Nonsense (Alfred Brendel)
A magical word. Nonsense contradicts sense, but not with a grim face. It is generally cheerful. In nonsense, one keeps constantly in touch with sense. Its avoidance is deliberate. Outright nonsense is anarchic, yet its lightness defies gravity. Nonsense protests against the constraints of reason. Without the straightjacket of reason there would be no nonsense.
Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear did not invent nonsense poetry. It had been there already since the England of the middle ages. Some of the early German Romantics encouraged writing without sense or cohesion; there are graceful examples of “Unsinn” in Tieck or Justinus Kerner. Nonsense has been part of folklore in various regions. And the Dadaists, facing the First World War, embraced it wholeheartedly. The pronouncement “Whoever is a Dadaist is against Dada” is an elegant formula for the basic absurdity and ambivalence of life.
I see nonsense as a safeguard against “deep seriousness” (i.e. the absence of humour), sentimentality, and any sort of belief. Isn’t self-delusion the most distinctive trait of mankind? Nonsense attempts to puncture it.
Particularly delicious are some fusions of sense and nonsense, of dreaming and waking, of fantasy and reality. In his later films Bunuel creates a world of his own with complete assurance. It is very much like the world we live in, only more real. In the view of present-day neurology, rationality and irrationality are Siamese twins.
Pour citer cette ressource :
Alfred Brendel, "Nonsense (Alfred Brendel)", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juillet 2014. Consulté le 30/09/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/entretiens-et-textes-inedits/nonsense-alfred-brendel