Thursday, 26 April 2012

New Essay: Alice in Wonderland. Appendix Four


First article:
Monday 9th April

I'm starting out not liking this article.
I don't see the link between having a monarchical reality in a fantasy novel rather than a democracy being any indication of some kind of democratic protest by Charles Dodgson. Rather, in practically all fantasy literature, the world is headed by a monarch, who is quite usually despotic, as that makes for better reading.
I'd like to study exactly why this is later. What causes the leaning towards monarchy? Is it the inbuilt desire we all have for a proper hierarchy? This may be subconscious...
If the author had been trying to make such a statement (and why would he, especially given his character, not only a reverend (there's another class system) but a professor at the university, if I'm not mistaken, which was very classist.) Anyway, if he was, there surely wouldn't have been more of a distinction between the characters, whereas in fact most of the characters are similar in class, if they have any at all anyway. For example the mad hatter is not a failed businessman but a top milliner with nothing to do as all the great heads have either been hatted or cut off. Tim Burton's portrayal of Alice gives the hatter the most well-rounded personality in this regards.
Also, if there was some class issue, surely the baby-beating pepper duchess would be prime example. After all, she's clearly a reprehensible character, who has given birth to such an ugly baby that it turns into a pig. But no, she is also in the top set in this supposed class system, as she has the title duchess and is invited to the croquet party, as, in fact, all of the characters are.
Maybe there is some political overture here. Was Dodgson trying to show up the practice of honour-giving, and titling? Why does the duchess deserver her title given her character? Maybe he was showing the irony of having so many lords and ladies in our society (well, especially his) and of venerating them as something better than the average man or woman without knowing their true characters, or if they are indeed worthy.
The fact that all the characters end up in the same place regardless of job or role or whatever must be some kind of 'all-roads-lead-to-Mecca' (or whatever the saying is) idea. That whatever path one takes, if one's head is in the right place, which could be any place depending on the individual, then they will make it to wherever it is they are going. In this case, the croquet party and the court case. What do these elements represent? Unsure. The key to that little section surely lies within the answer to that.

Dodgson mocking the tea institution? Why? I think this is a typically American, or indeed, any non-Brit response. The tea institution is still grand, even fallen into disrepair it gives these creatures a reason to live. That is no mockery.
Also, meaningful conversations and discoveries are made at the tea party, which is also an exercise in logic for Alice, so clearly the thing here is that tea id very useful and inspires depth. Maybe it is the repetition of a non-vital action that inspires one to take leave of their senses, which could be a good thing.
More on this later.

why would the nonsensical situations in Alice in wonderland be irrelevant? The whole book is nonsensical, so is the whole book irrelevant? Possibly all fiction is irrelevant, but are we really so Vulcan or Borg? I should hope not. If the tea party and the British institution of teatime is 'as irrelevant to society as some of the nonsensical situations in this story itself ', shouldn't that mean it is in fact a staple part of the story, and a staple part of society? All of Alice is nonsense, so the most nonsensical is clearly the most important. And so if all of society is a pretence, the British tea culture is the most important part of that.
Must ask tea-people about that. (Appendix Two, p.3)

the card soldiers, and how they are identified:
true, this bit was very interesting! Definitely the strongest point so far as to a class mentality within Alice being a satire on society. This is something that still is true today, people judging not the individuals but on how they are perceived, what number is on their backs, and so on. Interesting.

holding up a poignant ,mirror to all who wish to enter wonderland:

very interesting, and nicely phrased. This is also a true statement, but I think the journalist needs to be clearer on what wonderland represents. I do not think overall is is a class satire, I think it touches on certain aspects of satire, but what exactly is being satirised?
(must do study of satire as in Greek tradition)
is wonderland really a land of wonders? Or is it something more sinister... are you sure you want to enter?
This is more in keeping with the clear esoteric associations with Alice than with some kind of satire on society.
Also, like the esoteric aspect, Alice falls into a hole. We all find ourselves delving deeper into certain issues than we though we would, although in the case of Mysteries initiates, they would have had to want to study the mysteries further.

Next Article:

'neither is there harm, and often even greater good, in apparent nonsense that turns out to have a wonderfully clever sense to it after all. '
I think this is a far better explanation of the Alice books than found in the previous article, and is also in keeping with the esoteric traditions.
Often sense presented as sense is overlooked or ignored, but wrapping it in an illustration (verbal rather than visual) or indeed in nonsense, helps all to understand the true meaning, and remember it. ('never would he speak to them without an illustration'- Jesus, Matthew? CHECK)

unscratchable itch in some brains to not leave well enough alone; we cannot read and enjoy Alice, we must have a psychoanalytic explanation of the meaning or meanings of all the unusual things--which is virtually everything--that Alice finds in the strange worlds she visits.
True. But WHY?
Is it just what one does, is there some sort of Mona Lisa curse with Alice? (Everyone ,must see Mona, regardless of whether they intrinsically care, because that's just what you do? Similarly, does one psychoanalyse Alice purely because one believes one must, despite there not actually being a solid basis on which to do so?)

on the philosophical notions regarding dreams and reality...
maybe this is the key to Alice. Is the fascination with the books tied to the belief in the power of dreams to sort out reality and make sense of it? Is reality more sensible than a dream, even? Perhaps not. Maybe certain lives are less fulfilled than others, in some unquantifiable way, leading individuals to look for hidden meaning in life. The search for meaning is long and confusing, and can often lead to nothing. Maybe that is because the search is too structured. Instead, perhaps we all ought to let go entirely and not focus our minds, as in dreams, and allow the mind to wander aimlessly and hence reach the answer. Which is possibly the croquet game scene of the first book. Therefore is reality just a search for meaning, and to look for meaning we look to the opposite of what we usually experience, which for most of us is found in nonsense? Sounds likely.
(MUST LOOK INTO philosophy to do with dreams)

On 'The Looking Glass Wars' by Frank Beddor

Better than the real thing. And so believable! An unputdownable book, even whilst reading it for the second time. Frank Beddor's Alice seems so believable that the experience of reading Carroll's Alice afterwards is warped because you can't get Beddor 's explanations out of mind. It seems that Beddor has truly finished the fantasy by making a functioning world out of Wonderland, (which is hardly wonderful at all, even if it is gloriously wondrous) although I'm not sure if this compromises the central integrity of nonsense and chaos in the original. It probably does. However the result is so truly fantastical that I believe Carroll would have forgiven him. His portrayals of the characters are lovingly rendered as fully as possible, and seem to match the characters in the original, making Carroll's seem the more pastiche, like a story told to a child to hide the true meaning of a horrendous event, which, in fact, is the story Beddor writes.
The online presence of Beddor's Wonderland seems to prove that his offshoot of a fantasy novel has and is gaining the same notoriety Alice had but in the realms of true, modern fantasy. This is clear from its artwork, which resembles that of elite gaming.
Overall, a brilliant book that made the most sense to me than any of my research, although it is of course just a work of fiction (I hope) so I cannot possibly argue that I believe the true meaning of Alice is that there's a secret world beneath ours that can be entered through puddles and was going through dire straits back in the 1860s, or that Alice Liddell was truly Alyss Heart, princess of Wonderland whose inventive stories made her a laughing stock to all but Dodgson, who seemed to believe her, then wrote the book which made her hate him forever as it was so silly...
I can't go on. You have to read it.
But it really does make more sense. It's like having a 'Companion' to Alice, a guidebook that makes everything in the story make sense. And I've just found out there's more! He's made it a trilogy...

On Tim Burton's Alice

Enjoyed it. Again, works on a deeper level than the original Alice, and appears to make sense, what with the teenage Alice finding wonderland again, and finding it to be real, not a dream, which is what she has been told since her 'disturbing dreams' in childhood. The way Burton merges both Alice books is perfect for this story, with the climactic scene of the jabberwock fight finishing things up perfectly. Characters are again true to Carroll's originals, as is shown by Alice's attitude and disposition, so proper yet so unfitting to Victorian England; she really does seem to want to burst out of all that.
I think the key to doing another successful Alice venture is not to override Carroll but to continue it in some way. That avenue of work has suited both Beddor and Burton well, which is fitting because Burton's Alice has echoes of Beddor's- would be interesting to know if he'd read the trilogy before making his film.

Svankmajer's Alice

Again, a darker, more desperate Alice. In Svankmajer's usual style: disturbing and mildly worrying. Again, seen with prior knowledge of the original Alice, this seems to work well as a 'Companion', a guide as to another version of what really happened. It all seems to fit. There are clear underlying psychological issues here, and they are closer to the surface than in the original. If Wonderland represents what lies beneath rational thought, then this wonderland is the more approachable, so to speak, as even in our world, one can already see what lies beneath starting to emerge.
In Carroll's wonderland, the imagined realm is not altogether pleasant, although Alice has successfully deviated from the norm, from her constraints, this new independent world has all new problems and threats, which are never realised in Carroll's version with all their resplendent horror. In this version, I was genuinely frightened of what might happen; a fear of the unknown paired with a morbid curiosity which does seem to typify Alice, and a possible search for meaningful answers in life.

No comments:

Post a Comment