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!