Monday, February 20, 2012

There's a snark in my Lion!

I was planning a double-header for this week, a nice bit of fresh Snark commentary and also an update on the NYU Poetry/Comix discussion that I participated in last Friday … the latter event was a lot of fun and the other poets were very interesting & talented & energetic young people, I have much to say upon the entire topic … except for the fact that I've returned home to discover that my 2-month old Macbook Pro now likes to take 24 hours to boot up … it's running now but I'm waiting for an external HD to arrive so I can wipe and re-install and/or take it to Apple … if any mac techies are reading this and have some opinions on why Lion is so funky (it's been buggy for a while with slow boots & lots of privilege/permissions problems), feel free to email me …

Meanwhile, here's a re-run from the Snark files …

The frontispiece to Fit the Fifth, Commentary Number One:

1. It's not a hunting of a snark, where the snark is the object of the chase … no, it's a hunting undertaken by the snark. This simple grammatical confusion is an object lesson in prosodic clarity for those who care about such things.

The Butcher and the Beaver are beyond that sort of thing by now. They're into a sort of kinky ecclesiastical cosplay based upon the works of Hieronymous Bosch and James Tissot. Best not get too close to either of them or you might lessen …

The frontispiece to Fit the Fifth, Commentary Number Two:

2. After all that hellish ruckus in the infernal Malbowge of Fit the Fourth (sorcerers, falsifiers, circus folk and magazine publishers), we shall now ascend ad astra, as it were, to the quieter purlieus of Fit the Fifth. This canto, the longest Fit of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark, is known amongst illustrators as the Purgatorial Fit, for its immense length requires the consumption of vast quantities of cheap whiskey and hot curries to keep up one’s strength.

Of course, in former times, illustrators such as myself needed no such artificial stimulants to come up with the goods. Employed as we usually were in the embellishment of manuscripts by various monastic establishments, we busied ourselves with the production of all manner of fantastical and grotesque creatures in our spare time. These bizarre critters, sometimes called grylli, were invented by Antiphilos the Egyptian, according to Pliny the Elder, and they proved very handy indeed in the spicing up of what was otherwise a pretty dull sort of life in your typical 12th-century scriborium. However, the grylli soon escaped from their cages and ran amuck, as such artificial creations always do, hooting loudly while drunk on the front lawns of right-thinking folk such as St. Bernard, who had this to say to the cops later on …

"What are these ridiculous monstrosities doing in the cloisters where monks pray and study? To what purpose are these unclean apes, fierce lions, these half men … quadrupeds with a dragon’s tail … a dragon with a quadruped’s tail … a horse ending as a goat … a horned animal ending as a horse."

What purpose indeed! Let’s ask this typologically portmanteau-ish gentleman that we see pictured above, sitting on his rock and minding his own business, let’s ask him what he thinks of these oddly unreal grotesqueries that are popping in and out of Nowhere (or Unwhere, to be precise) to trouble his devotional contemplations.

Is he St. Anthony, possessing the legendary self-control of the Father of Monasticism, and thus ultimately indifferent to these sensory diversions, dismissing them as Satan’s spurious blandishments and threats? Or is he the Butcher, possessing no discernable cerebral aptitude at all and thus ultimately indifferent to these sensory diversions, dismissing them as the Beaver’s feminine blandishments and threats?

Yes, for some time now, we have suspected the Beaver of having little enthusiasm for hunting the Snark. It seems more and more evident that her function is that of a clumsy sort of romantic distraction, a distraction designed by a certain someone who wishes us to relax our vigilance and our powers of concentration — but to no avail, dear reader, for our watchword remains Snark!

Yes, it’s Snark that we are really hunting here, it’s Snarks and Boojums and all the other imaginary paraphenalia of idle illustrators, sensorily-deprived Early Christian anchorites and versifying Oxford dons! This is the Beaver’s Lesson to the Butcher!

It was a Snark that St. Anthony was hunting in the Antiphilian Egyptian Desert, it was a Snark that St. Bernard banished from the overheated monastic bullpens of the Middle Ages, and yes, it was a Snark that slapped a funnel atop its head and blustered his way into Hieronymus Bosch’s studio by claiming to be a Gov’ment Man hunting down an escaped gryllus.

The cheek! The nerve! I cannot countenance her any longer, yes, away with this Beaver’s Lesson, yes, get thee back to a punnery!

Of course, what is the snark hunting? She's hunting for readers, of course! As they lessen

NB. Flout 'em and scout 'em, and snark 'em and ink 'em; thought is free.


  1. After many years of wrestling with proprietary operating systems, I've found the best solution is to use Linux (of which there are lots of flavours, my favourite being Bodhi [only in part because of the name]).

    The nice thing is that one can install Linux alongside of existing operating systems, so you can have MacOS and one (or more) Linuxen occupy the same machine.

  2. so, you would install them on different partitions of the same HD? I'm really fed up with Apple (and Lion) … about a month ago it began spontaneously denying permission to various files (single user machine) plus very slow boot-ups, I did some disc utility stuff but I think a wipe & re-install is in order, after I get the external HD I ordered.

    Apple has completely forgotten the needs of the working professionals whose custom kept the company solvent through the lean years

    thanks for the tip!

  3. Yes about different partitions of same HD - but the installation software for many Linux distributions is usually pretty good about handling such things automatically though.

    As always, back up any important files before doing this sort of thing though.

    I really like the customisability of Linux myself, so that's pretty much all I use. And one always can tell control of the system (which isn't always/often the case for other OSes).

    But you can always switch between various OSes -- so you can keep MacOS for whatever you need MacOS for, and have Linux as well for times when you just want things to work.

    (I think Apple was once an interesting company, but, as far as I can tell, they've become rather like Microsoft more recently.)

  4. thanks, this is pretty interesting. Now, if I can just find the time for all this, it's hard in the midst of a fast-paced workflow.

    Yes, Apple is the new Microsoft. Everything new is old again …

  5. That should have said "...*take* control of the system"

    Anyway, one thing you can do is download a "Live CD", which you can then boot off of to try out the distribution, and, then, if you want to, install that distribution off of the CD later on.

    There are heaps and heaps of Linux distributions, your best bets are probably either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux, since both of those are really easy to install. My favourite, as I said, is Bodhi Linux (the only distribution I know of which has a Sanskrit name), because it uses the really lean and really aesthetically-pleasing Enlightenment desktop environment/GUI.

  6. I'll probably try this later on in the summer after I finish seversal long-term jobs … it's depressing, how uselessly complex Apple has made things, just to satisfy the gossiping needs of idle teenagers. Bodhi sounds … timelessly free of digital samsara. BTW, I have a very nice kukri also, but in storage on our farm. They are excellent for farm work ;)

  7. Since 2000 I was a Linux "distro hopper", that is, I used all kinds of Linux dustributions. Since 2009 I stick to three distros: Arch Linux for myself and for my wife, Linux Mint on my parents' computers and KNOPPIX as a portable system on a memory stick. Bodhi Linux looks interesting. But if you want to try Linux as a beginner, I recommend Linux Mint (with GNOME desktop).

  8. As for slow booting, this can be a hardware issue. Once my company laptop got slow and needed to be slapped (no kidding) frequently, because the head positioning in the hard disk drive got stuck quite often. When I backed the HD up to an external storage, slapping it for hours didn't seem to be a good idea. So I took it home and placed it on the washing machine in order to shake it a bit during the back up. Maybe your computer needs that too before your data vanish softly and suddenly ;-)

  9. thanks, Goetz … I am going to install Linux later in the summer when I have less work. The new Mac Lion OS is not for professional workflows … its for teenagers.