Quote of character in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment:

Razumihin: “I like them to talk nonsense.  That’s man’s one privilege over all creation.”

There’s nonsense all around us.  Especially in our ideologies, our status quo, rules of society etc etc.

A wonderful source of this nonsense can be found in books and films. According to me, Lewis Carroll is the master of nonsense.  He wrote what is known as the most famous nonsense poem of all times: the Jabberwocky poem.  If you don’t believe me, check out John Foster’s poetry book The Works 8 (2009: 93-94). He lists the Jabberwocky poem under “Nonsense poems”.



‘T was brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves

And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch.’

He took his vorpol sword in hand;

Long time the manxome foe he sought –

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the rulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! and through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock!

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves

And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll

Oh! If only I could write such a brillig poem!

I’ve recently seen the absurdist satire film Catch-22. I love the self-contradictory circular logic.  Catch-22 does not actually exist, but because the world believes in it it does.  I love the speech that Doc gives Yossarian:

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.  Orr was crazy and could be grounded.  All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.  Orr could be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them.  If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to, but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.  Yossarian was moved deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.” (p.56, chapter 5).

I’ve got my own Catch-22:

The only way you can get a job or can be guaranteed a job these days is to have experience in your field.  But there’s no way of getting that experience because employers only seek those who already have it.

There. I said it. It’s not as developed as Heller’s Catch-22, but it is certainly a valid one.

I also want to make the distinction between nonsense and rubbish:

Nonsense: it might seem like rubbish, but you can still make sense out of it just not in the traditional sense of the word. Like Dada! It can be absurd and meaningless words or ideas and that’s okay!

Rubbish: absurd ideas that is communicated in a worthless and poor way.  Usually reflected in the person’s writing and how he writes.

I can’t go much simpler than that!

About dada4nonsense

I am a 30-year-old (23 at heart) who loves anything nonsensical

Posted on March 5, 2013, in Notes. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Nonsense.

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