Thursday, March 3, 2011

Purple Snark

NB. Will Schofield's blog, A Journey Round My Skull, is migrating to a new site/layout, 50 Watts. Go! Look! Think … then look some more. It's the best book illustration blog I know of and frankly, it's an essential for professionals and enthused amateurs. Your eyes will thank you.

Yet another visual metaphor rears up on its hind legs to frighten the kiddies wandering in our labyrinthine GN version of The Hunting of the Snark. The Beaver and Butcher’s above-mentioned debilitating monocurricular monomania has put them entirely in my ink-stained hands and I have swiftly reduced them to metallic tokens in a children’s board-game.

Of course, my more logomaniacal readers are fully aware that monomania is the obscure yet potent Ursprung (gesundheit) of that dreaded literary boojum, the cliché, the lexical product of any monomania multiplied by any number of literate chatterboxes. These readers are also aware that the cliché is the final evolutionary goal of all literature, seeing as how all words are essentially clichés designating common experiences and thoughts.

Luckily for us (and Lewis Carroll), the Beaver and Butcher do not read much. Nor do they need to, when one remembers that their Snarkomaniacal minds are furnished with an infinite babelian library of literary clichés to pass the time away with. Which is why, whenever they look about themselves in perplexity, they invariably remark to one another that they are trapped in a Borgesian* labyrinth.

Armed with such potent clichés they can safely wander Mister Carroll’s Snark-Ridden Garden of Forking Paths at all hours of the night. The Boojums of English Nonsense Verse trouble them not, their lack of reality is palpable! Yes, the Beaver and the Butcher can rely upon the succinct verdict of Mr. J.L. Borges upon all such Anglo-Saxon fictioneering, when he cooly remarked of Carroll’s taciturn literary compatriot, the Tlönist Herbert Ashe, that "in (his) life, he suffered from a sense of unreality, as do many Englishmen".

Yes, indeed, Mister Borges, everything is going our way!

* A clichéd epithet which renders any labyrinth instantly inert, lifeless and suitable only for undergraduate textual lobotomies or cannabis-scented dormitory bull sessions. Postgraduate scholars say pshaw to all of the above, they smugly pat themselves on their back for knowing all along that this entire business of words, clichés and texts (ie., Cosa Nostra Literato) is a cunning dodge perpetrated by certain nefaristas to sell ‘em something, such as soap or forks or smiles! The inevitable commodification of literature and language is a subject which makes me yawn politely. Frankly, if you wordsmiths can’t de-mammonify the tools of your trade, that’s your own lookout. I draw pretty pictures for an increasingly penurious and untenable living, and frankly, nothing has changed in that department since Lascaux.

Spare a copper, if you can, guv’nor, for those proto-bohemian artists who labored away in their dank garret-caves, wretchedly coughing like prognathous consumptives while they daubed away at the world’s very first illustrated
Hunting of the Snark. They knew naught of hourly rates nor had they agents to negotiate with the homicidal cave-bears which regularly feasted upon them. Their sole tools were ochre and brush and with these ever so ‘umble means they sketched out the chthonic beginnings, the very aleph as it were, of the mighty labyrinth within which we are still wandering at this very moment …


  1. This is my new favorite post in the blog universe. Aside from reinforcing the extraordinary degree of satirical and paradoxical invention in your illustrative work, it suggests a new exciting idea, that Mahendra Singh may one day illustrate a volume of Borges' short stories. This would indeed be a meeting of two great minds who both use paradoxical metaphors to illustrate the structure of the universe.

  2. Thank you, Martin. Your comments will make a worthy addition to the post-mortem SnarkoBorgesian corpus. Your book about hell ( is probably the finest book ever yet written under the auspices of the Federal Witness Protection Program.