Memo to Kai Flanders: Being Snarky about Rush is No Protection from the Boojum

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.
—Lewis Carroll, “The Hunting of the Snark”

Kai, like the baker in Lewis Carroll’s epic nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark, you’ve reached out to grasp the snark only to discover it was a boojum and have it disappear in your hands. But we’re here to help.

In your Feb. 17 L. A. Weekly piece on why Rush is the 9th worst band of all time, you compare Rush to anchovies and you’re clearly satisfied with your simile; you take almost half of your 100-word write-up to unspool it:

“It’s often said that people either love Rush or hate them, but a more accurate statement is that most people hate Rush, while a scattered few really love them. Sort of like anchovies; in fact, it’s quite fair to call Rush the anchovies of rock music.”

But is that a good writing strategy, Kai? When you only have 100 words to make your case, should you really throw half of them away trying to catch the snark? After all, as in Carroll’s poem, you’ll probably just end up with a boojum, which leaves you with nothing.

“Snark” is usually thought of as sarcasm, a cutting remark, but I think Carroll’s idea of snark is the better one: something you think you’ve grasped only to see it disappear in your hands. That’s probably why so many attempts to be arch fall flat.

You deserve credit for trying to grasp this holy grail of writing, and with more tries in the years ahead you’re going to catch the snark. I’m confident of it. If there’s a next time, just give a few more similes a test run before you settle on one. Not that you’ll necessarily be asked to write up another 100 words on why Rush is among the worst bands ever, but if you are, try weighing the use of “sardines” or “squid.” I mean, how many people really like squid? And yet there are some peope who love it. Think about “squid” next time, Kai.

If you do, you might just catch the snark. Lewis Carroll says you won’t—it’ll just be another boojum. But what does Carroll know about arch writing, eh?—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault

 More This and That.

~ by rvkeeper on February 24, 2012.

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