Archive for the Benedikt K.'s Entries Category

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.

CoverItLive Session #3

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Beth A.'s Entries, Chapter 9, CoverItLive sessions, Deron M.'s Entries, Gabriella B.'s Entries on November 18, 2009 by Benedikt K

We finally managed to get all four contributors into one CoverItLive session!

We had tried this process twice before, here and here, but neither of those had all four of us in them.

So, here is our full-team CoverItLive session where we talk about:

  • the morals mentioned by the dutchess in chapter 9
  • the puns and references made by Carroll, in particular to math and victorian society
  • what values Carroll tried to embed in his readers, especially Alice

Love to hear what you thought about our conversation.

{nihil}

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries on November 18, 2009 by Benedikt K

All of us have been seeking some meaning in Alice’s Adventures¬†in Wonderland. From the moment we read the book, we most likely had a feeling that there is more to this book. From the first page it was obvious that this book had more to it than simply paper. But what if there is no meaning in the book, no value, no sense, no moral?

The book would be utterly worthless. And yet, there is no proof that anything has meaning. Even utter existence can be doubted away. Maybe because we think we are, but even if we are, we cannot say we exist. We may be, but only within ourselves, locked away within a conceptual skull. So really, if we take existence to be more than just being, we cannot prove its existence or non-existence.

But if we cannot distinguish in between our existence and non-existence, then how can the concept of existence even have any meaning? Existence itself mean nothing, leads to nothing, is … nothing. There is no meaning to Alice’s existence in wonderland. She cannot prove whether she is there or not, thus there is no meaning in her being there. Whether or not she is sleeping or not is irrelevant, since we cannot even prove she exists.

She has no way of coming back into existence either. It is not as if suddenly meaning ceased to exist, much rather there was never meaning, and could never come to be meaning. Her belief that she can regain meaning only furthers her meaninglessness. Because she believes that there is meaning only in another world, she effectively becomes a nihilist herself, and suddenly it is not the nihilists. It is Alice, and other nihilists who see that there is no meaning in their existence here.

So now you expect me to pull out the next argument, to save the day, to say that it isn’t as depressing as it seems. But there is no such argument. Existence cannot be proven, and our thought are meaningless. The only consolidation you may have is that even this blog and the grade I will receive for it from my teacher are, after all, meaningless.

Isolation

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Impact on Society, Philosophy / Big Picture on November 12, 2009 by Benedikt K

This post is a sort of a follow-up on Deron Molen’s post about which of the worlds is real, our world or Wonderland.

But what is real anyway. If we question which world is real, shouldn’t we first define real?

What is real really? Is what we perceive what everyone else perceives? How do we know that what is “green” to me is “green” to you? If I feel pain, do you feel the same or is it different?

As Friedrich Nietzsche says,

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

What if there are no facts? Alice has little enough when she falls down the hole. All she can really rely upon is gravity, and even that may give out any second. So where do we go from here? While Descartes’ argument seems applicable here, it is actually not. We are not actually doubting the existence of the world, but the unified perception of it.

What if we were not only unsure of whether we are, but also what we are made believe? And, once more, the question arises, does it matter? Yes, according to Socrates an non-investigated life is a wasted life, but how does this actually change our sight of things? We would be isolated, with no common ground. Every man/woman would truly be an island. No unity, ever, no community. It would be as if we were a different animal, each and every one. Individualism should be a philosophical concept, not a reality.

But how would we develop as individuals.

As Friedrich Nietzsche says,

“Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

So what if we, as social animals, are our own downfall? Alice, while in Wonderland, talks to everyone she sees, but never actually forms a group. She remains sane, but all the characters around her are parts of groups, and they are undoubtedly insane. How would humans develop as solitary beings, or beings that have no permanent ties?

Humanity has always formed groups. Nations, religions, tribes all came from the apparent need of humans to form groups. But what if we never had, had stayed lone hunters forever? How different would society look, feel, if there were no ties, no friendship? Different definitely, but would it be for the worse? Isolation tends to bring the most out of many people, tends to bring out their full potential, and yet it cracks them in other ways. What would happen?