Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fit the Fifth, considered … is that a boojum in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

These dog days of summer are not conducive to the deeper, more respectable thoughts with which I am wont to sprinkle these snarkish feuilletons of mine. And quite frankly, Fit the Fifth has never been my favorite agony of the Snark, it’s a bit depressing really with its confluence of numbingly mundane pedagogic manias and the hallucinatory bouquet of early Christian hyperasceticism.

Sure, I could play it up for the laughs, scatter a few yucks here and there, or I could just make a drawing of a nubile gigglebox in a skimpy swimsuit standing next to a bunch of numbers.

But we are made of sterner stuff here at chez snarque, this is not the New Yorker, after all! We eschew all that pandering to the unwashed masses and instead, we will titillate you with this shockingly literate (and unsurprisingly British) exposé of the ‘pataphysical origins of the internet, courtesy of the occluded Dave Haan.

Dirty, stinking ‘pataphysicians, taking a good thing like internet porn and twisting it to their own selfish intellectual needs! Phooey on ‘em!

NB. A tip of the copper-sieved-bateau to Dave for sharing this valuable link to the Musée 'Pataphysique! Sapristi!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fit the Fifth, Page 35, Panel 3 … lions and tygers and snarks, oh my!

“The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain —
But much yet remains to be said.
“In one moment I’ve seen what has hitherto been
Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
A Lesson in Natural History.”

Lewis Carroll is too polite to say so but I’m going to give the kiddies a scare by telling ‘em that Natural History is an unnatural construct. It’s a False Boojum hatched by the machinations of a power-hungry 19th-century bourgeois patriarchy determined to crush the legitimate political and social aspirations of a downtrodden proletariat animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom.

Just look at ‘em, this riffraff of the finest art museums of Europe and the Americas, the lumpenproletariat of Bosch’s crypto-Christo-Malthusian nightmares forced to rub shoulders with the decadent, antisocial pictosemiotic propaganda of René Magritte! Scandalous! And has anyone noticed that both of these so-called artistes hailed from the Low Countries? Coincidence? I think not!

It is indeed low, ‘tis very low indeed when the legitimate hopes and aspirations of an entire roomful of creepy-crawly delirium tremens-type habitues must get a snootful of this kind of pseudoscience at the sweaty hands of a boisterously glandular, Polynesian moai afflicted with a pseudoclerical penchant for faith-based crossdressing.

Boo, hiss, boo! Have you ever heard such a thing? This is not the sort of Hunting of the Snark for which our gallant forefathers shed their precious blood on distant, foreign shores! It’s something else entirely and if I had but the time and you had but the brain, we’d sort it out, you betcha!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fit the Fifth, Page 35, Panel 2 … now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by the sun of snark

“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, the general public, entirely gratis, a certain discrepancy in all of the above malarkey may be detected by the overly hypervigilant amongst you.

To all of that I must 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!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fit the Fifth, Page 35, Panel 1 … ceci n’est pas une snarque

“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.


* Nor is this a pathetic attempt to gain the attentions of a publisher willing to finance my surrealist-cum-baroque, illustrated translation of Jean de la Fontaine's Fables choisies … nor my Oulipian rendition of Verne's L'Île mystérieuse into Dantean terza rima.