioner to endlessly repeat himself until his uncomprehending auditors gradually lose interest and finally go away.

Left alone in his splendidly impenetrable semiolinguistic Fortress of Solitude, the Baker is now free to concentrate his intellectual powers upon himself. Toying with the building-blocks of language and meaning, he will arrive at some sort of Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in It … eventually …

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