Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fit the Sixth, Page 41, Panel 2 … the hills are alive with the sound of snark
The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
In a soft under-current of sound.
If you’ve been assiduously following our nonsensical res publica, The Hunting of the Snark, you might have noticed that there has been a steady accumulation of visual details as the story progresses. Such a gradual amplification of things is what the critics call fritter-my-wig or even what-you-may-call-um and believe me, it’s all the rage in the right sort of literary circles.
However, we ‘umble visual artists, (fixated as always on more alimentary matters) call such an accumulation of visual tchotchkes "chicken fat". The late, great Will Elder coined the term whilst inking a drowned fly into a late night rendering of Harvey Kurtzman’s matzoh-ball soup as a practical joke. After a bit of the usual overheated vaudeville cross-talk-cum-haberule®-brandishing and some soft-shoeing with the Pro-White on Elder’s part, the moniker stuck and generations of artists have been ladling the chicken fat (or even schmalz if it’s germane to the proceedings) into their more soup-like drawings ever since.
All of which is a very convoluted and uselessly byzantine way of saying that you should keep a close eye on the progression of our Snark Hunt for it’s growing ever richer in unsaturated animal lipids such as chicken fat and Martin Heidegger. Naturally, one wonders what Lewis Carroll would have made of all our messing about with his otherwise perfectly normal recipe for a bowl of soup … would he have smacked his lips appreciatively at the our addition of the accurately-besmocked and bestyed pigherder Witnesses demonstrating the swineless vacuity of this comic operetta of a legal farce? Would he have slurped greedily at the tasty bits of the timeless humour of Mister Piggy’s magnum opus hoisted aloft before the proceedings like some sort of philosophical pearls before swine?
Or would Mister Carroll have paused in mid-luncheon, his spoon poised at his lips, and angrily demanded this artist to explain post haste what this other bird, this nonchicken and perhaps even swan-like bird masquerading as a legal bagpipe is doing in our collation of a Snark Hunt?
Alas, for Mr. Carroll and his delicate Victorian sense and sensibilities! This unexpectedly swannish creature is probably the grotesque and unexpected consequence of this artist using second-grade-fresh chicken fat in his cheapster drawings, a fly-by-night chicken fat cunningly adulterated with etymological preservatives of unknown provenance.
Yes, dear reader, this sudden outbreak of swans and bagpipes is no accident, on the contrary, it is a Significant Detail! Curiously, the word "sound", deriving as it does from the Old English word "swan," (properly, the sounding bird) seems to provide a perfect excuse for this artist to wreak further havoc on the entire chicken fat paradigm and perhaps even clear the way for a future swan-fat thing-um-a-jig. Or something along these metaphorically miscegenated lines of reasoning which so bedevil this production of the Snark …
Without error or flaw indeed, eh?
NB. The very talented Tatiana Ianovskaia has just made available on-line here her charming and graceful renditions of Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, they are really worth the price.
In addition, Oleg Lipchenko’s highly detailed and complex version of AIW is coming out shortly from Tundra Books; it is really superior work and also strongly recommended! The Slavic approach to Carroll is so vigorous and incisive; Tatiana and Oleg have approached the same texts with absolutely opposite strategies, and yet each one is accurate, aesthetically cohesive and emotionally satisfying. Perfect Christmas gifts!
… and the equally talented John Coulthart has just produced his 2010 Artist's Calendar, the theme is AIW! Calloo, callay, it's a '60s psychedelic trip and quite well done … he's intimating at the possibility of more Carrollian work, whether calendars or something more substantial remains to be seen.