“Your Honor, this is ridiculous!” cried the prosecutor. “I will not work in the same room as a chicken.”
The defendant roared to her feet, feathers ruffled. “Objection, your honor! That’s prejudice.”
“Objection sustained.” Banging the gavel with a webbed hand, the judge turned to the prosecutor. “Look, if you don’t want to work with chickens then maybe you should drop the case.”
“Maybe I will,” the prosecutor snapped. With that, he hissed at the defendant and stormed out.
The judge watched him go and sighed. “Cats.”
Nonsense fiction is, by its very nature, nonsensical. By nonsensical I mean that it makes no sense. And that is the definition of a work of nonsensical fiction: it, partially or entirely, makes no sense. There is great beauty in nonsensical fiction. It can be a great form of humor, working in a similar form as shock humor. The humor doesn’t even really have to be that funny; for some people, when confronted with something incomprehensible, will choose to laugh. Nonsensical fiction can also form a means of humor because the entire world in which the characters reside can be set up for a joke. It doesn’t make sense that a mackerel is talking to a squirrel? Tell the joke via the means of nonsensical fiction. As long as it is not portrayed as reality, the nonsense will not be a stumbling block for the humor.
Other than humor, nonsensical fiction has a definitive way of making a point. The nonsense can be a means of making the reader pay close attention and actually grapple with the issue. For instance, when one uses comprehensible illustrations, it might be easier to understand, but it does not stick in one’s mind. However, use an illustration that on first glance makes no sense, and the listeners will be forced to grapple with the point that is being made. Jesus did this in the New Testament when he spoke about hypocrisy. He said to remove the plank from your own eye before removing the sawdust from your friend’s eye. On first glance, that seems ridiculous. A plank cannot fit in my eye, and if one end of the plank is in my eye it would be highly unlikely a simple removal would be enough for me to remove sawdust from a friend’s eye. However, once one sees the comparison that Jesus is making, the profound point can be seen through the nonsensical framework.
The style of nonsensical fiction is a very difficult one to master, for there must be enough nonsense to make the joke or make the point, but yet enough realism that the story retains some form of comprehensibility. If the entire story is just one nonsensical thing after another, it will likely fail (unless it’s a joke book). However, if there is enough nonsense thrown together with enough realism, then the story can become a classic. Take Alice in Wonderland: it is the story of a girl who has a daydream which is completely illogical and nonsensical, yet there is some form of sense to the story. Of course, since it is a dream the nonsense makes sense in the context of the setting, and that is the beauty of the story. It makes no sense (why is there a mad hatter? Why is there a cat that smiles? Why is this stuff in the head of a little girl?), but because of the nonsensical format this doesn’t matter.
The fact is that everyone contains a little bit of nonsense in them. Everyone creates their own form of nonsensical fiction. How do I know this? Dreams. Dreams are stories that the mind tells itself and, most of the time, they make absolutely no sense. There’s a boy that can fly who’s being chased by a guy in a chicken suit and this is supposed to be scary? If this were told in the light of day, it wouldn’t be close to frightening, but something about the dark of night and the storytelling of our mind can form sense out of even the most illogical scenarios. There is a man who sleeps on a postage stamp and longs to find his long lost dog? This is plain silly, yet inside of a dream this can be incredibly compelling.
Dreams, therefore, are the greatest and most common form of nonsensical fiction. Of course, they are not as well constructed as a written story would be, most of them make no point or have no punchline at the end. However, through dreams we can find the best story starters or be opened up to the most philosophical concepts that we ever dreamed of. So dream. Don’t be afraid of what your mind produces. Don’t take it all at face value, don’t condemn yourself for coming up with just illogical insanity, choose instead to take the nonsense and form sense and story out of it. That is the greatest strength of our minds: creating stories and forming sense and meaning out of them.
Therefore, the next time someone tells you to follow your dreams, don’t laugh it off or wince at the cliché. Instead, look at your dreams, of both night and day, and craft the ideas, whether logical or nonsensical, into stories. For through stories, whether illogical or otherwise, we strike at the very essence of what it means to be human.
Jesse Rice is a part-time farmer, part-time writer. The Kitten Mysteries books are written for his sister because she loves cats so much. Jesse enjoys writing all sorts of fiction, ranging from science fiction to fantasy to historical fiction. If he is not busy writing or working on the farm, he is playing his violin, mandolin, or listening to music. He also enjoys watching movies, reading books, and playing with cats. To learn more about Jesse or his books, visit www.jessericebooks.blospot.com, find him on twitter at www.twitter.com/jesseorice, or on Facebook via his Kitten Mysteries Facebook page.
I like your perspective that ‘nonsense’ is not necessarily a derogatory word. I had never heard of the idea that nonsense actually sometimes forces the people confronting it to grapple with it more closely than they would if all was normal… but how you put it makes perfect sense. As long as there actually is sense behind the nonsense, it can ‘hook’ people into trying to figure out what’s going on in a good way.