Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Nonsense is as Nonsense does

Milan Kundera says that ‘when you reach the end of a book you should still find it possible to remember the beginning. Otherwise the novel loses shape, its “architectonic clarity” is clouded’. I see Kundera's point in a sense that if you read a book and can’t remember what has even happened in the beginning something is definitely quite wrong, but is a bit of confusion and nonsense all bad? I go out of my way to read and listen to strange and wondrous things because frankly they amuse me with their indifference towards conventional writing. And actually most of the texts and music I’ve enjoyed the most, and shared with others, is really just nonsense. Literature exists for our enjoyment, but enjoyment can come in many forms, not just from shape and clarity.

Take Tao Lin, a writer of poetry and novels known for his ‘trancelike’ and baffling originality. I can’t say he produces architectonically clear pieces but they don’t half entertain. To me his writing is like a literary jumble sale on paper, but the thing about jumble sales is-there’s always a good find in there somewhere that means something, or meant something to someone at one time. Therefore, despite his work being a little on the strange side it isn’t without meaning, it’s just whimsically dressed up to encourage a smile:

The Poem I Wrote In My Room After We Fought On The Internet And You Called Me A Dick And Said You Had To Go To Sleep And Said You Would Email Me Over Thanksgiving From Home But Then Said ‘Forget It’ After I Said About You Emailing Me Over Thanksgiving From Home That ‘I Doubt It’

A metal rod a lot longer than my head
can fit easily in my head.
I don’t want to think about it. I want to rearrange furniture
using telekinesis. I will make my bed
go through a wall. My bed will bump people
at Whole Foods, in the cereal aisle. ‘Sorry,’ my bed will say, and feel ashamed.
And cereal will feel ashamed. But what would happen
if you were a non-sentient being. And I was god.
I think an unrelated third-party would suffer.
I think I would like to break all the secret records.
The one for most consecutive days of quality over quantity.
Or just into your email
account. Because I like you very much, it is sad

that if I were you
you would be someone else. A disaster I think just happened
in the room that I am currently in. But I didn’t see. And it was sleeping
when it happened. And it didn’t happen. Carp had a secret.
It involved a beautiful muffin, a reoccurring dream,
and a kind of yearning that causes muffin shops to go non-profit.
Carp don’t have that anymore. Last week I saw TV snow when no TV was in the room.
I was staring at my pillow. My head was on it. When I was four
I stabbed live fish
in their faces. Every fish I stabbed
went to secret heaven. Secret heaven is the one where
the other heaven is called secret heaven. At night in secret heaven no one knows what to do.
Sometimes in secret heaven everyone is afraid of secret heaven.
My bed is thinking about secret heaven.

A band that I feel shares Tao Lin’s playful take on mood despite the topic is Soko. Listening to their lyrics complete with a lack of clarity at times, never fails to amuse me, and I relate more to the lead singer’s warbling than I do to any 'Penguin Classic'.


  1. If confusion and nonsense was all bad I would not be sticking withthis module. I was put off reading books at secondary school when I was told I was to thick to read anything than a comic. At college my English Lit tutour got me interested in books again by telling me to read the last page of a book,if I was intriged by the ending and wanted to know more then read it from the begining. This in turn made me start to write again and belive in myself. It is easy to have our minds closed but it is more important to trust others to help us open them again. This course has done that and Kundera and Calvino are starting to open it further though slowly.

  2. What a wise comment, i very much enjoyed reading that. Also that's really strange that your teacher told you to read the last page of a book to potentially spark intruige-that's what i've always done,works a treat!