Nonsense is a Breath of Fresh Air in a World Full of Meaning.
It’s said that the word nonsense comes from unsense, the absence of sense. Wow, that’s four “sense”-ish words in the first sentence in a text about nonsense. How fitting. According to the might information god of the internet, Wikipedia, it’s also a form of poetry, untrue statements, meaningless words and — even more fitting — a “damaged DNA sequence whose products are not biologically active, that is, that does nothing”. Never have I felt so at home in identifying myself with a word. Maybe I should go even further and call myself nonsensexual instead of queer?
There’s been periods in my life where I’ve searched for some kind of meaning. Sometimes through something as simple and primitive as ideologies, which I regret today. Conforming to an ideology is basically giving up oneself to a cause someone else has created, either alone or in some kind of flag-waving collective of human ants. No offense. I have nothing against people involving themselves in some kind of (preferably important and intelligent) cause, it’s just not my thing.
Well, as usual I’m spreading a lot of lies, because it’s pretty hard to not distance oneself from meaning. There’s meaning in everything, even if you don’t see it like that. Even nonsense is meaningful, and balances up all those important choices and statements we’re forced to go through just to be seen as decent people in the eyes of others. In one of my rantings, years ago, about not being able to see any meaning with my life and career, Milly, a friend, threw out the words “nonsense is a breath of fresh air in a world full of meaning”, which stuck with me so much it’s one of those mantras I actually go back to from time to time, when life is shit and nothing seem to go my way. Because the nonsense, those unimportant things I (and I’m sure of, even you) have a tendency to put our energy at to 100% to avoid responsibility, is way more important than people claim it is.
I’d go so far and say that those striving for meaning are very, very, very wrong. Not every darn thing needs to give something to you, your family, friends and relatives. And absolutely NOT to your workplace and employer. Of course. But you know that. I once wrote a fake kid’s book. Well, it looks like a kid’s book, but is some kind of childish compendium of beasts, a bestiary, with made up cryptozoological wonders, all living around Sweden. It completely lacks meaning. I promise. I happen to know it’s one of the few books an elderly, now retired, neurolog (and a quite radical man) didn’t return to the book store where he bought it, something he usually does with books he dislikes.
The reason, I’ve heard, is that it consists of pure nonsense. Maybe my finest moment as an author and artist. Many of the movies I watch are considered silly, stupid, shallow — yes, nonsense productions just made quickly for a cheap buck and aimed at a cheap audience. They make me relax. Nothing beats a rubber monster causing mayhem and nothing more. No deeper meaning, no political message. The only agenda is to entertain and be forgotten.
I believe that is what the mind needs from time to time. Some of us need it more than others. It’s a mental vacation, sometimes quite chaotic — depending on the nonsense you get in contact with of course — but in chaos there’s always an order, and that’s the order of chaos. When information is jumbled, and there’s a consistency in it, it also turns into calmness. I often say that the only bad movies are the borings ones, but let me make it clearer: if a movie is consistently stupid it’s also even, so a chaos of ideas (I’ve always disliked the kill your darlings-concept) in away becomes more smooth because we’re not expecting it to be even. However, if a movie (for example) is of a certain quality for a certain amount of time and then it either heightens or lowers, and that goes on like a damn rollercoaster, well, then it just gets boring and stupid-stupid (which is a huge difference from just stupid).
At the moment, when writing this nonsensical text, I’m watching William Mesa’s 1996 direct-to-video classic DNA, starring Mark Dacascos and Jürgen Prochnow. This is a prime example of nonsense art, a cheap — but still pretty ambitious — excuse to show a lot of explosions, a cool jungle and of course a rubber monster that looks like the cousin-from-the-country of our acid-spitting pal the Xenomorph. It’s easy to call it a bad movie, but it’s far from bad. It’s actually pretty good. What it does though is to embrace the genre. It’s not made to raise important questions about our existence — it’s more there to put Dacascos and Prochnow against each other in a fabulous b-movie-o-rama!
So just forget about it, not everything needs to have a meaning. Use the concept of meaning when looking at your family and friends, because they might be the only meaning there is. The rest is just… bullshit. Most of us have been raised into growing up to obedient citizens who are shamed for having any interests outside of studies and work. Because, according to my non-empirical investigation, people are jealous of those who for one reason or another can throw themselves into something, on-the-surface, silly. Why would you bother with reading about UFOs when you can slave for a minimum wage and pay attention to what your employer thinks about you? Of course it’s ALWAYS better to read about flying saucers, bigfoot, ghosts and mysteries. Those are subjects that give something to you, as they keep the mystery of life going. Fuck yeah.
Take, for example, Joe Simonton who was offered pancakes by Italian looking aliens in a silver colored flying saucer? Or Mrs Jean Hingley who invited three flying fairy-aliens into her home, ultimately scaring them away with the process of lighting a cigarette. Or maybe the Ninja Dwarves of Abney Hall, where a martial arts class one evening after another got attacked by ultradimensional dwarves. I don’t even have to bring up the Wollaton gnomes or Sam the Sandown Clown — all 100% nonsense in the best possible way, far from the usually dots in the skies and the “please take us seriously” ufobros out there.
Life is a mystery, mysteries are often nonsense and of course life is nonsense if you take a step back and look at the absurdity of it. We’re Trapped in Plato’s Cave, but at least we know we’re looking at shadows and can very well have the ability to burn our fingers on the fire and still continue forward with the things we love.
Dammit, this text kinda ended up quite nonsensical. Maybe that’s for the best? It’s all over the place, I admit that, but it’s also the form of nonsense I love the most: the stream of consciousness, the flow of words and thoughts and ideas without knowing where it will end up. In this case I know where it ends, it ends here. Thanks for reading.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.