Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Fit Two, Page 10, Panel 2
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
The original illustration by Holiday of this Universal Map is, to be honest, a bit trite. It's obvious that the poor man was trying to economize on india ink and pen nibs. However, as the 11th Commandment reminds us: thou shalt not speak ill of another artist, particularly when they are dead and defenseless (the precise state in which their work is best appreciated and appreciates best).
I felt that I could do better. I assumed the traditional artist's position of cogitation whilst supine on my charpoy. I puffed upon the hookah proferred me by the Assamese chorus-girl who also pressed my feet, the predominant organ of mentation in my species. I was, of course, familiar with the etymology of the word "map", which ultimately conjured up the hebraic motif of a cloth which conceals and a cloth which reveals, all of which I deftly distilled into "what's-behind-curtain-number-four" and "the-Freudian-Slip".
But still … it was obvious … too obvious, perhaps. All the better for my class of readers! Starting with a gratuitious insult to Henry Holiday I had mentally arrived at a hookah-puffing Jewish savant peddling obscurantism to a witless Bellman in a Cairene souk. In the distance I could hear the blood-curdling screams of native children conjugating French verbs. I paid them no heed! I bent over my drawing board, pen in hand, my thoughts feverishly coagulating in a vivid mental maelstrom of mixed metaphors and incongruous images! Two weeks ago I couldn't even spell "artist", now I are one!