Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fit the Fifth, Page 34, Panel 1 … jubjubs for algernon

“Two added to one — if that could but be done,”
It said, “with one’s fingers and thumbs!”
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
It had taken no pains with its sums.
“The thing can be done,” said the Butcher, “I think.
The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
The best there is time to procure.”

One can say what one likes about Lewis Carroll, one can say what one likes about The Hunting of the Snark, one might even cast aspersions at Carroll’s secretive doppelgänger, C.L. Dodgson, but one cannot say that any of the above ever ignored the intellectual and literary ramifications of what we now call common, garden-variety Stupidity.

The above stanzel is proof positive of all of the above blather, 100-proof positive, I should think, with all its various pictolinguistic bits and pieces denoting a thorough inability on the part of its protagonists to perform even the simplest of arithmetical tasks.

We know that C.L. Dodgson, in his capacity as a maths tutor at Christ Church, had many opportunities to complain to his associate Carroll of the genuine dunderheadedness of most of his pupils. Many of these young scholars, being scions of the British upper classes, abjured all abstract thought whatsoever and devoted themselves instead to the less mentally taxing pastimes of drinking, gambling — and yes! — hunting!

Can we venture to guess that Carroll, sympathizing with and perhaps even assisted by the unlucky Dodgson, undertook an elaborate scheme of passive-aggressive revenge, composing a cunning lampoon which in its essence is nothing more than a verse epic dedicated to the Stupidity of the Hunting Classes, a Victorian Dunciad, so to speak?

We know that the entire Hunting of the Snark is predicated mostly upon the Clochetic Rule-of-Three, a shining example of logical inanity. We know that this poem’s very title admits of two, very opposite meanings: either a hunting for a snark, or rather, a hunting undertaken by a snark! In either case, a nitwittery is produced since the Snark is unreal and thus unavailable for hunting in any sense of the word.

Furthermore, Dodgson’s fellow Oxonian, the inestimable Dr. Johnson, himself noted that no man but a blockhead ever wrote but for money*, a pertinent observation in light of the fact that Carroll wrote all his literary works solely for his and his child-friends’ pleasure.

And so, in the most approved clochetic manner, we will triangulate from all of the above and arrive at the inescapable conclusion that the very Genius of Stupidity thoroughly permeates every phoneme of the Snark! We’ll then fritter all of the above’s wig by quickly dredging it in Jules Renan’s oh-so-Gallic remark that he never understood the concept of infinity until he contemplated the stupidity of the human race, in particular, the blockheaded stubbornness of those sportsmen who persist in chasing an infinitely receding prey!

The result is a infinitely-toasted-cheese sort of thing of utterly mixed metaphors which lets you, dear reader, off a certain hook entirely, for the fact that you have followed this ungainly argument so far is double-plus-proof-positive that you’re a Genuine Smartie and no Thickie at all! Huzzah for good breeding and the finest education that Mummy and Daddy’s pelf can buy, eh?

Now, join with Messers Carroll, Dodgson and myself in a spot of jolly good schadenfreude as we observe the Beaver and Butcher chase after those mysterious semioglyphs of numbers and language which puzzle them so. Ignore their tears, please, pay them no heed for they are but the tears of a clown!

NB. A very grateful tip of the ink-smeared tuque to Salgood Sam, who was gracious enough to include a sample of my Snark in the the first Special Print Edition of Sequential which he produced and distributed at the TCAF. It's available here for a free download and well worth a look, with a superb cover and lots of great art & articles from various Canadian comix wallahs! And while you're at it, bookmark Sequential for all the latest developments in the very happening Canadian comix scene and then take a look at Salgood's blog — how does he draw so much and so well?

*A statement itself proved true by the Clochetic Rule of Three in light of its triple-negative syntax! Darn these pesky liberals and their sin tax!


  1. It may seem the Beaver is slight of hand, but the prestidigitation is but a matter of the patter: The Butcher's invocation of the Rule is the Thing to be done: can + must leads to shall (an arithmetic sequence in letters), and a surreptitious vowel substitution yields con + mist leads to shill.

  2. I think you've outdone yourself this time, Dave! For the benefit of readers who are listening in on the ol' talking-type wireless, I shall describe all of the above as a sterling example of a SHELL game which MOST of us CAN(NOT) hope to follow.

  3. I went to TCAF... if only I'd known about this edition of Sequential, I would have picked up 3 times 3 issues! But even if I knew about it, that doesn't mean I would have found it, since it was more crowded and circuitous than a snarkian labyrinth.

  4. I was unable to attend but the online snapshots show a happening scene. It looked very crowded, which is a good thing, I think. It seems to have been a real feather in the cap for the Canadian comix scene, and deservedly so.

    Today Toronto, tomorrow … well, you know!