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CronoDAS comments on Why You're Stuck in a Narrative - Less Wrong

38 [deleted] 04 August 2009 12:31AM

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Comment author: CronoDAS 04 August 2009 01:43:58AM *  13 points [-]

I couldn't even finish reading the second one.

Contrast this famous piece of nonsense:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought -- So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought

And as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

Comment author: scav 04 August 2009 12:39:52PM 6 points [-]

Yes, a constrast indeed. It contains nonsense vocabulary, but it's a perfectly coherent story, so not hard to remember.

Note also, in D&D and probably other related cultures, a "vorpal" weapon has come to mean a magic weapon with a chance of automatically decapitating a foe. And this is pure narrative compression too: in the poem, the hero goes galumphing back with the jabberwock's head after using the vorpal blade to defeat it. The poem doesn't say the jabberwock was killed by decapitation, but it's too easy to join the dots between the snicker -snack and the victorious galumphing, and thus extract an unconscious theory about what it is that "vorpal" blades do.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 05 August 2009 02:06:30AM 4 points [-]

It contains nonsense vocabulary, but it's a perfectly coherent story, so not hard to remember.

Nonsense vocabulary that was also carefully crafted to sound plausible, with echoes of meaning and associations to existing words.

I doubt it's possible to be any more comprehensible than Jabberwocky without using only real words.