Nonsensical brain gibberish is the hidden philosopher's stone.
Ablue fox swimming in the Saharan desert. A three-eyed nun performing voodoo in Haiti. A 3-month-old baby feeding steak and chocolate sandwiches to its father. Buying two-fingered gloves with a three-dollar bill in Macedonia.
Ahh, how beautiful is the absurd? The paradoxical things I’ve just stated prove how wildly infatuating nonsense is. It allows us to escape the formality of the ‘normal’ world and get lost in our hilarious thoughts.
Nonsense or absurd things like the one I've stated, or Lewis Carroll's famous poem ‘Jabberwocky’, are experiences that violate all logic and expectation.
Soren Kierkegaard, a famous Danish philosopher from the 19th century, said that such things produce a powerful “sensation of the absurd.” Other historical influentials have come up with theories about absurd nonsense. Sigmund Freud, in an essay called “The Uncanny,” linked this sensation to a fear of death, of castration, or of “something that ought to have remained hidden but has come to light.”
We are unleashing the dark side when we go into the world of nonsensical brain gibberish. It gives us a creepy disorientating sensation when confronted with these oddities. But this dark side is actually historically and psychologically proven to have many benefits for you.
Let’s dive into the fantastical world of nonsense and two-horned dolphins.
Absurdity Unlocks the “Other Side”
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” ~ Dr Seuss
We’ve all become far too serious. In my city, London, people are so damn cold. It’s like they’re going to a mental funeral 24/7, the gloomy weather adds to this depressing feel. Sometimes we fall too deep into reality.
Reality is good of course, it’s necessary (obviously). Without it, we’d all be like that one hippie that's stuck in his trip screaming “Jesus was a woman and he’s sending the death squirrels to kill us.” I’m not advocating for being that far out of reality, but as Dr. Seuss says, maybe having one foot in the fantastical world and the other in the real world will do us good.
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
When we think of things out of the ordinary, we are stimulating our brains in ways we didn't think were possible.
“Disorientation begets creative thinking,” Benedict Carey .
Zen masters across the far east have made this connection for centuries. To try to initiate new patterns of thought and unique insight, Zen masters ask their students perplexing mind puzzles like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “Show me your face before your mother gave birth to you?”
These nonsensical thought prompts were used to induce a sensation of sudden enlightenment, as covered in this essay from 1999. Such activities give the brain a certain degree of mental flexibility in ways they can start to think outside the box more.
Sometimes we fall too deep into reality.
It is also reported that individuals who seek out uniqueness tend to prompt unfamiliar thinking patterns. This can explain why people with higher IQs like to indulge in making up odd puns, as reported by this essay in The Times.
The proven benefits of alternative thinking:
In this paper, published by Dr. Proulx and Dr. Heine, they host 20 college students as part of a study and have them read a nonsensical short story based on “The Country Doctor,” by Franz Kafka.
The doctor of the story has to visit a house of a boy who has a painful toothache. He arrived and discovers that the boy has no teeth. The horses who have pulled his carriage begin to act disobediently and the boy’s family becomes agitated with everything. Finally, the doctor discovers the boy had teeth all along. Many more weird things continue to happen.
The story can best be described as Kafkaesque. It makes no sense, is absurdly odd, and goes in unexplained circles.
The students then have to memorize a bunch of letters that are organized in different patterns. The students correctly memorized the letters twice more accurately than a group of students who read an ordinary short story.
Dr. Heine said that “…the fact that they were more accurate means, we think, that they’re forming new patterns they wouldn’t be able to form otherwise.”
So there you have it, there is clearly some unique benefit to thinking and immersing ourselves in the weird world of nonsense. It allows us to think about and solve problems more effectively in ways that ordinary people wouldn't have thought of.
Now the question you may have is how do we get to this enlightened state. The answer is gibberish.
Practicing Gibberish: The Hidden Philosopher’s Stone
Some say that this language is named after the Middle Eastern alchemist from the 8th century, Ibn Jabir. Because his intelligible speech sounded like gibberish.
Gibberish is nonsensical language that is completely made up. According to Positive Psychology News, it can contribute to our learning skills, improvisation, and power of memory.
For reference, here is a hilarious 30-second clip of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell speaking gibberish in a movie. These men are comedic geniuses.
The weird and perplexing thing about gibberish is that it forces you to abandon your thought mechanisms. That’s why it feels so unnatural and strange.
Just try it. Start blurting out random sounds and stringing together words that don’t make sense. Have you done it yet? No one’s watching you, it’s just between us. I’ll even help you if you need.
See what I mean? It’s actually hard to do. It’s like our brains are forming a barrier to stop us from doing it because it’s so against what we’ve been conditioned to do since birth.
Gibberish represents nonsense and absurdity. Speaking out of pure irrationality and not desperately trying to understand everything is liberating. It’s perhaps the only verbal way that can silence the constantly active “chatterbox” in our minds.
Maybe having one foot in the fantastical world and the other in the real world will do us good.
Within this formal world filled with solemn seriousness and desperation to appear ‘normal’, lies something so far from the ordinary that no one can actually understand. If we can grasp this and comprehend how unserious life is, maybe everyone would have more fun once in a while. As the old saying goes,
“Stop taking yourself so seriously.”
Nonsense has plagued human culture and society for centuries. Influential thinkers have tried to characterize what is attracting people to the absurd side of the meaningless abyss. But this is impossible because nonsense will remain nonsense.
Despite this, modern psychological research studies are discovering more and more about the effect nonsense has on the brain, and it has some positive effects on us for sure. However, this field of research isn't broadly explored as of now.
Since I started writing this article, I’ve been consistently writing out gibberish in my notebook, you know, as you do. And to be honest, it’s weird and leaves me feeling disorientated.
Why am I doing this you may ask? I don’t really know, but writing this strange article has certainly helped me make the connection with things that don't make sense, and learning not to take life so seriously.