garden of nonsense

Ben Goertzel
December 1999 - January 2000

Garden of Nonsense was a kind of explosion -- I hadn't written anything nontechnical for over a year and at one point it just had to come out.

It started out as something more ambitious than what it actually is now.

As I wrote it over Christmas break 1999-2000 and the surrounding weeks, it was an epic poem parallel in plot to Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, with characters switched in gender from Pushkin's, and a surrealistic melange of styles instead of Pushkin's simple consistent versification. I'd been reading Pushkin on the subway ride and drive into work, and also, inspired by two of my more egregiously supa-fly colleagues at Intelligenesis (Cate Hartley and Mike Ross), studying a bit of hip hop. Something really sick and twisted inside me absolutely demanded that Pushkin be recast in hip hop meter, and hip hop themes be transformed into Russian romanticism, with French surrealism and dime store porno verse and stream of cream of consciousness twisted around their neck for good (or bad) measure.

Welll ... the result was kinda cool in a freaky sort of way, but I wasn't really happy with it. It lived on the Web for two weeks while I was on vacation in Peru; and I know at least one person, Tanja Andric, actually read it (many thanks to Tanja for being such a loyal reader and e-friend!). I think that with sufficient time and effort I could have realized my ambition, but as it was, I was sort of hacking together inspired parts with uninspired glue trying to build a whole too fast.

The good news is, this literary mutation contained some really cool segments, which are presented here as a collection of verses -- a garden of nonsense, if you will.

The month in which I was writing Garden of Nonsense was not a particularly happy one -- I really needed a vacation. Spending 100 hours a week on technical work was causing my subconscious to grow sour and curdle. Fortunately I got a vacation, the cosmogonic, psychospastic and metaphysical consequences of which are recounted in the sequel poem cycle, INCAntations.

(For archeological interest, I will leave the old, quasi-Pushkin version online here. In its crazed leaping structure, it's really no worse than many parts of the original version of WARGASM, but there's a reason I'm in the middle of drastically editing that too. Some things just seem to work better in the brain than on the page.)