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By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Oh my fur and whiskers! I thought this was going to be a straight forward look back at the story through memories of my own family’s dog-eared copy of the book. But I made the mistake of checking a fact online and down I went, straight down through multitudes of err...white rabbit holes.
I expect you think you know the story or even just parts of it, I certainly did, but it seems I was completely missing the point or points. These are just four of them.1 Drugs (slightly odd)
A very popular theory is that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a thinly veiled allegory about drug use. There’s the slowing down of time, expanding and decreasing space, the hookah, the mushrooms, hallucinogenic animals and objects. There is no evidence of Lewis Carroll taking drugs that would induce such a reaction but there certainly is of a post 1960s generation with lyrics such as Jefferson Airplane’s Remember what the Dormouse said / Feed your head, feed your head from ‘White Rabbit’.
2 Spirituality (very odd)
The story can be read as a journey of spiritual awakening, a quest for enlightenment. A way to explore the self without resort to logic.
3 Sex (completely barking)
Some readers have wondered if the book reveals more about Lewis Carroll. Psychoanalytical types love it. Types such as William Empson who pointed out that Alice is “a father in getting down the hole, a foetus at the bottom, and can only be born by becoming a mother and producing her own amniotic fluid”. I think that WE needed his head examined.
4 Maths (off the scale) I’m going to leave other interpretations such as Colonisation, Empire, Jesus and Disciples and politicians etc as I want to come to my absolute favorite and for that I need to switch to LC’s real name of Charles Dodgson (pictured below).Wonderland
The following is taken from Melanie Bayley writing in the New Scientist who is quoting from various mathematicians:‘The 19th century was a turbulent time for mathematics, with many new and controversial concepts, like imaginary numbers, becoming widely accepted in the mathematical community..... Outgunned in the specialist press, Dodgson took his mathematics to his fiction. Using a technique familiar from Euclid’s proofs, reductio ad absurdum, he picked apart the “semi-logic” of the new abstract mathematics, mocking its weakness by taking these premises to their logical conclusions, with mad results. The outcome is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland...
Take the chapter “Advice from a caterpillar”, for example. While some have argued that this scene, with its hookah and “magic mushroom”, is about drugs, I believe it’s actually about what Dodgson saw as the absurdity of symbolic algebra, which severed the link between algebra, arithmetic and his beloved geometry.
The first clue may be in the pipe itself: the word “hookah” is, after all, of Arabic origin, like “algebra”, and it is perhaps striking that Augustus De Morgan, the first British mathematician to lay out a consistent set of rules for symbolic algebra, uses the original Arabic translation in Trigonometry and Double Algebra, which was published in 1849. He calls it “al jebr e al mokabala” or “restoration and reduction” – which almost exactly describes Alice’s experience....’
This goes on for a few pages and is wonderful and includes: the base-10 number system, to survive in Wonderland Alice must act like a Euclidean geometer keeping her ratios constant, projective geometry, discovery of quaternions in 1843 and pure time.In 2015 it was the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication. A lot of people used that fact to write poems. This is one of them, it’s mine and, oh my dear paws, it is awful.Alice is over there
Said the woman with a white badge
pointing to row upon row of Wonderland
where some books were short and fat
some long and thin
some looked heavy some looked fun
and one was all of those things
“This isn’t right,” exclaimed the Customer
“There’s only one Alice”
“That is not so” said Alice in a pink dress
“She’s correct” said Alice in a hat
which set off a deafening chorus
of girls’ voices that right had been left
but they were not, absolutely not,
some kind of cheap copy
except for a slim volume on the top shelf
who proudly bristled that that’s exactly what she was
until an old hardback demanded SILENCE then exclaimed
“Do not choose them, I am the original Alice,
these are copywrongs,
so you may pick me as it is my anniversary”
which caused a huge fluttering
“That’s quite enough, Sir,” said the Assistant firmly
“we’ve all been Alice since 1907, so please leave.”
She fussed around the shelves calming them all down
muttering to herself about consequences
before disappearing down a corridor marked
To Science and Natural History.
Thanks for reading, Terry Q Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

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