Well, I think that the connection between Carroll and Darwin is at best, quite complex. Most people assume that LC's bitterness toward Darwin (documented liberally....I actually have a xeroxed copy of a hand-written note that Carroll wrote, complaining bitterly about Darwin. I got this courtesy of the late Maxine Schaeffer) had to do with Carroll's religious (Anglican) affiliations. I think that this is unsound. On the other hand, neither do I think that Carroll "supported" Darwin. I think that Carroll admitted immaterial aspects of reality (the influence, eg., of Platonism), whereas Darwin was a scientific materialist. Darwin places our origins in matter, whereas Carroll places them more in consciousness. I think that one of the greatest disservices done to LC has been the perpetuation of the myth that he was a "faithful Anglican". This is far too reductionistic. He was an extremely broad-minded, far-thinking spiritually alive man who wasn't deterred by esoteric influences as well as the more conventional protocols of the Church. The two were certainly not mutually exclusive in the philosophical climate of the late nineteenth century!
Well, I think that the connection between Carroll and Darwin is at best, quite complex. Most people assume that LC's bitterness toward Darwin ... had to do with Carroll's religious (Anglican) affiliations. I think that this is unsound. On the other hand, neither do I think that Carroll "supported" Darwin. I think that Carroll admitted immaterial aspects of reality (the influence, eg., of Platonism), whereas Darwin was a scientific materialist. Darwin places our origins in matter, whereas Carroll places them more in consciousness. I think that one of the greatest disservices done to LC has been the perpetuation of the myth that he was a "faithful Anglican". This is far too reductionistic. He was an extremely broad-minded, far-thinking spiritually alive man who wasn't deterred by esoteric influences as well as the more conventional protocols of the Church. The two were certainly not mutually exclusive in the philosophical climate of the late nineteenth century!
I thought of Dodgson/Carroll being mosty supportive to Darwin's theories, but you made me rethink that.
To me, the Snark looks like a description of the struggle of a broad-minded believer. In such a struggle, you fight with your own bias and with the bias of others. Here obfuscating clear expression of thought can help to overcome restricted thinking. I believe, that Dodgson's tool for that was Carroll's "nonsense". He obfuscated lines of thought in order to make readers think themselves. This is a legitimate technique to deal with complexity and prejustice. It is legitimate as long as you don't forget, that you are applying such a technique. It also is legitimate in situations, where communicating your thoughts clearly is dangerous.
My approach to the Snark sometimes uses a technique, which to some may even seem to be dishonest (or at least not scientific): blurring
To a certain degree, "blurring" can help a detector to decode a message. In my job, electronic circuits do that in order to help extracing signals hidden in noise. And like in the human mind, also "wrong" messages can be generated on the receiver's side. This is the effect of "aliasing".
When looking at Holiday's pictures, blurring can help (sometimes it doesn't) to understand, which pictures the artist wants to generate in the brains of spectators and how a picture might have been generated in the mind of the artist. (See also: P. Trevor-Roper, The World through blunted sight, London 1970).
Dodgson obviously not only was broad-minded, but also clear-minded. As "Carroll" he allowed himself to blur clear thoughts in "nonsense"-poetry. That can help a clear thinker to come up with new thoughts and to overcome any own bias in thinking as well as the bias of others.
Sometimes blurring does not interpret anything. Instead of that, it creates something new through "aliasing". In technical communication that is "wrong". In arts, that is not necwessarily so, as long as you are in control of blurring and know, what you do. A blurring-technique may have helped Holiday to come up with the baker's uncle. Here creating something new (by use of noise and anthropomorphism) is a legitimate method. But when interpreting Carroll's writing, this method sometimes leads me to wrong conclusions.
Last Edit: May 2, 2014 13:17:17 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
I would agree with you that CLD was not only broad-minded, but also clear-minded. My research indicates that he had obtained, through study and experience, an expanded sense of consciousness...something akin to what contemporary Buddhism might call "clarity of mind". He obviously did not accept things at "face value" and dug deeper, trying to exhume truths that were hidden beneath superficial appearances. I feel that the more one studies philosophical mysticism, the better one understands the mind and motives of Lewis Carroll!
I would agree with you that CLD was not only broad-minded, but also clear-minded. ... I feel that the more one studies philosophical mysticism, the better one understands the mind and motives of Lewis Carroll!
To me, "mysticism" is about getting ideas without knowing right away why you get them. Another way to get ideas is by conscious thinking. If the two approaches meet each other, the result can be endless and often fruitless discussions. Or they can be fun: Carroll could deal with both approaches (which at times also seems to have been a struggle). Such kind of broadmindedness is rare - and causes trouble if not exercised cautiously. This probably is why Dodgson created Carroll. Keeping them separated (as much as possible) was clear minded.
Last Edit: Jan 21, 2012 4:22:41 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
Segments from left, vertically stretched: Photo of the fireplace in Charles Darwin's study center, vertically stretched: Alfred Parsons' depiction (1882) of Charles Darwin's study right: an illustration (1876) by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark
I think, that Alfred Parsons went beyond just depicting Charles Darwin's study. Especially, in the photo (left) you won't find the "mouth", which you can see in the other two images (center and right).
Thus, Parsons could have added that arched line deliberately to his painting (center). Perhaps he had discovered Henry Holiday's puzzles in the Snark illustrations and then played Holiday's game in his own drawing. Is this a kind of insider joke between artists?
Last Edit: May 2, 2014 13:40:05 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
Inset in inset: Charles Darwin's I think sketch of the evolutionary tree (about July 1837, 1st notebook 1837-1838, page 36) compared to a "weed" in the lower left corner of Holiday's illustration. I learned, that Darwin did not keep his notebook secret after the publication of On the Origin of Species, but I do not know of any presentation of his sketch before 1876. Thus, the resemblance between the "weed" and Darwin's evolutionary tree sketch may be purely incidental.
Last Edit: May 2, 2014 13:12:51 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
left: Illustration "He had wholly forgotten his name" by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (1876)
right: "Crossing the Line" (1839), redrawn (2013) based on a print by Thomas Landseer, after Augustus Earle. The print you will find in Robert Fitz-Roy's and Charles Darwin's Narrative of the surveying voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle, Vol II (1839).
This image is related to my assumption that Lewis Carroll's and Henry Holiday's The Hunting of the Snark at least partially has been inspired by Charles Darwin's explorational Beagle voyage.
Last Edit: May 2, 2014 13:14:06 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
Post by GoetzKluge on Sept 29, 2013 3:28:12 GMT -5
"A sailing ship: the brig H. M. S. Beagle. It is commanded by the bigoted Captain Robert Fitz Roy. The year is 1831. On board, a brain explosion. With a delay of about two centuries of Physics, it is shattered by the the Galileo of Biology. The following stages: In 1838 the theory of natural selection was completed. In 1859 comes the Origin of Species. · · Fade-over. · · When it returns into the scene, it is still a ship. A sailing ship, of course. The Beagle took to the sea again? The year is 1874: Darwin is still alive, well and chatty." (Adriano Orefice)
In the preface to the introduction to his Snark translation (done already in 1982), Adriano Orefice associates the Snark hunt with research and Darwin's Beagle voyage.
"[...] One of the first three [illustrations] I had to do was the disappearance of the Baker, and I not unnatuarally 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
Last Edit: Mar 26, 2014 16:56:18 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge
(On Darwin's influence to The Hunting of the Snark)
If -- and the thing is wildly possible -- the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive poem, it would be based, I [Lewis Carroll] feel convinced, on the line (in p.4) “Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.” In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral purpose of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so cautiously inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural History -- I will take the more prosaic course of simply explaining how it happened.
369 “The method employed I would gladly explain, 370 While I have it so clear in my head, 371 If I had but the time and you had but the brain -- 372 But much yet remains to be said
373 “In one moment I’ve seen what has hitherto been 374 Enveloped in absolute mystery, 375 And without extra charge I will give you at large 376 A Lesson in Natural History ”
377 In his genial way he proceeded to say 378 (Forgetting all laws of propriety, 379 And that giving instruction, without introduction, 380 Would have caused quite a thrill in Society)
Source: Lewis Carroll: The Hunting of the Snark
Best regards from Taipei Götz
Last Edit: Oct 11, 2014 6:06:06 GMT -5 by GoetzKluge