Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fit Two, Page 14, Panel 3 … under the spreading Boojum tree I sold you & you sold me

"We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
(Four weeks to the month you may mark),

But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)

Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

There are those who might quibble and look askance at my rather ideologically vacant interpretation of this stanza. Yes, it is a trifle irrelevant … perhaps even mendacious to illustrate a purported lack of Snarks with a veritable snathe of Snarks.* The concerned reader might well ask : by whose leave do you have artistic license to mangle the words of Lewis Carroll so? Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

The eminent Oxford don and man-about-town, Charles Dodgson, was probably the only person who could genuinely claim to be intimate with Lewis Carroll. Mr. Dodgson had this to say about the so-called sanctity of Carrollian texts, their meaning and interpretation:

... I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, "Let it be understood that by the word black I shall always mean white, and that by the word white I shall always mean black," I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.**

Well, that’s pretty much QED, I should think. Simply substitute the word "illustrator" for "writer"; it’s a mere sneesh of semantic and orthographic difference and expressly allowed for by the above-mentioned axiom. In fact, upon further reflection, we can see that the vast bulk of modern art, philosophy, politics and commerce is based upon Dodgson’s diabolically simple postulate.

So stop fussing over these drawings and rest a spell under the ole Boojum tree with me. Goshdarned wordpeople, always making trouble for poor picturefolk …


*The word snathe is used here in a probationary sense. Lewis Carroll never revealed the correct nomenclature for a group of Snarks (ie., a kettle of fish, bunch of whales, etc.) and I have used this word solely as a place-holder of sorts until they (you know who I mean) come up with a better one. I had also considered — and rejected — snatch, sneck, sneap and of course, S.N.A.R.K. (Simultaneous Non-entities Apparitioning Rather Keenly). For those who persnick at such things, all of the above are legitimate entries in The Chambers Dictionary, 9th Ed. Malcontented readers are heartily encouraged to send in their own suggestions.

** Charles Dodgson, Symbolic Logic, Bartley, ed. Clarkson N. Potter (New York: 1977).


  1. ... An indefectibility of Snarks...

    Doug H

  2. Thank you, gentlemen! Both indefectibility and exultation are perfect, in fact more perfect than perfect in this, the most perfect of all possible worlds … pshaw to George Orwell and his gloomy lexical pronouncements, huzzah to Dr. Pangloss and his lexical sunshine!