Monday, August 27, 2012

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a snark?

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."

Self-explanatory, I should think. The Quebecois, tripartite motif is reinforced by the element of stealthy moisture. Both the fleur-de-lys and water (and what is the color of this water? It is the color of water) are attributes of monarchy, the former being an attribute of the ancien regime and the latter (l'eau) being referred to by the Sun King in his pronouncement: apres moi, le deluge.

The Bellman is given to royal diktats of this sort which he clearly legitimizes with a Christian, trinitarian strategy. The hunting of snarks is not peasant's sport, it is the sport of kings.

 Pshaw to the separation of church and state that is so ballyhooed by our American cousins. What ho! saddle up, the last man afield is a prole!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bartleby the Sniveler

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late —
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad —

He could only bake Bridecake — for which, I may state,

No materials were to be had.

Overheard by our foreign correspondent whilst loitering in the Immigration and Customs queue boarding the HMS Snark :

Immigration and Customs Officer: Have you any personal articles of clothing which you are taking aboard?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.
Immigration and Customs Officer: Have you any luggage or packages which you are taking aboard?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.
Immigration and Customs Officer: Can you state your own name?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.
Immigration and Customs Officer: Can you make bridecake?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.
Immigration and Customs Officer: Do you not know whether you can make bridecake or are you simply unable to procure the materials to do so?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.
Immigration and Customs Officer: (in a heated manner while vigorously waving his arms at the HMS Snark) But confound it all, sir, what does all this mean?
A Baker resembling Lewis Carroll: I don't know.

Note that the Baker consistently eschews the binary either-or of conventional logic upon which his interlocutor is depending, resorting instead to the triunary-based logic of "I don't know". We have already seen how the principle of threes supersedes all other logical statements (what I tell you three times is true) aboard the HMS Snark. Thus, the Baker disposes of the boojum of binary Marxist dialectical materialism, its frumious one-two is slain by his manxome one-two-three! Huzzah! The vorpal blade of the trinitarian Snarkist trialectic immaterialism goes snicker-snack! Oh, there's a PhD dissertation somewhere in all of this, my beamish boys and girls — oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

In the meantime our correspondent had fled the scene and was unable to record any more of what transpired. She had observed that this exasperated public official was being approached now by the pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn figure of Bartleby the Scrivener — a signal for general bedlam to ensue, huzzah again!

NB. If you ever had to deal with a real Bartleby in either your professional or private life, you will agree with me when I say that there's nothing particularly profound, nor artistic, nor even bathetic in such people. Slack-jawed loafers, I call 'em.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Snarkness at noon

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.

The aversion of the Beaver's eyes is motivated by the primitive belief that whatever cannot be seen by oneself, cannot itself see you.* This charming simplicity of thought is the innocent basis of all epistemologies, and it can be said, with some justice, that all of Western philosophy is but footnotes to the nursery-room game of peek-a-boo.

And so … we are indulging in a pre-Socratic, pre-school tautology of existential hide-and-go-seek … the Beaver dematerializes her stony-faced surrealist nemesis, the Butcher, by averting her eyes. Lewis Carroll disarms his Boojum by composing the Snark backwards and thus placing the former into a perpetually receding, invisible future of the latter. As for myself, when that moment arrives when I shall have to tackle the illustrative challenges of drawing the dreaded Boojum … well … I'm one of those literal-minded draughtsmen who cannot draw what he cannot see. 

I shall spurn Rule Number One of Illustration (if you cannot draw it, place a bush in front of it) for I am above such petty stratagems — a plague on all manner of foliage, those leaves, so many, so many, is there no end to them? The naked Boojum shall remain a naked, undrawn, unseeing Boojum.

To see a Boojum, ladies and gentlemen, is to be seen by a Boojum! Eschew the lethal gaze of all negating nonentities and all will be well! Focus instead your nondiscerning gaze upon the perfectly rendered nonchalance of this cool drawing. Nothing to see here folks, just move right along.

*Vide the protosurrealist Andrei Vyshinsky's observation: "The fact that it is dark at night proves merely that I am not paying attention." ("Clinical Morphology of the Parimutuel — Impressions of Mr. Pyridine", Berlin, 1897 – LINK FIXED)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Beware of Greeks Baring Snarks!

They roused him with muffins — they roused him with ice —
They roused him with mustard and cress —
They roused him with jam and judicious advice —
They set him conundrums to guess.

The very mention of that hateful word Boojum had sent our Baker into a swoon and he now reclines artfully upon his hot-buttered-charpoy, just so. His duenna, a woman whose two-faced duplicity beggars the imagination, intercepts the stimulating nourishment which rains upon him like pennies from heaven. The ice, greens, jams and muffins, all of ‘em will vanish into her outstretched apron to reappear in a day-old half-baked no-goods shop she runs on the side. The Baker is left with only a conundrum to guess. Naturally, the conundrum is to guess what the conundrum is.

Oh, these Boojums! Is there no deviltry that they will not stoop to? Great god, save the earth from ever bearing such monsters! No history has proved that there were any such. Through the efforts of the authorities, no one will be exposed to them any longer.

To-say-the-thing-which–is-not and to-draw-the-thing-which-is-not is the Way of the Boojum! That way leads to the Dark Side! Fortunately, our Baker is a simpleton and his foolish mind is the hobgoblin of more consistent ones. Like those buxom Greek girls locked up in bronze towers by their upset daddies, he has no need for conundrums, he just wants to have fun!


NB. A thankful tug of the ink-soaked fetlock towards the perceptive Mr. Adam Roberts at the, whose learned and latinate Snarkiana commentary upon the Way of the Boojum is pure catnip for all snarkistes! These English conundrumists need not worry what it is that cannot be roused by muffins, ice, mustard, cress, jam or judicious advice? They know! ‘Tis a sleeping dog whose master shouts — obey, cur!