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This video clip is an excerpt from Kevin Smith's film Dogma. The scene depicts Loki, a fallen angel, interpreting "The Walrus and the Carpenter" to a nun in an airport.  In the notes on page 183 of Annotated Alice, Gardner mentions how Carroll had no real intention for the meaning of the poem and that the carpenter could just have easily been made a butterfly or baronet by the discretion of illustrator John Tenniel.  This factoid well derails the sinister Loki's diatribe, but at the same time shows how nonsense can be a powerful tool in the hands of the creative! 

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3 Comments

  1. Unknown User (ggs1)

    I love this movie!  I find Kevin Smiths interpretations of pop culture movies, books, and comics to be hysterical.  He tends towards an almost nonsensical interpretation sometimes but they are always elaborate and very entertaining.  This is one of my favorite, I love how he takes ridiculous ideas and puts them into relatable terms for the everyone, like explaining how there is no reason to be religious because of a poem written by Lewis Carroll.  Interpretation is a tricky thing that can get you into trouble if it is taken seriously when it has no real substance to it.

  2. Unknown User (mka4)

    Although I agree that the interpretation of nonsense can sometimes result in misconceptions and the spread of invalid ideas, in this case the interpretation of nonsense is a tool that the man uses to convey his own idea.  If he had not used reason and personal belief to reach the idea that religion is a ploy to make the masses follow, he would never have reached this interpretation of the poem.  If the interpretation did not have some validity as it pertains to the way that he and the nun see the world, it would not inspire either of them.  Interpretation can be a means by which to clarify one's personal ideas, even if it results in those theories being projected onto something completely unrelated, like Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter".

  3. Unknown User (mrb21)

    "One man's nonsense is another man's reason" is an intellectually-themed variation on the more common "One man's garbage is another man's treasure" (with nonsense being intellectual garbage and reason being intellectual treasure). Just because something was written as nonsense and has no meaning to the author doesn't mean it has no meaning at all - in the eyes of another the work can have a wholly separate meaning.

    I think we spend far too much time focusing only on what the author meant. Clearly what the author meant is important, but sometimes what WE as readers mean is important too. It's possible to have a rational conversation about multiple points of view of the same set of words and maybe it can enlighten us to the many true meanings of a work. I don't think that the meaning of a piece is what the author intended. It's what the piece itself means. A poem or work is the 'I Say' statement that an author makes and we as readers evaluate it and respond with a 'Yes, but I Say'... and that's the best part of the medium of written word.

    Maybe we take ourselves too seriously as literary critics or interpreters. Maybe we should call ourselves literary viewers because we simply view the work our own way and get the meaning from that. I think sometimes we get too wrapped up in our own ego when interpreting and that's where we get in trouble - when we think our interpretation is the only one and the right one.