Monday, July 23, 2012
Who's afraid of Virginia Snark?
He was thoughtful and grave — but the orders he gave
Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried "Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!"
What on earth was the helmsman to do?
Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
When a vessel is, so to speak, "snarked."
Good artists borrow but great artists steal — and never from the merely good artists! I've mercilessly looted the Belgians, French and Italians for the visual furnishings of my GN version of The Hunting of the Snark, so the inspiration for this stanza will have to be purloined from the Germans.
Easier said than done, I soon discovered. Friedrich Nietzsche (The Bonnet-Maker) and Martin Heidegger (The Barrister) refused to countenance my scheme but Karl Marx (The Banker), that preternaturally prescient Protosurrealist, quickly came up with some snappy double-talk to justify my larcenous designs. He pointed out that crime is actually good for the likes of Lewis Carroll and his ilk (double-plus-good, in fact):
"The criminal produces not only crime but also the criminal law; he produces the professor who lectures on this law and even the inevitable textbook … the whole apparatus of the police and criminal justice … also art, literature, novels, even tragic dramas … he (the criminal) gives a new impulse to the productive forces."
That's pretty juicy stuff, so say no more, Karl! Within minutes, my crack team of ninja-idiot-savant-cat-burglar-draftsmen had illicitly purloined and haphazardly reproduced this picture of a giant thumb lusting after his maternal walnut from none other than Max Ernst, the noted German surrealist and an echt bon vivant with the consummate Carrollian taste to die the day before he was born.
Of course, you, the dear reader, may ask: what's this picture got to do with a vessel being snarked in tropical climes? I can only reply: It's a fair cop, guv'nor!
NB. Max Ernst's illustrations for the Snark are dadamax-loplop-good! One may wonder what Lewis Carroll would have made of them, but by using our Protosurrealist critical apparatus we can safely say: yes.