Monday, February 25, 2013

Through a scanner, snarkly

“The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety and Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
Exactly and perfectly true.

This baffling stanzel of The Hunting of the Snark (known to Continental snarkologists as the Pons Asinorum) presents the illustrator of all things Lewis Carrollian with a genuine head-scratcher.

Unlike some illustrators who invariably resort to a stylistic and conceptual flight behind the faux-ironic concealment of an adorably semi-infantile aesthetic when confronted by any text more complex than, let us say, the plot précis of a sharp blow to the head, this illustrator (pauses to take a deep breath and a swift gulp of the restorative gin gimlet splashed upon him by the nubile Assamese hootch-kootchie girl languishing pool-side at his every beck and call), this illustrator likes to give his public some honest value for their hard-earned money.

And since this entire mighty enterprise which I call The Hunting of the Snark is offered to you through the good offices of Melville House Publishing and Editions Seghers, one would expect a certain modicum of cognitive consonance in these drawings. And yet … of cognition, there is none. And as for consonance — begone! Enter … Nonsense!

Indeed, the jig is up and I'll raise high my gin gimlet in a cheerful acknowledgment of the utterly baldfaced cheekiness of the above illustration. It’s all hokum, every last bit of it. Lewis Carroll has clearly described some sort of mathematical thingum-a-jig and all I’ve come up with is a hazy, second-hand memory of an obscure Magritte semiopictulum of Edward James going through a looking glass and finding that the more you turn around to face oneself, the more you must turn one’s back on all that. Or something like that. Mirrors and mathematics alike give me a headache with their slavish devotion to reality and all that sort of thing, each claiming to demonstrate only that which is perfectly and exactly true.

The creepily eagle-eyed reader will notice that a copy of E.A. Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is lurking in Magritte’s painting, a novel which this author boldly and a bit drunkenly asserts to be the Great American Novel. Take that, you big fat white whale! And if this opinion does not please you, sirrah, my Assamese spitfire is perfectly willing to fight you upon any terms you please!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Night of the Snark Hunter

“Taking Three as the subject to reason about —
A convenient number to state—
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

This is not a medically approved mathematical operation …

This is not an insight into the Essence of the Number Three …

This is not the Royal Road to 19840 …

This is not a comment upon the intractable unreality of all Numbers …

This is not a jaded Christ Church don’s comment upon the futility of impressing the intractable unreality of all Numbers upon his all-too-real thickheaded students …

This is not a jaded Montreal illustrator’s comment upon the futility of impressing his long-suffering wife with yet another impecunious display of his useless facility in mimicking the Victorian wood engraving style …

This is not an image of an image which is not what it seems to be …

This is not the sort of thing which the general public has come to expect, thank god …

This is not the unexpected work of a far better artist …

This is not a clue to the fabled and elusive meaning of The Hunting of the Snark, for this is not clairvoyance.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn snark

Chers lecteurs, je suis ravi de vous annoncer 
la parution de mon BD, La Chasse au Snark — en français!  
Grâce aux Editions Seghers, la traduction par Louis Aragon s'image avec des rêves les plus ravissantes que l'argent peut acheter … et enfin, le nonsense anglais sera le non-sens français avec mes dessins surréalistes, anachroniques et sémiotiques. 
Le non-sense classique, la poésie la plus parfaite de Lewis Carroll, peut-etre la seule épopée victorienne … ma chasse au snark en BD, la graine obscure que nous fournit la moisson surréaliste!
Quelle bonheur pour les chasseurs galliques au snark (britannique!) … disponible á Seghers ou Amazon.

So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
Which the Beaver could well understand.

It’s not often that one finds Lewis Carroll, St. Anthony the Great, Hieronymus Bosch and the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson mentioned in the very same breath but such are the rarified quiddities of this inkster’s inspiration.

The Butcher is shown here writing a footnote, two of ‘em since he’s ambipedextrous, an affectation rampant amongst Liberians and Americans, both of whom share an affinity for feet over meters, the rascals! One of the most prodigal of these American meterphobes was the journalist, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who gained a considerable notoriety for "explaining it all in a popular style" to an otherwise unsuspecting American public.

Thompson’s most notorious national apologia was the jeremiad, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which detailed (in an autohagio-cum-psychedelic style known as gonzo) his quest for spiritual enlightenment in the nearest available desert. Having no recourse to any secluded grottos, Thompson pursued his ascetic devotions in the general direction of Las Vegas with astonishing success, and like St. Anthony, he quickly attracted quite an entourage of devilish phantoms in a variety of tormenting styles and sizes.

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert … suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming, 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?'"

The well-gargled Flemish painter, Hieronymus Bosch, whilst under the influence of an anachronistic plagiarism, had already worked up a police identification sketch of some of Thompson’s assailants, of which I have made the above drawing of a fax of a snapshot of a xerox. This startling image of a group of out-of-town snarkhunters taking in Wayne Newton and the lobster special at Circus Circus bears an eerie and uncanny resemblance to both the turgid cerebral froth of Messers Anthony, Bosch and Thompson, Esq., and a certain little stanza of The Hunting of the Snark which we’ve been seeing far too much of around here lately!

As your attorney, dear readers, I advise you to avoid eye contact with all these suspect, hallucinatory inhabitants of weirdo drawings brandishing their trippy, second-hand anapaests and uncomfortably reminding us that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. We are but amateurs of the Snark, you and I, and as such, cuddly little fluffy things ill-suited to the rigors of modern life and all that other mental stuff.