Only in today's market can the Dow have one of its biggest gains ever, on a day when consumer confidence logged its worst readings since it's been followed.

After the Dow's nearly 900-point rally today, on what seemed like nothing but loads of bad news, you're right to stand back and wonder what in the world to make of this absurd volatility -- and more importantly, how to invest around it.

The short, easy, and honest answer is that this volatility is spectacularly unreasonable, and you're foolhardy to try such an approach.

Think about it: Only a few weeks ago, the Dow soared an equally impressive amount -- 936 points -- sending a wave of euphoria over markets, as if our troubles were behind us. Within days ... poof! The gains were gone. There's little reason to jump for joy over today's gain, either. Call me a party pooper, but the bad news in the economy hasn't disappeared, my friends.

In the banking sector alone, the likes of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) all gained well into double-digit percentages today. That's spectacular if you're a leveraged hedge-fund manager trying to meet margin calls, but completely irrelevant if you're a long-term investor looking to own good companies for a long period of time.

During these tumultuous times, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the long term is your only hope for success, and the cacophony of short-term madness we've experienced has absolutely nothing to do with where we'll be three, five, or 10 years down the road.

Sit back. Marvel at the madness. Bottom-fish when things get ugly.

That's about all you can ask for these days.

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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy.