Monday, March 17, 2014
God is dead but the Snark's doing OK
Another wordless sighting of the HMS Snark, observed tacking ‘round the Bonnet-Maker, whose resemblance to Friedrich Nietzsche borders upon the implausible. But plause we must, nonetheless. After a promising start in hunting Snark on the Continent, Nietzsche was surprised by a Boojum on the streets of Turin* in 1889. The shock was fatal … in his own words …
"Since I am condemned to amuse the coming eternity with bad jokes, I have set up a writing business which actually leaves nothing to be desired … Last autumn I attended, dressed as lightly as possible, my own burial twice … negligé of one’s attire is a pre-requisite of good form … I go everywhere in my student jacket, here and there I tap someone on the shoulder and say : ' Siamo contente? Son dio, ho fatto questa caricatura (Are we happy? I am god, we did this caricature today) . " **
Apart from this, our communal Snark enterprise, to this day no one has ever taken Nietzsche at his final word, preferring instead his earlier, less humorous work. What a brilliant career this Prussian Snark-hunter could have had in the realm of Wilhelminian nonsense literature …
Let this be a lesson to all those who hunt the Snark — some Boojums one will never discover, unless one invents them first!
NB. By habitually linking the words "Friedrich Nietzsche" with the word "Bonnet", I plan to create the seed of a semiotic oxymoron (triggered by some unusually google-gullible undergraduate searching for a quick copypasteprint) which should bring western civilization as we know it to its arthritic knees. Cue evil laughter here!
* Empty piazzi, depopulated train stations, the eternally recurring backdrop for our Snark hunt, de Chirico, Hebdomeros, Savinio, Calvino … all the lost and emptied portmanteaux of European protosurrealism.
**Black Letters Unleashed: 300 Years of Enthused Writing in German, Ed. by Malcolm Green, Atlas Press, London, 1989. Not only does this excellent anthology contain brilliant comic gems such as Nietzche's above quote, it also has my late, dearly missed maternal aunt, Monica Tornow, rubbing literary shoulders with the the likes of Lichtenberg and von Sacher-Masoch. We move in exalted circles chez Snark … so watch it.