Those examples, or very similar ones, and many others quite different are the objects of study in Dr. The metaphors heading this paragraph fail in that unlike diseases and collapsing bridges, nonsense can be joyful and pleasant. This difference only amplifies the case for a semiotics of nonsense. This books sets out the logic of nonsense, which turns out to be a bridge that connects scientific thinking and religious thinking.
Raymond Moody, Ph. It is not a statistical study of that population as a whole. Her repertoire consists of selected instances that felt transformative to the transcriber. Other texts were transcribed by other people holding a close relationship with a dying person. She encounters much nonsense in this body of accounts and finds it close to the language Moody reports from his interviews with survivors of near death experiences. Based on his own experience with patients who died, he had commented on this similarity in his first book. She has worked with Moody and borrows some of his methodology and, I think, makes some improvements to it.
Smartt also draws on a number of other authors who deal with closely related material and with the comments and opinions of other writers about dying. Her book is one of great warmth that puts us in touch with the dismay of persons who loose or fear to loose the possibility of communicating with their loved ones. My review article deals with semiotic issues, not spiritual questions; however, where their interests overlap, Smartt and Moody combine to demarcate a fairly well defined corpus of nonsense. Lisa Smartt is trained in linguistics and also writes poetry.
The reader is the beneficiary of her poetic skills.
Some of her accounts are at once strikingly economical and strongly evocative. The one kind of nonsense that Moody declines to analyze is abstract modernist literature. To make this quasi-contradiction into a triangle, let us also consider here, very briefly, some lines of Gertrude Stein and E. Cummings —just a bit of nonsense poetry for grown-ups. The breadth of his references is a continuous delight. He brings home the scope of nonsense, its phenomenology and its effects.
Now, as a convert, I urge semioticians to focus more on nonsense. Surely, we can do it best!
Moody teaches such a course. More books looking comprehensively at nonsense? We have relevant particular studies a plenty as you well know. We might make a long bibliography. Many of the studies that might be collected in that still imaginary bibliography aim principally at decoding.
But to get at the heart of the problem, we might want decoding off limits. Any human being putting down words had to make sense out of them. Columbus, for all his prowess as naval commander, navigator and fund raiser, confused the West Indies and East India. Perhaps we can find equally egregious errors to correct in Moody. If not, we have a leg up; if so, all the more reason to investigate.
Semiotics is our tool kit. I depend particularly on its theories of comparative articulation and double structure in the latter part of this essay. Although I think the applications will be transparent; however, the principles I appeal to are presented ex cathedra. I do invite you to check my logic: references to chapters in Elements are indicated Ch. It is not easy to say. Moody insists from the beginning on a purely linguistic definition.
In his Introduction, he says, with references to our ecological and political disasters, that we live in a nonsense world. He hints in a couple of passages that he regards a situation or a non-verbal sign as nonsensical if a verbal description or paraphrase of it would be nonsensical, but if that really is his position, it is problematic and would need a much more extensive development to be justified and clarified.
Ultimately, all these approaches may merit a turn. Nonsense is a big topic. Any definition must skirt tautology.
Perhaps defining sense and nonsense is no more possible than defining beauty and ugliness. We might alternatively approach the problem in terms of sentiment.
Moreover, silliness prolonged into giddiness, the psychedelic silliness most evident before adulthood or in the night of December 31 st , can be shared and can secure bonding in a state that may qualify as altered consciousness. Moody will attend both to bonding and altered states as associated with nonsense. Some nonsense is clearly false because it depicts the impossible.
And I would say some nonsense is a package for truth. Are reports of miracles nonsense?
Here he takes sides in the contest between spontaneous perception of the observer of the miracle and common language as a thought police system, well known to semioticians. Much nonsense is entirely intelligible. The Mad Queen is not merely absurd but also frightening.
Nonsense in front of us, nonsense behind us, nonsense all around. Moody simply acknowledges that what may seem nonsensical now may become sensible later or vice versa. Although I think she does better than he, neither author fully grabs the bull by the horns. Too much relativity may be nonsense, but much in nonsense is relative.
His demonstrations are very resistant to any brief summary.
http://smartmusicsearch.com/1174-how-to-install.php His examples, individually, may sometimes seem trivial and tiresome; and yet, as they accumulate, we discover a whole that is weightier than expected and come to respect his patience. Nonsense is among our most dependable and prevalent delights and entertainments.
Thinking of nonsense can make people feel dizzy and disoriented. Socrates described the sensation when he was trying to think his way through a thicket of puzzling philosophical concepts.
I wonder how many of us may have read these words of Socrates without accepting his expression of feeling as literal, not as empty rhetoric? I appreciate Moody rubbing my nose in it. Our negative feeling about nonsense is insidious; indeed, I still find myself battling a dismissive reaction to nonsense as a legitimate topic and wondering how many readers I may have lost just because it was silly on my part to have undertaken to engage it. Moody observes contexts where nonsense promotes bonding, situations where nonsense provokes more nonsense.
Nonsense emerges in or after stress.
At that point, I threw it down in disgust. Many other types are described. Three types of modeling systems may be distinguished on the basis of their use. So, I don't know for sure if I'm evaluating the different aspects of this the way I would 'normally' This sort of interpretation is situated in the present moment. Towards an intersemiotic translation model. I suggest a different analysis.
Nonsense is inseparable from falling asleep and dreaming. He discusses hypnagogia, citing Andreas Mayromatis. He shows that nonsense can provoke a search for its meaning even to an extent that is obsessive and compulsive. As well as arising in hypnogogic states, nonsense, in return, induces something akin to hypnogogia.
In glossolalia, nonsense conveys ecstasy. For Moody, a sensibility for nonsense is an inherent faculty of the mind. This faculty includes the capacities to recognize nonsense, to learn its types, to analyze nonsense, to appreciate it its aesthetic, emotional, cognitive values , to create voluntarily any type, to extend the command of nonsense to novel cases.
Note though that he does not assert is that this faculty is distinct in the sense that we can not reduce it to our general capacities for play and for analysis. He shows p ff that the ability to recognize, appreciate and voluntarily produce nonsense begins quite early in childhood. The renowned astronomer and physicist, Arthur Eddington held that nonsense is an essential place holder in the development of scientific theories, and he argued, though scientists consider nonsense despicable, that science tolerates nonsense more than we suppose.
Ineffable experiences bring nonsense in their train, as William James noted, a principle important to Moody and Smartt in dealing with the nonsense expressions and reports concerning dying. Among his final topics, Moody considers misuses of nonsense for imposture, bogus prophecies, totalitarian control, mock profundity, pseudoscientific theories and self-deception.
Separately from those, he analyzes the dependency of theology on nonsense 3. Very much a classicist, Moody starts with definition and classification. Nonsense words fall in this later category. Many other types are described. It is not always clear to me whether some of these are intended as sub-types of others or perhaps specific genres which combine more fundamental types.
His discussions mention, inter alia, nonsense questions, nonsense recipes, nonsense travel narratives, nonsense arithmetic, nonsense times and dates, pronouns without reference, nonsense personifications of abstract words, nonsense figures of speech particularly reduplication and aposiopesis, which is interruption. But he has absolutely no intention to be comprehensive. Categorical nonsense, a term and type that Smartt adopts, is a very big basket.
One of many, many quoted or invented examples:. A scholarly hiccough musically baked numerical stares in a gnawing circle. With all category errors lumped together, Moody and Smartt bypass the question which Chomsky highlighted in Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, When do the errors is such a sentence reflect a breach of rules about words and when a deficiency of knowledge of the world?
One interpretation points to a fault in the construction of the sign; the other to a problem in the construal of its object. The pervasive principle of nonsense for Moody is that it preserves some rules while breaching others. His types are partly determined by what is preserved and what is let go.