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 …