Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Snark Gibson Show

I'm posting earlier than usual because I'll be appearing on the CBC Radio One in Montreal this Sunday morning, Jan. 30, 8-9 a.m. local time. The inimitable Dave Bronstetter will be interviewing me and I am hoping for an unusually vivid mental picture of my Snark GN to be broadcast into the snowy ether of Quebec. The Montreal feed can be heard here (I hope).

Many thanks to everyone at Drawn & Quarterly who both hosted and assisted me in my presentation & signing last night, Rory, Julia and Fiona. And thanks to everyone who showed up, a good time was had by all and no one softly and silently vanished away.

Several members of the audience expressed surprise at my assumption that the Snark was a she-Snark. I thought it was rather obvious … the perpetual lateness for meals, the lack of humor and the tendency to bite and scratch when cornered.

Male Snarks are entirely different. I leave it to female Snarkologists to fill us in on their shortcomings, fair's fair, I think.

Meanwhile, the above stanzel is a hearty quatrain of Lewis Carroll’s finest Snark vintage embellished with a festive pattern of squiggles, lines and dots which correspond to a semi-hallucinatory circus vision of Friedrich Nietzsche masquerading as a Bonnet-Maker while the Second-Greatest-French-Novelist-Ever, Raymond Roussel, exerts himself as a Billiard-Marker and dares to chalk the Prussian’s nose.

We have already had a laugh at Nietzsche’s expense, exposing the risible connection between himself and all things Bonnet, and quite frankly, the very words "Prussian philosopher" can provide sufficient innocent merriment for anyone's purposes.

As for the Billiard-Marker Raymond Roussel, it is his destiny here to powder the Nietzsche’s nose for all eternity, both of them suspended high above the circus audience, plummeting towards the earth at a frightening velocity. Roussel maintains his Gallic sang-froid with his customary grace. In fact, it may truly be said that after an initial, youthful setback, no earthly mishap or reversal ever again disturbed his composure or determination to write the Great French Novel!

To every young person who genuinely burns with a desire to make Art I say — look to Roussel! Look to him who, when asked what he thought of the Great War, remarked only that he had never seen so many men! Study this adept of Cartesian logic, who, when asked by a Parisian friend for some memento of his travels in India, mailed her an electric heater! Reflect upon the sagacity of the author who, when searching for an illustrator for his verse masterpiece, hit upon the brilliant device of employing a detective agency to find a suitable artist!

"I shall reach the heights; I was born for dazzling glory. It may be long in coming, but I shall have a glory greater than that of Victor Hugo or Napoleon … No author has been or can be superior to me … As the poet said, you feel a burning sensation at your brow. I felt at once that there was a star at my brow and I shall never forget it."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Careful with that snark, Eugene

I speak to you from the very depths of Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark … Fit the Fourth … an overly-inked German philosopher is bullying a better-inked Canadian Snark Huntress …

Judging from both the Barrister’s exasperated demeanour (played here by the Eminent Continental Steamer, Martin Heidegger) and from the general tenor of Lewis Carroll’s verses, the Beaver has no pride worth appealing to. And who can blame her, trapped as she is in a world not of her own making?*

Of course, all of us are trapped in a world not of our own making (probably) and it is at times like this that we might resort to the philosophical musings of the Barrister-Heidegger for further enlightenment concerning any time that we might spend being in this world almost certainly not of our own making :

"We name time when we say: every thing has its time. This means: everything which actually is, every being comes and goes at the right time and remains for a time during the time allotted to it. Every thing has its time."

After reading that, would it surprise you to learn that several philosophers were injured in the production of this Snark Hunt? Moments after this drawing was made, the Beaver savagely mauled the upper ontology of the Barrister-Heidegger!


* A common complaint of certain bright young things, those thrill-seeking, rootless cosmopolitans such as the Beaver … a Québécoise wearing an Iberian mantilla, enjoying the echt German music of Heinrich Ignatius Franz von Biber and reading the memoirs of the Mughal Emperor Babur.


NB. If you're eager for more snarkery this Friday, January 28th, 7 p.m., then come to the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly at 211 Bernard Ouest in Montreal … details here … you will enjoy the steam-powered magic lantern show I plan to expose to the public. I'll be signing books and discussing the post-Nonsensical dichotomies of Victorian hermeneutics … the poorer members of the audience can applaud politely, the rest of you rattle your poutines discreetly …

Monday, January 24, 2011

The snark of Doctor Lao

I've commented publicly upon this stanzel of Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark at least four or five times now, both in presentations and in writing … and yet, my original exegesis seems to me to be the best … 

The circus-like atmosphere of this Snark hunt has turned dangerous, dangerous to a degree that Lewis Carroll would certainly never countenance! As a pedagogue, Carroll was very aware of the dangers posed by throwing sharp objects at others; he frequently had to remind his young charges to cease throwing sticks and paper clips and buttered scones at each other lest they put out someone’s eye!

The fact that the above-pictured Snarquistadores are all nominally adults does not lessen the culpability of their criminal negligence. The Broker, played here by Erik Satie, is recklessly endangering the very person of the charming Beaver with his lethal spades, whilst the Boots, embodied by the respectably hirsute Charles Darwin, says nothing.

Perhaps the Boots is afraid of Satie? Perhaps he is afraid of remonstrating with this mysterious person who founded his own religion (The Metropolitan Church of Art of Jesus, Leader), who promulgated the use of boredom as a musical motif and who took up smoking to give his physician extra income?

We shall never know for certain, this drawing furnishes as few clues as Carroll’s stanza does. The Mona-Lisa smile of the Beaver, the inscrutable visage of the Satie-Broker, they all hint at some deeper mystery … perhaps the Boot’s odd position is a clue … yes … that may be it … how does he manage to remain so firmly affixed to his trapeze board whilst upside-down?

Is he transfixed there by boredom? Can it be that he is listening to the Broker’s 14-hour long solo masterpiece (which Gavin Bryars described as a sort of "Ring des Nibelungen des pauvres"), a work of music so maddeningly dull and repetitive that the ordinary laws of gravity have simply given up in disgust and gone somewhere else — somewhere less plagued by such boojum-like Vexations?

NB. If you're eager for more snarkery this Friday, January 28th, 7 p.m., then come to the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly at 211 Bernard Ouest in Montreal … details here … you might enjoy the steam-powered magic lantern show I plan to expose to the public. I'll be signing books and discussing the post-Nonsensical dichotomies of Victorian hermeneutics … the poorer members of the audience can applaud politely, the rest of you can rattle your poutines discreetly …

Friday, January 21, 2011


More recycling, alas …

The alert reader will notice that I’ve taken the liberty of transporting Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark into a tautological circus ring, replete with circus wagons, circus folk and their circus things and even an audience of the requisite Chiricoid and Savinionesque mannequins and homunculi (for the latter proletariat of the surrealist hierarchy, this show, nay, any show at all, is indeed the Greatest Show on Earth!).

The more alert reader will observe that the Baker, played here by Lewis Carroll himself, is engaged in a classic bit of Victorian slapstick, involving a beard and a fork and the dust accumulated in his coat after decades of teaching Christ Church undergraduates. Although Carroll appears clean-shaven for most of this Snark Hunt, it is a little known but useful fact that this is how he looked when he was lecturing: hirsute and rather discombobulated. Any scoffers or killjoys need only refer to the Great One’s own self-portrait.

The most alert reader will immediately spot the utter absurdity of the Banker (played here by Karl Marx) endorsing a blank check and then crossing it, a bit of complex British financial skulduggery involving a stale and phlegmish sight gag redolent of the vaudevillian buffoonery of those other, less hirsute Marxists : Messers Harpo, Chico, Groucho and Zeppo.

But of course, you knew that all along, didn’t you?

NB. If you're at loose ends this Friday, January 28th, 7 p.m., and the conditions of your parole allow you to go down to the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, you might enjoy the steam-powered magic lantern show I plan to expose to the public. I'll be signing books and discussing the post-Nonsensical dichotomies of Victorian hermeneutics whilst you wallow in a tawdry poutine or two …

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kiss me, snarky

Deadlines press, very busy inking a full set of navels into a fresh shipment of oranges … meanwhile, we continue our exegesis …

Huzzah! England expects the Bellman to insert his bell into his right eye. The Bellman promptly complies! Certain idle loafers might insinuate that he does so to ignore a signal ordering his withdrawal during the Battle of Copenhagen but the Bellman doesn’t give a fig for such talk.

In fact, having lost the use of his right eye in Corsica, the addition of a large bell into the useless socket gives him a certain rakish, clochetic look which has proved quite popular with the ladies, in particular, the lovely Lady Emma Hamilton! Imagine her surprise when she discovered afterwards that the Bellman had bequeathed her to the British nation in a codicil of his will!

But her dismay was nothing compared to that of Lewis Carroll, the author of this very Snark Hunt! Imagine his surprise when he discovered that his amanuensis (and rather louche business manager) Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a maternal great-great-nephew of Admiral Skeffington Ludwidge, upon whose ship HMS Carcass a young midshipman named Horatio Nelson began his storied career … a career which included Nelson’s loss of an eye in Corsica … the disregarding of signals during the Battle of Copenhagen … and even the transferral of a Lady Hamilton to a grateful though perplexed nation.

Simple coincidence? I think not! I think what we have here is a Snark Hunt of staggeringly devious complexity, an insidious cabal hatched forth in the shadowed lair of an occluded Illuminati who will stop at nothing (cue evil laughter) … And so I say to you, gentle reader : steady on there, old chap, stiff upper lip and all that!

Remember that whenever he (or she) is confronted by hopeless odds, the True Snark Hunter expects every man to do his duty!

Hip hip hooray! Rum and coke for all ratings on deck!

NB. If you're really bored next Friday, January 28th, 7 p.m., and your parole officer allows you to go down to the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, you might enjoy the steam-powered magic lantern show I plan to expose to the public. I'll be signing books and discussing the post-Nonsensical dichotomies of Victorian hermeneutics whilst you rifle through the spectators' poutines … share and enjoy!

NB. Cocktails, a collection of D.A. Powell's poetry, has just been published by Luxbooks (scroll down to the next-to-last title). This new translation into German, including the entire English text en verso, is accompanied by cover & interior illustrations by yours truly.

D.A. Powell has a rare gift for pushing language towards its farthest limits without lapsing into academic gimmickry or sentimentality and I genuinely recommend his work … so much so that I must forcefully urge you to spend what little cash you have left in purchasing as many copies as possible of this rather unusual volume. Both Luxbooks and Amazon-Deutschland are offering the book — you could easily spend with twice the abandon! Throw caution to the winds this holiday season, like those Wall Street tycoons upon whose largesse we all depend! Io, Saturnalia!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Naked Snark Lunch

Deadlines are still pressing (inking a particularly numinous cheeseburger, amongst other things) and so I must present you with a reprise of an earlier analysis of the above stanzel …

Our favorite poet and Eminent Victorian Lewis Carroll has given us the late 19th-century equivalent of certain ubiquitious American psychobabbitries : do all that you know and try all that you don’t.

A peculiar prescription for a peculiar creature, a call of sorts to a half-hearted High Anglican Debauchery aimed at the titillation of the thinking classes. And what titillates the thinking (and unthinking) classes the very most? What is it they dream of, with their eyes wide shut … is it the Female of the Species?

Most likely. And shame on ‘em too, boo hiss boo! Objectifying women with their shameless gaze! These Surrealists, they are a menace to polite society in every city and a blight upon the land in every which way.

They are utterly unlike the respectable, petit-bourgeois Protosurrealist Snark-Hunters whom we see above, scrupulously averting their reifying gaze from La Snarque Nue concealed from them in my forest of lines. Would it surprise you to learn that I have entirely drawn the above with my eyes also firmly shut, trusting only in the animal-instincts of my feral pen to guide me safely through the labyrinth of lines in which the Snark has so cunningly concealed herself?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

True Snark Grit

Deadlines press … we'll continue our detailed explication of this GN version of the Hunting of the Snark in our next posting, 3 days from now …

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be doing a reading and signing at the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal, Friday, January 28th, at 7 p.m.

Many thanks to everyone at D&Q for allowing me on the premises. It will be a simple affair, a magic lantern show whilst I explain it all in a popular style that even a Beaver can understand! And yes, I will be wearing bologna in my shoes. If you need to know why, it's a gesture of solidarity with Steve Martin after his brutal fracas with the hoi polloi at the 92nd St. YMCA.

And if you wish to have a hi-res, 11"x17" tabloid version of the above poster to print out in all its lurid color and then affix to the wall of your opium den or lazaretto or hidden-lair-dedicated-to-the-Thuggee-cult-of-the-goddess-Kali or even the shower room of the 92nd St. YMCA, why, here it is!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Foucault's Snarkulum

Deep in the wierdings of The Hunting of the Snark, in the very nerve center of Fit the Fourth, a snippet of Old English verse charm has popped up unexpectedly …

This infamous Snarkic Galdor of thimbly-forky-soapy-hopes makes its first appearance in our poem at this point … we should note that this verse charm is not designed to repel but to attract Snarks. Hence, it is a form of white magic.

The white magic of paper is nicely balanced here by the black magic of ink, combined into a drawing which depicts the Baker being employed as human bait to attract the Snark.

Human sacrifice was also a popular habit of Old English (or Celtic, really) daily life. The druids seemed to think highly of it and we must admit that Lewis Carroll may have been reenacting this grim custom of his ancestors by using the Baker as human prey for his Snark.

So much of this poem harks back to the half-forgotten tropes and patterns of Old English verse and the Baker is very much the sacrificial hero-victim that all such poems require. The fact that he’s going to be annihilated by a bit of genuine Nonsense gives it all such a striking air of modernist irony, don’t you agree?

Oh, I’m sorry … I forgot … we’re all postmodernists here. In that case, just look at the pretty picture and let your mind go fashionably blank. Something will happen … eventually …

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Cogito ergo snarquo

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Snark Sutra

Our examination of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark is a glorious duty indeed! We few, we happy few, we band of snark hunting brothers (and sisters) have chased our prey for quite some time now … and yet … we have not seen it. Not the slightest sign of a Snark has yet appeared to us.

The Snark is a beast conspicuous by its absence, in fact, that is the only defining characteristic of a Snark which all the taxonomists have ever agreed upon.

The absence of the Snark has created, within the confines of the Carrollian Multiverse, a sort of inverse force field which re-arranges all things and beings, re-arranges them into precursors of Snark. Visual and verbal puns abound, all of them pointing directly at the Absence of the Snark.

One might say, if one is Platonically inclined, that the Snark is a pure Form struggling to be Real but which is substantiated only into puns, tricks and games … the Form of Maya, perhaps?

Or one can have a nice cup of tea, nibble a samosa and have a giggle at these solemnly occidental gentlemen seen above, mis-parsing the Carrollian Multiverse!

NB. A really good interview with Francis Ford Coppola by Ariston Anderson here, concise and useful for all young artists in any medium …

"… I once found a little excerpt from Balzac … he said, “I was so happy when this young person took from me.” Because that’s what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice …

… It is very important for an artist not to lie, and most important is not to lie to yourself … that will carry your personal conviction into your work … There is something we know that’s connected with beauty and truth. There is something ancient. We know that art is about beauty, and therefore it has to be about truth."

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
The joy of snarking

Monday, January 3, 2011

To boldly go where no snark has gone before

If you’re new to this blog, we’re in the midst of a panel by panel explanation and analysis of my recently published GN version of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark.

If you are "jiggy" with this blog then you’ll already know that we are in the midst of Fit the Fourth AKA The Hunting.

The above picture is a feeble stab at an attempt at a sketch of a rough idea of what a futile Nonsense debate might actually look like. Crudely articulated mannequins from a De Chirico painting are pummeling one another with disparate bits of numerological chaff, all of it a sound and fury signifying nothing.

One's face does grow long, doesn't it, when one considers the implications? What lies beyond the end of all debate, when one has stated the whole of one's case? Nothing at all … just the infinite void of no sense …

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
When they talk’d of their Raphaels, Correggios & stuff, he shifted his boojum & only took snuff