Tag Archives: nonsense

The Doubtful Guest

gorey google

If you have tried googling anything this morning, you may have noticed that today is Edward Gorey day on Google! Yes, apparently they are commemorating what would have been his 88th birthday* with a special logo.

*I wonder why his 88th would be of significance…I know, I will google it!** Hang on….

**Please note that this increasing dependence on machines to do our searching and thinking for us is one of the first steps in our eventual downfall as a species. Yes, you are witnessing the genesis of it all right here, friends. And perhaps one day, many years after our Robot Overlords have wrested control of the planet, a small rag-tag band of rebel humans will mount a resistance movement. Hacking into the matrix, they will search back through the annals of internet history in search of a clue as to how it all went downhill…and maybe they will find this post. If you are reading this, rebel humans, please allow me to extend an apology to you. On behalf of the entire human race, I am sorry that we were too distracted by pictures of cats on the internet to notice that the machines were quietly plotting their attack.

Anyway, back to Edward Gorey. A cursory search has failed to reveal why his 88th birthday would be of importance. There must be a reason for it though. Am I missing something? Is 88 a significant number for Gorey fans? Or for Google? The number 8 is basically the infinity sign flipped on its head, so maybe that has something to do with it. Is Google engaged in an ambitious rivalry with infinity? That would be just like them, wouldn’t it?

Whatever. Some mysteries are never meant to be solved. Like the mystery of Edward Gorey’s ‘The Doubtful Guest’…

Where did he come from? Why did he stay? Was he sporting the same pair of white canvas shoes for 17 years, or did he keep ordering new pairs? Is falling asleep in a soup tureen as uncomfortable as it sounds?

There are no obvious answers to these questions. But I do very much enjoy the Doubtful Guest sitting here inside of the Google logo, surveying the scene with polite interest.

the doubtful guest

“Do tell…”

Strawberry Pop Tarts

THIS CAT HAS A POP TART FOR A BODY!!!!
A STRAWBERRY POP TART!!!!!!!

Do you ever suspect that the world might be a much happier place if more things were just made out of strawberry pop tarts? Just putting the idea out there…I mean, I think this could be a real solution to society’s many ailments.

Art School

A friend of mine who is at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) had his Grad Exhibition last night, which I attended to support him and check out his project. I was really excited about the event because I am obsessed with art school. There’s just something amazing about going to school for four years to paint, or sculpt, or take pictures, or whatever. And a lot of the stuff that people create in art school is really cool, but some of it is super pretentious and that is what I love the most. I love how art school students can be self-important and ridiculous, and not only does no one call them on it, but their narcissism is actually celebrated.* Actually, this is true of artists in general (not just art school students). Let me be clear here: I am one of the people celebrating this attitude. Maybe it sounds like I’m making fun of it, and if so my apologies because I’m totally not! People who take themselves and their art super seriously make me really happy. Because there is something awesome about reading someone’s explanation of how their painting of a hand with legs is a post-feminist critique of the way women are portrayed in the media. Like, YES. Go on! Tell me more!

*I would like to note that I mean no disrespect to my friend, because he is very down-to-earth and awesome so I would never include him in the category of pretentious artists.

I actually think one of the best jobs in the whole world would be that of an art critic. I would like to tour around galleries all day making up blurbs about what the artist was trying to convey and how their treatment of light and dark elements on the canvas is a representation of the inner struggle between good and evil that resides in the human psyche…

…Obviously I am just totally BS’ing here — because really, when you get right down to it, isn’t everything about the struggle between good and evil that resides in the human psyche? I mean, I could say that about Mad Men (which I’ve never watched), or Macbeth (which I’ve never read), and you would kind of believe me, right? But it doesn’t even matter, does it? No! And that’s the beauty of it. I love it how art is celebrated as being so important, when it is essentially kind of unimportant*…but that’s what makes it probably the MOST important thing we do, as human beings. Does that make sense at all? Not really. I know. I have no clue what I’m saying, either. This is what thinking about art school does to me! I LOVE IT!!

*For example, everything I have written here – not just in this post, but on this entire blog — is basically of no consequence to anyone or anything, in the grand scheme of things. And yet it is super important to me, and probably critical to my development as a person. So it is simultaneously completely vital and totally unnecessary.

Anyway. Enough of this foolishness. Below, please find a few snapshots of the art that I witnessed on display last night.

First of all, here’s my friend’s awesome project. He’s in Industrial Design and he created what is essentially high-tech, digital, streamlined system for guitar effect pedals:

tweak

tweak

My 15 minutes of fame (that’s me in the pictures!)

More art school amazingness:

machine life

Machine vs. Man: a visual dissertation on how technology and nature struggle to co-exist in a tentative, restless balance.

dress

I almost wore this exact outfit, but changed at the last minute. Thank god. That would have been embarrassing.

drole

Isn’t it, though?

deer

You guys…I think the man is going out to shoot the deer? Or maybe he’s going to chop down the tree. I love the ambivalence here.

print is over

Fuck. I knew it! Time to start looking for a new job…

owl

Hello, friend!

At art school, even the graffiti in the stairwells is awesome:

vamp

This door is reserved for vampires.

sexit

Heh.

fuck

Swearing is an art form.

As a bonus, Thaddeus and I discovered our art school dopplegangers — i.e. what we would look like if we were turned into art school projects:

art school Thaddeus

Art School Thaddeus

art school MSkillz

Art School MSkillz

Venn Diagrams

venn love

…and they love me.

In fact, we are getting married — and you’re invited! Blape is the best man/minister. The wedding will take place in the sky.

wedding

Consider this your ‘Save the Date’.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Gashlycrumb Tinies

I don’t know if you are familiar with the Gashlycrumb Tinies. They are a series of rhyming couplets written by Edward Gorey, published in 1963, detailing the deaths of 26 children (one for each letter of the alphabet). You can read them all here. As someone who is terrified of death and obsesses daily over the various ways in which I might perish in a freak accident (or just a normal one, for that matter*), you would think that I wouldn’t like them. But I find these macabre little vignettes highly amusing.

*Professor Plum: “What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?”
Mrs. Peacock: “No, just death. Isn’t that enough?”

A few years ago my friend Adam and I were bored at work so we started e-mailing our own rhyming couplets back and forth to one another, inspired by the Gashlycrumb Tinies. I was reading through the list this morning and I started laughing so hard that I literally had tears in my eyes. The other people on the bus were giving me some odd looks, that’s for sure. Anyway, if I can find this much merriment in the prospect of my own demise, my friends, then I suppose you could consider it another example of some positive reframing.

Here’s our version:

S is for Sam who can’t breathe underwater
A is for Adam, bitten hard by an otter

A is for Adam, murdered by a whore
S is for Sam who walked into a door

A is for Adam, unaware his trial’s rigged
S is for Sam – zagged where she should have zigged

A is for Adam, taken out by a rocket
S is for Sam who unplugged her eye-sockets

A is for Adam who was plain over-ripe
S is for Sam, too much crack in her pipe

A is for Adam, convinced he could fly
S is for Sam, at the zoo, drunk on rye

A is for Adam, all thumbs with a saw
S is for Sam, squished to death by her bra

A is for Alex, who despised Adam’s smirk
S is for Sue, who thought Sam was a jerk

B is for Blape, who floated away
A is for Adam who called it a day

S is for Sam, beaten up by her friends
A is for Adam who suffered the bends

A is for Adam, impaled by a chair
S is for Sam – ate a poisonous pear

A is for Adam, who’s ego erupted
S is for Sam, slain by crows she corrupted

A is for Adam, who jumped, but too soon
S is for Sam, out of air on the moon

A is for Adam, punched out by a clown
S is for Sam who tripped on her gown

A is for Adam who’s head did explode
S is for Sam gobbled up by a toad

‘Man With Alligator and Fish’

alligator

This drawing makes me laugh. A man, chained to a fish, holding an alligator in a bowl. I mean yeah, why not?

It does raise some questions, though. Where is the fish going? How did he get to be the leader of this gang? Why is the alligator in a bowl? Is the alligator happy or sad? How did the man get chained to the fish? If the man is a prisoner, why is he smiling?

I don’t think the answers will be revealed any time soon. But maybe that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s nice to have things to contemplate.

Jabberwocky

lewis carroll

I was never a huge fan of poetry. When I had to study it in high school and college (you can’t really complete an English Lit degree without having to read at least some poetry — believe me, I tried) I remember rolling my eyes and thinking it was all so dense and inaccessible. Prose just always made more sense to me. You say what you mean and you mean what you say.

As I got older, though, I started to develop an appreciation for poetry. Sometimes verse can paint an amazingly vivid picture, and convey a mood or a setting just as effectively as a lengthier block of prose. I love the fragmentation of ideas that poetry allows for. Sentences don’t need to be finished, the completion of thoughts is not a requirement. The reader will still glean meaning, with perhaps more room for imagination and spontenaity than prose can provide. Poetry can be both playful and profound, in the right hands (or pen, as the case may be).

One of my very favourite poems, in fact, is probably the ultimate example of nonsense verse. With ‘Jabberwocky’ Lewis Carroll literally invented words out of thin air and strung them together to create his poem, but even though probably 50% of the lines are total gibberish you still get a completely vivid sense of what is happening in the narrative. Here is the poem:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Here are my favorite terms: ‘vorpal sword’, ‘manxome foe’, ‘uffish thought’, and ‘frabjous day’. Each one of these combines a nonsense word with a real word, and even though vorpal, manxome, uffish, and frabjous don’t mean anything, you know exactly what they mean — or, at least, you have a reasonably good idea. You can use your imagination to project onto these words whatever images make them sensical to you.

My favourite line has always been: ‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?’ I don’t know why, exactly. It has a nice ring to it, and I like how Carroll uses very formal language here to inject a sense of earnest gravitas amongst all the absurdism. The entire poem, really, is both silly and solemn at the same time. Like much of life.