Defying Gravity

As the final deadline for the Alice Project draws closer I have been thinking about what I have learned and how this project has changed me. I could say the typical “I have learned and grown so much through this experience” just to get my credit for this blog entry, but I think I know someone who can say what I’m trying to say much better than I could. Her name is Elphaba.

Something has changed within me

Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap

Elphaba sings this in the amazing song, Defying Gravity from the amazing musical Wicked (written and composed by Stephen Schwartz). I feel this is applicable to my current situation with the Alice project. I feel empowered by the fact that others from around the world actually care what I have to say. This has changed me. I have written work that I am proud to call my own and I can never go back to slopping through a project just to get it done. Also, my entire view of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has changed. I can no longer just see it as a children’s story whether I like it or not. I can never un-think the conclusions I have come to. I can never return to the childlike view I had of the story before this project.

The freedom was another fantastic thing about this project.

We were given no rules about what to write about. Our minds were set free to see what we could come up with on our own. I have confidence that my work is good and I can trust my instincts to guide me in the right direction. I also was able to take more chances with this assignment. I hate being put inside a box and told what I can and can’t do, so this project was great on that aspect. This experience has made me grow up on some level as well. There were no due dates other than the final turn in day (Dec. 3) and no one making us work. The responsibility was solely in each participant’s hands.

Another part that I liked was the use of technology.

I have been technologically-challenged for as long as I can remember. I repel any and all technology, therefore using these advanced web tools was new, exciting, and challenging (and I love a challenge). Although I did not ever figure out how to make a Prezi presentation, I did get to use other collaboration tools such as CoverItLve, Diigo, and VoiceThread through the use of these by my fellow classmates and myself. I found it interesting how many web collaboration tools were available for our use and how many of them were used.

Overall I think this was a great experience that I can never return from. I liked the collaboration, use of technology, and experience that I gained from this project, even though I did not enjoy analyzing Alice.

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 03:25  Comments (3)  

Central Park

As I was doing some research on New York to prepare myself to venture to NY during winter break from school I came across an Alice reference I wasn’t planning on finding (They are everywhere!). In Central Park there is a statue depicting characters from Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The statue stands at eleven feet tall at 74th street. It depicts Alice on the mushroom with The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, The White Rabbit, Alice’s Cat Dinah, and the Dormouse. It was commissioned by George Delacorte for his wife who loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. José de Creeft was the artist who made this tremendous sculpture.

I found it interesting that this story is so popular that it is in some of the most popular places in the world, like Central Park in NY. I never think about the things I read being so important and influential in society.  It is amazing to me when stories can come to life right off the pages of a book through the use of their concepts in the world. Everything seems to eventually tie back into real life. After all, fantasy couldn’t exist without reality. Reality couldn’t exist without fantasy.

Picture and information courtesy of http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/alice-in-wonderland.html

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 03:12  Leave a Comment  

Never the Same

I have always found the caterpillar to be a very intriguing character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His presence in a children’s book astounds me. His adult subject matter and odd questions have always perplexed me. He smokes hookah and asks a question that seems easy to answer to young children, but is in fact quite difficult for us to answer. How is it that the most basic thing in Wonderland, a caterpillar, can ask the one question that can be answered by no one- “Who are you?”

Therefore I have done a Voice Thread comparing the images of Tenniel’s drawing of the caterpillar, Walt Disney’s version, and the caterpillar of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (hitting theaters March 2010).  My personal favourite is the Disney version. I think it is fun and playful, which always draws my attention. While all three versions have a few similarities, the differences are what excite me. How is it that everyone seems to have a different vision of the caterpillar? Caterpillars are a fairly basic being. We see them everywhere, yet we can all have a completely different perception of the caterpillar in Wonderland. Should it look like a normal caterpillar, like in Tenniel’s? Or should it be pink and purple, like Disney’s? Or perhaps blue and old such as Burton’s? The possibilities are endless and no two people are going to think it looks the same.

You can view the Voice Thread at the link below

http://voicethread.com/share/779710/

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 21:27  Comments (2)  

Tim Burton: My Hero

As many of you may know in March 2010 a new version of the Lewis Carroll’s story will be released in theaters.

Tim Burton has directed this film and I applaud him. How can you go wrong with an all-star cast like this one? The film includes such actors as Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, and Alan Rickman.

In this version, Alice Kingsley is a 19 year old girl who is unhappy with her socially privileged life. She stumbles back down the rabbit hole but does not remember ever being there before. The White Rabbit informs Alice that her mission is to overthrow the Queen. We follow Alice through her various endeavors in Wonderland. This movie will obviously have Tim Burton’s dark spin on it. Burton, know for such movies as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has taken the original and loved story of Alice and turned it into his idea of a Wonderland. I am interested to see how Burton changes this timeless classic into one of his twisted masterpieces.

One question that has plagued my mind is what will this movie be rated?

As far as I know the rating has not yet been released. I cannot make myself believe that Burton would be ignorant enough to make this film any higher than PG. Being PG-13 or above would limit his audience drastically. Yet, at the same time I had also hoped that it would be made PG-13 so that it could be a little more dark and twisted.

No matter what happens in this film I think I can say that it will be like nothing we have ever seen before. Tim Burton is, put simply, a genius.

All information from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107688/

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 19:06  Leave a Comment  

Animal

As I sit here in my room trying desperately to think of any idea for a blog entry, I am listening to music. Suddenly I hear the intro to Animal by Miike Snow. The catchy beat fills my ears and I begin to sing along. It takes a while but I eventually realize what I am saying. The chorus spreads through my body and eventually ends up in my brain.

“I change shapes just to hide in this place but I’m still I’m still an animal”

I play it over again to make sure my sleepy mind isn’t playing tricks on me. Nope, I heard it correctly.

I instantly see the connection to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice constantly changes sizes to fit the situation and yet it is always so plainly obvious to everyone in Wonderland that she doesn’t belong there. For example Alice tries to change sizes in order to get the key and go through the door. She is also much too big in the Rabbit’s house and in the court. She changes sizes just to fit in and yet she never can. Everyone still realizes that she is a human girl. She is the “black sheep” in this situation and she always stands out no matter how many times she changes shapes, just like the song.

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 22:08  Comments (3)  

Finally Believable

As I read some of my fellow classmate’s blog entries I began to see a pattern. None of them seem to enjoy the end of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where Alice wakes up and realizes that the whole thing was a dream. I, on the other hand, loved this ending for so many reasons:

  1. Alice now has the opportunity to return to Wonderland whenever her mind longs to be there.
  2. As the reader we can now relate to Alice’s adventures.
  3. (Most importantly) It is now (finally) believable

If Wonderland had turned out to be a real place full of real people Alice might not have been able to return. How would she get back? How would she know where it was? Would it still exist without Alice?

Every story we are told we try to relate it to our own lives, whether we realize it or not. We think “Oh I wouldn’t have done that in that situation” or “That was just like the time I (insert random act here).” We all want to read a story about ourselves. We are selfish and conceded beings. We all want, on a simple level, to be Therefore every character has to have some human characteristics or mannerisms. These were few and far between in Wonderland. It becomes almost too unrealistic when nothing seems to make sense. It became annoying to me how unreal it was (coming from a girl who lives in her own wonderland).

On a basic level this ending was quite predictable because in my eyes Carroll had no other choice. Creating an alternate reality is very hard. It has to be unrealistic while still seeming possible and probable. These new worlds are put within borders and told not to cross them. Carroll’s world broke down all barriers and therefore had to rebuild them with the Hey-by-the-way-none-of-it-was-real method and while some may see this as being weak and afraid of the monstrous story he created I see it as purely strategic.

Just think about it- How else could he have ended the story and retain the audiences attention?

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 22:06  Comments (5)  

Parallel Personalities

As I read chapter eight I got a sudden feeling of deja vu.

While at the Queen’s croquet game the White Rabbit tells Alice that the Duchess was going to be executed for boxing the Queen’s ears. I knew that I had seen this before so I searched the story to make sure I wasn’t loosing my mind. Finally I found it in chapter one- “and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing with herself.” Suddenly ideas and questions began to rush into my head. Is the entire story a reflection of Alice’s previous life? Are all of the characters a reflection of a portion of Alice’s personality? I know it is a stretch but just think about it.

Perhaps Alice is dreaming of events in her life, but Alice is encountering herself in various new people.  Alice is the Queen when she feels demanding and powerful. She is the duchess when she feels hot-tempered. She is the White Rabbit when she is running late or feels as if she is running out of time. She is the Mad Hatter when time seems to stand still like when she is bored. She is the Cheshire Cat when she feels omnipresent and all-knowing. She is the cards/gardeners two, five, and seven when she is fearful of her mistakes. She is the Caterpillar when she is feeling contemptuous and scornful.

The tea party could be a formal tea or social event that she attended that she felt lasted for a very long time. The Queen’s croquet game is obviously a croquet game that she had played with herself. The encounter with the White Rabbit is tricky, though. How would it be described as a parallel of Alice’s life if it is actually happening in the “real world” as Alice knows it? It could be the crossover scene, or the time when both worlds overlap. Perhaps the rabbit is the only real part of Wonderland or the only fake part of the “real world”(which in my opinion may be the same thing). Or maybe the rabbit is a hybrid, a being of both dimensions.

Just one final thought:

If Alice’s time spent in Wonderland is a parallel of her life, what happens when the story ends?

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 17:14  Comments (8)  

In Between*

*This is a response to Benedikt K.’s “Size Does Matter

“You’re too old to trick or treat.” “You’re too young to go to that party.”

These are the things that teenagers hear almost every day. We are in the “in between” phase of our lives, not children, but not yet adults either. We are encouraged to embrace both our playful, childlike side as well as our sophisticated, adult personality. Yet when we act childish we are scorned and when we try to act grown-up we are seen as foolish. We always seem to be the wrong size. It is an awkward time in our lives that is necessary to the growth of our bodies and minds. We long for the freedoms of adult life, but at the same time they terrify us. We will have to be self-sufficient and responsible. We also pine for the innocence of childhood when our mistakes were cute and we didn’t have to do anything for ourselves.

Humans are complicated beings and Alice is beginning to find that out. Alice Liddell is a twelve year old girl which means that soon she too will venture into the unknown land of puberty and all the changes it brings. Carroll must recognize this, for he portrays Alice as never being the proper size. When she is small she needs to be big, but once she grows she realizes that she needs to be small. This would make her feel constantly awkward as so many teenage girls do. To Carroll this make signify the end of Alice’s childhood and innocence that he loved, yet also the beginning of her voyage into being an adult and accepting the burdens that come with it.

For the fictional Alice this is simply a terrible inconvenience, but for Alice Liddell this was her life. She must be able to retain some of her child-like self even as she makes this transition to adulthood. Otherwise she woudl lose it forever. Perhaps Carroll wanted Alice to be able to read this story that way she would never grow old. So that her inner child could live on even after her body gets older.

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 17:09  Comments (4)  

Alice’s Adventures in DREAMland

In chapter five in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we are introduced to the caterpillar. He is described as “sitting on the top [of the mushroom], with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah”. The caterpillar speaks in a sleepy, languid voice which we can only assume is an effect of the hookah. Why is hookah present in a children’s story? I believe that maybe in 1865 when the story was written that people did not know the harm in smoking hookah. Perhaps in Carroll’s mind there was nothing wrong with providing knowledge of adult matter to children. He did see children in a different way than most people, therefore he may have seen nothing wrong with the idea.

On the other hand, Carroll appears to be a bit on the crazy side. Everything in this story is unbelievable and insane so the presence of hookah is not all that odd. The hookah may symbolize a dream-like state in which the entire story may take place. The caterpillar speaks sleepily and slowly. This supports my idea in that we generally associate dreams with sleep. The hookah makes the caterpillar feel good and dreams also make one feel good. They allow the mind’s wildest thoughts to be a temporary reality. So you can think that Carroll is writing about hookah for adults, but in my opinion he is hinting toward dreams.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 10:08  Comments (5)  

Sense and Nonsense

This is a reply to Colton C.’s Who Am I?

Alice’s questioning of her own identity is something that actually didn’t strike me as that odd. She knows that this sort of thing would not be happening in her own life so she automatically assumes that she is not herself. We always hear of people “taking a walk in someone else’s shoes” so Alice may think that that is what is happening to her. To explain her mathematics, Alice as been taught to show how smart she is and how much she has learned in her lessons. She even says what a shame it is that no one is there to hear her. Yet on another level Alice is simply verifying her own sanity. She is trying to make sense of nonsense. If she can bring some sort of reality into this chaotic universe. We see this theme of making sense of the chaos all throughout the story. After Alice ate the cake that made her grow the first time she is talking about how she will have to send presents to her feet in the mail. After she realizes what she is doing she says,

“Oh dear, what nonsense I’m talking!”

Don’t we all do this?

We look for confirmation of reality and sanity in times of insanity. People everywhere look to religion and political figures to make them feel safe. Alice is simply looking to her knowledge and identity to do the same thing. She doesn’t have anyone to look to at that moment so she looks in her own mind. She compares what is happening to things that she knows such as a telescope. Alice is looking for comfort in her own knowledge and identity when the entire world she had known is gone.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 21:28  Comments (2)