Wednesday, April 14, 2010

With forks and hope, my dear Glaucon …

The final, still anonymous, member of the Fellowship of the Snark, the mysterious Number Ten, is on the edge of the verge of probably taking a stand of some sort on actually appearing …

We see Number Ten in the above nautical-though-nice bit of ink-stained gallimaufry. We see him in a better light, that light for which one does not lack when heaven guides the way. If one were to see Number Ten in a philosophical light, one might say that he carries about him a certain Platonic air, a mystical faith in a universal flashlight which he carries about with himself wherever he goes and which enlightens his path in even the darkest caves of the human mind.

It is this mental flashlight which provides him with the aplomb necessary to navigate through the thickets of hyenas and bears in which he finds himself today. Note also that he smiles at his tormentors, a Mona Lisa sort of smile which says to his would-be tormentors: I know that you are not real, that you are merely shadows of a Higher Hyena and Bigger Bear.

The ursine fellow to Number Ten’s left
is a Gradgrindish sort of fellow, well-schooled in the Facts of Life with a scholastic air about him, Aristotelian even, for he seems to have no need for invisible flashlights (or torches, as LC would say); he relies instead upon Facts and a certain notorious book he carries about with him, not for idle speculation but for assaulting lesser-minded weaklings such as Number Ten with.

At their feet we see a personage in the guise of a drawing of a hyena taken from a xerox of a photograph of Heraclitus copied from a painting of a second-hand redaction of the life of Michelangelo as told to Vasari. This reflective beast is lounging pool-side, consumed with doubt lest he be unable to bathe in the same waters twice.

It also appears as if he is consumed with a petty jealousy over the excellent design of the panel in which he finds himself depicted, a panel which demonstrates the wisdom of obtaining one's artistic training at a qualified and accredited institute of higher learning, a precaution which this hyenaic gentleman's rival, the infamous Raphael (not shown here) attended to by graduating cum laude from the Roman campus of the School of Athens.

Genuinely hyperactive readers will also note that Number Ten’s resemblance to both Lewis Carroll and Plato (who had only one name, like Prince or Sting, so don’t get your hopes up) makes a fitting gloss upon the observation that "his form is ungainly — his intellect small." This reference to Platonic Forms on Carroll’s part is another obvious homage to the Father of Nonsense, Plato.

It’s fashionable in certain pointy-headed circles to call all Western philosophy merely footnotes to Plato but we are made of sterner stuff here at The Hunting of the Snark. We prefer instead to footnote the grand corpus of Western Nonsense with Plato; it seems more fitting somehow to honor thus the memory of a man who, despite having only one name himself, found a dizzying multiplicity of names for a dizzying multiplicity of things which did not actually exist; a situation remarkably similar to that of Lewis Carroll!

Of course, Plato’s nonsense is all Greek to us, we prefer our Nonsense taken neat in Demotic English, with our feet up on the fender, as they say in Oxbridge.

NB. The Michael McNeff film version of The Hunting of the Snark continues to pop up, like a pixillated Jubjub, around the Internet. Here are some more stills from the webpage of June Suepunpuck, a costume designer on the film. Doug Howick & Byron Sewell recently pointed out that a member of the crew seems missing and judging from these photos, it’s the Butcher. No doubt he has been conveyed in a separate film. If anyone has further information on the film and/or Michael McNeff, feel free to contact me.

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