Friday, December 31, 2010

Snark First!

Gosh, those illegal immigrant foreign words, they have no respect for the law, huh?

They’re even showing up in our GN version of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark, taking jobs away from hard-working English words, standing around on street corners hooting at respectable Anglicisms on their way back from church.

Let me tell you one thing, mister, from now on in this Snark, we won’t speak nothing but good old English Nonsense. Just like they did in the days of the Bible!

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Die kleinsten Schnarken sind die stolzesten

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Machiavelli’s Snark

I’ve always maintained that Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark is perfectly suitable for young people, or at least young people who prefer to read and think.

Some might consider that a bit of snobbish elitism and I’ll proudly wallow in that label while I drink my Tim Horton double-double.

The reading of Carrollian Nonsense, especially verse, is pure catnip for the smart kids. And the underlying message of the Snark, that Adults Are Pretty Stupid, appeals to them, as it should.

It all boils down to young people’s innate desire to Keep It Real, their Holden Caufield adolescent loathing of false pretences, even at the risk of showing a want of sense.

Murder’s a lark once you grow up, just ask any casually homicidal, adult politician.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Colonel Mustard, in the sitting room, with a blunt boojum

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Remembrance of snarks past

I’ve never cared for Watteau the painter although Watteau the draftsman is sublime, as is the case with most French Baroque artists. No matter, his Embarkation for Cythera is sufficiently charming to serve as Snark fodder for our little experiment in surrealizing Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark.

And if you live in the snow-heaped acres of Quebec, as this artist does, any opportunity to make whoopie outdoors without flash-freezing to death in a few seconds is not to be spurned.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Timeo Snarquae et dona ferentes

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snark Mask Replica

Snarks behind every door is an easy enough proposition to illustrate, and when tackling the above stanzels in Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark, I did so with an inky aplomb.

Doors are a jolly thing to have around the house, they can be those doors of perception which have provided gainful employment to janitors around the world for centuries.

They can serve to remind us of our superior place atop the food chain, for opening a door is a classic mania of higher intelligence, such as dogs (and goats) possess.

They can also serve as a place for the Snark to linger at from our perspective, or as the Snark sees it, a place of potential awkwardness, with the Reader, so to speak, at the door!

Everyone and everything has their Boojum, and the Snark’s Boojum is almost certainly you, the Reader!

So let’s get busy and cleanse those doors of perception with some suitably infernal methods. May I suggest scotch and water?

NB. Today’s title refers obliquely to Don Van Vliet's (Captain Beefheart) recent death. As always, John Coulthart has a good round-up of some essential information about him. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time an American businessman would provide funds for the production and distribution of a work of art such as Trout Mask Replica. Progress, eh?

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
The Bellman never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the Baker

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of snark contend

The above picture is an excellent example of how we like to do things in our graphic novel version of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark.

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is Karl Marx on all fours. He is imprisoned in a circus cage. He is impersonating the Banker in Carroll's verse epic.

Why? Do I really need a reason why? Must I explain to you the obvious correlation between Marxism and Carrollian Nonsense?

Do I really have to spell out to you the irresistibly sensuous appeal of an overweight German philosopher romping about on all fours?

But I have a further confession to make; the above picture is the least of the indignities that Karl Marx will suffer in the course of my Snark.

For one thing, he's not wearing any underwear in this drawing. And for the other … well, you'll have to check out my full-blown explanation at MobyLives.

NB. I think someone's instigated a global, internet reading-aloud of the entire Snark. As susual, I'm a bit confused about it, but it looks like fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Foucault's Snarkulum

For a few weeks I've been linking to various other Snark postings of mine around the internet. This was to create a sensation of overwhelming Snarkery, of ubiquitous Boojumery around the world and thus trigger the dreaded Global Cognitive Nonsense Overload that Lewis Carroll once warned us of.

Having done that, we'll return to simpler pleasures, such as wondering why I saw fit to embellish Fit the Fourth with the above frontispiece.

Devoted readers will know that in my GN version of the Snark, the Snark itself is never seen directly. This is as the Admirable Carroll wished it. Instead, I always show the Snark as Eye, a carefully disembodied Eye. This simple pun affords my simpler readers no end of puzzled delight.

There is an Eye concealed above but even better, the entire crew of the HMS Snark is also present. Glassy-eyed perhaps, but present.

Upper row, left to right:
The Broker, played here by Erik Satie
The Beaver, played here by Castor canadensis
The Boots, played here by Charles Darwin
The Baker, played here by Lewis Carroll
The Bonnet Maker, played here by Friedrich Nietzsche

Bottom row, left to right:
The Barrister, played here by Martin Heidegger
The Butcher, played here by an Easter Island moia
The Billiard Marker, played here by Raymond Roussel

And directly underneath:
The Banker, played here by Karl Marx

And standing upright:
The Bellman, played here by Sir John Tenniel/The White Knight/Lewis Carroll

What do all these characters have in common? Some subtle allegorical scheme of postmodern ontology? A multilayered literary puzzle of mind-mangling proportions? An Illuminati's coded message to his zombie Carrollian followers?

No, it's really quite simple! They are hapless Protosurrealist cannon fodder caught up in my Nonsensical struggle to dominate the anapestic reaches of the Carrollian Multiverse …

In short, they are there because they're there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Also Sprach Snarkathustra!

One of the best things about illustrating Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark is the many opportunities it provides for acting one's own petty revenge fantasies.

The drawing above, which shows the Billiard-Marker (AKA Raymond Roussel) chalking the nose of the Bonnet-Maker (AKA Friedrich Nietzsche) is a classic example of all that. The unerring aim of the dapper French novelist (the 2nd finest French novelist ever!) has neatly punctured the pre-existential pomposity of the overly mustachioed Prussian philo-bloviator.

For those readers who like a rational explanation of all of the above, hurry to MobyLives, where I posted a jolly example of one. For those readers who don't, who prefer to just wallow in the sordid pleasures of petty revenge, keep looking at the drawing. Or better yet, buy a copy of the book and put Freddie out his misery once and for all!

NB. I refer to Raymond Roussel as the 2nd greatest French novelist, for he must defer to the greatest of them all, the Master of all French scribblery, Jules Verne. Take that, Messers Beyle and Flaubert, you phonies!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Snark the herald angels sing!

What does this picture remind you of? Seaside bathing in the salad days of Queen Victoria? Standing around with an umbrella waiting for the English rain? How about a spot of haute couture dissection atop a shiny zinc table?

If this picture simultaneously reminds you of the Snark's love of bathing machines and the Comte de Lautréaumont's dictum of "as beautiful as the chance meeting of an umbrella and a sewing machine atop a dissecting table", well, it darn well should!

After all, what did you spend all that money on your university education for if you can't recognize the battle cry of Surrealism being applied to this bit of Carrollian verse from Fit the Second?

Questions, questions! For more answers, amble over to A Journey Round My Skull, where Will Schofield has very graciously made room for yet another lengthy exegesis of mine upon all things Snark … you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm just a snark-hunter from Muskogee …

The proprietor and master voleur at Biblioklept, Edwin Turner, has very kindly posted a lengthy interview he did of me on the subject of turning Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark into a GN … big, gallumphing ideas are bandied about, such as Gateway Surrealism …

"It’s hard to illustrate an idea and oddly enough, the Snark is really a poem of ideas, couched in the form of a tragic epic and then declaimed by a master comedian … I wanted to avoid … doing literal drawings of the scenes in it.

I wanted the Snark to constantly bring up a stream of associations, references, insinuations, all of them triggering more and faster allusions, what I call a Gateway Surrealism that leaves readers hopelessly addicted and desperate for more! Don’t say no, kids!"

For more, go here

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A wild and crazy snark!

Since the publication of my Snark GN, I’ve been quite busy with the time-consuming but necessary work of marketing it. Of course, in our modern world, Nonsense sells itself, don’t you agree?

Hence, pitching the Snark is a snap, especially when one considers that vast swathes of this planet still believe in non-existent entities such as Snarks … legions of prominent and wealthy men, like the Banker, possess the moral intelligence of a concussed bee … and our political leaders regularly conduct their business by relying on nonsensical belief-systems such as the Bellman’s Blank Map. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to refer to my latest posting at MobyLives, where I’ve explained to a nicety the finer points of that famous Map and my Snark’s depiction of it.

If all this doesn’t persuade you that marketing Nonsense in this modern world is like taking coals to Newcastle, I must draw your attention to this jaw-dropping article in the NYT, in which the learned and genuinely talented Steve Martin was castigated by an angry audience at the 92nd St. YMCA in NYC.

Poor Mr. Martin. He came to give an interview with Deborah Solomon about his latest book, concerning the fine arts, and his audience was given a refund when he did so.

It seems that they would have preferred idle chatter and gossip about Martin’s Hollywood life and doings … AKA the dullest sort of bottom-feeder marketing tripe imaginable.

And so, I make this offer to Steve Martin, an artist and writer I genuinely admire … you are welcome to as many copies of my Snark as you need to pummel your future audiences with. They are hard-bound with lots of sharp edges and crammed with enough Nonsense and Art to dent even the thickest low-browed skull. And it's on the house.

NB. Here at Chez Snark, we have Martin's comic masterpiece, Bowfinger, on a looped, 24-7 display screen right in the office (in French, of course). It's a valuable component of our corporate marketing strategy, plus, it reminds us all to keep those pencils sharp!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One flew over the snark's nest

Today's commentary on my Hunting of the Snark has fled its birdcage and gone to roost at MobyLive, a somewhat better furnished blog where the commentary seems to feel right at home. You can watch it preen its explicatory feathers here.

And preen it shall, since Laura Miller was so kind to give our ever so 'umble Snark a place in her list of the Top Nine Best-New-GNs at, a rather plush nest indeed for our Snark … we're rubbing wings with Dan Clowe, Lynda Barry and Joann Sfar!

Nonsense is the new sense, hipsters!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kon Snarki Tiki

People stop me on the street quite often and ask me: hey, Mahendra, your GN version of Lewis Carroll’s Snark that Melville House has just published, what’s it all mean anyway? Is it safe for kids? Where can I purchase it? Will it require a plain, brown wrapper?

Living as I do in Montréal, such questions are posed in French and so I’ll just give a quick précis of my mumbled answers :

Huh? Yeah, sure. Everywhere. I dunno …

Or you can go to MobyLives, where they’ve posted a nice, Polynesian-themed explanation of just what the heck this Snark is all about in the first place anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Platos retreat, snarks advance …

If you’re in the USA, you’ll be reading this in a postprandial, Thanksgiving Day stupor. My favorite sort of reader, in fact, eyes glazed and easily satiated.

In which case, I’ll direct you to my latest posting on MobyLives, where I have penned a weighty turkey of an explanation of the connection between my Snark and Messers Plato, Aristotle and Raphael.

It’s all good clean fun, better than watching your family quarrel savagely around the dinner table, I can assure you …

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Snarking of the Hunt

In an earlier exegesis of this stanzel (see the THOTS link below) I waxed eloquent on the colonial and post-colonial nuances of the Baker’s fear of Boojum-Orientalism.

Luckily for us, Boojum-Colonialism is no longer a threat to world peace since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, some Boojums are even our allies now, isn’t that jolly? But I digress …

Readers will remember that in this version of the Snark, the Snark is represented by a bodiless Eye, a homophonous lunge at some sort of deeper meaning or possibly even a clumsy threat.

In any case, the Baker’s panic at being threatened by teddy-bears and soap and matches and his parental homunculi is being exacerbated by the leering presence of the Eye in the closet behind him.

It is this gaze of the Boojum Snark which is lethal, that is what the Baker fears, it’s a gaze which will make him vanish which is rather odd because when an Eye sees something, the owner of the Eye will usually say that this something has appeared to them.

This business of mismatching words and sense (with logical precision) is called Nonsense and Lewis Carroll is the acknowledged master and sole proprietor. His Snark is not only his finest and longest Nonsense verse, it is also the only real Victorian epic poem ever written and best of all, it was meant for young people.

So I’m tickled pink that the learned Eileen Reynolds, in her review of this Snark in the New Yorker blog, saw fit to emphasize that this version of the Snark is perfectly suitable for children and teenagers of a literate and inquisitive disposition because that is the entire point!

As she puts it so concisely, "older children eager to leave the world of candy-colored cuteness behind" will have a jolly time with this GN Snark and I do fervently hope that their visual and cultural curiosity will be spurred on by the artwork.

Intelligent young people deprived of culture, it is this that we cannot endure!

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Baker’s Tale has got to go!

Friday, November 19, 2010

How green was my snark …

It’s been a busy week here at Chez Snark but not so busy that we can’t take a quick peek at the on-going struggles of the Baker, struggles which we’ve been following for some time now in previous posts.

The character of the Baker is widely believed by Snarkologists to be a parodic self-caricature of the poet, Lewis Carroll. The Baker’s meekness, absent-mindedness and general goofy demeanor match up closely with the public persona of Carroll, or should we say, his public doppelganger, the Rev. C. L. Dodgson.

In my Snark, I’ve done Carroll the fictional courtesy of depicting the Baker in the guise of Lewis Carroll, and even better, Carroll as depicted in the guise of the Rev. C. L. Dodgson. Or is it the other way around? It's all rather confusing and at times I think my pen’s going to have a nervous fit, navigating the labyrinth of the Snarkian Multiverse.

In any case, we see here the Admirable Carroll playing at being a Baker giving his Snark wholesome green vegetables right before setting it alight. Jolly good English lunatic fun, what ho, eh?

And above, dear reader, keep your eye on the half-shut cabinet door behind the Baker … it’s not just the place where he keeps his seven coats and three pairs of boots … it’s a place where the next stanzel will blow his pretty little mind! Yow!

NB. Many thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson for her kind review of our Snark, a review in which she summarized it all as "nonsense as mind-altering influence, which I rather like. Now hurry out and get your fix before the government bans it!

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Boojum! Boojum! burning bright in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turn on, tune in, snark out!

Despite those pesky so-called appearances everyone's so hung up about, The Hunting of the Snark is a classic of the psychedelic canon, and despite its author's so-called intentions too. Lewis Carroll is usually regarded as the very model of a Victorian button-down just-give-us-the-facts-ma'am kind of square but his Snark is a dead give-away that in the field of semiolinguistic trippery, the Admirable Carroll was certainly waving his freak flag high!

Let's see … in the Snark we're trying to chase down certain imaginary creatures which may or may not totally freak you out and even blow your pretty little mind … and meanwhile, we have the most respectable members of society publicly flipping out with giant forks and bars of soap and even bits of salad while humming Gilbert & Sullivan airs, trying to count with their fingers in a purple haze of numerical discombobulation and even tripping, yes, tripping backwards in the bounciest of anapestic rhythms.

I could say more but why bother when MobyLives is posting my commentary on my favorite stanzel of my GN Snark … who am I to say no to a bit of shameless self-promotion?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The politics of snarking!

The world of steampunk and the world of my Protosurrealist version of Carroll's Snark are not that far apart and so, when the French SF author Jean-Christophe Valtat launched a spirited defense of the former genre on MobyLives, I felt compelled to toss in my own 42-cents-worth. The discerning folks at MobyLives were good enough to post my diatribe here, and I hope it generates an immense, angry, passionate mob of be-goggled and crinoline clad youngsters to descend upon somebody other than me like those Assyrian wolves upon the fold that some poet once warned us about.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lewis and Carroll’s excellent adventure

As you can see above, the Baker is not digging this particular part of our GN/BD (sounds kinky, eh?) version of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark. He’s not in the groove, he’s not with the program, he’s just not jiggy with it.

In short, the Baker’s being a bit of a wet blanket about this whole Boojum thing and frankly, it makes me sick.

Man up, Baker, stiff upper lip and all that. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, as Dr. Thompson once said. Whatever you do, don’t look inside the big dresser beside you, just focus on the blank, mushroomy eyes of your homunculi parents, clutch your fork tightly and refudiate your dread.

On a lighter note, last weekend’s meeting of the LCSNA in New York was the exact opposite direction of dreadful. The gracious and ever-resourceful Andrew Sellon was succeeded as LCSNA prez by Mark Burstein, who promised to take the society in a more Californian direction, cowabunga!

Adam Gopnik gave us a brief whirl around the Carrollian œuvre with some snappy and sharp insights into the difference between anglophone and francophone preferences in children’s literature. Jenny Woolf’s talk on C.L. Dodgson’s persona, both public and private, was unusually shrewd and penetrating; she described in detail how Dodgson’s childhood laid the foundation for Carroll’s public persona, a theme which she amplifies in her latest book, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll. Her recent piece in the Smithsonian is an excellent summation of current Carrollian thinking.

Cathy Rubin explained the intricate research and acquisitions process for her new book about Alice Liddell, The Real Alice in Wonderland, and Dr. Edward Guiliano explained to us why the NYIT had so much Carrolliana in its library holdings despite his students’ steadfast refusal to avail themselves of it.

But for we Snark Hunters, the appearance of Oleg Lipchenko was the main event! Oleg gave a talk on his in-progress version of THOTS and judging by the sample spreads he showed us, it’s going to be quite a splendid book.

I think it’s safe to say that we are officially in a Snarkian Renaissance at long last, with two film versions coming out, a revival of the Wesley-Smiths' Boojum! in Chicago (starts November 19th), my own Snark at Melville House, Oleg’s stunning version looming very large on the horizon and even a Japanese manga version circulating, replete with the obligatory googly-eyed teenaged girl brandishing a high-powered hunting rifle and short skirt. It is this, it is this that I dread!

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, Boojums transient

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quelques arpents de snark …

Yet another vaguely familiar stanzel of this on-going comixed version of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark. In this case, the experienced reader will be reminiscing over a faint bouquet of René Magritte with india ink undertones and a strong finish of unasked-for avuncular advice.

Readers who don’t go in for that sort of thing will prefer to enjoy the bowl of brimming curds, an oblique reference to the Baker’s nom de guerre of « toasted cheese ». Carroll’s fixation upon dairy products in the Snark would make a fruitful topic for a doctoral dissertation for correspondance-course shut-ins and distance-learning basement-dwellers.

The weeping dolls on the Baker’s coffinate bed are a clumsy attempt on this artist’s part to create a sense of familial crisis; they are representing the Baker’s honest though poor parents mourning his oppresséd soul.

Thick gravy-like helpings of oppresséd souls served upon cheesy hearts, a perfectly melodramatic serving of Victorian poutine!

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
This snark is your snark, this snark is my snark

Thursday, November 4, 2010

He blew his mind out in a snark …

The faux-Ibsenian dollhouse of the last stanzel is now revealed to be part of the furnishings of the young Baker’s nursery, a nursery in which he lies motionless whilst Lewis Carroll, the presiding Demiurge of the Snarkian Multiverse, fills his young empty, toasted-cheese head with anapestic nightmares. In this case, Carroll is speaking through his convenient mouthpiece, the Bellman, who is indulging in a fit of parenthetical crying.

How exactly does one cry in a parenthesis?

We find that the Latin origins of this bracing species of crying game stem from the literary compulsion to add another letter to a word's syllable. In this case, the Bellman’s cri de cœur is referring to the soapy, hopey, forky, smiley capture of a Snark, a word which can demi-parenthesized into a rapture, the very same rapture which had earlier elicited a similar bit of crying from the Beaver :

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

Of course, to return back from Baker to Beaver requires a double parenthesis with the addition of the letters « e » and « v » to their respective syllables.

Well-oiled Carrollians will nod knowingly at all this, for all these parenthetical letter substitutions bear an uncanny resemblance to the Carrollian game of Doublets. The more gritty sort of Carrollian will yip in fear when they realize that they’ve been lured into a sharp bit of double recursion, a sort of verbal moebius strip running though this particular segment of the Snarkian Multiverse leading them from rapture to capture to Beaver to Baker.

No wonder the Baker has to lie down, it’s all a bit mind mangling, living the Carrollian method.

NB. Set aside your forks and hope, dab yourself with smiles and soap and hurry to the Fall 2010 meeting of the LCSNA at the New York Institute of Technology this Saturday, November 6th. Edward Guiliano, Adam Gopnik, Oleg Lipchenko and Jenny Woolf are some of the featured speakers. Armed with freshly minted copies of my Snark (available at a discount for members), I will be joining several of these authors in a book-signing frenzy of anapestic proportions … more details here.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
• And did those snarks in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh, Lord, save us from the fury of the Snarkmen!

I’ve tossed aside the inky soapbox which I was perched atop for the last week and shall now return to more purely Snarkish things, in particular this incantatory stanzel from the nether reaches of Fit the Third.

This infamous bit of verse is a strapping young specimen of what Viking literary critics once called a galdor, a magic charm put into verse designed to, as T.S. Eliot noted, fetch a cow out of a bog or similar military, amorous or financial quandaries.

This galdor is straining mightily to catch us a Snark, a beast which the glib-tongued Viking bards of yore would have certainly approved of. The theme of a heroic and hopeless armed struggle against a vastly evil beast is an ancient trope of Norse and Old English poetry and I am glad to see that Lewis Carroll saw fit to liberally sprinkle his Snarkiad with several galdors.

The jolly ironies of a clergyman’s son resorting to pagan charms to hunt a mythic beast is one of those rumply, disheveled things which the better sort of literary critics prefer to send off to the cleaners for a good pressing and crushing.

But we are Vikings today! We shall sail onwards to the next stanzel with our booty of enslaved critics filling the ships’ holds, the wind swelling our unfurled anapests and our galdors reeking of smiles and soap. Brashly seeking Baker-bane, with forkéd hopes flew Boojum-thane …

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Swept away!

Late breaking news … go here for some YouTube videos of Martin Olson's soon-to-appear Encyclopedia of Hell (illustrated by this artist and Tony Millionaire), videos featuring Ron Lynch, Bobcat Goldthwait (no, he's not dead … yet) and Rick Shapiro. Laugh, and the entire underworld laughs with you …

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ink to me only with thine eyes

Another piece of SF proposal art, this one is my conception of the Great Orrery, a communications device ca. 100,000 AD. The Vacillators scattered around it are part of the same system. The novella is a 1910 work by J.H. Rosny Aîné, a fine work by a sadly neglected author.

The Vacillators have an air of Moebius to them, this sort of mechanical biomorph is an old motif with him and one which I suspect is ultimately descended from the Lions of Delos.

My last posting was a bit of a cranky rant against the growing trend of artistic amnesia, a trend which not reduces the resources available to both artists and audience but also lowers the visual bar, so to speak, and increases the rate at which visual rubbish can be substituted for visual substance, a process driven solely by commercial calculations.

What we have here is really an artistic version of Gresham's Law, bad art drives out good and the only remedy is providing a genuine education to young people to inoculate them as early as possible. The tastes of youth are a great influence upon adult consumption, which is why such vast sums of money are spent upon destroying young people's sense of taste and judgement.

In any case, cross hatching seems to be a dwindling art form, at least until Photoshop comes up with a filter to do it. Until then I will continue with my inky blobs and squiggles and crochets and I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ink the Bismarck!

I seem to be getting a lot of hits these days from other artists and I get the feeling that many of them are students or relatively new to the biz. One reason I did my Snark the way I did was that I was hoping to energize young people to lay aside their iPhones and toss away their iNsouciance long enough to take a look at what the old fogeys call Kulture.

The internet is brimming with sugary eye-candy but without at least a foundation in Kulture, you will be hard-pressed to find much of use and more importantly, your tastes will subtly influenced towards the fashionable, the flashy, the cheap-to-produce and worst of all, the pre-commodified.

In short, eat your vegetables and visit a museum, young inksters! And get the heck off my lawn. And wash off those tattoos before you sit down to supper.

The life of a freelance illustrator is a constant scramble to finish one thing whilst simultaneously preparing new projects to propose to publishers. This artwork is part of such a proposal still in the pipeline, a French SF novel from the turn of the last century, translated & illustrated by myself.

In this case, the style I chose for this proposed book was a deliberate homage to the great French SF illustrators of the 60s and 70s, artists like Bilal and Moebius whose work was such a formative influence on me when I was a squirt. Their inking style was a direct descendant of the classical European line techniques which stretched all the way back to Albrecht Dürer's graphic work, work in which he codified and clarified cross-hatching for all time. From Dürer to Moebius is an unbroken line, a glorious tradition embellished by such masters of the pen (and etching needle) as Holbein, Rembrandt, Tiepolo and many more worthy of careful study.

In short, the more historical baggage your style carries, the stronger its muscles will become and eventually it might even set off on some unexpected and very fruitful excursions of its own!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All the Snark that’s fit to print

A pretty drawing perhaps, but we need Facts! Enough of this inky procrastination, it’s time to get to the bottom of all this burning, sprouting, smoking, trumpeting, inky mess! This is your chance, dear reader, to make Snarkian history …

What is the meaning of the Hunting of the Snark?
Life is an existential boojum
God exists, QED
Thinly disguised psychological portrait of Lewis Carroll
Allegorical search for happiness
Tuberculosis, Tichbourne Claimant, etc.
Cryptosemiotic message from the Carrollian Multiverse
The meaning is the meaning
42 free polls

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
What is it men in SNARK do require? The lineaments of Alimentary Desire

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Snark from U.N.C.L.E.

Naming a child after its uncle is a bit of linguistic economy often practised by the same sort of people who give their children Roman numerals as a sort of appendage to their family names : alphanumeric folks such as Henry VII or Malcolm X.

Drawing an uncle is an entirely different matter, one simply shuts one’s eyes, grips one’s pen tightly and hopes for the best. In this case, the uncle turned out to have entirely no resemblance to the uncle of the author of these verses, Lewis Carroll, AKA the Rev. C.L. Dodgson, whose uncle’s death at the end of a rusty nail provides fascinating reading for whomever cares to follow the link below.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Family & Kinship Patterns of 19th-Century British Yahoos: Avuncular Boojumery?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brideshead Resnarked

Children who play with ships and all those other whats-its who go down to the sea in ships always come to a sticky end. It matters not if a Snark or something even less wholesome awaits them at the end, they’re all doomed, doomed to being reduced to a concoction of india ink and paper all squiggled upon by a middle-aged illustrator bent upon that very same paper!

Middle age, my fellow Snarkistas, is very much a skipping of forty years and then a bit of a pratfall when one lands upon the deck of one’s Snark-Hunting ship to find it exactly as one left it, so long ago, the exact same Carrollian ship of fools adrift in a sea of ink.

Whenever I’m asked what do I think is the meaning of the Hunting of the Snark — the 134-year old Holy Grail of Carrollian research — I simply reply : proceed without further remark.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time, to make the boojums fit the crime

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stop me before I snark again

It’s all the rage to blame one’s parents for one’s own little problems; many literary critics think this to be a modern phenomenon but it’s a habit dating back to the Old Testament at least (so we can blame our ancestors for this one, at least).

Pinning the blame for present misfortunes upon past misfortunes will, if left unchecked, lead to the dreaded Infinite Regression, that annihilating Boojum of all Western philosophical thought.

Of course, in this instance, Lewis Carroll is having his little joke with us, for by taking on an assumed identity, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson had essentially negated his parents (in the most genteel manner) and thus absolved them of all blame for whatever it was that Lewis Carroll was about.

Or the Rev. Dodgson could have just skipped all that and admitted that he, and he alone was entirely responsible for his own problems in life and thus made the entire foundation of all narrative art softly and suddenly vanish away.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Having placed in my mouth sufficient boojum for three minutes’ chewing

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cool Hand Snark

The Baker is vamping again, trying to hog that meager scrap of limelight which is all this production of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark can afford for now.

He’s taken it into his head to do what we in the inking business call a Full Grünewald, this man called Ho, while the Boots, the Barrister and the Bellman assume suitably indolent poses of slack-jawed amazement at this clumsy reference to the otherwise self-effacing Baker's self-sacrificial destiny.

The idea of referring to various famous bits of artwork throughout my version of the Snark was a clever plan on my part. It allows me to avoid coming up with an excessively tiresome number of ideas and also allows any grad students skulking off-stage to grasp upon a easy thesis subject which could afford them years of cheap lukewarm stipends in the company of various beery-eyed coeds, to wit: that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Extra! The Fall 2011 meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be in at the New York Institute of Technology this year and a great line-up of speakers is planned. Oleg Lipchenko will be discussing his own Snark project, and Edward Giuliano, Jenny Woolf and Adam Gopnik will be giving various talks on Carroll. The latter two will be doing book signings and in addition, I am pleased to say that I will also be there to sign copies of my own Snark, available there at a members' discount. Details here

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Ecce pistor!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Snarkimental Education

Yet another visual conundrum to grace these hapless pages of The Hunting of the Snark by the safely dead Lewis Carroll. I say safely for I cannot know how Carroll would have taken this particular bit of sketchy jobbery and like all illustrators, I am a bit of an inky rascal who prefers to avoid outraged authors.

The duenna on the right is a generic optical illusion found in all the better sorts of psychology textbooks, the sort of textbooks which prefer not to delve too deeply into why a grown man feels the need to be pelted with salad and ice whilst clutching a giant muffin.

Such mysteries form the very bedrock of Human Stupidity and as such, are best left to the experts in such matters, psychologists, behavioral scientists, theologians and philosophers, all of whom concur in answering the question thus: because!

More Snark Cinematic News! It appears that another animated version of the Snark is in the works, produced by Saranne Bensusan and 3rd Story Productions. It appears to be a stop-motion production in the UK, more info here.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
On le nomme aussi BOUJUM par erreur

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Life’s a Joke and All Things Show It, I Thought So Once and This SNARK Shows It!

There’s a pun of sorts lurking about somewhere in this inky mess although I am well aware that certain of my readers don’t go in for that sort of thing at all.

Puns are proof positive that the words which we employ are ready to betray us at the first opportunity, and visual puns are doubleplus-proof-positive of the illusory nature of Things As They Are. Let’s face it, most everything we say and see is just a fib and it is this which drives pun-o-phobes nuts, they like a bit of order in their chaos.

But we Snark Hunters are made of sterner stuff! It is we, and we alone, who have the unmitigated semiotic gall to stand up in the midst of the stuffed-shirt cocktail party of Reality, our hair awry, our curry-soaked ties undone, our bloodshot eyes rolling madly, and proclaim loudly to our hostess that the Baker’s Tale has a point after all, the point being that it entails a waist of time.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Look on my snark, ye mighty, and despair!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Persecution and Assassination of the Baker as Performed by the Inmates of the Hunting of the Snark Under the Direction of Lewis Carroll

This stanzel of The Hunting of the Snark would make anyone faint away, the way it leers at us with its inky visage of squiggly lines and blobby crochets, all of ‘em denoting a sound and fury signifying nothing, nothing at all!

Why does this artist feel it necessary to illustrate an otherwise ordinary bit of verse about the dangers of fainting on the job with this overly baroque reference to the Rake’s Progress of William Hogarth?

Is he making some futile, pseudo-erudite stab at a bit of ironic postmodern reference to a long-dead fellow illustrator, a useless pastime when one considers that no one reads comic books for that sort of thing anymore?

Or has he gone mad? Has the cheap brand of india ink which he surreptitiously imbibes when no one’s looking rotted out his last synapses, synapses already nibbled down to a nub by Stravinsky's rakish earworm?

Or is he, like the Baker, simply overwhelmed by the horror of it all, by that creepy Mistuh-Kurtz-he-dead malaise which so pervades Lewis Carroll’s Snark and the modern world?

Questions, questions everywhere, they’re the bane of all thinking folk … just look at the pretty picture and admire my off-hand reference to Mister Hogarth’s Line of Beauty.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Old Snarks for sale, old Snarks, prim Snarks, silly and grim Snarks for sale

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Money can't buy you love but it can buy you this attractively illustrated Snark …

Melville House (the publishers behind MobyLives, a CBC inamorata) chose this drawing as the cover for their edition of my forthcoming BD version of Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark, a drawing which can be hummed aloud to this jolly tune called "The Fifth and Final Mark of a Snark":

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

Some of you might read the above verses (which cohabitate in the same panel as this drawing) and assume that we are seeing here a mis-toed Snark lounging around the house between Fits, pursuing his usual dampened reverie of the bathing-machine variety, taking afternoon tiffin whilst the rising morning tide goes about its daily business of lifting and moistening him in all those scratchy, hard-to-bite places, etc.

Some of you might prefer instead to just order a copy of my comixed Snark and find out for yourselves without all this pesky, messy business of me telling you what to think!

The book will appear this November and believe me, you won't be disappointed — in the book, that is, not in being able to think clearly for a change — considering that mine is the only graphic poem/sequential-art/comic book version of the Snark yet known to mankind and hence qualifies as a distinguishing feature in the better sort of police line-up.

NB. 42% of your purchase money will vaguely go towards the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Snarks, a theoretically charitable organization almost entirely dissimilar to the less ambitious RSPCA.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
• Truly, my Snark, thou art still the son of morn in weary night’s decline, the lost traveller’s dream under the hill

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Arma snarkumque cano …

It’s easy for us to snicker at the Snark’s bathing-machinephilia from the security of our 21st century beach cabana but such is life …

Oh, the times, oh, the customs, as the Poet once said, when gaudily tattooed youngsters bedecked in fashionable Bangladeshi slave-factory rags and sporting expensive university degrees that have rendered them unable to recognize the identity of the poet quoted above gather on the beaches to hoot at our modest Snark emerging from her bathing machine, clutching only her unfashionable sewing machine, umbrella and dissecting table!

Elsewhere on
The Hunting of the Snark …

Most of life’s evils arise from man's inability to sit still in a bathing-machine

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Conqueror Snark!

It appears that our Snark is a humorless beast, an embarrassing situation for the eponymous hero of a comic epic. Yes, I did say hero, for I firmly believe that the Snark is that, and not the Baker as so many others think.

It was the genius of the Admirable Carroll to construct an entire comic epic upon the tragic premise of Inevitable Annihilation. This sort of mash-up, so beloved of present-day hipsters, is an ancient device practised by such masters as Cervantes, Shakespeare and Mozart, it is the hallmark of a certain sophistication in regarding Things As They Are and also requires a visceral commingling of humility and craftsmanship which goes far beyond mere technical bravado.

It is also one of the unquestionable marks of true Modernism (regardless of the actual date of creation) and leads us to a final enigma : is the Snark a comic poem with a tragic motif or a tragic poem with a comic motif? Frankly, I have no idea, and in place of one I’ll pilfer and then mangle Henri Michaux’s admonition to never jest with a dead man.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Belgium, Man, Belgium!


Attention illustrators/photogs/sculptors/etc!
Eternal glory and neat prizes!

MobyLives is holding a contest to see who can best summarize the contents of any Melville House title into one page/image. Some of the prizes being offered are quite compelling. Since one of the titles eligible for the contest could be The Hunting of the Snark (I assume since pub date is very soon), regular readers of this blog should have a good head start upon the competition … I'll give you an extra clue for summarization … 42, man, 42 …

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Joy of Snarking

Anyone interested in the official explanation of the above stanzel is urged to consult an earlier posting of mine, Tiffin at Breakfasties

Those readers who are too slothful to do so will have to make do with the following, hastily concocted tissue of lies, half-truths and evasions : I couldn’t help myself.

How much of modern art springs from artists’ lethargy? When Salvador « Avida Dollars » Dalí left his watch outside in the torrid Catalonian sun to melt into a gelatinous bolus, was he really trying to express the existential despair of pre-war Surrealism or was he just being lazy?

Only Missus Dalí knows for sure and like the creator of the Snark, Lewis Carroll, she’s no longer talking to reporters. I have several other really clever thoughts upon the entire subject of Snarks and Sloth but I think I’ll just go back inside for tiffin and a long nap.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Snark)

This stanzel is a crispy, hollow sort of illustration endowed with a zen-like mojo which lesser artists are well-advised to handle with care, to wit: depicting a sensory impression entirely through the medium of another, totally different sensory impression.

In this case, the idea of Taste has traveled down my brain, through my hand, past my trusty 1950 Gillot pen nib, dripped onto a conveniently positioned sheet of Denril and then lain there, like a squiggly blobby pool of FW Steig's India ink which almost, but not entirely, doesn’t encapsulate the Idea of the Snark’s Flavor.

If you don’t believe me, go ahead and take a taste, dab a little of this drawing onto your tongue and see where that gets you. Or if you prefer, refer to an earlier recipe for this stanzel (the infamous Assamese Snark Curry posting) a mixing of art and verse which tastes far better than Lewis Carroll’s dreary concoction of will-o-the-wisps and tight-waisted coats, I assure you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seven Snarks for Seven Brothers

Some more faux-cabbalah numerological teasing from the Admirable Carroll. In this case seven days-to-a-week and five marks-of-the-Snarks are being bandied about with an alarming insouciance. The Bellman is explicating all of this with his steam-powered magic lantern, a Victorian ancestor of the modern-day petrol-driven flatscreen TV.

The attentive reader plucking at my ink-sodden sleeve with his pesky insistence that I explain the previous cabbalistic reference is to be ignored. Focus your eyes instead on my horse-driven pencil as I divide 42 (the Ur-Number of The Hunting of the Snark) by the product of 7 and 5 to obtain the number 1.2, which I them multiply by 7, and then multiply by 5, to obtain … 42!

Of such inexplicable yet amazing coincidences have entire religions (and even financial systems) been built upon, as Bertrand Russell once pointed out, far more succinctly than I.

Snark Film Updatesome art and an interview with a matte painter (named Matt, what else?) on the soon-to-be-released-somewhere McNeff live-action version of the Snark. Share and enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Under the Boojum Tree I sold you & you sold me (reprise)

Pressing deadlines required a quick visit into the mouldering archives at Snark Central, where we found these crypto-Orwellian musings to pad out today’s posting …

There are those who might quibble and look askance at my rather ideologically vacant interpretation of this stanza. Yes, it is a trifle irrelevant … perhaps even mendacious to illustrate a purported lack of Snarks with a veritable snathe of Snarks. The concerned reader might well ask : by whose leave do you have artistic license to mangle the words of Lewis Carroll so? Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

The eminent Oxford don and man-about-town, Charles Dodgson, was probably the only person who could genuinely claim to be intimate with Lewis Carroll. Mr. Dodgson had this to say about the so-called sanctity of Carrollian texts, their meaning and interpretation:

... I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, "Let it be understood that by the word black I shall always mean white, and that by the word white I shall always mean black," I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.

Well, that’s pretty much QED, I should think. Simply substitute the word "illustrator" for "writer"; it’s a mere sneesh of semantic and orthographic difference and expressly allowed for by the above-mentioned axiom. In fact, upon further reflection, we can see that the vast bulk of modern art, philosophy, politics and commerce is based upon Dodgson’s diabolically simple postulate.

So stop fussing over these drawings and rest a spell under the ole Boojum tree with me. Goshdarned wordpeople, always making trouble for poor picturefolk …

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nasty, snarkish and short

This stanzel is the only overtly political stanzel in the entire Hunting of the Snark and as such, affords us a rare glimpse into the political workings of Lewis Carroll’s mind. Unfortunately, the oddly menacing figure of the mono-eared Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, is somewhat obscuring our political view of Carroll, who is shown here vamping as the White Knight doing an off-hand impersonation of Sir John Tenniel channeling the Bellman.

Concealment is the holy grail of all political discourse and as we’ve shown earlier, this stanzel is doing a splendid job in that direction. The Bellman’s offer of free booze to his constituency is in the jolly tradition of democratic alcoholism through the ages, whilst Van Gogh’s cue card is a splendid summation of the Pavlovian tendencies of the Common Man, and yet no one seems the wiser.

And how could we? How could the electorate get any wiser, in this, the most perfect of all possible political worlds?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beware of snarks baring greeks

This stanzel has already had its fair share of analytical pummeling (go ahead, I know you like to watch), but we artists know that it’s best to kick a drawing when it’s down and so I present you with this tasteless, additional bit of post-pummeling pudding :

This stanzel is a perfectly cooked example of a big-shot Greek philosopher, So-crates as he’s known to Bill & Ted, being roasted and basted on the spit of my crowquill until he cries out « Μπάρμπας » and admits that he is the Father of Nonsense and not Philosophy, the big faker!

I’ll leave the expository details of my cunning argument to whomever is in need of an quickie thesis for their doctoral dissertation. Let’s just say for now that all this Socratic business of Forms, all this wordy confusion between meaning and structure, first begat Plato (seen here in the Form of Charles Darwin seen here in the Form of the Boots) and then begat all of Western Philosophy — and then begat Nonsense, the idiot man-child cowering in the linguistic basement of that slum-lord Plato’s grubby cave!

Words, words, words, they mean nothing and everything at once and let’s face it, in a wrestling match between Ontology and Nonsense, who are you really going to put your money on? Yow!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Our previous view of the HMS Snark rounding Cape Nietzsche has now been clarified to reveal a striking scene of disembarkation, a full complement of rather displeased Snarkonauts with accompanying baggage, unceremoniously dumped in the less-fashionable suburbs of Fit the Second.

And what is this baggage they carry? It is the expectation that they would enjoy the view, a great expectation to be sure but sadly unfulfilled in this stanzel.

No one likes to be confronted with chasms and crags after a long sea voyage, even if they are nothing more than a painted backdrop. In fact, the painted backdrop only makes things worse, it reminds the viewer that they are participating in a communal illusion and that their feelings of discomfort are thus self-inflicted.

‘Tis all a matter of that Good Ol’ Maya, that world-spinning dance of grand illusions and also further proof of Lewis Carroll’s crypto-Hindu sympathies, sympathies which he kept well-hidden in his customized Samsaronite® portmanteaux.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There go the ships: there is that Snark, whom thou hast made to play therein

The HMS Snark, silently proceeding at full speed, has just narrowly avoided a collision with a gigantic avatar of the Prussian philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, cunningly disguised here as the Bonnet Maker in the Hunting of the Snark.

Let this be a warning to all those Snarkistadores who go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great nonsense: keep a sharp eye out for the wonders of the deep, in particular the to and fro reeling and writhing of Continental philosophers with a penchant for cross dressing and cross hatching.

Thanks, Will!
Will Schofield has been kind enough to do a profusely illustrated posting about some of my projects at his wonderful bibliophile's blog, A Journey Round My Skull. It's all good clean fun, and it makes me realize just how much illustrating of verse I've been doing for the last few years. What a novel and even more penurious niche for an illustrator to stake out for himself … poetry! What's next for me, I wonder, in my rapid descent into the nether regions of unprofitability … stay tuned — you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Snarkness at Noon

Max Muller once called mythology the disease of language, in which case this wordless picture of the HMS Snark making way off Snark Island is safely myth free … for now …

Of course, myth is the mother of religion and we all know that a pure heart (and not a Socratic smarty-pants-unexamined-life-blah-blah-blah) is the sole requirement for the proper enjoyment of religion and so we can safely assume that a pure heart and a certain mangling of language go hand in hand.

The natives of Snark Island seen here are busy at their mute pastime of creating immense pictures which almost, but not entirely, fail to resemble reality. They eschew the noisy double-talk of the pure-hearted for they are a rascally band of epistemological purists whom this heathen artist has mythologized with this inky pictogram of lines, dots and squiggles, all of it a sound and fury signifying nothing.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre's Snark Update …
Here’s more information concerning this September’s performance of the Snark in NYC. It appears that Kate Dickinson, the founder of Snark Productions, likes to celebrate her birthday by reading Nonsense verse, which seems an honest way of marking the inevitable passage of one’s time into entropy and oblivion.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The jungle boojum

More aspersions casually flung at our beloved Bellman by an increasingly grumpy 3rd-person omniscient narrator who is better known around these parts as the Admirable Carroll.

This whole business of east and west is a mere bagatelle, unworthy of a poet bent upon the construction of a Snarkian Multiverse meant to rival the mightiest empires yet known to mankind.

As usual, that pukka Imperial sahib Rudyard Kipling put it best in his own verse:

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet …

Kipling obviously did not care for the Snark (he claimed that it made his throat hurt) and his dismissive attitude must itself be dismissed. This double dismissal will suffice for now, Kipling sahib, but we’ve got our eye on you … any more of these anti-Clochetic sentiments and we’ll send round a madly gyrating Assamese nautch girl to put you in your place, lest you forget!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mad Max Beyond the Snarkodome

The Bellman’s seamanship was much disparaged by Sir David Beatty at the Battle of Jutland, when he remarked that there was something bloody wrong with our ships today.

Alas, to what depths had Great Britain sunk to when its ships were put to sea with men such as the Bellman at the bridge! Such was the inevitable decay of empire, especially an empire beset by the seductive sea sirens of Nonsense …

The snarking of a ship is not a pretty sight and it is no wonder that certain German artists, themselves veterans of the Great War, were still haunted by the sight many years afterwards … and so, this Indo-Germanic artist continues their oedipal tradition of poking oneself in the eyes with a bit of sharp maritime cross-hatching.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

French Snark

We will deviate somewhat from the Way of the Snark to further pursue our avian vein with these rhymes from Jean de La Fontaine and his Selected Fables …

Sir Crow and the Fox (I; 2)

Sir Crow made merry in his tree
a festive cheese twixt his beak
Sir Crow made sport for Fox to see
and beg hungry leave to speak:

« god save your ravenous grace
god save your handsome face
if only your honor’s proper voice
could match your feathered poise
and confirm you a melodic god in disguise. »

at which Sir Crow first smiles, then sighs
then clears his crowy throat and tries
a slow crawling trill
of avian mal canto till
cheese from beak must spill
for poor Fox to gobble up and say:

« sirrah, learn how flatterers prey
we dine on those who lend us ear …
an alimentary lesson costs you dear. »
sans cheese sans pride Sir Crow swears too late
nevermore swallow flatterers’ foxy bait

Le Corbeau et le Renard

Maître corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître renard par l’odeur alléché ,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
«Et bonjour Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli! que vous me semblez beau!
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le phénix des hôtes de ces bois»
A ces mots le corbeau ne se sent pas de joie;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec laisse tomber sa proie.
Le renard s’en saisit et dit :
« Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute :
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage sans doute. »
Le corbeau honteux et confus
Jura mais un peu tard , qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Bellman Always Rings 42 Times

We see here a striking example of how Lewis Carroll used his Hunting of the Snark to foreshadow many of the significant scientific advances of the Victorian era. This stunning example of an x-ray of the Bellman’s head is not only a vivid drawing of a fax of a xerox of a sodden cocktail napkin of an x-ray of a genuine bird brain; it is also quite a poke in the eye of a certain Herr Wilhelm Röntgen.

The latter had claimed to invent the x-ray in 1895, without ever acknowledging Carroll’s groundbreaking contributions to the nascent science of looking through opaque objects to find nothing in particular within them.

Later researchers would further refine this technology until it became possible, by the 1920s, for aviocervellians such as Martin Heidegger (better known to Snarquistas as the Barrister) to find Nothing hidden everywhere.

Of course, the Bellman knew that all along, you can tell by the self-satisfied, smug look on his face … can’t you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I’ll be your Georgia peach if you’ll be my Tennessee snark

I must confess that this panel, the frontispiece to Fit the Second, is one of my favorites in the entire comix, for the simple reason that it utterly disproves Thomas Aquinas’ mean-spirited assertion that dogs have no souls.

They do indeed and here is the proof positive. This dog is plainly the sole dog of Snark Island and as such, blessed with the same homophonic dispensation as his master’s speech whose fruity tones entrance him so.

Attention Manhattanites — A Snarkian Call!
The Manhattan Repertory Theatre is putting on a production of the Snark this fall and has put out a casting call, details here. This sounds like a rare opportunity to put your Snark-jones to a proper thespian use. Of course, we all know about that quaint British actors' tradition which forbids the mention of the word Snark off-stage, but Manhattanites are a resourceful tribe and will pooh-pooh any heavy vibes emanating from the Sottish Play.

It's Official — this is the Summer of Snark!
The semi-mysterious McNeff film of the Snark seems to be surfacing, laboriously yet assuredly, from its bathing machine into the light of day … the poster is here and it looks good! Thanks to Goetz for bringing our attention to this, MacNeff himself seems hard to reach.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

They that go down to the sea in snarks …

As we drift through the dog days of summer, let us close our eyes, relax and float downstream aboard the HMS Snark, the very same Boojum-destined ship upon which Marlow searched for his personal boojum, Mistuh Kurtz … aboard which Don Aguirre searched for the boojum of El Dorado and Senor Brian Sweeney Fitzcarraldo searched for the boojum of his opera house … and upon which Rimbaud searched for the drinks trolley before it became entangled in the eyes of panthers in the skins of men …

Thursday, August 5, 2010

All you need is snark

Gosh, there seems to be nothing on the TV but re-runs this summer …

The preternaturally alert reader will instantly recognize the decor of this panel as a quintessentially English bit of inkery lifted whole from the Yellow Submarine, that snarkalicious confection crafted by Messers Dunnings, Coates, Edelmann et alia. Their Anglo-Canadian-Teutonic vision of the archetypical English garden party, Pepperland, is shown here being hijacked by a band of desperate Snark Hunters in need of shelter from the heavy weather of Fit the Fifth.

In truth, there is little to recommend in this Fit to anyone in need of some jollies to lighten the burden of another long day working for the Man and all that. F5, as some Snarkistanis dub it, is a place where there is a gnashing of teeth and a smiting of thighs in the very best tradition of the sadomasochistic hallucinations and delusions of St. Anthony and his Victorian spiritual descendants, those lecturers at certain educational institutions who were condemned to the spiritual tortures of instructing the Boschian progeny of the upper classes in all matters animal, vegetable and mineral.

As proof positive of all of the above, let us note that Lewis Carroll, a mild-mannered man noted for his personal gentleness, saw fit to end this Fit with a semi-Swiftian comment upon all of the above. This novel friendship between the Beaver and the Butcher is cemented not by the altruistic bonds of selfless love but by the grotesque imperatives of Fear and Loathing!

You old cynic, Mr. Carroll! You’ve been hobnobbing too much with that old boojum-lover Mr. C.L. Dodgson, whose years of teaching at Christ Church had taught him to regard his young charges as at worst, nasty, brutish and short, and at best, nasty, brutish and short from the right sort of families.

Which is why this illustrator thought it might brighten up the place a bit if we had a little bit of Pepperland and the Fab Four smuggled in to do the honors for the Jubjub’s Song which closes this Fit. Come on, Messers Dodgson and Carroll, it’s not as bad as all that, all you need is love!

Over at Bradshaw of the Future, the etymology of the Snark has once again reared up its translucent head! John notes that certain otherwise respectable dictionaries trace the derivation to a portmanteau of snail and shark; the entire theory being further traced to Beatrice Hatch's remarks in the Strand Magazine (April 1898, pgs 413-423, as referenced in Gardner's Snark).

But John, very sensibly, refuses to let the matter rest there … is there no better source for this, preferably from the Admirable Carroll's very own pen? Any snarkologists in possession of the full facts (come on, Byron … Doug?) are urged to contact BOTF and put the matter to rest. For me, the theory has always been a mere excuse for some of my usual inkery-pokery … I think Doug Howick's snark'd warrior long ago made this etymology a bit suspect.

I've never read any other reference to Carroll mentioning that particular portmanteau except Gardner's and my own bound copies of the entire Strand for that year were pilfered long ago … curse those rural Virginia steampunks!