Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lewis Carroll was on Crack

A month or so ago, I went to a play called Lookingglass Alice that was inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, both by Lewis Carroll. (There's a video of clips from the play in the link I included above.) I was very familiar with these stories before going to the show, but it was during the play that I realized that Lewis Carroll must have been smoking some major crack, because the characters and dialogue are really tripped out. However, I have since done some investigation, and it doesn't appear that they had any crack back in the late 1800s. Furthermore, there seems to be no proof that L.C. was ever on any drugs at all! Sorry to all you hippies who were so very inspired by the hookah-smoking caterpillar from the Alice in Wonderland movie. He was not speaking directly to you, I hate to break it to you. But I'm still pretty sure that the song "White Rabbit" was about drugs, if that makes you feel any better. Feed your head! (As a complete aside, I found out that Madonna's song "Material Girl" shares the same bass line as "White Rabbit." I find that interesting, so I thought I would share. I learn so much random trivia researching for these blog posts, it's crazy.)

So if Lewis Carroll wasn't on drugs, then he was definitely crazy. The peeps back in his day didn't know what to make of him or others like him, so they decided to create a whole genre to file them under: literary nonsense. A great example of literary nonsense is this snippet from one of Mr. Carroll's famous poems, "Jabberwocky":

"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

Saaayyyy whaaaaaa? Yeah, it makes no sense. I wish I could just make up a ton of words, throw them together and become a famous poet! Seriously, the spell-checker is having a nervous breakdown over that poem.

Anyway, while I was watching Lookingglass Alice, which incorporated all of the famous characters from the Alice-centric stories, I realized that even though Lewis Carroll (whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, by the way) was clearly insane, his works provided the inspiration for many things that I have a bit more appreciation for. There are way, way too many to name, but a few of note (in my mind) are:
- "I am the Walrus" by The Beatles
- The "Don't Come Around Here No More" video by Tom Petty, which scared the living bejeezus out of me in sixth grade
- All of the Alice references in my favorite show, Lost
- The Mad Hatter Tea Cup rides at Disneyland and Disney World. Disneyland also has a kiddie ride in addition to the tea cup ride (which makes me sick) where you cruise around in giant caterpillars. I would've totally gone on that when I was there back in March, but the line was too long and it was too hot to work up a sweat pushing the little kids out of the way. But I still got to chill with the Cheshire Cat!

For those of you who are all cultured and snobby and into theater, you may be interested to know that the Lookingglass Theater was founded by David Schwimmer (annoying, whiny Ross on Friends) and a handful of other students at Northwestern University about 20 years ago.

All of this talk of the tea cup ride has made me realize that I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date - with my daily cup 'o Earl Grey...

- e


Anonymous said...

how 'bout this one (from the white rabbit)..."I hesitate to articulate for fear that I might deviate from the correct path of rectitude, but according to my kaleidoscope the correct time is...2 ticks, 2 tocks before the hour of 1 o'clock"...scary isn't it?!

Anonymous said...

Lucky you ! I wish I could see that play "Lookingglass Alice".I love "Alice in Wonderland" ! It was my favourite story as a child, and still is, soooo many years later. And I think Lewis Carroll was an absolute genius. I have read a couple of biography about him, and he created that story for a real life Alice, and her sisters. But I am sure you know that already, so ...

That song "White Rabbit", by Jefferson Airplane (before they became a Starship)was definitely about drugs, and also one of my favourites all time song. And did you notice how much Tom Petty (in the video)looks like the original Mad Hatter illustration, by John Tenniel. Scary !

Well, only a little less than four months before Lost new season. Its just around the corner !

Anonymous said...

You need to practice a little on the research skills. Lewis (whose real last name was Charles Dodgson) was a famous logician and most of his books and obscure articles are actually exercises in logic. He was widely respected and was even published in a leading analytic philosophy journal called Mind. In addition, he wrote a brilliant introduction to logic and created a method to map categorical syllogisms that arguably competes with the now traditional Venn diagrams.

Erika (aka "e") said...

Anon -

I actually did know all that stuff... (it's right there on Wikipedia!), but the focus of my post was his mainstream works, and I maintain that they are pretty whacked out. But I hope you caught that all my talk about him being "on crack" wasn't literal, it was just tongue-in-cheek. He was certainly a lot more creative than I'll ever be, for which I have nothin' but love and respect.

- e