不佳

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away —
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

2021-12-23: Illustration mostly by Henry Holiday

How would Chinese call the Boojum?

  • Boojum can be approximately transcribed with 不佳 (bù jiā). The pronouncation in English is explained to Chinese people in fanyi.baidu.com.
  • I also found 布经 (bù jīng) as a Chinese transcription.
  • As for vanishing away, one also could consider to use 不见 (bù jiàn).
  • I call the beast 不佳不见 (bù jiā bù jiàn).

在他想说的话中间,
在他的笑声和喜悦中,
他轻轻地突然消失了—
因为斯纳克变成了
一个不佳不见,你看

在他想說的話中間,
在他的笑聲和喜悅中,
他輕輕地突然消失了—
因為斯納克變成了
一個不佳不見,你看

 
So what is a Snark and what is a Boojum?
Lewis Carroll wrote about The Hunting of the Snark:

As to the meaning of the Snark, I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I’m glad to accept as the meaning of the book. The best that I’ve seen is by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the search after happiness.

  • Snark: Neither the usage in the year 1866 nor the contemporary usage of the term help here. According to Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark has at least one meaning: The pursuit of happiness. To Carroll, that pursuit could be about the Anglican path to happiness. That path is “meagre and hollow, but crisp“, because it void of any catholic decor and superstition. The dispute about how to achieve happiness is not always comfortable, but it is necessary, because for different people there always are different paths to happiness. In civilized societies the Snark helps us to find a path which optimizes our happiness. As people and their environments keep constantly changing, the Snark hunt will never end.
  • Boojum: I think that Lewis Carroll and Henry Holiday’s tragicomedy (a “tragedy” in Holiday’s opinion) is about how walking the meagre and hollow, but crisp path (Snark) towards happiness (whatever that might be) turns into terrible fights with very sad ends (Boojum). Unfortunately, also in the 21st century too often good Snark hunters “softly and suddenly vanish away”. They and their work “disappear”, erased by those who walk along the path of the Boojum. It seems that this will never end as well.
            In a nutshell: In my view, a Boojum is a monster or a process. If you meet it (for example at the violent end of a controversy), then you softly and suddenly vanish away.

 
For comments: Reddit

 
2017-12-17, update: 2022-01-20

Snarks Have Five Unmistakable Marks

As I reported in the Associations Blaster (2014-03-08), Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Henry Holiday kept a Snark as a pet. They served it with «greens», but as growing greens led to horrible electricity bills, Dodgson and Holiday could not afford to keep their Snark any longer. It took many years until 2014, before planting greens became legal in Colorado and affordable enough to breed Snarks again.

How can we recognize a Snark? The Bellman explains it (🎶🎶🎶):

    “Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
        The five unmistakable marks
    By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
        The warranted genuine Snarks.

    “Let us take them in order.

  1.     The first is the taste,
            Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
        Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
            With a flavour of Will-o’-the-wisp.
  2.     “Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
            That it carries too far, when I say
        That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
            And dines on the following day.
  3.     “The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
            Should you happen to venture on one,
        It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
            And it always looks grave at a pun.
  4.     “The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
            Which it constantly carries about,
        And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes –
            A sentiment open to doubt.
  5.     “The fifth is ambition.
    1.  
       


          It next will be right
              To describe each particular batch:
          Distinguishing
             
      those that have feathers, and bite,
             
      And those that have whiskers, and scratch.

          “For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
              Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
          Some are Boojums –” The Bellman broke of in alarm,
              For the Baker had fainted away.
       

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

          “ ‘You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
              You may hunt it with forks and hope;
          You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
              You may charm it with smiles and soap –’ ”

          (“That’s exactly the method,” the Bellman bold
              In a hasty parenthesis cried,
          “That’s exactly the way I have always been told
              That the capture of Snarks should be tried!”)

       
      Warning: The descriptions above are opinions of the Bellman and the Baker’s Uncle. Also important: The views of these characters are not necessarily Lewis Carroll’s views: “I do not hold myself responsible for any of the opinions expressed by the characters in my book.” (Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded)

       
      Among the forks mentioned above (used to hunt the Snark and carried by this landing crew of a naval expedition) is a tuning fork (held by the Banker). Charles Darwin used a tuning-fork to let spiders dance, and for dissection (don’t tell the spiders) he used lace-needles together with his microscope (like the one carried by the beaver).

       
      2017-09-18, edited 2021-12-27

My 1st Snark Trophy

My first Snark encounter was in 2005. Then, after almost four years, I entered the Snark hunting grounds in December 2008. http://www.artandpopularculture.com/User:Goetzkluge could give you an idea where I was in 2010.

The image shows illustrations by Henry Holiday (from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Allegory of Iconoclasts, aka The Image Breakers, around 1567): In the “mouth” of Gheeraerts’ “head” a praying priest is depicted. The shape of the priest also is visible in the “mouth” of Holiday’s vanishing “Baker”.

There is more — with acknowledgments to Mahendra Singh, to John Tufail and to the Internet.

And there are more big heads.

Articles in this blog about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing.

 
2017-08-28, updated: 2021-11-20

Crossover Literature

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. It is crossover literature. You read it differently at different ages. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature (and crossover picture books): Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. Adult readers (at age hundred-forty or so) know more. Some of them will recognize the textual and pictorial references in Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain’s tragicomedy..

Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark has been published almost 150 years ago. Children probably will not understand that the illustration is a reference to the burning of Thomas Cranmer. He and the Baker (the ambivalent hero in The Hunting of the Snark) perhaps hoped that after having left their 42 articles behind, the Boojum won’t get them.

...jum!

The image serves to compare two illustrations:

  • Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). The complete illustration is on the upper left side. A 135° couterclockwise rotated detail from that illustration has been rendered on the upper right side of this comparison image.
    Source: 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark (April 1876).
  • Faiths Victorie in Romes Crueltie (published by Thomas Jenner, c. 1630). Immediately to the right side of the fire, Thomas Cranmer is depicted burning his hand.
    License: CC BY-SA 4.0.
    Source: Folger Digital Image Collection

The rotated detail from Henry Holiday’s illustration neither is a “claw” nor a “beak”. I assume that it depicts a fire. And there is a hand in both fires. Carroll and Holiday almost too successfully made sure that the readers of The Hunting of the Snark don’t understand their references to Thomas Cranmer too early: Carroll’s tragycomedy was published in 1876. In 1994, Angus MacIntyre suggested: “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” in The Reverend Snark, Jabberwocky 23(1994), p. 51~52. Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference (I started to search for it in 2010) to Thomas Cranmer’s burning confirms the link between The Hunting of the Snark and Thomas Cranmer.

 
2018-05-07, update: 2021-01-05

When the Queen met the Boojum

This is the first page published in snrk.de, a blog which was set up in 2017. It’s mostly about Lewis Carroll‘s, Henry Holiday‘s and Joseph Swain‘s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark.

In his Illuminated Snark, John Tufail assumed that the night sky in the front cover of The Hunting of the Snark could be a map. Together with my assumption that Henry Holiday drew inspiration from several paintings by Marcus Gheeraerts (I+II), John’s paper helped me to find the Ditchley Portrait. That again helped me to find the painting by an unknown artist depicting Elizabeth I at old age.

more

 
2017-08-28, update: 2020-02-27

Delightful Monster


Monsters, by Henry Holiday (left) and J. J. Grandville (right).
 

[…] One of the first three [illustrations] I had to do was the disappearance of the Baker, and I not unnaturally invented a Boojum. Mr. Dodgson wrote that it was a delightful monster, but that it was inadmissible. All his descriptions of the Boojum were quite unimaginable, and he wanted the creature to remain so. I assented, of course, though reluctant to dismiss what I am still confident is an accurate representation. I hope that some future Darwin in a new Beagle will find the beast, or its remains; if he does, I know he will confirm my drawing. […]

(Henry Holiday (1898): The Snark’s Significance)

 
Once you meet the Boojum, you might be Going Slightly Mad.

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 head larboard!”
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