“Lost, Just Like Alice”

After reading the entire book of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I can not say that I fully understand the book. I could not see, and still can not see, the symbols that Carroll is writing about. I attend a college prepatory school, but I still can not decipher what he is writing about. I am not saying that I am incredibly smart, but there should be some level of understanding. The drug reference with the caterpillar was the only synbol that I caught.

This may be because English is not my forte in the academic field. Math is my best subject, but wasn’t Carroll a Mathematician?  It is odd that a student who enjoys and is good at math can not relate or understand Carroll’s writing.

Another property of Carroll’s writing are his references to other materials. This book was written way before my time and therefore contains references to things that I have never heard of. There are annotations in the book that no one could really see unless all they were doing was looking for symbolism. There is an annotation about the number 42. How is someone supposed to know that that number has a deeper meaning than just the number?

It is anotations like that that make no sense to me. I can not read this book and undertand what each reference means because I was not alive then and the oldest year I could have taken a current events class would be 1993; there is no way I should know this. This explains why my class and I received the Annotated Alice. Now we can understand the references he makes, but can other people who have the regular book? Can any adult sit down and read this book, while saying to themselves that they understand almost everything that Carroll writes about. Most of the annotations are far-fetched, perhaps coincidental.

All this forces me to come to the conclusion that this is not entirely an adult book…or entirely a children’s book. No adult can comprehend all of the book, while most children do not comprehend any of it and only see the “child’s” view of the story. With our modern day perspective, there is no way we can understand everything Carroll wrote about because he wrote it in his time. If adults can hardly process it, then how will kids? How will teenagers who are supposed to analyze it?

That is what the Annotated Alice is for: to help us understand. Without it, we would be lost just like Alice in a wonderland of sorts.

This book is meant for children and adults, but not children to adults. I think the book’s meaning is lost on us high school students and college students. We do not like the “child’s” aspect of the book, nor can we appreciate the references Carroll makes and their meaning. That does not stop us from trying to understand the book, and learn of it’s prestige.

The book is for the people who can understand it the best, but also for the ones who understand it the least.

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 10:20  Comments (1)  

Transforming for the Sake of Transforming

Alice’s transformations in size seem to come to us fairly often throughout her journey. Her size does not alter her personality, but perhaps alters her understanding; in addition to ours. What do Alice’s transformations mean to the story, to the reader? Alice does it quite often, which can mean one of two things. Either her transformations are highly important, or since they occur regularly, the have little relevance. The latter of the two is ideas is most likely not the answer, but still an option when deciphering the ‘code’ in Alice’s story. While Alice is a dynamic character through her size, the same may not be true for her actual person.

Alice earlier on had shown her childness when she was with the mouse. Alice angered the mouse when she continually spoke about dogs and cats. The book shows Alice doing this again when she is ‘uncivilized to the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse at the tea party. The three others are also quite uncivilized to Alice, and again her personality identifies itself with that of the characters she meets. This happened earlier with the other animals after the “swim in tears” (except for the mouse), when the all are only concerned with the idea of fun. The world that Alice enters seems to be conceived from her mind alone. The characters may mean more, but there is no sense in the world. The characters ignore one another and have genuinely no care for one another. The Queen always wants to behead people, the Duchess take no care of the baby, and the rabbit has paid hardly any attention to Alice over the three times they have met. Alice seems to care for the animals, but she does not show it because she neglects the animals’ feelings. She kicks Bill the lizard, talks of cats to a mouse, and disrupts a tea party by interrupting. The animals and Alice can easily identify themselves with one another because of their similar personality traits.

Her size really has no relevance for her personality because she is the same to all animals no matter what size she is. She was mean to Bill when she was large, and mean to the mouse when she was smaller. The size change must have importance, though, because if this book was written for adults there would have to be some significance. In my opinion, her size change alters her appearance, and so far that is all that it does. Some may argue with me, but I can not see anything else that her size changing alters other than just that-her size. The book takes on different connotations though, which alter our opinions. After all, isn’t analyzing just one’s point of view, one’s opinion?

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 12:08  Comments (1)  

The Race

OK, on to chapter three and the oddity of the race that ensues, and the meaning it holds.

Now, when we first open up on the scene of chapter three, the animals are all on the edge of the water and cold because they have just escaped Alice’s tears. The cool air around them makes them shiver as they are saturated with water, or rather tears from Alice. The tears (Alice’s self-pity) again plague the animals that surround her.

In spite of this, Alice has become more comfortable with all the creatures around her and they try to come up with a way to become dry. The animals simply want to be rid of the water, but could it not mean, if we were to embellish this idea, that subconsciously the animals want to be rid of Alice?

She has already caused one problem and she has not been in their world for too long. The mouse that we meet in chapter two, has an idea of how to overcome this bad situation, and overcome Alice’s ‘mistake’ and the animals are all very intrigued with this. It seems that throughout this story the animals seem childish.  The animals are changing constantly and have rather short attention spans. He begins to tell a story of history, and the animals become to grow bored and tired of his account.  The mouse seems to hold some sort of position of power possibly because of his opulence of knowledge. The animals that the mouse leads seem to be less intelligent and only want to be happy and have fun. This idiosyncrasy sparks the new idea of a race, or rather just running around in circles, is presented and the animals like this idea better. The animals act like Alice (little kids) and therefore do not seem to hold that “above-world” adult attitude of only doing the normal, banal thing. The animals do not seem to be criticizing adults, like we have in our ‘real’ world, although this is a biased opinion. This race makes the animals dry, and this seems to be the cheering up that Alice needed in order to “wash” away her tears. This happens both literally and figuratively because not only does she become dryer, but she also becomes happier. Her self-pity has now been stricken from her and replaced with happiness.

Alice asks the mouse if he can now tell her the his background story and this is done in a poem form, yet I do not comprehend who is doing the speaking, Alice or the mouse. Either way, Alice displeases the mouse once again when she is not paying attention to the mouse’s story. Alice again shows her ‘childness’ when she disregards the mouse’s tale and is ultimately rude to the mouse. The mouse walks away and does not return to Alice. This is the first instance when the little mouse does not return to Alice. He is walking away form his troubles (Alice). Alice has caused the animals much discomfort, and now she and the animals must pay the price; the mouse has left. One of the birds remarks that it is a shame to see him go, although the animals seemed to not care for the mouse’s story of William the Conqueror. The characters, including Alice, seem to be very little-minded and self-centered. They do hand out rewards at the end of the race, but are very greedy. The other animals seem to relate to Alice, while the mouse relates back to adults/higher authority. What a mouse.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 21:24  Leave a Comment  

A Mouse Tail? No, a Mouse Tale

In chapter three there is a conversation that takes place between Alice and the rather smart mouse. The mouse has already told us that he dislikes both cats and dogs. This is normal since cats chase mice, and dogs are larger than mice. Dogs could also be intimidating since they are so energetic and knock different items around (if these are bigger dogs). The mouse says that he has reasons why he does not like those two animals, which Alice has to ask what are those reasons. The mouse remarks that he will tell her later when he is on safer, dryer land. The mouse nearly forgets, but Alice asks him if he can tell her about his background story; about his Cs and Ds. The mouse begins to tell Alice and the other assembled animals why he does not like cats and dogs.

The mouse begins to tell a poem about his background, but what is odd is that he refers to his story by the term “tale.” Now Alice, being as young as she is, mistakes this “tale” to be the mouses actual tail. The English language is somewhat cross-examined by Carroll in this passage, but you would not be able to see this unless you read the book. He shows how that English can be difficult to comprehend due to confusing words. The English language is odd, with it’s word that sound alike and confuse us, and the rules like “I before E, except after C.” This rule is not always right, thus explaining that rules like this should never have been taught to us. It seems that Carroll is commenting that English is complicated and that it is hard for young children, unless it is written, to understand the language. If the word is written we can see how the definition. Tale is like a story, but tail is what cats clean and dogs wag.

The mouse tells his “tale,” but discovers that Alice is not paying attention to him. He becomes angry with her apathy at the story she wanted to know so badly before. Alice remarks that the  mouse was at the “Fifth bend” in his story, but the mouse replies that “I (he) was not.” Again, with the English language, Alice mistakes “not” for “knot.” This is easy to understand since Alice had thought the mouse was talking about his actual tail, and tails do get in knots. Originally the mouse believes that him and Alice are on the same page, but they are not even close. Alice’s interpretation of the two words throws her off course and she is now totally lost in comparison to the mouse. The misinterpretation between the mouse and her, and the overall mistake causes the mouse to leave, and be quite angry with Alice. We may never see the smart, clever mouse again.

Carroll is telling us that the way we interpret ideas and words change our views. Alice was thinking of long whip-like tails, while the mouse was thinking of stories and histories. These two thoughts are far from the same category of idea. This dichotomy is caused form the seemingly simple words that cause great confusion between two speakers. This, again, mirrors the seemingly simple story of just a girl in a different world. We know, though, that much bigger ideas are being presented and it is up to us to reach out and grab these ideas. Just as Carroll eludes to with the English language. Confusion is just the first part, it can only be followed by abandonment of the confusion through actual abandonment, or through understanding. Understanding is what leads one to the epiphany stages and what ultimately teaches us the overarching meanings being simple ideas.
Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 21:18  Comments (1)  

The Mouse in the Water

Chapter two again confuses me as a reader and a student. Alice changes size again and now is larger than her normal height and size that she was in the beginning. She begins to cry because of her size, and her tears begin to fill up the hallway to about four inches height.

The tears is another confusing portion of this story thrown into this book. My only description of this ‘phenomena’ is that later she shrinks down again and then has to swim in her tears, and escape to dryer, safer land. This may mean that ‘wallowing’ in your self-pity, or in this case ‘swimming’ in your sadness is something that one should not do for it only causes problems. These problems may not only pertain to you, but others as Alice discovers. Just as in Alice’s case when she is ‘swimming in her sadness’ and the little mouse falls in as well and her sad mood causes him trouble, in addition to the other animals that fall victim to her tears. Alice’s self-pity causes trouble not only for herself, but for the other animals that are now struggling in the water. The mouse, and other animals have trouble with the water and it is all because of Alice’s self-pity.

The mouse and Alice then have a conversation about dogs and cats and whether or not Alice likes them. The mouse of course does not like these animals, but Alice says that she does. Alice shows her ‘little child’ when she should know that mice dislike cats , but she begins to talk about them, and say how great they are. It seems that she does not realize that mice dislike cats because cats chase mice, and seldom does the cat not run after the mouse. The mouse’s dislike of the dog was a little odd, but it is easy to understand since dogs are so much larger than mice, and could be quite threatening to a little mouse.

It just seems that Alice should know that mice dislike cats because she owns a cat, Dinah, that is apparently very good at catching mice. Yet, here is Alice talking about how greatly Dinah is at capturing mice, while she talks to a mouse, a mouse! Alice may most likely lose other friends because of her inability to understand her audience that she speaks to. The mice becomes troubled with her and swims away because of her ignorance, but luckily for Alice, he comes back to talk to her and figure out how to get out of the water.

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 04:00  Comments (1)  

Pre-Thoughts and Chapter One

My reactions to the Alice at a first glance is that it seems like a child’s story; mainly because it has only ever been introduced to me as a child’s story. It was odd to learn that the book was written by a mathematician and not an actual author. Another odd thing was that the book was written for a small girl that Carroll knew quite well, and that the Alice portrayed in the movie is actually a wrong interpretation of the little girl. It is this year, about three days ago, I learned that there were little ‘shout-outs’ to adults and higher thinkers in the story of Alice to intrigue them. It may be hard to observe the little comments left by Lewis Carroll in the book of The Annotated Alice, but I really do not know for I have never read the book. It may be difficult to comprehend the comments left by Carroll, but I hope I can identify them more readily as time progresses. I have never been too good at identifying symbolism, but hopefully with this project, and the help from my group, it will be easier for me to identify the ‘shout-outs.’ No one has ever told me that the story is actually intended for adults except for Mr. Long, and it is going to be a different way of looking at this seemingly simple story.

After reading chapter one, I can already tell that this book is going to be quite quirky. Of course what I remembered form the movie was not exactly normal, but this book makes little sense to me. First off, Alice sees a rabbit in a vest, but the first thing she notices is the watch that this “late” rabbit is holding. She does not even see the jacket/vest that he is wearing. It seems that the jacket was an after-thought upon seeing the rabbit, and that she thought that the idea of a rabbit in a vest was ‘normal.’ I mean the jacket would be the first thing I would notice if I were to ever see a rabbit wearing a vest. Then there is the whole defying physics portion when Alice falls down the rabbit hole, and is surrounded by a large assortment of objects. Some how she is able to pick up an empty jar and replace it on another cupboard with tremendous ease. Not only does that make no sense and defy basic physics, but what relevance does that have to the story? The only explanation I can think of is that this is a sign that Alice is entering a world without barriers; that this world will make little sense. Then Alice’s childhood innocence comes into play again when she overlooks the small door hidden behind a random curtain. The curtain would stick out, but Alice does not notice the curtain at first inspection. I would be provoked to look for an escape and my curiosity would take over. My curiosity would make me open the curtain to unveil the small little door. On the complete contrary, Alice becomes all responsible and reasonable when she discovers the drink on the table. This little girl is concerned that someone might poison her and want her harmed. She moves away from childhood innocence to adult cynicism. This may mean that her changing in size may provoke her to become a different character. By size change she becomes a dynamic character.

I think there are probably some references and little ‘shout-outs’ that I am not getting in this odd story. It still seems purely like a child’s story where random things happen and the audience (the kids) do not question the simple, yet odd, occurrences. I do not think Alice is of sound mind. I am not saying that she is dumb or has some sort of mental defect, but only that she may be tired or very imaginative. I mean she is bored in the beginning of the story, so maybe she drifts into a day dream of some sort. We all know that dreams seldom make sense, and even though Alice is somewhat fictitious, she must be the same. Yet I can not help but think that Carroll is shouting to us through the book that these weird occurrences are important.

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 15:19  Comments (5)