Monday, October 1, 2018

A Gentle Snark was pricking on the plaine

Do not mistake this infamous stanza as a magical refrain or prescription designed by Lewis Carroll to assist the B-Boyz in their Snark hunt, nothing could be further from the truth. Such misthinking is a mythic bogeyman put forth by certain philosophers of the Sir James Frazer ilk, Cheapside tailors peddling "ready-made suits" for their naked and the dead.

Consider instead the internal Mind of this poem (yes, there are such boojums), which lives a life independent of its creator, its inhabitants & even its readers. All works of art have these primeval Minds, each according to its national character. The Mind of this poem, being English, roams the midsummer nights daubed in woad, speaks in runes at high tea, shares small beer with the Mind of the Domesday Book and Prospero’s Books in the Mermaid Tavern, and dosses behind hedges with the Mind of Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, a direct descendent of Achilles’ Shield presently down on her luck.

Before you can voice your objections, I must tell you: be unperplexed, dear reader! — the Snark and the Mind of The Hunting of the Snark are not the same beast. The latter is a deliberate fiction bandied about by Lewis Carroll. The former is the Art behind the fiction — a magic which the Muses have excused from the lie of being truthful. 

Oh, ye of too much faith! Can’t you see that all your seeking and hunting and threatening and charming, that all of your sacrifices are meant for you, you alone, that they serve only to distract you from the truth? We heap up our sacrificial relics at the feet of the Mind of the Snark: the thimbles, the cares, the forks and hope, the railway shares, the smiles and soap, all that Victorian bourgeois clutter mouldering in our mental attic — for ourselves only!

Pack up your smiles and soap, abandon all forks and hope, Snark Hunters! Repent and understand at last that the Hunting of the Snark is a robinsonade (the mysterious island from whence all Nonsense springs) and that the Mind of the Snark is its pagan at whose feet we pile gifts useful to no one but ourselves.