So, I was reading this thing today about how horrible nursery rhymes are. The gist of the article is that most nursery rhymes are actually political in nature. And often, those politics are horrifying. They seem mainly to deal with Queen Mary of England and her torture. So, you know, exactly the sort of thing you want to teach a toddler all about (although, to be fair, back in the day kids were getting married at age 12 and dying at age 25. Also, considering the insanely high rape, pillage, pox and murder rates found throughout pre-Industrial Revolution Europe, maybe you did want to explain the violent, evil, mean-spirited facts of life to your toilet-trainee).
Anyway, what really struck me about the nursery rhymes was not how disturbing they are (ever read an original Brothers Grim fairy tale?), but rather, how nonsensical they are to the modern reader. Even assuming that this whole notion that “Mary, Mary quite contrary = rhyming genital torture couplet” idea is bupkis, what’s fascinating (to me at least) is that there is, in fact, room for doubt about its meaning. Most of these nursery rhymes are less than 400 years old. Most of them were originally written in English and there hasn’t been any sort of cataclysmic, Earth-shaking event which would have disrupted the contextual meaning of the rhymes. In other words, there’s no reason why the meaning of these rhymes shouldn’t be clear as day.
It’s understandable that large sections of the Bible are open to interpretation. It was written millenia ago over the course of hundreds of years in archaic versions of languages which today are, at best, not widely spoken. Plus, until relatively recently, it’s care and transmission were left largely to the Jews. Now, I’m not faulting the Hebrews for anything, I’m just saying that they’ve gotten the short (and often pogrom-ish) end of the stick for pretty much as long as they’ve been around. It’s understandable that somewhere along the line they would have fumbled a little bit and sort of let slip some important contextual tidbits that were necessary for a clear and accurate understanding of the holy writs. What with all the slavery and wandering and temple sackings and persecutions and such.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that nursery rhymes don’t have any of those problems, and yet getting to their fundamental meaning is (almost) as difficult as understanding an ancient, poorly managed, supernatural salvation how-to manual*.
I wonder if this is a trend that will continue. It’s hard to say, but it’s enough to make me think about freezing my head before I die. I would love to be thawed out in a time, say 2350 A.D. when Lil Wayne’s Lollipop is on the lips of your waddling great-great grand kids**.
* The real implication here is that 99% of everything written in this century will be effectively meaningless within 400 years. In that spirit, Guzzle red run berry hatrick SitCH fact corrupt fast 134 bladders. (That should keep them guessing.)
** I would love for 2008’s strongest contender in the “Waste of Talent, Hip-Hop Single” division to come, song bird like, out of the lungs of my progeny, but I’m not sure I’ll have any. I think, for the most part, that this entire post is really, deep down, about my David Lynch-ian feelings towards my impending fatheriness (que screaming devil-cow fetus baby)
Really, I’m sure it’s one of those things where once I just jump and do it I’ll realize that there’s really nothing to it and I’ll wonder why I was so scared and hesitant***. It’s just tip-toeing up to the edge of that particular cliff that’s difficult.
*** I guess that I would describe myself not as being in favor of Abstinence Only education so much as I’m a supporter of Protectionless Only education****. I think that everyone should have a pre-wedlock child by the time they’re 15. I mean, it makes sense. Like driving and watching the Saw franchise of movies, having a child is something you should do while you’re too young and stupid to know how terrifying it really is. That way you can practice on your little mulligan baby and then, when you’re older, wiser and more financially well-off, you can pawn the brat onto your parents and go have a new, unblemished, child. I really think that system would make everything a lot easier for baby-making adults.
**** Admitedly, my Protectionless Only education stance does clash with my Pro-Abortion stance (to paraphrase the Simpsons, “Abortions for some, more abortions for others!”). No doubt when I run for Office, this contradiction will be used by my opponents as proof that I’m wishy-washy. I prefer to think of myself as being pragmatic about the whole thing: Abortions where we can, bastard children where we must.
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