Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jonathan Livingston Snark

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right

To describe each particular batch:

Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,

And those that have whiskers, and scratch.

The Bellman continues his Indictment of the Snark with the accusation of Ambition, tempered with the observation that all Snarks, like intestines or the Carolinas, are further divided into two parts*.

First, you have your biting Snarks, those goody-two-shoes who brush their teeth every night and limit their ambitions to lime jello with their salisbury steak dinner. Their purported bite is as gentle as the nibblements of curious goldfish upon a giggling baby’s bum, a mere trifle. They are the auspicious Snarks, the best of Snarks, the heppiest of Snarks, no ill wind will ever ruffle these li’l ainjils’ feathers.

Then there are those other scratching Snarks, addicted to back-room jobbery in used woolen underwear and race-track skullduggeries. They are Snarks fallen from grace, they loathe hairnets, electrolysis and the consumption of soup and cotton candy. We see an example of this latter Snark in the above illustration. He is lost in his own private pandemonium, shuffling to a distant armegeddon in his mismatched, postlapsarian slippers, forkéd tail and second-hand wings. He has been consumed entirely by the itch of Ambition, an old itch for an Old Scratch!


*An odd inconsistency which seems to have escaped most Snarkologists. The Bellman commences his Indictment by specifically stating that there are 5 Snarkian qualities. The feathered-whiskered speciation that follows the 5th Indictment is obviously another distinct, yet unannounced 6th Indictment. In light of the Bellman’s demonstrated inability to enunciate the number 6, might we conjecture that the number of this particular beast is 6? One's pursuers certainly cannot hunt what they cannot count, or so goes the Snark's reasoning. Using the Clochetic Rule-of-Three, we might even bandy about the number 666, a number of apocalyptic import which might well presage the lethal approach of the dreaded Boojum!


  1. I was wondering why the Bellman wasn't elaborating further about snarkian ambition. So the reason why the ambitions pursued by Snarks will never be enumerated by our lecturer is that there are more than 5 of these?

  2. Good point! The snark's ambition is infinite and thus, it cannot be enumerated. Some snarkologists have theorized that the snark's final ambition might well be to become the Reader thus, the infinite limit of the Snark-Ambition Function is in fact, finite: it's you!

    The main thing is to never fall asleep while reading The Snark … you might awake to BE the Snark. Soyez zen!

  3. In the end, those that have feathers, and bite, and those that have whiskers, and scratch, may have one think in common: They etch and engrave to make prints.

  4. If only they had time to take up etching & engraving again!