Monday, September 8, 2014

The Garden of Forking Snarks


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 …