The event of note today was a visit to JNU (Jawaharlal Neru University) for a talk on nonsense. My connection to JNU goes way back to Aradhana Bisht and her uncle Pushpesh Pant—the very two lovely loons who inspired “Bisht-Bosht Mudpies,” one of the poems in This Book Makes No Sense. This time around, I was contacted by one of the Brave New Newminous Nonsense Noodles, Anurima Chanda, who is just finishing up a Master’s degree on----Indian nonsense literature! Without the benefit of easy access to nonsense scholarship or nonsense scholars, and with some of the typical institutional prejudice against nonsense literature, she has managed to blaze a trial here, and for that, I sing her hozzannahs and zing her zazzonnas! I helped Anurima a bit with her research, and she was kind enough to put me in touch with the Centre for English Studies, where Professor Saugata Bhaduri, the Centre’s Head, arranged a lecture.
And so skipped in I, with my bushels of bosh, whistling a merry kazoon, to be welcomed by the Rusticated Religiously Regulatory Registry of Rasa-gollas (known as the RRRRR), the grand and grumpy school of truly gifted aesthetes. The RRRRR let it be Known that there was no such thing as the Tenth Rasa, that it was impossible, that the mere idea of it purplified them! You see, since the ninth rasa, that of shanti or peace, is meant to contain them all, there simply couldn’t be a tenth. Such fizzdom! Of course, Sukumar Ray, and many million Bengalis, might have a thing or two by say by way of a response… After decided declamations of purplification, the students finally had the chance to ask a question or two, and much fun and nonsense was made. Many thanks to Professor Bhaduri, the students of JNU, the RRRRR, and Anurima.
Exploring nonsense around the world is indeed often a perilous undertaking—especially when some Orientalist (tee-hee) foreigner comes in with his Bosh Blunderbuss, telling unsuspecting folks that some of their ancient and honorable artistic traditions might participate in a bit of nonsense. Oh the hubbub! Of course, the hubbub only lasts until one understands exactly (or, well, as best we can) what a truly magnificent, trans-continental, and kingly title “nonsense” really is.
And as Blake (a true nonsense genius—just read his “An Island in the Moon”) once put it, “I have also The Bible of Nonsense, which the world shall have whether they will or no.” Or something like that.