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Beyond the Lone Islands

Thursday, 5 August 2010

In Wonderland

A labyrinth

In Sweden we have a popular Summer radio program which has been broadcasted daily between mid June and mid August for over 50 years (since 1959); each day with a new host, who gets to talk about just about anything - usually based on their own life - and pick the music themselves. Not unlike blogging, actually…The hosts can be more or less well known authors, journalists, politicians, scientists, actors, athletes, businessmen - whatever.

This summer I have not been listening very frequently, but the other day I happened to listen to a culture journalist and critic, I forget her name but she was of Finnish-Swedish origin and had studied at Oxford University, England.

A hole

A theme she kept getting back to was Alice in Wonderland; following the white rabbit (intuition), and falling from one world into another, where the perspective is completely different and other rules apply than the ones you've previously been used to. She compared this not only to her time at Oxford, but for example also to her teenage experience of a church camp, or (a bit later in life) taking part in a game of live action role-playing.

All part of learning to look at things from different perspectives.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in the movie I’ve not seen yet

She also touched on the aspect - and in my own mind this was one of the things I kept pondering about afterwards - how falling down the rabbit-hole can also be used as an image of falling into depression; suddenly finding yourself in a world where nothing makes sense and everything gets twisted out of proportion. The first thing that happens to Alice in Wonderland is that she finds herself shrinking one minute, and taking on giant proportions the next; while (or perhaps because?) all the normal points of reference are suddenly just not there any more.


"Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"
– Alice in Wonderland Ch 2 -

I can’t recall when I first read the book, if in my childhood or later on in my teens. Either way, I’m left with a vague impression that back then I just found it a lot of nonsense. Re-reading it now as a grown-up, in English, I find it making more “sense” with every reading… Hm!


Scroll down to the previous post for this week’s
Booking-Through-Thursday Question.


Sandra said...

I always look at photos first, then read. today I thought. Humm a hole and a labrinth, humm intersting. THEN i read your post and GOT it. I have not read Alice as an adult and like you I think I was in grade school when I read it and thought it was silly. I wonder what i would think now? and you are right about the depression hole and there are other holes we fall into, like self pity.

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Ginny said...

A couple days ago, I watched Johnny Depp in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. It had finally come to T.V. You would like it, they have re-written it and told a bit about Willie Wonka's past and how he bacame a chocolate maker. But they never sang the Oompa Loompa song! I have not seen the Depp Alice, have you? It just came out on DVD here. Anyway, this all reminds me of Jefferson Airplane song "Go Ask Alice". They thought Alice had taken some sort of drug or mushroom; hallucinations, etc. But depression would be another way to go with it, too! It would sure be fun to know what the author was thinking, I wonder if he was depressed or on any drugs?

DawnTreader said...

Ginny, I have not yet seen Tim Burton's Alice (with Johnny Depp ). I have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD though.

About Lewis Carroll - or Charles Dodgson as his real name was - as I understand from glancing through the Wiki article, he did suffer from some ill health in his youth, and later (but after Alice?) also depression, migraines and possibly epilepsy. There is no mentioning in that article of drugs.

GB said...

I've just got my copy of A in W off the shelf. I must re-read it.

rae said...

I can't handle Alice. It's TOO "out of sorts" for me.

DawnTreader said...

Rae, I remember your Alice review. Your age is probably too young or too old for this book. You have to shrink a bit or grow a bit.This is done by drinking and eating. Keep doing that for 25 years or so. Then you might find yourself the right size to get through the door to that world. Yeah I know this answer is just a little bit different than the one I emailed. But still basically the same. It just struck me that other people might want the recipe as well.


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