Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jai snark!

It’s all very fine and well reading Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark in the comfort of your favorite overstuffed charpoy before a roaring fire, an overstuffed tumbler of roaring brandy at your ready disposal, perhaps even your faithful Assamese nautch girl parked at your slippered feet. Oh yes, you feel quite cozy and secure, idly turning the pages, chuckling wryly at some particularly droll anapaest, perhaps even lingering upon a picture … perhaps even the very picture we see above …

Hmm, you say to yourself, as your Assamese nautch girl adroitly pushes aside your fashionably retrograde moustache to slip another morsel of Snark curry between your lips and then resumes her languid, opium-scented contortions of enigmatic Oriental purpose; yes, hmm, you say, what’s all this then, eh?

Well, it’s a fair cop! Speaking for myself, the proprietor of the above-mentioned assemblage of dots, squiggles and lines, I can assure you that it means quite a good deal — to the Beaver and the Butcher, the poor things!

Oh yes, you can cultivate all the insouciance you like, go ahead — it probably suits you! Be a mocky mocker and make light of their cheap second-hand Victorian hand-me-down clothes and their penchant for overwrought music-hall histrionics!

Tell ‘em that it’s all in their head, tell ‘em that it’s just a cheap bit of sleight of hand from some hopelessly fusty and uncool Victorian parlor game, that’s a good start! You could also poke a stick in the eye of Mr. Carroll’s scream-cum-shuddering-sky trope. Are not the honest, simple fear-mongering kennings of Ye Olde English Nonsense Verse good enough for Mister Carroll anymore? Good lord, man, leave the trisyllabic, sibilant-ridden adjectives of doom to Paul Bowles and his ilk, eschew all this shuddering and sheltering sky crosstalk before someone gets hurt!

Yes, you could say all that and even more but at that very moment, in an unexpected and stormy manner reminiscent of last season’s cliffhanger installment of the Book of Genesis, the rightful owner of the charpoy that you have parked yourself upon has appeared to reclaim his rightful place! An instant later, your Assamese nautch girl and you are precipitiously ejected from the premises, shame-faced perhaps, feeling a bit pale and queer even, as you should be!

Perhaps now you could favor us with a little scream, something redolent of a frightened Snark Hunter caught cucumberless in the salad season? Please try to make it as high and shrill as possible, this is your long overdue Expulsion From Paradise and we must keep up appearances!


  1. I've been enjoying this blog immensely. But I've been wondering about the recurrent Assam theme: is there some connection between Carroll and Assam? (Tea? Hill stations?)

    [Helen, by the way, I believe is actually Anglo-Burmese.]

  2. Thank you, Be-Slayed. The Assamese theme is so easily explained -- my lovely wife is Assamese!

    In my Snark,I stuffed in pretty much everything I've read or looked at at for several decades. Everything is grist for this Carrollian mill, to heck with relevance!

    And thanks for enlightening me on Helen. That makes her a semi-Assamese reference, I hope, and thus equally relevant!

  3. It may be sleight of hand, but it's firm of grasp.

    Stuffed snark? Another recipe? Oh, I see, you stuff it with Boo—

  4. Yes, Dave. And the extra jum goes very nicely with toast and tea for tiffin.

    BTW, Be-Slayed, your steampunkish blog is quite interesting. This business of constructing computers inside VR is fascinating. The Snarkian implications are mind-blowing. Anyway, better get back to inking more navels on Helen.

  5. Thanks, mahendra singh.

    The Assam connection is explained - I was just wondering about it - I have a special place in my heart for Assam: not only do they produce one of my favourite beverages, but I lived for some time in - and got married in - Assam's old capital (and my wife is 1/4 Assamese).

  6. Curiouser & curiouser! A Shillong wallah! Do you know anywhere in North America to get authentic Assamese cooking ingredients? I forget the name of one item, my wife is always craving it, a kind of hibiscus flower, but it's NOT sorrel, the Jamaican version.

    I have to say that I love Assamese cooking, much easier on my abused stomach. And yes, the tea is very good but hard to get genuinely good samples in Montreal. I hoard my small stash jealously.

    Send me your email add, if you like. I have some questions about this Minecraft-embedding-computers business, it intrigues me greatly.