Monday, July 11, 2011

Fit 6, Pg. 66/2 … Snark Rashomon!



THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK by Lewis Carroll, a graphic novel by this artist and explained here, page by page, panel by panel … right now we're in Fit the Sixth, where the Barrister (played by Martin Heidegger) is dreaming of prosecuting a pig …

If you've ever had the pleasure of a boozy, slobbering confabulation with a magistrate or judge in mufti, you'll know that they're well equipped to sum things up, no matter the circs. Of course, the present situation is rather mind-taxing for even the keenest legal mind and in such cases a quick supplementary evidence-collecting trip to the corner liquor store is indicated. Snappy legal thinkery is best done with one's mind defragmented by pure, wholesome gin and tonic substances and milord agrees whole-heartedly.

Since these legal proceedings occur entirely inside the mind of the dreaming Barrister, all the characters involved are depicted with the Barrister's features, all of 'em, judge, jury, witnesses, the whole gang. And since the dreaming Barrister is played here by Martin Heidegger, we have a superfluity of Heideggers to contend with.

Tossing a martini olive at our idly gyrating Assamese nautch girl-cum-paralegal, we delve deeper into the facts of this case. How does one sum up a case in which everyone involved is indistinguishable? It makes one's head ache, just thinking through the metaphysical ramifications, the layers of boozy double-think involved in sifting through evidence and testimony which is all of it, a priori, stemming from the same person multiplied twenty-fold.

Ergo, all the facts in this trial are equivalent and hence, ultimately identical. If one sums up all the perfectly identical elements of a closed set, one is left with the overwhelming impression of having created a logical, spinning, looping thing-um-a-jig, rather like bed-spin after a particularly boisterous judicial Saturday night. This is because the summing up is being done by one of the very elements being summed up.

College-educated bar-maids and nautch-girls call this "recursion" and it's always been the secret tipple of the Great One, Lewis Carroll. He considered it to be the lime juice in the gin of logic and metaphysics and liberally doused all of his Nonsense works with it.

In any case, to sum up the summing up, the judge in this case deferred to the Snark because the latter was (and is) a creature of pure Nonsense, and hence, a thing of undiluted 100-proof recursive purity.

And the above drawing shows that the Snark has acted with Gordian decisiveness — by cheating! His gnarly finger tips the scales of justice ever so slightly towards his porcine defendant and leaves us all with the customary bad taste of purchased justice in one's mouth.

It's a heady tipple, this Nonsense vintage we call The Hunting of the Snark and best left to professionals like judges, illustrators and poets!