Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.” ― Gilda Radner

As readers (or SNL sketch actors), we especially, can crave a complete ending. Clear storylines and plot points are ingrained into our heads like a map. But in certain stories as well as life, we have to deal with uncertainty. How to deal? Jamie Holmes has written over 200 pages on how people have been handling life’s confusion and ambiguity in every context imaginable.

Nonsense isn’t a book on how to overcome the “nonsense,” but an illustration on how others have or have failed to harness it. It’s about being in a state of uncertainty and a willingness to be comfortable with being confused.

The sections jump around like a collection of interesting articles, ranging from fashion marketing fails, to medical mishaps, to puzzles the reader themselves can try out as they read. Here’s a popular one that was circulating around via email back when I was in middle school that’s mentioned.

“it deosn’t mttaer in waht oerdr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.”

You can even try out this online quiz to see if you crave non-ambiguity. If so, maybe you need to purchase this & give it a look over or two.

The stories jump around too haphazardly at times. Sometimes there’s no indication you’re entering a new in-depth example. But all are interesting, even if they are a bit surface level. I didn’t want it to end, which was upsetting when I found out the last 80 pages or so are just citations & references.

One of the most interesting parts was where he discusses how the most successful corporations or companies are the ones that are never really certain of their success. There is an element of being humble that increases the need to figure out what made you successful in the first place, thus increasing your chance of figuring out what will make you successful next. The whole “understanding your past, to better your future” schtick really stuck with me.

Overall, it was probably something you can compile yourself with a lot of google searches & research, but Holmes frames it for the reader so that it has a string of connection back to this “power of not knowing.” I also plan on using my copy as a great gift for a friend I have who won’t stop talking about her ex because she never got any “closure.”

I received this book from Crown Publishing through BloggingForBooks in exchange for review.

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