Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Love Letter to Preposterous

Dear preposterous,

Of all the words that mean "contrary to common sense," including but not limited to:

1) ridiculous       2) absurd       3) foolish       4) silly       5) etc.

You are the best.

I'm predisposed towards the preposterous automatically, but only in a very specific way. I like my preposterousness to have intent, somehow. I think it's because preposterous things are best when they veer swiftly from a serious something. When they have a reason and that reason is, itself, preposterous.  All that is probably rooted somehow in absurdism, right?

Still, I'm not directly talking absurdism, here - like the disharmony created by humanity's continuous search for meaning in a meaninglessness universe -  for example: mathematicians rummaging for the secrets of pi, or people who do the "paleo diet" (which is worst name ever, and here's a tip if you want to lose weight: exercise (yes, fine, pots and kettles and their inherent blackness, whatever, but at least I'm not jumping on fads)) because, you guys, we have no way of knowing that Paleolithic humans refrained from starch.  Or Catholicism. Pi, paleo diets, Catholicism. All the same thing. Everything is the same thing, nothing is different, everything is different, everything is absurd, but omg, why? So obviously I agree with absurdism, pretty much, but I don't like the fact that I do. Which is, of course, fucking absurd.

But I'm talking about artistically preposterous, or personally preposterous, or professionally preposterous. The kind of preposterousness that springs from the cracks of too much seriousness rather than a lack of understanding, of the willing neglect of things that are sensible in order to embrace the nonsense, because of the nonsense. It's just more fun that way.

In light of disappearing flights, I'm going to use LOST as an example here: LOST excelled at characterization. Each person portrayed on that show was pompously elaborate, fat with memories and glaring idiosyncrasies.

The plot to LOST was developed, but shittingly preposterous, and that made me love it more. The more entangled and irrational each story became, a pervasive concern arose among viewers: the scriptwriters wrote themselves into fallacy. But then instead of writing themselves out of it they just said, "Eh, fuck it. Let's do this instead: EVERYTHING IS MAGIC."

Look at that foot. Why is the foot there? Because it used to be a statue of Taweret. Why was there a statue? Because someone built it. Probably an Egyptian. Why Taweret? Because she was the goddess of makin' babies, and no one could have babies on the island so the statue was an appeal for fertility. Why? Because some people like babies and the island is magic.

That is my idea of a good time. Instead of solving our problems, let's just use magic.
[pri-pos-ter-us s, -truh s]
completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish: a preposterous tale.
Origin: 1535-45; from Latin praeposterus with the the hinder part foremost. See pre-, posterior, -ous.
unreasonable, excessive, ridiculous. See absurd.

Sure, saying that using magic is better could be utterly foolish. Why? Number one, magic isn't real. Two, it's cheating. But most importantly it means taking that thing that we were all wondering: is there a fucking logical explanation for all this? No. There isn't. There is only magic.

But how, do you ask, is that putting the hinder part foremost? That which defines preposterous, which is why this is preposterous and not absurd? Literally, "pre-" meaning before; part of "posterior" meaning subsequent, followed by, hinder; and "-ous" meaning...you know...the part of the word that makes this an adjective. Either way, preposterous magic is the driving purpose. We're well aware of what should be done, if things were right and proper, and we just...do it differently for no goddamn reason.

Things that are literally backwards and preposterous, just off the top of my head: 

  • Looking-Glass magic plum-cakes (hand it round first, then cut it after)
  • “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
  • Put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it 
  • posting something on Facebook just to see different sidebar ads
  • butt chugging

The obvious preposterous thing to list is "don't put the cart before the horse." But what people always forget is this: horses can push, too. 

Do horses dream of hauling booze or is the very notion of this preposterous?



So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.


Liz Ele said...

Horses horses horses horses!

Rassles R. said...

never gets old.