Perplexing Nonsense

What a remarkable human being the little girl Alice is.

Her slice of cake enlargened her to 9 feet tall, she’s crying tears larger than Dhina’s head, and she spends her time worrying if she is still Alice. She worries that because yesterday was such a normal day, and today is such a “queer” day, she must have changed, as the day has changed. On page 23 of The Annotated Alice, Alice tries to prove to herself that she is still Alice, and says: “I’ll try if I know all the things I used to know.” Then, a cataclysmic flood of absurd facts start spurring out of her head, such as loony times tables, silly parodies of current day poems and wonky geography.  These facts are what I personally assume Alice knew or was taught in the world outside of Wonderland. Then, once Alice struggles to remember her “things [she] used to know,” we move on in the story and start having new facts presented by other characters in the story, like the Cheshire cat, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, giving confusing, yet essential to help Alice move through out Wonderland.

This was the most peculiar(for me) rabbit in chapter two. It had neon lights dangling from it head, and was dashing across the page like spider man.

So, my question is:

If the knowledge she knew from the real world is nonsense, does that mean the knowledge from the nonsense world is real?

I believe that the things Alice will learn in Wonderland and the things the reader will learn will prove to have more truth and meaning than they do in the ‘real world’. My AEPs (Alice Experience Points. see more about what I mean by reading More than a Silly Little Girl?) lead me to see that Carroll often throws some physics theories being pondered by the scientists of the time, which relate to Dodgeson’s world and Alice’s ‘real world into Alice’s dialogue. Perhaps Carroll leaks in these current theories into the text because in the real world, not everybody would agree with the scientists and the theories may be regarded as preposterous. Then in Wonderland, they might make more sense because nothing makes sense and everything is “queer”.

I get the impression that in some ways this world of ‘wonder’ might actually become more clear than “London is the capital of Paris, and Paris is the capital of Rome, and Rome…” which Alice knows of the real world.


6 Responses to “Perplexing Nonsense”

  1. 1 Christian Long
    November 7, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Your bold question may be the centering theme (for many) of the entire story, whether it is an innocent tale (or tail?) for children only, or if it is a cover for something much more delightfully intellectual. Well posed!

  2. 2 Darcy S.
    November 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Very nice points brought up and shared by all of you. Some ideas presented have helped motivate me to follow the neon spider rabbit…
    Cheers mates.

  3. 3 Brendon O-L.
    November 1, 2009 at 5:40 am

    To answer this question, I would like to bring in a couple of mathematic formulas:

    Nonsense + Nonsense World = Sense

    Sense + Real World = Sense

    Sense = Sense

    From the equations above, we can see that lessons learned from this ‘nonsense’ world can be applied to the real world. Conversely, knowledge from the real world can be applied to Wonderland. Alice just hasn’t used the right information yet. Mathematics and geography do not apply in world where they do not exist. However, there are pertinent experiences from the real world; we just have not been able to identify these uses. We will just have to wait for them to be revealed to us. I wonder what they will be.

  4. 4 Caroline M.
    October 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I really like your question, it’s quite clever. I think that what Alice learns in Wonderland is strange, obscure, twisted lessons that can be used in a more ordinary way in the real world. I agree with your thoughts about scientific theories being proposed in the story. If you have ideas that want to be shared and you believe that no one would believe them, then you could always just make a funny little fictional book that children would laugh at and later in their life pick to pieces and find the true meaning behind it all. Maybe Alice’s story is just a story but I like to think that it’s our own wonderland where we can believe and see what we want, and find our own lessons in Alice’s adventure.

  5. 5 Jenna K.
    October 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    To me, it seems that her knowledge from the real world is nonsense and her knowledge from the ‘nonsense world’ is real. For example, on page 25 of The Annotated Alice she says “drowned in my own tears! That will be a queer thing, to be sure!” In the real world we have all these strange metaphors that don’t make sense, but in this world you call nonsense it does make sense. So which world should be considered nonsense? The world where butterflies have nothing to do with butter, or the world where butterflies are flying pieces of butter? To me it would be the latter. But humans have grown so accustomed to a world that doesn’t make sense, that a world which does make sense is considered nonsense.

  6. 6 Hagen F.
    October 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    What an interesting concept that the seemingly ‘nonsense’ in the “Wonderland” may actually be the truth in real world. It is quite…, it just blows my mind a little because it makes so much sense now that I analyze it. The concept that you present makes sense, and it is a quite intriguing point. The information that she knows in the real world does not help her here, but what if the information that Alice learns in the “Wonderland” helps her later if she is to return to the real world above? The little concepts and life-lessons that she learns down in “Wonderland” will help her in the real world later. She has an experience that no one else has ever had; no one will have the benefit and the information that she has obtained. Alice’s experience down in “Wonderland” will not only help her, but she will thrive in the real world.

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