Monday, January 20, 2014

Full fathom five thy father lies; of his bones are snark made!

We're plodding through yet another exegesis of my Snark GN …  deep in the anapestic bowels of Fit the Second …
The original illustration by Holiday of this Universal Map is, to be honest, a little trite. It's obvious that the poor man was trying to economize on india ink and pen nibs. However, as the 11th Commandment reminds us: thou shalt not speak ill of another artist, particularly when they are dead and defenseless (the precise state in which their work is best appreciated and appreciates best).

I felt that I could do better. I assumed the traditional artist's position of cogitation whilst supine on my charpoy. I puffed upon the hookah proferred me by the Assamese chorus-girl who also pressed my feet, the predominant organ of mentation in my species. I was, of course, familiar with the etymology of the word "map", which ultimately conjured up the hebraic motif of a cloth which conceals and a cloth which reveals, all of which I deftly distilled into "what's-behind-curtain-number-four" and "the-Freudian-Slip".

But still … it was obvious … too obvious, perhaps. All the better for my class of readers! Starting with a gratuitious insult to Henry Holiday I had mentally arrived at a hookah-puffing Jewish savant peddling obscurantism to a witless Bellman in a Cairene souk. In the distance I could hear the blood-curdling screams of native children conjugating French verbs. I paid them no heed! I bent over my drawing board, pen in hand, my thoughts feverishly coagulating in a vivid mental maelstrom of mixed metaphors and incongruous images! Two weeks ago I couldn't even spell "artist", now I are one!


  1. Perhaps Holiday was not guilty of saving ink. Instead, Dodgson may have saved some money by not asking Holiday to come up with the map. Dodgson just gave a simple sketch to the compositor in the printing shop, who then quickly arranged a map using whiskers to scratch some lines into the map and feathers to bite the plate. Then simple movable types were used for the text.

  2. Yes, to bite the plate, sounds like William Blake and his infernal, corrosive methods. From Blake to Carroll is just a small step. And from there to a nice cup of tea, yet another small step.