Monday, May 18, 2020

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Anapests Will Never Hurt Me

A reiteration of the Snarkic Galdor … a type of verse-charm first overheard by the poet Lewis Carroll whilst sipping his tea and mentally searching for rhymes in the commons room of Christ Church College in the depths of the latter half of the 19th century. No doubt Carroll was puzzled by this sudden outbreak of cryptoskáldic fervour in what was then a bastion of High Church Anglicanism but he was a discreet man and kept his thoughts to himself.

However, I am congenitally incapable of keeping any thoughts to myself! At this very moment I am mentally whirling along transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention, as the infamous Hedly Lamar once pensed aloud to the uncomprehending Slim Pickens.

Unlike Slim Pickens, gentle reader, you will easily grasp the essence of my thoughts, which I’ve illustrated above. The Snarkic Galdor is baited, literally, with the tempting person of the Baker himself! Lured by his smile and a bar of soap, the unsuspecting Snark will venture underneath the requisite giant thimble to be trapped there by the quick action of the Baker’s Fellows!

The Baker’s transient nodes of thought on the matter can only be guessed at. However, thanks to the learned Adam Roberts’ ingeniously cosmic vapors of invention, we now know that the Baker’s earlier polylingual attempts at communication with his fellow B-Boyz were simply an observation that Humanorum hetaeria es auto (you are yourself the brotherhood of all men). His comrades have taken this generous, fraternal gesture of self-sacrifice on the Baker’s part as carte blanche to proffer him up as living Snark-Bait.

This business of offering oneself up as a bait for Evil must inevitably occupy the whirling, transient thought-nodes of anyone enjoying his tiffin at the aptly-named Christ Church College. Perhaps, as Carroll munched his bread and butter sandwiches and plotted his anapests, he was entertaining first, second or even third thoughts about his own personal Boojums … or perhaps he was merely biding his time till the invention of the talking-type-wireless with which the ubiquitious Slim Pickens would finally set all of his religious doubts to rest!

Attention bibliophiles! Let publishers know that illustrated adult titles are not only a noble tradition dating back to ancient Egypt but also cool to look at … learn more about or even join my (quixotic) campaign to revive the genre of #BooksWithPix here.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Thy Snark, Great Anarch!

We have already nibbled upon — and spurned! — Beatrice Hatch’s assertion that Lewis Carroll had told her that the word Snark was a portmanteau of Snail and Shark. The etymology of the Snark is an entire Hunt unto itself but it seems that we are running perilously low on bullets, tinned goods and scotch-soaked mosquito netting or so my faithful shikaris tell me … we had better return to civilization, such as it is, and seek our Snark indoors … such as these Snark Hunters pictured above are doing.

Please observe that these Hunters are relying solely upon their finely-tuned instincts to track down their perilous prey and as usual, everything’s become a hopeless jumble! The afore-mentioned Beatrice Hatch’s linguistic brain-crumbs have joined in an unholy alliance with the semiographic cupcakes of the Belgian pâtissier (and chronophobe) René Magritte to create a novel yet frothy confection! Of course, such half-baked baked-goods would be incomplete without some of that double-plus-good explanatory frosting which the Critics love so; I append an explanatory (and thoroughly plagiarized) morsel here:

"I decided to paint the image of a shark . . . In order for its mystery to be evoked, another immediately familiar image without mystery — the image of a snail — was joined."
Well, there you have it: an Indo-Germanic-Belgo-Anglo-Saxon layer cake of ink and words … I call it Beatrice’s Revenge, for it’s a rather heterogenous and unsettling dish best served cold, perhaps as an after-dinner dessert? Of course, Lewis Carroll’s original photographic bonbon of Miss Hatch was also a bit cloying but certain artists will always indulge their sweet-tooth!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Much Ado About Snark Hunting

There comes a time when even poets such as the Talented Mister Carroll draw a blank, as the saying goes. Yet such deficiencies seem to have not bothered him for long; he simply brewed up a fresh pot of tea, chewed reflectively upon his quid of paan and sooner or later, he would come up with the requisite anapests to fend off the Boojums at his door.

However, when an ink-slinging wretch such as I draws a blank, adverse professional consequences can result. Drawing a blank may be suitable behavior for those blessed artistes who frolic in the Elysian Fields of MOMA or the Tate but for us illustrative hacks bent over our drawing boards in the sweaty back-forty of Dante’s Inferno (Circle 8, Subsection 5, Barrators and Flatulants) such antics are the stuff of which bankruptcies are made of.

When deadlines press and the ol’ brainbox is running on fumes, remember the scuola metafisica’s dictum to draw only that which cannot be seen. The main thing is to keep one's pen busy, just bash on regardless and find something unseen to draw … or at least unseen by the average reader.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Language? Language? We Don't Need No Stinking Language!

These headless anapests of Lewis Carroll rollick onwards in their frolicksome procession and who are we to deny their sonic allure? Of course, the essence of an anapest is the idea of a reversal and what better expresses that idea than the sudden realization that one is speaking in a language that no one understands? The unfortunate Baker is literally going backwards as the sense of what he says is instantly translated into nonsense by his puzzled auditors.

Snarkologists call this sort of thing the Snarkosocratic Method, a kind of dialectic in which a question is responded to as though it were absolute nonsense. This in turn forces the questioner to endlessly repeat himself until his baffled auditors lose interest and finally go away.

Left alone in his splendidly impenetrable semiolinguistic Fortress of Solitude, the Baker is now free to concentrate his intellectual powers upon himself. Toying with the building-blocks of language and meaning, he will arrive at some sort of Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in It … or perhaps not, there's no difference, really.

Monday, April 6, 2020

One Hundred Years of Snarkitude

False pretenses are the bane of modern life or so I’m told. Although Lewis Carroll seems to have composed an entire poem devolving entirely from the concept of false pretenses and all the semiotic and logical heartache they can inflict upon humanity, in our more louche age the concept of false pretenses has inspired instead a steady diet of policiers, bodice-ripping Mills & Boons and true-life confessional serial-killer-self-help-vademeca.

Very well, let the masses have their sensationalist Lewis Carroll, their police gazette Hunting of the Snark! If it’s murder and false pretenses they want, let ‘em have it!

The heart of the problem, as I saw it, was to produce a drawing with a maximum of false pretensions and a minimum of actual labor. My eyes fell upon a tattered copy of a magazine, a well-known NYC magazine whose pages lauded a certain artist specialized in the art of portraiture, whose devotion to their practice (are they also dentists?) was such that they could not bear to paint more than one face, over and over, varying only the sitter’s name but never the actual picture. 

Gosh! Throwing caution to the winds, I brushed aside my idly gyrating Assamese nautch girl, recklessly purchased an entire sheet of second-grade-fresh drafting vellum and pushed another quarter into the meter of my steam-driven pen! Working without respite, I labored to flesh out the Baker’s criminal pretense, multiplying his crypto-Carrollian visage seven-fold!

Huzzah for the critics! Huzzah for every artist who labors more over their bar tab than their drawing board! In a world of false pretenses, who is the menaced assassin and who is the menacing victim now? Look out, New York art-wallahs, here comes a real maverick!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Keep Calm and Carry On Snark Hunting

It's been a bit of a hiatus since my last posting, but in light of the current situation, I think it's time to resume my commentary upon my GN version of The Hunting of the Snark (available from Melville House, click on cover icon to the right) … when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, as both Hunter Thompson and Lewis Carroll knew all too well!

A strange brew: a pastoral melancholy of the gods resurgent, a fête galant of the ancien regime, the reveries of Lewis Carroll and an obscure illustrator.

The Fellowship of the Snark has succumbed to the most delicious ennui, the most languid douceur possible … it is impossible, amidst the heady scent of perfumed bowers and amorous glances, to even speak that hateful word Boojum … far easier for the Boots to nibble on his ladylove’s niobic neck, far easier for the Butcher to lead the gallant company of andromachean mannequins and embryonic homunculi down the verdant lawn towards the wondrous, gilded barge whose pilot, the Bellman, will steer them to the sanctuary of Cythera, that isle of enchantment where all things distasteful softly and suddenly abrade away into their constituent semioglyphs …