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Only imbeciles are innocent.

Orhan Pamuk


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Nonsense is only another language

"Words are given us to understand each other, even if not completely," Fritz went on in great excitement.

"And to write poetry."

"Yes, that's so, Justen, but you mustn't ask too much of language. Language refers only to itself, it is not the key to anything higher. Language speaks, because speaking is its pleasure and it can do nothing else."

"In that case, it might as well be nonsense," objected Karoline.

"Why not? Nonsense is only another language."

Now I want to read some of Novalis' writing and see how (if) the sentiment Fitzgerald has him expressing here is played out in his poetry. I'm pretty sure I have a book of his work upstairs with the other remnants of my ill-remembered days spent studying German literature.

The sentence, "Nonsense is only another language," seems interesting to me. On one hand it is obviously incorrect -- I think a root characteristic of language is, that it can "make sense", whereas clearly nonsense does not "make sense", not if it is doing its job properly. Meaningful nonsense is not nonsense in any fully realized sense of the word. (grin.) But, but, it is good fun to babble incoherently, recording the words and then poring over them trying to divine the meaning.


Michael Hofman uses this same phrase as the title for his NY Times review of The Blue Flower.

posted morning of Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
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