Monday, February 22, 2016
It’s not often that one finds Lewis Carroll, St. Anthony the Great, Hieronymus Bosch and the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson mentioned in the very same breath but such are the rarified quiddities of this inkster’s inspiration.
The Butcher is shown here writing a footnote, two of ‘em since he’s ambipedextrous, an affectation rampant amongst Liberians and Americans, both of whom share an affinity for feet over meters, the imperious rascals! One of the most prodigal of these American metrophobes was the journalist, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who gained a considerable notoriety for "explaining it all in a popular style" to an otherwise unsuspecting American public.
Thompson’s most notorious national apologia was the jeremiad, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which detailed his quest for spiritual enlightenment in the nearest available desert. Having no recourse to any secluded grottos, Thompson pursued his ascetic devotions in the general direction of Las Vegas with astonishing success, and like St. Anthony, he quickly attracted an entourage of devilish phantoms in a variety of tormenting styles and sizes.
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert … suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming, 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?'"
The well-gargled Flemish painter, Hieronymus Bosch, whilst under the influence of an anachronistic plagiarism, had already worked up a police identification sketch of some of Thompson’s assailants, of which I have made the above drawing of a fax of a snapshot of a xerox. This startling image of a group of out-of-town snarkhunters taking in Wayne Newton at Circus Circus bears an eerie and uncanny resemblance to both the turgid cerebral froth of Messers Anthony, Bosch and Thompson, Esq., and a certain little stanza of The Hunting of the Snark which we’ve been seeing far too much of around here lately!
As your attorney, dear readers, I advise you to avoid eye contact with all these suspect, hallucinatory inhabitants of weirdo drawings brandishing their trippy, second-hand anapaests and uncomfortably reminding us that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. We are but amateurs of the Snark, you and I, and as such, cuddly little fluffy things ill-suited to the rigors of modern life and all that other mental stuff.
Monday, February 15, 2016
Strange, creepy creatures are the bane of modern life and both Lewis Carroll and myself have seen fit to embellish this crucial stanzel of The Hunting of the Snark with a surfeit of ‘em. Suitably alarmed, the Butcher has darted into a convenient telephone booth and re-emerged in the guise of St. Anthony, the father of Christian monasticism and more to our purposes, a veritable bit of human fly-paper for all manner of hallucinatory things that go bump in the night.
The attentive reader will remember that the very first stanzel of this Snark involved a direct quotation from Mathias Grünewald’s version of St. Anthony, a quotation which involved a fair bit of mirror-work and the cramming of a very hirsute and oddly fey Saint into the sturdy 19th-century country-squire’s boots of the Boots, AKA Charles Darwin. This saint-bashing mania of mine is shared with many other artists; throughout the ages, we Bildervolk have mass-produced St. Anthonys by the bucketful. Even Henry Holiday joined in the fun, establishing an Antonine precedent for Fit the Fifth which even the religiously fastidious Lewis Carroll approved!
From whence comes this Antiantonimania? Are Salvador Dali (the Norman Rockwell of Surrealism), Hieronymus Bosch, Feliciens Rops and and even Gustave Flaubert all victims of a sudden outbreak of religious fervor? Or is it all just an excuse to draw legions of naked women and creepy circus sideshow freaks mobbing a defenseless old man in a desert?
To be sure, there is a certain visual, even Luis Buñuel kind of appeal to such a proposition but nonetheless, dear reader, it’s just not very sporting, is it? The genuinely Christian thing to do is to insist that all these unreal phenomena besetting a very real person are promptly replaced with a new and improved denful of very real phenomena besetting a patently unreal person! The latter personage would be, of course, our Snark, and I’m certain that you, the readers and thus the ultimate — and only! — reality of this poem, will do a splendid job of standing in as the former.
So, that’s all settled, is it? I’ll go and have a nice lie-down while you slip into your new Snark-baiting role. Just study the above drawing very carefully and do whatever Mister Bosch says. He does have an active imagination and if anyone asks you why this is so, hint vaguely that it’s just that Hieronymo's mad againe.
Monday, February 8, 2016
One can say what one likes about Lewis Carroll, or his secretive doppelgänger, C.L. Dodgson, but one cannot say that either of them ever ignored the intellectual and literary ramifications of what we now call common, garden-variety Stupidity.
The above stanzel is proof positive of all of the above blather, 100-proof positive, I should think, with all its various pictolinguistic bits and pieces denoting a thorough inability on the part of its protagonists to perform even the simplest of arithmetical tasks.
We know that C.L. Dodgson, in his capacity as a maths tutor at Christ Church, had many opportunities to complain to his associate Carroll of the genuine dunderheadedness of most of his pupils. Many of these young scholars, being scions of the British upper classes, abjured all abstract thought whatsoever and devoted themselves instead to the less mentally taxing pastimes of drinking, gambling — and yes! — hunting!
Can we venture to guess that Carroll, sympathizing with and perhaps even assisted by the unlucky Dodgson, undertook an elaborate scheme of passive-aggressive revenge, composing a cunning lampoon which in its essence is nothing more than a verse epic dedicated to the Stupidity of the Hunting Classes, a Victorian Dunciad, so to speak?
We know that the entire Hunting of the Snark is predicated mostly upon the Clochetic Rule-of-Three, a shining example of logical inanity. We know that this poem’s very title admits of two, very opposite meanings: either a hunting for a snark, or rather, a hunting undertaken by a snark! In either case, a nitwittery is produced since the Snark is unreal and thus unavailable for hunting in any sense of the word.
Furthermore, Dodgson’s fellow Oxonian, the inestimable Dr. Johnson, himself noted that no man but a blockhead ever wrote but for money*, a pertinent observation in light of the fact that Carroll wrote all his literary works solely for his and his child-friends’ pleasure.
And so, in the most approved clochetic manner, we will triangulate from all of the above and arrive at the inescapable conclusion that the very Genius of Stupidity thoroughly permeates every phoneme of the Snark! We’ll then fritter all of the above’s wig by quickly dredging it in Jules Renan’s oh-so-Gallic remark that he never understood the concept of infinity until he contemplated the stupidity of the human race, in particular, the blockheaded stubbornness of those sportsmen who persist in chasing an infinitely receding prey!
The result is a infinitely-toasted-cheese sort of thing of utterly mixed metaphors which lets you, dear reader, off a certain hook entirely, for the fact that you have followed this ungainly argument so far is double-plus-proof-positive that you’re a Genuine Smartie and no Thickie at all! Huzzah for good breeding and the finest education that Mummy and Daddy’s pelf can buy, eh?
*A statement itself proved true by the Clochetic Rule of Three in light of its triple-negative syntax! Darn these pesky liberals and their sin tax!
Monday, February 1, 2016
I've been remiss in posting commentaries upon my GN version of The Hunting of the Snark and the reason is simple: with my illustrated novel and another lavishly illustrated, Cabellian-steampunkish book for Penguin/Random being prepared for publication, I'm stretched a bit thin … but you know, my heart belongs to Snark, so I promise to behave from now on …
Ladies and gentlemen, the name of the game is Hunting the Snark and today we’ll try to find a Jubjub Bird, a beast just like the Snark but even better.
Finding one is child’s play, especially for a smart operator such as you. Simply lay your money down and watch the origami cranes closely, the clue you seek is beneath one of them. Pay no attention to the young gentleman with the fieldstone head and vacant expression, he’s a Polynesian exchange student studying mid-19th-century British abattoir practices and he has nothing to do with me, I assure you. The epithet of shill worries him not, it's idle speculation and his empty head is entirely innocent of such nefarious thing-um-a-jigs.
Using the Clochetic Rule of Three (known to polite society as the Logician’s Variation Upon Three Card Monte) the Butcher has already won a Jubjub Bird, the lucky guy! Alas, his fellow gamester, the plucky Beaver, has lost count. She is a flummoxed castorian, or in popular parlance, a mark, and as such, quite appealing to homicidal beasts such as Jubjub Birds!
In fact, her dizzy-headed state of pixilation is the only correct strategy to defeat this nefarious, thimblerigged scheme! Dispossessed of all common sense, proudly ignorant of all logical acumen, she blithely chooses the closest origami crane — et voilà — all the fluttering, flying, flittering semioglyphs concealed therein are freed at last!
Yes, dear readers, it’s all rather zenlike, most confidence games are. Truth and deception, sense and nonsense, all enfolded upon themselves into origamic puzzles which, when upended, release into the wild the crypto-Jubjubian fledgings of raw meaning.
And if all the above crosstalk wracks your poor brains, then beware the Jubjub, my son, and watch the telly instead, it do the Snark in different voices!