Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Video killed the radio snark

Many thanks to Ann, Graham and Dave for making my interview at the CBC Radio One last Sunday so enjoyable. A copy of the Snark was given away to some hapless listener and much merriment was demonstrated as Dave read out the weather stats for Quebec, especially for those happy locales enjoying the balmy -40 degrees Celsius. It ain't the heat, it's the humidity, eh?

The interview can be heard here or downloaded here.

The only pain was self-inflicted, I fear, for I caught myself making several snarkian faux pas … to wit:

1. Louis Aragon was not a woman, despite my insinuations …
2. His (dreadful) translation of the Snark was published by Nancy Cunard, not Sylvia Beach, the former also having published Beckett's Whoroscope which is a far better example of genuine Nonsense than Aragon's …
3. An orthodox snark-hunter prefers to softly and suddenly vanish away … no substitutes accepted!

I have no doubt that I shall be shortly hauled up before a Carrollian tribunal and my LCSNA pin stripped away before I'm shipped off to Snark Island!

My sole defense is to offer you this demi-risible analysis of the above stanzel in our on-going exegesis of The Hunting of the Snark by You Know Who …

It was probable that Lewis Carroll never intended for us to have any notion of what actually went on behind the scenes of his Snark Hunt. Snark hunting, like the legislative process, is a notoriously messy business similar to stuffing sausage meat into casings or cash into briefcases. It is an affair ill-suited to dandies or clowns, which is precisely the fugal state into which we now see the Butcher fleeing into.

The ruff that our Butcher wears is derived from ruffle which is itself derived from the Old Norse hrufla, to scratch. This quality of scratching has already been defined as one of the distinctive qualities of the Pandemonic-Boojum subspecies of Snarks (Snarquus boojum infernum) as they are found in the wild.

The yellow kid gloves, a term smacking of an overly dainty or delicate temperament, are redolent with intimations of the overly-refined British buffoonery of the late-Victorian Aesthetic genre of art and literature. One of the luminaries of this movement, Oscar Wilde, made a small though crucial contribution to Snarkology when he concocted that character Bunbury, who had an entirely unsettling or even annihilating effect upon anyone who encountered him — despite his nonexistence! This is a protosurrealist homage of sorts from one great genius to another, the Bunbury effect being entirely similar to the Boojum effect. But wait, dear reader, there’s more …

It is an interesting though useless fact that Bunbury is also a verb, to bunbury meaning to assume a different persona in the countryside as opposed to the city. Nowadays, this verb is mostly employed by ornithologists, to describe the variant personae and behavior of birds in rural and urban environments. And of course, birds also have feathers and bite, which is the defining characteristic of the other Cherubic subspecies of Boojums, Snarquus boojum angelicum.

Well, that’s pretty much QED, I should think, for my Unified Snarkian Multiverse Theory. Stuff indeed, Mister Bellman, harrumph, harrumph!


  1. We've been over all that. But where there's smoke, this is not a pipe ...

    but further, on vanishment:
    DeQuincey's Confessions: The reader may choose to think of him as possibly no more than a sublunary druggist; it may be so, but my faith is better: I believe him to have evanesced, or evaporated. So unwillingly would I connect any mortal remembrances with that hour, and place, and creature, that first brought me acquainted with the celestial drug.
    DeQuincey's note: Evanesced. - this way of going off the stage of life appears to have been well known in the 17th century, but at that time to have been considered a peculiar privilege of blood-royal, and by no means to be allowed to druggists. For about the year 1686, a poet of rather ominous name (and who, by the bye, did ample justice to his name), viz., Mr. Flat-man, in speaking of the death of Charles II expresses his surprise that any prince should commit so absurd an act as dying; because, says he,
    "Kings should disdain to die, and only disappear."
    They should abscond, that is, into the other world.

    Meanwhile, mockingbirds mimic car alarms.

  2. Thanks, Dave, for that über-baroque digression into the Heart of Snarkness. You have touched upon many important points of this Snark Hunt and literature in general.

    Mimickery is the essence of all thought and communication, it is the heart of symbolic logic and language and religion.

    Evanesced is a word which I will endeavour to use more often, the royal connotations make it obligatory for any self-respecting 21st-century crank such as you or I … as for De Quincey, I always like to think of him as the Athanasius Kirchner of Animal House.

  3. The reference to Sarah Palin gave your interview a very good start. And "surrealist 'Where is Waldo'" was a very good description of your book. It's about SEEING. Who would dare to refudiate that?

  4. Thanks, Goetz. Sarah Plain gives a good start to any Nonsense talk!