The Pursuit of Nonsense

The Pursuit of Nonsense - by P.K.Odendaal - February 2014.

It seems to me that the world has turned from the pursuit of happiness - the pastime of choice at the start of the twentieth century - to the pursuit of nonsense - the pastime of choice at the end of that century and even more so today.
Whether there is a semantic difference between nonsense and nonsensical things, I do not know. I also do not know whether I wish to know the difference, as it is all the same difference. To me the word nonsensical seems to be more sophisticated and intellectual - so I might prefer that as a fashion statement.

If you are affronted by my general statement above, I might remind you that all we do nowadays is pursuing nonsense, because we have neglected our calling of revering and enjoying the earth and creation, tending it and having dominion over it. We have changed all that for being worldly wise and street wise and all those other dumb things. We have given our dominion over to politicians, Satan, dictators and other misguided individuals.
Am I pursuing nonsense? Oh yes! .. on a scale unknown to man previously, as I am involved in science and technology to a great extent. But ... to mitigate my blame I would say that I am not into fantasy and fiction. Not that science and technology is so different from these last two. These days I wonder whether science is not more fictional than science fiction .. or even fantasy.
What I like best, however, is nonsensical things, as opposed to nonsense, and I cannot think of anything more nonsensical than the following poem by Lewis Carroll:
The Mad Gardener's Song
He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
'At length I realise,' he said,
The bitterness of Life!'

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said,
'I'll send for the Police!'

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret,' he said,
'Is that it cannot speak!'

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
'If this should stay to dine,' he said,
'There won't be much for us!'

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
'Were I to swallow this,' he said,
'I should be very ill!'

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
'Poor thing,' he said, 'poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed!'

He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postage Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
'The nights are very damp!'

He thought he saw a Garden-Door
That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
A Double Rule of Three:
'And all its mystery,' he said,
'Is clear as day to me!'

He thought he saw a Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
'A fact so dread,' he faintly said,
'Extinguishes all hope!'

I love and rejoice in these kind of poems - and if this is not enough, I might introduce you to the nonsense poems and stories of Edward Lear.
The Daddy Long-Legs and the Fly
Once Mr Daddy Long-Legs,
Dressed in brown and gray,
Walked about upon the sands
Upon a summer's day;
And there among the pebbles,
When the wind was rather cold,
He met with Mr Floppy Fly,
All dressed in blue and gold.
And as it was too soon to dine,
They drank some Periwinkle-wine,
And played an hour or two, or more,
At battlecock and shuttledore.
So Mr Daddy Long-Legs
And Mr Floppy Fly
Sat down in silence by the sea,
And gazed upon the sky.
They said, 'This is a dreadful thing!
The world has all gone wrong,
Since one has legs too short by half,
The other much too long!
One never more can go to court,
Because his legs have grown too short;
The other cannot sing a song,
Because his legs have grown too long!'

To return to our subject. Do you really believe that science and technology is different from the poems above in a nonsensical way? People all have some nonsensical views, emotions, adages and desires - that is what we are now, having been estranged from planet earth and now that we are pursuing nonsense and evil in a big way.
A friend of mine told me one of his adages on life lessons this week. He said you must always be afraid of something which has more or less legs than you have! Now, that is an interesting hypothesis to test on a ninety five percile probability scale - and he was proposing that to me in all earnestness as a true statement while we had to catch a snake.
I am not trying to be derogatory to science and technology, but I would like to urge you to be sceptical about it, as it is not the solution that it seems to be - as Lady Peron sang in Evita:

And as for fortune and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world
They were all I desired
They are illusions
They're not the solutions
They promise to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me.

The world is so exciting and beautiful and incredibly complex even while pursuing nonsense. Just think of the ecstasy we might enjoy if we pursued sensical things once in a while.
I feel I have to conclude with words of Dogberry from Shakespeare (Much Ado about Nothing): 

LEONATO: What would you with me, honest neighbour?

DOGBERRY: Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you
that decerns you nearly.

LEONATO:       Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.

DOGBERRY:    Marry, this it is, sir.

VERGES:         Yes, in truth it is, sir.

LEONATO:       What is it, my good friends?

DOGBERRY:    Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the
matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so
blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but,
in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.

VERGES:         Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man living
that is an old man and no honester than I.

DOGBERRY:    Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.

LEONATO:       Neighbours, you are tedious.

DOGBERRY:    It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the
poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part,
if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in
my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

LEONATO:       All thy tediousness on me, ah?

DOGBERRY:    Yea, an 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis; for
I hear as good exclamation on your worship as of any
man in the city; and though I be but a poor man, I
am glad to hear it.

VERGES:         And so am I.

LEONATO:       I would fain know what you have to say.

VERGES:         Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your
worship's presence, ha' ta'en a couple of as arrant
knaves as any in Messina.

DOGBERRY:    A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they
say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help
us! it is a world to see. Well said, i' faith,
neighbour Verges: well, God's a good man; an two men
ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest
soul, i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever
broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men
are not alike; alas, good neighbour!

LEONATO:       Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.

DOGBERRY:    Gifts that God gives.

LEONATO:       I must leave you.

DOGBERRY:    One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed
comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would
have them this morning examined before your worship.

LEONATO:       Take their examination yourself and bring it me: I
am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you.

DOGBERRY:    It shall be suffigance.

LEONATO:       Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.

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