Time

In this allegorical English School painting (ca. 1610, by an unknown painter) of Queen Elizabeth I at old age you see the allegories of Death and of Father Time.

In the inset you see on the left side a depiction of the Bellman from Henry Holiday’s front cover illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876).

Only now, after a few years of having found this painting, I recognized, that not only Henry Holiday’s Bellman looks like that unknown painter’s Father Time, But also the posture of the old queen and the old man are similar.

 

On Borrowing

One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

T. S. Eliot, p. 114 in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

 
Likewise, a good illustrator welds the theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different and sometimes even funnier than that from which it is torn.

 
2018-02-18, update: 2018-10-06

Snark Explanations

by Mary Hammond, published on Nov 7, 2017. There also is an essay: Mary Hammond, Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark Explained.

Mary Hammond’s interpretation of course is not the first Snark interpretation. First hints on what the Snark could be about had been given to us by Henry Holiday and Philo M. Buck. And there is an excellent chapter on Carroll’s tragicomedy in Louise Schweitzer’s One Wild Flower. Oliver Sturm’s Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz is a German translation, which also contains an attempt to explain the Snark. And there is a Snark chapter in Klaus Reichert’s Lewis Carroll: Studien zum literarischen Unsinn. Reichert is another German Snark translator.

Among the interpretations known to me, Mary Hammond’s interpretation is the first one where Eternal Damnation is seen as one of the more important issues to which Lewis Carroll might have taken reference in The Hunting of the Snark. In Carroll’s poem, the Baker‘s Forty-Two Boxes led me to the same conclusion earlier.

In my correspondence with Mary Hammond (a pen ame of Mary Hibbs) she also told me about what in her view “…jum” in Boojum could stand for: Search for jumble in the chapter Of Reason in John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).

I too associate Boojum with the vanishing of reason – which too often is the beginning of violence. Yet, I’ll probably never know, whether my association is similar to what the Boojum meant to Carroll.

549    “It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
550        And seemed almost too good to be true.
551    Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
552        Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo-”

553    Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
554        A weary and wandering sigh
555    That sounded like “-jum!” but the others declare
556        It was only a breeze that went by.

 


My publications:
Knight Letter № 99: Nose is a Nose is a Nose
Knight Letter № 100: Burning the Baker

 


There now is a new paperback edition of Untangling the Knot: An Analysis of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 2019-10-06, by Sandra Mann (besides Mary Hammond another pen name of Mary Hibbs). She also sent me an additional article about a possible reference to Bishop Reginal Heber (1783-1826).

 
2017-11-17, updated: 2018-10-10

Snark Taming

Warren Buffet @warrenbuffet99 2018-08-26 15:18 UTC

The smartest people I know:

1   Don’t get easily offended
2   Read more than they talk
3   Enjoy intelligent discourse
4   Quickly admit when they’re wrong
5   Comfortable changing their opinion
6   Surround themselves w/ intelligence
7   Seek to understand every perspective on a topic

 


The Snark is not necessarily evil.

197    “He remarked to me then,” said that mildest of men,
198        “ ‘If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
199    Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
200        And it’s handy for striking a light.

Let’s strike a light and help the Snark not to turn into a Boojum: Snark taming.

Snark and Boojum Today

Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s The Hunting of the Snark made me digging into British history and the history the Anglican church (especially the Oxford Movement).

It’s not history, at least not a finished one.

To me, Carroll’s tragicomedy (a tragedy in Henry Holiday’s view) is about the doctrinal conflicts (some of them lethal) arising along the travel to truth, whatever that might be. These conflicts within and between belief systems surely didn’t end today. Also the concrete disputes which might have inspired the Rev. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) in the 19th century seem to be going on even today. All that is quite strange to me (not only because I am a German). I can’t take sides, because I don’t even understand how and why the disputed issues can be issues at all.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/church-england-has-sent-clear-message-its-conservative-churchgoers-youre-not-wanted-1611289:

The Church of England has sent a clear message to its conservative churchgoers – you’re not wanted.

The treatment of Bishop Philip North, an Anglo-Catholic, shows the Church’s prospects for unity are grim.
By Andrew Sabisky March 13, 2017 13:16 GMT

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the Church of England is at it again. Fresh off a truly disastrous session of General Synod (the Church’s parliament), it has plunged itself headlong into further public ignominy.

The latest disaster concerns Bishop Philip North, currently the Bishop of Burnley. He was chosen by the bureaucracy to be the new Bishop of Sheffield (a promotion from suffragan to diocesan status). []

Not only the ongoing struggles in the Anglican Church still are turning Snarks into Boojums. The multicultural beasts are very alife today, perhaps more than ever.


106        … the Captain they trusted so well
107    Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
108        And that was to tingle his bell.

109    He was thoughtful and grave—but the orders he gave
110        Were enough to bewilder a crew.
111    When he cried “Steer to starboard, but keep her headlarboard!”
112        What on earth was the helmsman to do?

113    Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
114        A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
115    That frequently happens in tropical climes,
116        When a vessel is, so to speak, “snarked.”

117    But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
118        And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
119    Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
120        That the ship would not travel due West!

Beyond Oxford and beyond the church, Carroll’s tragicomedy also applies to the conflicts (some of them lethal) arising along the travel to truth in worldly matters. In the last years more and more Boojums got in the way of the travellers. Most of them are notorious liars. How evil they are you’ll understand if you see what kind of leadership they admire.

 
1st post: 2017-01-21, update: 2018-08-07

What I tell you three times is true!

001    “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
002        As he landed his crew with care;
003    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
004        By a finger entwined in his hair.

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

329    “’Tis the voice of the Jubjub!” he suddenly cried.
330        (This man, that they used to call “Dunce.”)
331    “As the Bellman would tell you,” he added with pride,
332        “I have uttered that sentiment once.

333    “’Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
334        You will find I have told it you twice.
335    ’Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
336        If only I’ve stated it thrice.

 
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman told us …

… that President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Wharton were huge fans of the Snark. On one visit to the White House, Wharton learned of the following exchange that occurred between the President and the Secretary of the Navy (undoubtedly unaware of Carroll’s poem, or at least unaware that Roosevelt was quoting):

During discussion, Roosevelt said to the secretary of the Navy,

“Mr. Secretary, what I tell you three times is true!”

The Secretary replied stiffly,

“Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity.”

Yes, better don’t impugn your leader’s veracity. Even though he will get rid of you rather sooner than later, you don’t need to push it.

 

The Bellman’s Rule is stated in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, line #7 and line #335. I said it in Lua – wrote it in Python, I made that indeed, but I wholly forgot (when finally done), that Haskell is what you need! So, here is an example for how to implement that rule:

#! /usr/bin/haskell
import Data.List
statementList :: [String]
statementList =
  ["I am a stable genius!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"There are 9 Snark hunters."
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"I am a stable genius!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"6 * 7 = 42"
  ,"I am a stable genius!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ]
atLeastThrice :: [String] -> [String]
atLeastThrice sL =
  [head grp | grp <-
    group $ sort sL, length grp >= 3]

Result (if loaded and executed in GHCi):

*Main> atLeastThrice statementList
["6 * 7 = 39","Brexit promises will be kept!","I am a stable genius!","There are 10 Snark hunters."]

If you want to prove other claims, just change claims.

 
2017-12-16, update: 2018-07-25

Article 42 in the 42 Articles

In June 2018, Karen Gardiner suggested that in The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll/Dodgson addressed the Article 42 in Thomas Cranmer‘s Articles.
        Gardiner’s paper (Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, July 2018, p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31) also was based on her knowledge as an Anglican Priest.
        My approach to a possible reference in The Hunting of the Snark to the 42 Articles was different. If I look back at what came into my mind in the year 2014, it was Henry Holiday who made me curious to learn more about the articles 27, 41 and 42 and whether they might have been an issue for the Reverend Dodgson.

Three Creeds

To what could the Baker’s “three boots” refer?

This office [of the Helmsman] was usually undertaken by the Boots, who found in it a refuge from the Baker’s constant complaints about the insufficient blacking of his three pairs of boots.

029    The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
030        He had seven coats on when he came,
031    With three pairs of boots—but the worst of it was,
032        He had wholly forgotten his name.

In Understanding Carroll’s Theological and Philosophical Views” (2010), John Tufail wrote:

The Jowett controversy was just a small part of what he [Pusey] saw as an extremely serious challenge to the authority of the Anglican Church and the basic tenets (the 32 [typo: Tufail meant 39] articles and the three Creeds) upon which the Church was based. To Pusey three things were absolute both in terms of faith and of meaning. These were the inviolability of ‘The Word’ discussed above, the concept of ‘Original Sin’, and the idea of ‘Eternal damnation’ for those deemed unrepentant or beyond Salvation. Of the three, the one closest to Pusey’s heart – the thing that most of all kept the Christian flock close to the fold, was the idea of Eternal Damnation. Pusey’s views on this were clearly defined in a letter he wrote on the subject to Bishop Wilberforce in February 1864:

One can hardly think of anything for the hidden blasphemy of that judgement which declares to be uncertain which our Lord taught, and for the loss of the countless souls which it will involve, if not repudiated by the Church. For nothing, I suppose. Keeps men from any sin except the love of God or the fear of Hell.

People like lists with three points. They list up what a god may be (Trinity), and the Three Creeds are another list among such lists with three items.

The Baker’s “three boots” could be a reference to more than one of theese three items lists.


Links:

Frankly speaking, to me all this is more difficult to digest than one important apperance of “three” in nature, the three generations of matter.