Thursday, November 29, 2007
"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!
"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best —
A perfect and absolute blank!"
Yet another shameless Magritte pastiche, and not the last one to grace these pages, I'll wager. Shameless — the 10th Muse of Protosurrealism!
Even more shameless — this insistence that the crew of the HMS Snark use the French language for navigational purposes when it is clearly evident to anyone who has ever been lost at sea that English is the natural language of confusion. This is easily verified. Stand on a streetcorner in any francophone city and ask a stranger: where am I? If necessary, pull at shirtsleeves and wave your arms, speak very slowly while pronouncing every phoneme at the utmost decibel level.
I shall be observing you from inside the comfortable vantage point of a nearby bottle of plonk. Do not make eye contact with me or else — sapristi! Garçon, call the police, this crazy-man-anglais-cowboy-streetperson is bothering me!
Words, words, words … if only they had the decency to cover themselves up, like the Bellman & Company. They have no loyalty, they can't be bothered to mean anything anymore, they're shameless!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies —
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!
There are some who might say this artist's conception of the Bellman is a base and underhanded attack upon the same, suggesting as it does that the Bellman was literally birdbrained and furthermore, that his colleagues (depicted here and here) possessed the collective wisdom and general prescience of a flock of chickens on the way to the abattoir.
But this is not the case.
I put it to you that the English penchant for all things avian is well-known. I put it to you that Lewis Carroll populated his verse and prose with many avian and semi-avian portmanteaux (or portmantanimaux?) such as the Jubjub Bird and the Borogrove.
I put it to you that the Bellman has suffered the ill-effects of a Violent Unknown Event and that he has metamorphasized into an avian state common amongst avant-garde English cineastes. The wisdom on his face is actually the smug look of a sporting wallah who finally knows for certain which came first, the chicken or the egg.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The most astute reader will have noted that five weeks have elapsed with nary a quotation nor quip from The Hunting of the Snark. What does all this mean? From whence come these images of the HMS Snark drifting rudderless, porpoiseless, perhaps even cucumberless in the salad season?
This is no sin of omission. This is artistic license run amuck … we are reading between the lines* … we are drawing between the words (to dispense with the words in a graphic novel one must dispense with the novelty of grafting words). We are doing — dessin nouveau! So just chill, baby, and dig this frabjous double-page spread.
NB. Kudos to Mister Nnyhav, who has correctly pointed out the similarities between 'pataphysics and the still-evolving school of Protosurrealism. However, one must always remember that the latter invariably requires the deliberate substitution of one's past for one's future. Ergo, 'pataphysics is a reaction before the action of Protosurrealism.
*Remember, snarkology recapitulates parisology. Parisology is the subaudition of the protosurreal. Protosurrealism is resipiscence before the fact (eg. antediluvian postlapsarianism, subterrannean ultramontanism, etc).