Twilight over Tioga Lake

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"In Nonsense is Strength"

I lifted my title from the book I am currently reading, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. He was using it to describe how the bizarre symbols of the US dollar are supposed to mean something, but really seems to be a bunch of "nonsense." And therefore that is what our country is built upon. He is using it in a more negative context, and I pretty much agree that the stuff on the dollar and much about this country is nonsense. But I'm also going to say, Kurt, with much respect I really do think there is strength in nonsense. And hell, I really think he would agree with me on some fronts.

If I may, I need to add a side note on KV. My grandparents actually knew the guy--he lived on Cape Cod right near them! Vonnegut actually wrote a short story about Sandy Neck, a little peninsula of sand dunes in Barnstable Harbor. My family would go sailing over there. I guess that story is out of print now. What I would give to get my hands on that.

Anyway, back to nonsense. I am interpreting the term to mean something that doesn't make sense in the normal context of things. But really, much of this supposed insanity is what makes the most sense of all. This is certainly true in writing. It could be said that James Joyce's
Finnegan's Wake is nonsense. While it is certainly hard to understand, every place in it is real. (No, I have not read it and nor plan to without help.) I'm sure there are ignorant folks out there who say Dr. Seuss is simply frivolous fodder for children. Yes, he is wacky, but nearly every one of his books points to something meaningful: whether for the world or for a child personally. Sometimes turning something on its head or inside out makes its significance so much clearer.
Speaking of weird things, what did you think of my plant poem? I did say I would provide the "answers"to both. See how describing every day objects such as babies, clocks, or televisions from a completely different perspective makes you stop for a moment? Makes you take a second look at everything? Hopefully. I dare you to try it.

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings books
and some are treasured for their markings--

they cause the eyes to melt laugh or cry
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist in when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colors darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside-- a car ride--I love that the Martian
a key is turned to see the world interprets it as the world moving, not the car

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps, I think this is a cat
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it a baby
to their lips and soothe it to sleep.

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room I think this way of seeing using
the bathroom is brilliant
with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

At night, when all the colors die, sleeping and dreaming--beautiful
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves--
in color, with their eyelids shut.

Contemplations of a House Plant

The motiles pour love on our nest so we continue: Motile means mobile, the plant does not know love as we do, but sees the all important water as something like love. The plant wonders why the mobile creature feels obliged to keep it alive.
this worship baffles.

We must reach for the Presence to glean food from within, Presence is the sun, which we close
the shades to

but it is poison to the motiles: when the Presence sings
strongest the walls are closed.

A trunk hums beside us and commands them to lay down The TV, the only thing that
temporary radicles-- then they are still for a time.
keeps us still. Radicles are roots

But every Absence the motiles revolt and silence the box: Absence means the absence of the
an unsymbiotic relationship.
sun. At night the people turn off the tv

Sometimes there is an Infestation. I tried to use words a plant would know--
in this case an "infestation" of humans is a party

A device pollinates dense vibrations; The vibrating device is a stereo
it causes madness in the unrooted.

They flutter and grasp, until they finally fall in a rotting heap. Dancing, fallen down drunk,
By the arrival of the Presence, they are weeded out. stumbling home the next day

Occasionally a starving terror finds me. A child pulling at its leaves. Since
It rips rips at our organs, and never feels the scream. the plant doesn't understand the
child's playful motives, it assumes
the child is a starving creature.
I'm not sure if I believe the thing about plants screaming in pain; I was thinking this was more an expression of irritation.

During the Absence the motiles vanish. But they always return from the terrible nothing; and the adoration begins anew.

The plant doesn't understand the humans disappearing every night, and assumes they actually are gone from its reality. Yet they come back every morning and continue to "worship" the plant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! I love everything
Let me know if you get this.
Love Mom

About Me

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San Francisco, CA
Elissa is an east coast transplant making her way through life by way of San Francisco. This amazing city provides lots of fodder for writers of all types. I find inspiration for writing through life's little and bizarre events, such as grocery shopping for dog treats, salamander hunting, and insomnia. I am a preschool teacher in "real life."