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Memo to the Executives by Ron Burch

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Friday, November 7, 2003   |    Etc.

Requiem for “Snark”

Following this week’s concurrent presentations of Ken Krimstein’s snappy short story, “I Was a Teenage Snarkist” and the Y.P.R. Book Club’s The Scrolling Snark by Lewis Carroll (a hump-breaking straw and an ultimate coffin nail, respectively), this humble journal believes that the time has come to bury this tired, defeated word. Snark has served its purpose and worn out its welcome.

Plucky and sharp upon first arrival, poor Snark skyrocketed to ubiquity and, predictably, soon became overused, overexposed, and had its meaning completely (and ironically1) overhauled; the very use of the word (oftentimes uttered with the same petulant tone and pointing finger as one would use to bark, “J’accuse!”) became a demonstration of its definition. To call snark was to commit it, thereby rendering it as a word a self-fulfilling self-parody2, and as a concept a paradoxical meta-oxymoron3. It’s an impossible, heterological contradiction, itself an exception to the very rule it imposes (like the statement “I always tell a lie,” which cannot possibly be).

Visually, a Snark must resemble either a Möbius strip or that snake that forms a loop by eating its own tail. Or maybe it’s like that un-color-in-able fucked-perspective illustration of, like, a tuning fork with three prongs or two depending on how you look at it. We don’t know, exactly, but it’s something freakin’ weird like that. Frankly, we have limited grasp of abstract concepts, and when we concentrate too had, we get nosebleeds. The point is: if we do not bury “snark” immediately, the word is in danger of gaining sentience and therefore becoming self-aware of its contradictory nature. And, as any science fiction fan can tell you, that’s the kind of unsolvable, existential conundrum that makes evil robots and/or super-computers spontaneously self-destruct.

Rest in peace, little Snark.

In related news, Y.P.R. also lays to rest the Bea Shirt, which is so totally over, it’s almost retro.

1. nota bene, “ironically.”
2. “self-fulfilling self-parody”, © & ™, Yankee Pot Roast, 2003
3. “paradoxical meta-oxymoron”, pat. pending.