Common steps and sub-activities

Reading meaningless poems

Alice through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

'The piece I'm going to repeat,' he went on without noticing her remark 'was written entirely for your amusement.' 

Alice felt that in that case she really OUGHT to listen to it, so she sat down, and said 'Thank you' rather sadly.

-'In winter, when the fields are white, I sing this song for your delight- only I don't sing it,' he added, as an explanation.

'I see you don't,' said Alice.

'If you can SEE whether I'm singing or not, you've sharper eyes than most.' Humpty Dumpty remarked severely. Alice was silent.

I don’t think meaningless poems work quite as well as koans or riddles at stilling the reasoning function, but if they are good enough they do have a place. 

There is always the temptation to look for meaning.

They must be sufficiently meaningless and in some ways boring, to mean the reasoning function can’t be bothered to reason. 

Here are two fairly good examples.

Resist all urge to understand them, they are there simply to confuse and befuddle the reason process.

From THE AHKOND OF SWAT – Edward Lear

  Who, or why, or which, or _what_,

                                Is the Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?

  Does he sit on a stool or sofa or chair,

                                             or Squat,

                                   The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Is he wise or foolish, young or old?

  Does he drink his soup and his coffee cold,

                                               or Hot,

                                   The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,

  And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk,

                                              or Trot,

                                   The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Does he wear a turban, a fez or a hat?

  Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed or a mat,

                                             or a Cot,

                                   The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  When he writes a copy in round-hand size,

  Does he cross his t's and finish his i's

                                           with a Dot,

                                   The Ahkond of Swat?

 

Do his people like him extremely well?

  Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,

                                             or Plot,

                               At the Ahkond of Swat?

 

  If he catches them then, either old or young,

  Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,

                                             or Shot,

                                  The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Do his people prig in the lanes or park?

  Or even at times, when days are dark,

                                             Garotte?

                              Oh, the Ahkond of Swat?

 

  Does he study the wants of his own dominion?

  Or doesn't he care for public opinion

                                               a Jot,

                                  The Ahkond of Swat?

 

  To amuse his mind do his people show him

  Pictures, or any one's last new poem,

                                             or What,

                              For the Ahkond of Swat?

 

  At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,

  Do they bring him only a few small cakes,

                                            or a Lot,

                              For the Ahkond of Swat?

MALUM OPUS - James Appleton Morgan

 

  Prope ripam fluvii solus

      A senex silently sat;

  Super capitum ecce his wig,

      Et wig super, ecce his hat.

 

  Blew Zephyrus alte, acerbus,

      Dum elderly gentleman sat;

  Et a capite took up quite torve

      Et in rivum projecit his hat.

 

  Tunc soft maledixit the old man,

      Tunc stooped from the bank where he sat

  Et cum scipio poked in the water,

      Conatus servare his hat.

 

  Blew Zephyrus alte, acerbus,

      The moment it saw him at that;

  Et whisked his novum scratch wig

      In flumen, along with his hat.

 

  Ab imo pectore damnavit

      In coeruleus eye dolor sat;

  Tunc despairingly threw in his cane

      Nare cum his wig and his hat.

 

  L'ENVOI

 

  Contra bonos mores, don't swear

      It 'est wicked you know (verbum sat),

  Si this tale habet no other moral

      Mehercle! You're gratus to that!