Monday, July 30, 2012

The French Lieutenant's Snark

"For the Snark’s a peculiar creature, that won’t
Be caught in a commonplace way.
Do all that you know, and try all that you don’t:
Not a chance must be wasted to-day!

Our favorite poet and Eminent Victorian Lewis Carroll has given us the late 19th-century equivalent of certain ubiquitious American psychobabbitries : do all that you know and try all that you don’t.

A peculiar prescription for a peculiar creature, a call of sorts to a half-hearted High Anglican Debauchery aimed at the titillation of the thinking classes. And what titillates the thinking (and unthinking) classes the very most? What is it they dream of, with their eyes wide shut … is it the Female of the Species?

Most likely. And shame on ‘em too, boo hiss boo! Objectifying women with their shameless gaze! These Surrealists, they are a menace to polite society in every city and a blight upon the land in every which way.

They are utterly unlike the respectable, petit-bourgeois Protosurrealist Snark-Hunters whom we see above, scrupulously averting their reifying gaze from La Snarque Nue concealed from them in my forest of lines. Would it surprise you to learn that I have entirely drawn the above with my eyes also firmly shut, trusting only in the animal-instincts of my feral pen to guide me safely through the labyrinth of lines in which the Snark has so cunningly concealed herself?

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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Snark Day, Wanda June

"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavour of Will-o-the-wisp.

The question of the Snark’s flavor has exercised the minds and palates of the cognoscenti for many years. However, I am possessed of an indolent nature and prone to fits of take-out, such questions matter not a whit to me. The uncooked flesh of the Snark was sufficient for our more distant ancestors but today’s effete gastronomes must have their Snark curried, tandoori grilled or even minced into seekh kebabs — but never boiled à la anglaise (the hollowness vanishes and leaves behind a residue redolent of a fleet of bathing machines saturated in warm, flat beer). 
To properly honor this Wednesday's Snark Day, the 138th anniversary of the genesis of the Hunting of the Snark, here's a traditional Assamese recipe for cooking Snark. Please try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Genuine Assamese Snark Curry
Mix the following together:
1 kilo of Snark meat, cubed (if no Snark is to be had, use beef, goat or lamb, preferably with bones)
6 medium onions, minced
small head of garlic, minced
an inch of fresh ginger, grated
tablespoon of turmeric
one cinnamon stick
one cup of oil
tablespoon of salt
• a sufficient amount of genuinely hot green chilis, slit
• if you wish to "Indianize" this curry, also add a tablespoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon of ground coriander and a tablespoon of garam masala. This might be preferable for those who are accustomed to the somewhat ubiquitious flavors of Northern Indian cuisine and enjoy a certain familiarity in their curry. However, the authentic Assamese version has a delicious simplicity which is worth trying!

Mix and let sit overnight. Cook on low heat, with the lid on and stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add one cup of water, bring to boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. The curry should finish up with a thick gravy, not at all runny. Cook for about 90 minutes or until meat is tender. Taste for salt, etc. The curry can be garnished with ghee and/or tamarind water. If beef, lamb or goat meat was used, serve with rice, vegetables and dahl.

However, if you used Snark, serve with greens, using forks and hope. Wash it all down with copious amounts of Golden Eagle beer and the stimulating gyrations of two dissipated nautch girls named Anna and Paisa. What ho, memsahibs!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Bellman Always Rings Thrice

"We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
(Four weeks to the month you may mark),

But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)

Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

There are those who might quibble and look askance at my rather ideologically vacant interpretation of this stanza. Yes, it is a trifle irrelevant … perhaps even mendacious to illustrate a purported lack of Snarks with a veritable indefectibility of Snarks. The concerned reader might well ask : by whose leave do you have artistic license to mangle the words of Lewis Carroll so? Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

The eminent Oxford don and man-about-town, Charles Dodgson, was probably the only person who could genuinely claim to be intimate with Lewis Carroll. Mr. Dodgson had this to say about the so-called sanctity of Carrollian texts, their meaning and interpretation:

... I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, "Let it be understood that by the word black I shall always mean white, and that by the word white I shall always mean black," I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.

Well, that’s pretty much QED, I should think. Simply substitute the word "illustrator" for "writer"; it’s a mere indefectibility of semantic and orthographic difference and expressly allowed for by the above-mentioned axiom. In fact, upon further reflection, we can see that the vast bulk of modern art, philosophy, politics and commerce is based upon Dodgson’s diabolically simple postulate.

So stop fussing over these drawings and rest a spell under the ole Boojum tree with me. Goshdarned wordpeople, always making trouble for poor picturefolk …

Monday, July 2, 2012

East o' the Sun and West o' the Snark!

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,

Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,

That the ship would not travel due West!

And so, even the least of the Bellman's hopes shall be occidentally disoriented. What wind blew you hither, noble Bellman? Not the ill wind which blows no man to good. Nor that wind which is winding the watch of your wit; so that by and by it will strike.

I think this wind is what the learned scholastic Flann O'Brien would call the ultimate and inexorable and supreme pancake at the back of the whole shooting match, ie., omnium. And what is this omnium of this wind that we hear so much of on the tellyvision? It is the essential, inherent, interior essence which is hidden inside the root of the kernel of everything and it is always the same. The bane of Boojum and Bellmen alike, the curse of the drinking classes, this here omnium-wind is the wind of an indefinite divisibility.