The Virtues of Being Incomprehensible

By Steve Simpson

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
—Homer Simpson

I don’t find writing clearly easy, so I invented these self-serving reasons to do the opposite.

  • Impenetrable words allow the reader to focus on the prosody
    This applies to poetry and prose. Here is an example from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

  • Mystification creates enigmas, unresolved mystery
    Here is an example from the first chapter of China Miéville’s wonderful “The City and the City”:

I was struck by her motion, and I met her eyes … With a hard start, I realised that she was not on GunterStrász at all, and that I should not have seen her … When after some seconds I looked back up, unnoticing the old woman … I looked instead at the nearby and local GunterStrász.

  • If the meaning is obscured the reader can invent their own

Particularly when I read poetry, I have my own interpretation and I’m not particularly interested in what the poet was thinking. Unless it’s mine. Then I wonder. But I still have no idea.

  • Writing that doesn’t make sense is more likely to be original, less likely to feel familiar

There’s a balance here, but a bit of Klingon never goes astray.

Admittedly I would have preferred not to have been baffled by the instructions that came with my atomic vegetable processor, even though the blast radius was quite small. But in fiction, as opposed to non-fiction, you do have a choice.

Finally, if my ideas here make sense to you, don’t be too concerned. I must be writing more clearly.


RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2022

GENRE: SOLAR: Speculative Fiction Short Stories | LUNAR: Speculative Poetry


SOLAR: The Purpose of Reality: Solar – Meerkat Press

LUNAR: The Purpose of Reality: Lunar – Meerkat Press


Steve Simpson’s remarkable collections of speculative short stories and poetry, both with illustrations, are dream-like, playful and wildly inventive. Here is a selection of the beings within:

The detective, who carelessly morphs into birds and insects, and cannot choose between brooding and moping, until a stylish grayscale client with retrolescent highlights appears.

Proteus, Homo Sapiens Beta, who discovered fire and put it out, who created a rudimentary encyclopedia that he pedaled across Gondwanaland on weekends.

At Claire’s school, the walls were cardboard, and her chain-smoking math teacher never allowed numbers to be mentioned. He used a drawing of a press to flatten slices of air into tissue paper for kites, and he was Claire’s favorite, because all the other teachers were ghosts. One day, with a little pasta and a little mambo, everything changed.

Aldona worked in the Damasco Auto scrapyard, and when the electromagnet on the crane burned out and dropped the blue Passat, no one saw the electric-winged shape that had been trapped by the magnet. After all, there was nothing to be concerned about: the alien space fleet had been driven away by the earth’s nuclear defenses.


SOLAR:  Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

LUNAR:  Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Steve Simpson lives in Sydney, and he’s never been able to work out exactly what he does, although he would probably feed the cat if he had one. His poetry and short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and in the visual arts, works created with his image evolution software have been shown at several exhibitions. In the sciences, he’s published over 200 research papers, most recently in clinical neurology, where he’s developed a unique system for visualising mental states via EEG. Awards include the Peter Doherty Innovation Prize, for technology to make vehicles safer.


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