Monday, September 29, 2014
After a successful hunting, one is always left with the remains of the dead, even in Lewis Carroll’s genteel, literary world. In this, the frontispiece to Fit the Fourth, we see the remains of a particularly jolly hunting, stuffed and mounted upon the wall of a certain someone’s hunting lodge.* The Bellman looks particularly splendid and lifelike and for those of us who keep track of such matters, the Snark-is-Eye Leitmotif can be discerned through the looking glass.
Certain folk say that is in bad taste to speak ill of the dead. Others look askance at their being stuffed and mounted upon a wall. Still others abhor those other who look askance. I place myself in the rarefied category of those who loudly proclaim that if the dead are too lazy to do anything for themselves it’s their own look-out and certainly not the business of the government! Harrumph!
Look, look there, at that uppermost head in the middle … why, it’s the Boots-cum-Charles-Darwin … what grotesque sense of humor put him there? Was it one of those Literary Darwinists? — they’re all the rage now! Lurking behind every poem and novel and feuilleton, we find these weirdoes who ascribe the most salacious evolutionary motives to every author — and yes, every reader! Oh the times, oh, the customs, when the reader is being read, the author is being authored, and yes … the hunter is being hunted!
I could go on like this for some time now but all this thinkery-inkery is really a bit taxing; I‘d rather be outside in the fresh autumnal air, grouse-hunting from a helicopter or seal-clubbing with pretty young things till midnight or whatever it is that we must do for sport in these oddly unimaginative antinomian times.
*The reader should note that this is the only time in 140 years that an illustrator has dared to depict the interior of a Snark’s lair. Note the threadbare furnishings, cheap wooden flooring and fusty curtains — economy is certainly our Snark’s watchword! I have heard it said that he was once a Park Avenue Snark but now prefers to be known as a Small Town Snark. So be it, one must trim one’s sails to whatever flatulence is being emitted from the Body Politic!
Monday, September 22, 2014
The story so far: we are reaching the end of Fit the Third of my GN version of The Hunting of the Snark … action, adventure, anapests!
The last, fateful words of the Baker-cum-Lewis-Carroll before he is smothered by the inky depths of the night, suffocated by the relentless Amorous Gigantism of Inanimate Things, transfixed by the icy glare of the Snark-Is-Eye lurking in the wardrobe — obliterated, in short, by his memories of the future!
This whole Boojum business is what literary boffins like to call Catharsis, a purging and expelling of unsettling emotions, a process which results in a post-Boojum state of relaxation, mental ease, gleaming white teeth and little or no underarm perspiration. In this state of enlightenment all of one’s troubles softly and suddenly vanish away and one is left with only the minty-fresh after-taste of … Boojum-Orientalism!
Boojum-Orientalism is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the Boojum because the Boojum is weaker than the Baker, a doctrine which elides the Boojum’s difference with its weakness. . . . as a cultural apparatus Boojum-Orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to-truth, and knowledge … the whole point about this system is not that it is a misrepresentation of some Boojumistic essence — in which I do not for a moment believe — but that it operates as representations usually do, for a purpose, according to a tendency, in a specific historical, intellectual, and even economic setting …
All hail the postsemiotic Second-Grade-Fresh-New-World-Order! Aided only by my trusty giant power-packed pen and buckets of thick, reheated cafeteria-style ink, I have deconstructed a Boojum-ridden, prostrate Baker into a resurgent postcolonial Boojum reasserting his alienated Snarkhood and casting aside the dehumanizing typology of the oppressive Victorian bourgeois Snark Hunter … (pauses for breath) …
… until that time when that fickle Wheel of Fate turns again and allows a resurgent postcolonial Baker to reassert his alienated manhood and cast aside the dehumanizing typology of the oppressive Victorian bourgeois Boojum … (dabs brow with gin-soaked compresses) …
… hurrah for the disappearance of the Author-Function! Hurrah for the justified tyranny of the Reader-Boojum! Hurrah for everybody!
Monday, September 8, 2014
The Eminent Victorian Mr. Lewis Carroll well understood the human condition! The difference twixt nonsense and tragedy is but a hairsbreadth at best. Observe the above pictolinguistic Snarkglyph. A certain baker, a maker of cakes and pastries, suffers from nightmares — possibly the result of over-eating his products — which he combats with healthful salads and the nocturnal illumination of phosphorus matches. So far, so good, an eminently plausible scenario without the least taste of Nonsense about it. In fact, it is a commendably sober and salubrious cautionary verse upon the dangers of gluttony!
And yet …
These nocturnal adversaries of which our pistorian hero complains so mightily, these things that go bump in the night, these incubi, night hags and other mares that sit upon one’s chest and pose so stylishly for certain other artists, well, that’s all very well for the likes of the Talented Mister Fuseli, but here at Chez Snark we have simpler tastes — economy is our watchword! Even nightmares cost time and money! Let Mister Holiday squander jeroboams of ink and hogsheads of paper upon his champagne-soaked rendition of the Baker’s Dream of the Snark — I cannot!
With a meager drop or two of ink (2nd-grade-fresh, alas, which makes my throat hurt so) and a few scraps of pentimenti (Chianti-stained and still reeking of garlic) I lie upon my tatty charpoy, with both pen and Assamese nautch-girl in feeble hand and draw, as best as I can, the simple rudiments of the Baker’s Nightmare, that grim Adversary with which he struggles night after night.
I ink a hard-won fork here, pencil in a desperately-needed matchstick there … the simple yet telling domestic detail of the wardrobe drawing nearer … render the Baker’s tear-stained, tattered leaf of Boston lettuce with which he keeps at bay the nocturnal chill … perhaps I even shed a tear into the dregs of my Chèvre Noir as I labour but no matter (no one can hear you weep in a modern, soundproofed garret anyway) … for that is the task I have taken upon myself, to draw things just as I see ‘em … and that is the nature of real Tragedy! — to engage with the Snark, every night and every day — on spec …
Monday, September 1, 2014
Gosh! This Baker-cum-Lewis-Carroll-wallah really does go on and on about Boojums. Of course, we all know how unwelcome they are and what havoc they can wreak on priceless family heirlooms like forks and hope, but methinks the Baker doth protest too much!
Yes, yes, yes, we’ve heard all of this before, a Boojum is a dreadful thing to contemplate, a Boojum fluoridated my drinking water and a Boojum tampered with my automobile’s brakes … but has the Baker ever gone mano a mano with a teenage daughter? Has the Baker any idea what it is to roll up one’s sleeves and decervellage an American atheist? Has the Baker never crossed swords with a sharp-witted Englishman forced to squander his life and considerable talents as a mere maths tutor whilst blathering absolute nonsense to his young, boojum-like charges?
As for me, pshaw to all that! Yeah, mister, I’m a tough guy! I snap my inky fingers at ‘em, these pesky Boojums, they are but a trifle compared to coming up with some nice, snappy copy for each and every line of The Hunting of the Snark … week after week … year after year … stanza after stanza … panel after panel … oh, god, it is this, it is this that I dread!