Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dept. of sticky ends

1. I just stumbled upon this creative bit of Larkin-as-fanatical-misogynist criticism (the quoted poem is "Myxomatosis," which, btw, is about this, though it is not clear that the author bothered to look it up):
"Myxomatosis" transforms the sufferings of a wounded rabbit [Ed. ?!] into the common predicament of the male:

What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?
You seem to ask. 
______________I make a sharp reply.
Then clean my stick. I'm glad I can't explain
Just in what jaws you were to suppurate.

The 'jaws' are simultaneously of the trap, death, and of the vagina dentata; and 'suppurate' identifies the dying animal with a diseased wound or organ. What should surprise us is not that some element of this imagery is present, but that it should assume so little prominence: there is no possibility of compiling 'daily quotations for a misogynist's calendar' from his verse.
(Steve Clark, in Philip Larkin ed. Stephen Regan)

I love the insane incoherence of this reading... and esp. its implication that the rabbit is the stick. (Cf. joke about what's brown and sticky.)

2. Lest you forget, "snarge" is a technical term that refers to "the residue [1] of birds that have struck an airplane." It was also, apparently, soldier/sailor slang for "an ugly or unpleasant person." Two other terms near it that (for obvious reasons) resonate with me: "snifter (adj.) = good, satisfactory" and "snout (v.) = bear a grudge against." [H/t Ray Girvan]

[1] "Residue" is rich with implication here because of: (i) the mathematical notion of the "residue of a pole" in complex analysis, (ii) the famous math joke about the Pole who hijacked a plane and had to justify his inability to start it with the excuse that he was just a simple Pole in a complex plane, (iii) the tragic life-meets-art news story about the former Polish government. [Also, (iv) a pole is a stick.]

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