Monday, October 10, 2011

Fit 7, pg. 71/2 … Snark-Train Spotting

THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK by Lewis Carroll, a graphic novel by this artist and explained here, page by page, panel by panel, squiggle by squiggle … right now we're in Fit the Seventh … the Banker, played by Karl Marx, will soon discover that a certain pesky specter haunting Europe is none other than the dreaded Hindustani Bandersnatch!

Attentive readers (shut-ins, penitentiary inmates, nursing home loafers, etc.) will have noticed by now that these last four panels share a common motif: a miniature train packed to bursting with all 1o of our Snark Hunting B-Boyz.

This is not an accident, this is what literary critics call a TRANSITIONAL MOTIF. You see, this illustrator needed to solve the problem of bridging two entirely different Fits; Fit the Sixth, which was set in a vaguely Gilbert & Sullivanesque inflected version of Pepperland and Fit the Seventh, which will eventually disembark into the British Raj of the Old Delhi Railway Station.

Lesser illustrators would have simply hired a charabanc or a palanquin or even a scooter rickshaw to schlepp their characters from one scene to another but this illustrator is made of sterner (and cheaper) stuff. In fact, if there's anything which makes this illustrator wax extra-wroth, it's the all-too-common phenomenon of artists choosing vague or irrelevant symbology to bind their pictures to their words. Just as the punishment must fit the crime, so must the conveyance fit the time!

Well-oiled Carrollians will sigh with appreciation at all of the above, for they are well aware that the Great One, Lewis Carroll, was fond of playing at trains in his youth, so much so that his undeservedly obscure puppet play, La Guida di Bragia, is set in a train station and features two station masters whose resemblance in manner & bearing to Vladimir and Estragon cannot be coincidental …

But more to the point, the very first time that the name of Lewis Carroll ever appeared in print was in a magazine entitled The Train. It was with that small poem, "Solitude", that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (prompted by the editor Edmund Yates) hit upon the happy device of latinizing his name into Lewis Carroll. The year was 1853 and curiously enough, (1+8+5)x3=42 … and as all Carrollians know, the number 42 is the cabalistic key to the entire Snarkian Multiverse. And you thought I was making it all up as I went along, didn't you, admit it! Ha!

Of course, there are some other, equally pesky readers who are asking: from whence come these urbanite, minaret-and-souk-bedecked camels seen in the above picture? Is this another example of the dreaded Orientalism run amuck?

Perhaps it is, but I must also draw such readers' attention to the fact that from the Oriental point of view of the unseen inhabitants of these Camel-Cities, a point of view blighted by the sudden appearance of a steam-locomotive with various Victorian gentlemen aboard it, it's a case of the dreaded Occidentalism run amuck.

Occidentalism is the persistent belief shared by many Orientals that the West is crammed to the gills with purring, blonde sex kittens, gun-wielding Christian mullahs and shamelessly easy credit.

If only, huh?

Next week: More of the same with winds light to variable.

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