Wouldn’t it be Nice…

Posted in Beth A.'s Entries on December 3, 2009 by Elizabeth A.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the answers for everything were right out in the open?

In some ways, yes and no. Yes, because then most of us wouldn’t have been holding our breaths for the past 5 weeks, especially now as the project comes to a close. This project would have been less stressful as well. However, I’m glad to say that there isn’t an answer book out there. I’m glad that there isn’t one written. Having something like that out in the real world would kill everything this project has allowed us to do-really think, and the creativity to do so.

I never thought of Alice in Wonderland and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would ever have so much hidden meaning behind it. I never thought that the author would have been in love with the person to whom he has written. In my opinion, it came as a shock to me, I mean, who would have thought of drugs, hookah, and death be in a children’s story. Besides, they made a Disney movie as this! I was completely flabbergasted.

However, further investigation with help from my group and my fellow peers on other blogs have helped with my understanding. So, to those who have helped with this project, thank you.

To Mr. Long, thank you for this wonderful experience that I never want to end.


Mocking Morals

Posted in Gabriella B.'s Entries on December 3, 2009 by G.A. Buba

Now that we are nearing the end of the Alice Project, I feel like we have come full circle: from remembering Alice as an innocently inane movie form our youth to becoming immersed in Wonderland.

As we emerge from the sticky quagmire that is Wonderland we have to readjust our mindsets. After digging through the hopelessly whimsical insanity for meaning I have come to the conclusion that there comes a point when you have stretched your brain to the limit and can find no more.

With this in mind I reread Alice’s conversation with the Duchess. My eyes were drawn to the many mismatched and seemingly misplaced morals. Very few of them seem to apply to the conversation at all and to be completely truthful the farther you read the less sense they seem to make. And I realized then what an irony the situation presented. If the point of a moral is to help illuminate the deeper meaning of a story, give meaning to an innocent tale or make a lesson clearer then truly this passage turns all of those intents inside-out. If the moral which is supposed to explain a story only confuses you more than has it not failed its purpose? Take the last moral the Duchess provides:

“Never imagine yourself to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

After multiple readings and various musings I still stand by my initial observation… that this is complete nonsense.  I feel that I must keep in mind that this line may have been meant only as comic relief and have no deeper meaning but perhaps with this passage Carroll is insinuating the very opposite of what he says.

“Everything’s got a moral if only you can find it.”

Sometimes by looking harder you only muddy the water with possibilities. Perhaps Carroll really means in some upside down and backward way that morals are not really needed, that they oversimplify a deeper meaning.

So perhaps to mock morals is the only way to eliminate the preconceived notion that without one a story is meaningless.

Disney+Tim Burton=Outlandish and Tantalizing

Posted in Beth A.'s Entries on December 3, 2009 by Elizabeth A.

Another rendition of Alice in Wonderland will be unvailed to the world in March. Disney is doing another creation of theirs, but with Tim Burton, not necesarily a common person that brings bright colors and joy to the screen. While, in my opinion, he is a great director, he tends to be a tad strange, or different, but the overall product is awe-inspiring. Though, Disney already did an animated version of Alice in Wonderland, so why make another? Why go through all the time and effort just to re-do a Disney Classic?

Well, Tim Burton is one of those directors that is one of a kind.

In the past couple of movies of his, Johnny Depp has starred, or voiced a character. And yes, he appears in this one, as the Mad Hatter. Quite a few differences I have noticed off the bat. For one, Alice is older, a teenager basically. In the book, she’s about 7. Another thing, Alice accidentally goes down the rabbit-hole in the movie, compared to her willingly following the rabbit down the hole as is in the book. Why? Why are they changing it? I think that they want to try and attract older audiences with this film, rather the animated was predominately popular amongest children. This one can attract teenagers to adults, which means more money for Disney. I just wish that Disney could stick to the story, like they did with The Little Mermaid and Aladdin to name a few. It frustrates me, and I mean, the book is still out here today! Though, I applaud their choice of directors, Burton can give this innocent fairytale an unthinkable twist, and I’m excited to see what that is.

The Truth Behind the Pen

Posted in Beth A.'s Entries on December 3, 2009 by Elizabeth A.

Charles Dodgson isn’t exactly a household name. In the literary world it has a spec of importance. He was just a regular man, working in his professional world in London during the 19th century.

Now, Lewis Carroll, on the other hand, mention his name in literary community, and ‘Alice’ should be the first word you hear. Lewis Carroll wrote many books, including his Alice series. Now, as I like to know, why did Dodgson use a pen name? Why not just use Charles Dodgson?

Contrary to what some believe, he did not want to familiarize himself with Alice Liddell. Yes, they do have the same number of letters and letter pattern, Alice Liddell wasn’t even a factor in the equation. According to this WikiAnswers page, Dodgson’s name was chosen by Edmund Yates. Dodgson wanted to keep his literary life and professional life seperate, not be stopped on the streets like some celebrity. How Yates formulated his name is intriguing.

Lutwidge became Ludovic, which became Lewis. And Charles became Carolus, which became Carroll. Evidence for this? There is one actually. Before Alice, Dodgson published Solitude under his pen name, Lewis Carroll, in March 1856. Alice Liddell wasn’t in Dodgson’s life until the next month of April, which is when he first met her.

Goin’ Out With a BANG

Posted in Deron M.'s Entries on December 3, 2009 by Deron Molen

Well, I’m sorry to say that this project is almost over.

In less than twenty four hours, these sites will be finished for the time being. I have to say it has been an incredible ride.

Really, if we look at the project and ourselves hard enough, we can see how close our journey has been to that of Alice’s. We were thrust into a whole new world in a matter of days and were expected to be able to find our way around. For me personally, I felt almost as lost as Alice did the first few days with all of the new technology I was expected to use. But slowly and surely all of us began to find our way around our new “Wonderland”.

Mr. Long, like the characters in Wonderland, helped indirectly guide us throughout our journey. He played the rabbit and got us down the hole to start us on our journey. He was the caterpillar and gave us indirect intellectual advice. He was the Duchess and gave us many morals and life lessons to ponder. He even played the part of the Queen and occasionally nudged us to give us a little more momentum coming into this finally week.

All of us students were Alice in more ways than one.

We were dropped into a new world of technology and blogging within a days notice. We stumbled our way through the first few weeks looking ahead to the “beautiful garden” that would await us as we finished. We accepted (although not always understanding 100% of) the advice of Mr. Long and our other teachers along the way of this project. We had to sit through some mad tea party discussion with our groups, occasionally endure the Queen’s (or in our case the King’s) wrath over not procrastinating, and await the verdict from the court’s jury. Just like Alice was thrown back into the real world, we will be thrown out back into book discussions and frequent in-class essays just as quickly as we were thrown into this new world of English class.

With the deadline for this project at 5:00 pm tomorrow (Thursday Dec. 3rd, 2009) quickly approaching, I can’t help but think how much this project has changed me intellectually.

Being one of “the quiet ones” in class, I rarely share my ideas and opinions. It’s not that I’m not thinking or that I didn’t read, it’s that I always have to think through my ideas again and again. I double, triple, and sometimes even quadruple check my arguments to make sure that they don’t have any major holes in them. This blog really has helped me express my ideas in a creative way and allowed me to have time to think everything through. This project has also helped me be able to make connections and understanding hidden messages in stories a lot better. Before, I just looked at the story as is and didn’t even spend too much time hunting for a moral or message. This project has helped me search the text and annotations for clues as to what Carroll might be hinting at in certain situations.

Like Alice, I’ve changed a great deal through my experiences in this virtual Wonderland we have here on the Alice Project.

Imperfect Paper

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Carroll's writing, Impact on Society, Philosophy / Big Picture on December 3, 2009 by Benedikt K

Why does Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have no simple meaning, no one path to follow through? Can he not express what he wanted to say within it? It is already written full of social criticism, and yet it seems incomplete, from the abrupt, rushed, ending to the hints at things not developed in the novel. But why could he not finish it?

Carroll was a mathematician, but he was much more than that, he was a human being and as such a born philosopher. Humans have always asked questions about the why and the how. Our very existence has prompted more questions than any discovery we have ever made, be it something as small as a quark, something as vital as a red blood cell, or something as vast as the universe. No practical question has been holding us off for as long as the mystery to our own existence. We fly throughout the sky, have seen the depths of the sea and mapped the entire earth. The challenges that present themselves to us seem to get greater every time we pass one of them. From how to farm over how to make a robot work to how to create a commercially efficient supersonic plane, they evolve, yet that question remains.

While we have trifled for so long with practical problems, our essence remains unresolved. We are, as Carroll knew, way too complex to ever explain. So Carroll tries to fit as much as he can into a single book. Not only does he attempt to cram a lifetime of social criticism and philosophy into his book, he tries to do it all while making it fun for little Alice to read. All philosophers have many, many works, none of them explaining everything. So while most try to fit a single, well developed point into their works, Carroll attempts to put it all into one epic, not epic by length, but by meaning.

Paper in itself, words themselves are useless when it comes to conveying a point, but they are all our primitive existence has come up with. Yes, language is complex and seems extremely daunting, especially when reading great novels. But our thoughts are much more complex than we have words for. So when we bring something to paper, have to actually formulate it, we are restricted by the words given to us, and can only hope that they make the reader think what we think.

Alice, this post, the internet itself is imperfect by its own definition. But this imperfection does not mean that we write in vain, there is beauty within this imperfection, and the meaning of any text is created by the beholder. Why I am writing this post may seem evident to you or not, but either way what you think of it is entirely different than what I think of it, or what the next person thinks of it. The imperfection of Language gives us more room to interpret, more room to seek and explore, to develop thoughts.

Alice Precedes Wonderland

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Chapter 9, Philosophy / Big Picture on December 3, 2009 by Benedikt K

So after having a nihilistic interpretation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which left me both depressed and looking for another way, here I am again, after all, showing another argument. Both the reason for me writing this post, and the posts argument are based off yet another Nietzsche quote:

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, the only way, it does not exist

Alice does not follow one particular way ever, and all the ways he could choose lead to different outcomes. It is not as if all of them lead to her waking, but rather all of them lead to different experiences before her awakening. To quote Ursula K. LeGuin,

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.

Alice’s journey can be interpreted many different ways, and there is no one single right way to look at the story. One can even argue that the story has no meaning what so ever, as I did in my last blog some time ago. We have also have had arguments that it is meant simply as a children’s story. But we have not yet had the simplest of all possibilities. What if Alice’s journey is an end in itself?

What if we, as humans and interpreters, have to find a grand meaning in a story, because we are not ready for what is really there? Maybe this quest for meaning is simply a lie to ourselves. We seem to be unable to accept the fact that there is no one single meaning to Alice. Meaning depends upon existence, not existence upon meaning.

Alice has no meaning at first. All meaning we have found are simply scenarios our brain creates so that we find consolidation in seeming meaning. Our whole life we have created meaning for ourself, not accepted one given to us by our parents or some institution. There must be a deeper sense in everything that exists.

Do not understand me wrong, I do not think Carroll’s book has no meaning, or is only meant to be a childrens book. I believe that there is an infinite amount of meaning in it. Every human creates his own meaning out of the story. I may say it is simply a dream, you may argue that it is a representation of the real world with society removed and us seeing the faults in the system. The greatest meaning within Alice is the pure existence of meaning. Her journey to the duchess, to the realization that there is a moral, meaning, in everything, is, in itself, a meaning. This meaning precedes everything else but the words it is written in.

Thus the journey precedes the moral, alice precedes wonderland, and existence precedes essence.