A Peculiar Paen in Praise of Arrant Nonsense
“There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”
These are difficult times. The latest polls show that the cynical, even Rovian, choice of an unqualified Governor by Sen. McCain is working. This must surely give pause to any thoughtful U.S. citizen, whether one is conservative or liberal, on the left or the right, Democrat or Republican, red or blue. It certainly gives credibility to those, like Mr. Gore, that wonder how Democracy can survive the transition from print to electronic media.
All of us must be somewhat nervous watching the worst problems in the financial sector since the Great Depression. Bear Stearns, failing regional banks, the potential $100B bailout of the mortgage industry, with more failures to come, make observers wonder just how bad the U.S. and global economies will get.
And another hard hurricane season already in progress fits the patterns predicted by those warning of an environmental crisis due to global warming. The changes in the Arctic Ocean ice sheet, continued melting in Greenland, and rising waters affecting island nations all portend much worse weather ahead.
At a time like this, when governments, institutions, and Mother Nature herself seem to be failing us, those of us gathering in the darkness around the electronic fire of Open Salon must ask ourselves: “What would Monsieur Chariot do?”
I know that many of you have noticed the relatively long absence of Monsieur Chariot from our midst. This gentleman’s last post “My Shocking $7,500 ‘Tip!’” – one of his dozen Editor’s Picks and with a rating of almost 40 – is dated August 13th. His last comment was done on August 23rd. I haven’t yet figured out OS time (you’ll recall that there are about seven Internet years to one calendar year) but I do know that it’s been at least OS months since we’ve heard from him.
I have no doubt that M. Chariot, quill pen in hand, would write some lovely bon mots reminding us in his elegant way that these problems too shall pass. That we may yet live to see someone of really Presidential stature elected to the office – perhaps even wearing a bespoke top hat for the inauguration. That, yes, we’re entering miserable financial times, but for now there’s still the chance to enjoy a cup of caffeinated café from his Limoges porcelain coffee service. That global warming may sink even The City of Angels, but not before he’s moved his priceless collection of antiques from his domicile très petit to safety.
But what about the rest of us? What do those of us without M. Chariot’s sangfroid survive these dark times? What if you are lacking that certain je ne sais quoi?
Personally I recommend arrant nonsense. Note that this is “arrant” not “errant.” “Errant,” as in “knight errant” means “roving or straying.” “Arrant” means “utter, complete, thoroughgoing” and carries a connotation of disapproval. I do not join in this disapproval and instead recommend a little good natured arrant nonsense for all of us. Think of it as a tonic to relieve the stress of living in this modern world or as an antidote to all the bad arrant nonsense we are exposed to.
But where, you ask, can I find some of this arrant nonsense? I have constructed this handy table to answer this very question.
Column A: Good Arrant Nonsense Column B: Bad Arrant Nonsense
Any Dr. Who episode Anything on Fox News Spike Jones Arnold Schoenberg How To Be A Hermit by Will Cuppy How To Talk To A Liberal by Ann Coulter “Fantasia” “Kings Row” Anything by P.G. Wodehouse Anything by Dinesh D'Souza
Note that these are my own idiosyncratic examples. No doubt you’ll want to update it with your own choices. My prescription is quite simple: For every choice from Column B forced upon you, be sure to make at least one choice from Column A – though two are better. Bon Appetit!