because I feel bad, real bad.
Most people get gloomy and lethargic in the winter but I always have the hardest time in the summer. Maybe it is a reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder or something but summer also brings depression, insomnia, lethargy, and migraines. We used to think it was just teenage angst (like, over-thinking yourself into a hormonal funk with all that extra summer vacation time) yet here I am all grown up and still in this weird place, closed in by sun and heat and humidity. I won’t bore you with the details but with work and sickness and migraines, the last few weeks have been awful.
In the middle of all this, I reread Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as part of my new ritual of reading before bed each night.
And it opens:
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what was the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
So she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for the day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
Ah, here I am feeling sleepy and stupid, trying to wrap my head around all these books without pictures or conversations. Excellent choice of reading.
Alice is such a huge global pop-cultural icon at this point that it is hard to find Carroll’s girl underneath the debris of endless reinterpretations, projections, and Hot Topic or gothic pornifications. Even Disney’s animated film adaptation has a surprisingly conservative spin: Alice comes to value reality after being frustrated by the Kafkan ridiculousness of her nonsensical “world of my own.” I would even say that the film punishes Alice for her endless curiosity.
Even though literary Alice ran after the white rabbit out of curiosity, she is mostly driven by a basic desire to escape the rabbit hole and enter that beautiful garden with bright flowers and cool fountains. In contrast to Disney’s Alice, Carroll’s Alice calmly bears witness to the ridiculousness of Wonderland which is a parody of the real world.
Illustrations by Margaret Tarrant
I think Alice in Wonderland has become a global icon partially because of the universally appealing subtext of discovery: Alice literally loses herself. Carroll makes an early, coy note that “the curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people” when Alice gives herself a stern self-lecturing despite being emotionally out of control. By the time she enters Wonderland, she flounders “who in the world am I?” Is she Ada or Mable or maybe Mary Anne? London is the capital of Paris? The Caterpillar presses, Who are you? What size do you want to be? Are you content now?
As Alice learns to control what she takes in (ie. food), she can manipulate her own body size and take charge of her adventure. All the same, I wouldn’t say Carroll’s Alice is some lesson in self awakening and maturity. To attach a message like that would only conjure up that grotesque Duchess who attaches empty “morals” to everything, even when there isn’t one. Maybe the message is just to keep moving even when nothing makes any damn sense, when you get washed away by a pool of your own tears, and feel low spirited and alone, and then maybe you’ll grow into yourself at last?
I had such a good time with my Snow White Week and follow up that I am setting myself up for a Wonderland week. It is a little weird to start it on the weekend but, oh well, so it goes. Maybe it’ll help me get out of this blahdoms. I don’t even have a clear sense of what to do but, it will probably include…
A Little Blue Dress
Running a Caucus Race
lots of food…like tarts, tea parties, bread & butterflies, mushrooms…
Roses, Daisy Chains, White Rabbits, Butterflies…
Maybe I’ll just go to a garden?