The Artnap Project
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
So, although my father often wanders around the house reciting bits of the Jabberwocky, and although I’m mildly obsessed with other works of Lewis Carroll, this opening gambit pretty much shut my brain down, and I never really took to the Jabberwocky as anything more than the fantastic sound it makes when bellowed aloud. Then I came across this word in The Daily Figaro: Portmanteau.
“Originally, a portmanteau carried a nobleman’s luggage. Later the word referred to a bag slung onto a horse, which evolved into a suitcase that opens like a book. Then Lewis Carroll analogized it. In Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains that slithy combines lithe and slimy, mimsy hybridizes miserable and flimsy, and so on. ‘You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.””
Carroll explained it a bit more in his own introduction to The Hunting of the Snark:
“Humpty Dumpty’s theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious”. Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will say first … if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say “frumious”.”
There are plenty of portmanteaus in everyday speech, like smog: a mix of smoke and fog. Or motel: motor and hotel. Or brunch: breakfast and lunch. Everyone remembers “Brangelina?”
A more interesting one is “flabbergast,” the history of which I found on http://www.word-detective.com/
“Dating to the 18th century and most likely a combination of “flabby” or “flap” and “aghast,” the logic underlying “flabbergast,” meaning “extremely frightened or surprised,” is a bit obscure. My guess is that “flabbergast” was originally intended to conjure up visions of someone so terrified or astonished that they trembled like a bowl of Jell-O. “Flabby,” incidentally, is closely related to the old word “flappy” — to say someone is flabby is to say that they “flap” when they move, which is enough to send anyone to the gym.”
Vesna and I have been on a vocabulary binge, lately, for a project I won’t go into here, and one of the products of it is the following portmanteau:
Artnapping: Art + nap (sleep) + nap (nab/ kidnap). She is in the process of writing a story, of which some elements are “spotlit” here. There is, of course, a detective—but with his trusty phonograph, a much more useful tool than the usual detective carries. And there is, of course, a cat—securing the perimeter, already fully aware of the scallywag who tries to breach it….
After some consideration, I decided the painting would be of a different scene. I tried out various ideas, using some maquettes.
Painting on its way!