Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fit Two, Page 15, Panel 3 … tiffin at breakfasties

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

The Bellman continues his Exposition of the Snark with a second accusation — Sloth!* We illustrate his text with this shameless, paranoiac-critical crib of Salvador "Avida Dollars" Dali. Dali’s paranoiac-critical method of picture-making (essentially a groovy sort of free-association delirium) is itself a shameless crib upon 20 centuries of artists lying on the sofa with their feet up and eyes shut in search of inspiration.

But beware the light of the Bellman’s magic lantern! Beware the paranoiac-critical method — it’s bad juju! Once you start using it, you can’t stop — gateway surrealism I call it! Image generating out of image, a maelstrom of vivid mental pictures at the very speed of thought itself, free-association finally run amuck while perceptual reality as we know it disintegrates in a chain reaction of infinite visual meanings — until you’re trapped, trapped in a causally frozen world in which one breakfasts at five-o’clock tea and literally thinks nothing of it!

We find our hapless Snark lost in this paranoiac-critical Ice Age (perhaps the evolutionary niche of the dreaded Boojum itself!), trapped in a world not of his own making! Within this glacial Lost World of the paranoiac-critical zone, it is only the persistence of memory which allows the Snark to find nourishment. Its primitive intellect swamped with the visual overload of everything-being-at-once, it will starve to death if it cannot remember to eat its supper, even if a day too late. It even carries on its person a railway watch (shown above) with which it plans its desperate, solitary meals.

And so … our Bellman confounds for Sloth what we now know to be Hunger! Come on, guv'nor, spare a kind thought for a ‘ungry Snark, eh? He’s not such a bad fellow after all … (cue orchestra) for when a Snark’s not engaged in his employment or maturing his felonious little plans, his capacity for innocent enjoyment is just as great as any honest man’s. Take one consideration with another, the Snark’s lot is not a happy one!

*It should be noted that the Bellman’s sermon upon this sin of Sloth is amplified with instances of Gluttony which are thematically derived from the Snark’s prior sin of Bad Taste. Whether the Bellman’s general exposition is a catalog of Sins (Snarkian lapses from its ideal state of nonexistential perfection) or of Elements (qualifications of the Snark’s non-qualifiable nonexistence) is for the more subtle reader to decide. The distinction is scholastic, and thus, genuinely protosurrealist. The final word on the sinful ontology of the Seven Deadly Elements might be Max Ernst’s masterpiece, A Week of Kindness. Like The Hunting of the Snark, Max Ernst’s personal composition upon this earth was finished before his decomposition, his birthday being this Wednesday, April 2nd and his deathday being April 1st. We tug on our ink-soaked forelocks in salute to Max Ernst, the Police Gazeteer of Surrealism!


  1. I love Ernst's work (Europe after the Rain, L'Ange du foyer, Temptation of St Anthony), but I must admit I've never read Une Semaine de Bonté. What I have seen of it reminds me of your ongoing photosurrealist illustrated epic.

    heh... gateway surrealism.

  2. Your engaged wit lends merit to your splendiferous art and I would declare myself an “ardent” fan had I not been previously humbled by reading your mail from fans who are noticeably of essential intellect.

  3. Dear Goofy,
    I think you would love USDB, it's easily available at a very reasonable price from Dover Books, I think. You are correct about its influence upon me. I first saw it as a teenager and it had an overwhelming impact on me, its "establishment-approved" visual style combined with the trademark Ernstian wit and humor is very seductive.

    Dear Anonymous,
    Do not humble yourself, rather, lift yourself up by your bootstraps (or spike-heeled loafers) and say to yourself: I IS SOMEBODY! Please note though, all of my fans are of essential intellect, they are all Aristotelian scholastics, every man jack of 'em!

    thank you!
    Thank you for your kind comments.