“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” —Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark tells his scholarly pal, Horatio, of encountering a talking ghost wearing his late father’s armor and crown: an absurdity undreamt in Horatio’s philosophy, with which he is endowed by the enlightened rational faculty of the Bard of Avon.
Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.
In the playwright’s school of thought, two centuries advanced from those two characters, reason made science the boss, and the rational mind was armed and primed to bust ghosts with the ‘absurd’ gloss.
Whatsoever is contrary to nature is contrary to reason, and whatsoever is contrary to reason is absurd.
A scholarly debater for the anti-absurd, Horatio, tuned to reason’s high station, no doubt thinks the prince must have, from his imagination, misheard. Yet, just a bit later, something undreamt in his philosophy, something armored, crowned, seen and heard, turns his rational creed to curd.
In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.
Now, Horatio dreams of things in heaven and earth that reason deems absurdities. While Hamlet dreams the play’s thing in which to catch the conscience of the king. And that’s a bard’s honest truth, philosophically, in rationally scientific prose poetry.
Reason is a supple nymph, and slippery as a fish by nature. She had as leave give her kiss to an absurdity any day, as to syllogistic truth. The absurdity may turn out truer.
—D. H. Lawrence