Posts Tagged ‘nonsense’

Writing nonsense is hard (but writing rubbish is easy)

May 5, 2018

It is not easy to write nonsense which just hovers on the edge of being comprehensible – but is not. Writing rubbish is easy and examples can be seen every day.

But real nonsense is not so common.

Wikipedia: Gibberish, light verse, fantasy, and jokes and riddles are sometimes mistaken for literary nonsense, and the confusion is greater because nonsense can sometimes inhabit these (and many other) forms and genres. Pure gibberish, as in the “hey diddle diddle” of nursery rhyme, is a device of nonsense, but it does not make a text, overall, literary nonsense. If there is not significant sense to balance out such devices, then the text dissolves into literal (as opposed to literary) nonsense.

Light verse, which is generally speaking humorous verse meant to entertain, may share humor, inconsequentiality, and playfulness, with nonsense, but it usually has a clear point or joke, and does not have the requisite tension between meaning and lack of meaning. Nonsense is distinct from fantasy, though there are sometimes resemblances between them. While nonsense may employ the strange creatures, other worldly situations, magic, and talking animals of fantasy, these supernatural phenomena are not nonsensical if they have a discernible logic supporting their existence.

Edward Lear is among my favourites and his Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo living on the Coast of Coromandel is just genius. (Madras Day, the Coromandel coast and the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo). The Dong is not so far behind.

From The Dong with the Luminous Nose:

Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day.
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did, —
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang, —
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and the hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.

 

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