Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Fit the Fourth, Page 25, Panel 1 … Colonel Mustard, in the sitting room, with a blunt boojum
"You may charge me with murder — or want of sense —
(We are all of us weak at times):
But the slightest approach to a false pretence
Was never among my crimes!
False pretences are the bane of modern life or so I’m told. Although Lewis Carroll seems to have composed here an entire poem devolving entirely from the concept of false pretences and all the semiotic and logical heartache they can inflict upon the tender-hearted and tender-brained, in our more louche age the concept of false pretences 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 pretences 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, replete with the Finest Truths the American Dollar Can Currently Buy … a magazine whose pages proclaimed the news of a certain artist skilled in the arts of portraiture, whose devotion to their practice was such that they could not bear to paint any more than one face, over and over and over, varying only the sitter’s name and the precise location of the bank in which they deposited the princely sums lavished upon them by an extremely sophisticated clientele.
Gosh! Throwing caution to the winds, I brushed aside my idly gyrating Assamese nautch girl, recklessly purchased an entire sheet of second-grade-fresh bristol board and pushed another quarter into the meter of my steam-driven pencil! Working without respite, I labored to flesh out the Baker’s criminal pretence, multiplying his crypto-Carrollian visage seven-fold!
Huzzah for the critics! In a world of false pretences, who is the menaced assassin and who is the menacing victim now? Look out, New York art-wallahs, here comes a real maverick!