Life Down The Rabbit Hole: The meaning of ‘Alice of Wonderland’ and the perilous plots of Ultraterrestrials

The other intent of this blog, which again was addressed from the very beginning, was that it promised to take readers down the “rabbit hole” of knowledge so to unlock the reasons for many of the events occurring in the world.  Of course the reference is to the novel Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll brought to immortal life by the Walt Disney film of the same name.  I knew that those reading here would find themselves at some point in a world they never knew existed, but perilously aware that the mechanisms emitting from deep down the Rabbit Hole would explain the type of insanity seen in the nightly news.  Such a tragedy is similar to a child watching a puppet show and believing that what they see on stage is real, only to discover as their eyes become more sophisticated that there are strings on the marionettes which extend off stage somewhere.  So the inquiring mind gets out of their seat and climbs onto the stage to follow the strings up above the stage where it is discovered that the real manipulators of movement reside.  In this way, the “rabbit hole” is anything and everything which helps support the puppet show away from the stage.  The stage where the puppets act is the reality witnessed, but anything away from the stage would be considered Rabbit Hole material.

But the rabbit hole of our real life can be much more tragic than a child realizing that the puppets in a show are not real, and are manipulated by talented actors off stage.  The realization that from deep down the Rabbit Hole of existence are the mechanisms which affect our daily life from news stories like the ISIS invading Iraq to the countless scandals involving President Obama, the IRS claiming to have lost two years of emails, or the real intentions of the legalization of drugs in America.  On this site I also deal with the origin of the human race pointing to religion often as simply a puppet show to mask that true reality—but there is danger in going down such Rabbit Holes.  I often give hints to games I endorse, or literary achievements which can help preserve the mind not from the fantasy of escapism, but the linking of a mind back to the accepted reality of the true dream world.  Sports are a good mutual bonding agent between life in the Rabbit Hole and the world the rest of the society lives in.  I often reference these types of things to keep sanity a close ally when the images of the Rabbit Hole threaten to shatter consciousness.  For some people, it is too much to know what is really happening off the stages of life and they do fall into insanity.  My goal with this blog is to show people what happens in the Rabbit Hole without destroying the minds of the inquiring minds who want to know more.  So not only do I help lead people down the Rabbit Hole, I also provide mechanisms for dealing with the crisis of learning the truth once there.

To me the Rabbit Hole is a way of understanding the world of quantum mechanics and the world of macro and nano technology which is evolving at a rapid rate.  From this realm it might be denoted that a ultraterrestrial species lives in conjunction with the human race and injects its influence upon us—and certainly stirs the pot so to speak.  So dealing with this species is a conflict which goes well beyond the world of commerce, politics, or acknowledged philosophy—and can really only be discovered through advanced mathematics.  Ironically, the author of Alice in Wonderland was a mathematician, and seemed over a century ago—well before anyone at the time had an inclination—whether through tragedy, sexual crises, or just a mind folding over on itself with the realization that all was not what it seemed and lacking a philosophy to deal with it—Lewis Carroll wrote a novel from inside the Rabbit Hole.  So for those who thought they understood Alice in Wonderland as a beloved children’s story and classic Disney animated cartoon with images inescapable at Disney World, it is time to reveal what many of the metaphors mean.  To make that the easiest transition as possible, I have shown the Cliff Notes below, along with video explaining the meanings of the classic novel.  A link to the Cliff Notes origin article is provided below after a rather robust gathering of explanations on Alice in Wonderland and the life of Lewis Carroll are provided.

The novel is composed of twelve brief chapters; it can be read in an afternoon. Each of the brief chapters, furthermore, is divided into small, individual, almost isolated episodes. And the story begins with Alice and her sister sitting on the bank of a river reading a book which has no pictures or dialogue in it. ” . . . and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” Thus, we find many pictures and read much dialogue (although very little of it makes sense) in this novel.

After introducing us to one of the creatures in Wonderland, the Gryphon, for instance, the narrator tells us, “If you don’t know what a Gryphon is, look at the picture.” As noted earlier, Wonderland is filled with strange animals, and Alice’s encounters with these creatures, all of whom engage her in conversations, confuse her even more whenever she meets yet another inhabitant of this strange country.

Slowly losing interest in her sister’s book, Alice catches sight of a white rabbit. However, he is not merely a rabbit; he will be the “White Rabbit,” a major character in the novel. In this first paragraph, then, we learn about the protagonist, Alice, her age, her temperament, and the setting and the mood of the story. In a dream, Alice has escaped from the dull and boring and prosaic world of adulthood — a world of dull prose and pictureless experiences; she has entered what seems to be a confusing, but perpetual springtime of physical, if often terrifying, immediacy.

The White Rabbit wears a waistcoat, walks upright, speaks English, and is worrying over the time on his pocket watch. Alice follows him simply because she is very curious about him. And very soon she finds herself falling down a deep tunnel. For a few minutes, she is frightened; the experience of falling disorients her. Soon, however, she realizes that she is not falling fast; instead, she is falling in a slow, almost floating descent. As she falls, she notices that the tunnel walls are lined with cupboards, bookshelves, maps, and paintings. She takes a jar of orange marmalade off a shelf. But finding the jar empty, she replaces it on a lower shelf, as though she were trying to maintain a sense of some propriety — especially in this situation of absolute uncertainty. As she reflects on the marmalade jar, she says that had she dropped the jar, she might have killed someone below. Alice is clearly a self-reflective young girl — and she’s also relatively calm; her thinking reveals a curiously mature mind at times. But like an ordinary little girl, she feels homesick for her cat, Dinah. In that respect, she is in sharp contrast with conventional child heroines of the time. Although Alice may be curious and sometimes bewildered, she is never too nice or too naughty. But she is always aware of her class-status as a “lady.” At one point, she even fears that some of Wonderland’s creatures have confused her for a servant, as when the White Rabbit thinks that she is his housekeeper, Mary Ann, and orders Alice to fetch his gloves and fan.

Thus, in Chapter I, Carroll prepares us for Alice’s first major confrontation with absolute chaos. And note that Alice’s literal-minded reaction to the impossible is always considered absurd here in Wonderland; it is laughable, yet it is her only way of coping. As she falls through the rabbit-hole, for instance, she wonders what latitude or longitude she has arrived at. This is humorous and ridiculous because such measurements — if one stops to think about it — are meaningless words to a seven-year-old girl, and they are certainly meaningless measurements of anything underground.

In Chapter II, Alice finds herself still in the long passageway, and the White Rabbit appears and goes off into a long, low hall full of locked doors. Behind one very small door, Alice remembers that there is “the loveliest garden you ever saw” (remember, she saw this in Chapter I), but now she has drunk a liquid that has made her too large to squeeze even her head through the doorway of the garden. She wishes that she could fold herself up like a telescope and enter. This wish becomes possible when she finds a shrinking potion and a key to the door. The potion reduces her to ten inches high, but she forgets to take the key with her (!) before shrinking, and now the table is too high for her to reach the key. To any young child, this is silly and something to be laughed at, but on another level, there’s an element of fear; for children, the predictable proportions of things are important matters of survival. Yet here in Wonderland, things change — for no known reason — thus, logic has lost all its validity.

Then Alice eats a cake that she finds, and her neck shoots up until it resembles a giraffe’s. Suddenly, she is a distorted nine feet tall! Clearly, her ability to change size has been a mixed blessing. In despair, she asks, “Who in the world am I?” This is a key question.

Meanwhile, the rapid, haphazard nature of Alice’s physical and emotional changes has created a dangerous pool of tears that almost causes her to drown when she shrinks again. Why has she shrunk? She realizes that she has been holding the White Rabbit’s lost white gloves and fan — therefore, it must be the magic of the fan that is causing her to shrink to almost nothingness. She saves herself by instantly dropping the fan. But now she is desperate; in vain, she searches her mind for something to make sense out of all this illogical chaos, something like arithmetic and geography, subjects that are solid, lasting, and rational. But even they seem to be confused because no matter how much she recites their rules, nothing helps. At the close of this chapter, she is swimming desperately in a pool of her own tears, alongside a mouse and other chattering creatures that have suddenly, somehow, appeared.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is full of parody and satire. And in Chapter III, Victorian history is Carroll’s target. The mouse offers to dry the other creatures and Alice by telling them a very dry history of England. Then, Carroll attacks politics: the Dodo organizes a Caucus-race, a special race in which every participant wins a prize. Alice then learns the mouse’s sad tale as Carroll’s editor narrates it on the page in the shape of a mouse’s very narrow, S-shaped tail. The assembled, unearthly creatures cannot accept ordinary language, and so Alice experiences, again, absolute bafflement; this is linguistic and semantic disaster. Indeed, much of the humor of this chapter is based on Alice’s reactions to the collapse of three above-ground assumptions: predictable growth, an absolute distinction between animals and humans, and an identity that remains constant. We might also add to the concept of a constancy of identity a conformity of word usage. But in Wonderland, Alice’s previous identity and the very concept of a permanent identity has repeatedly been destroyed, just as the principles of above-ground are contradicted everywhere; here in Wonderland, such things as space, size, and even arithmetic are shown to have no consistent laws.

In Chapter IV, the confusion of identity continues. The White Rabbit insists that Alice fetch him his gloves and his fan. Somehow, he thinks that Alice is his servant, and Alice, instead of objecting to his confusion, passively accepts her new role, just as she would obey an adult ordering her about above-ground. On this day when everything has gone wrong, she feels absolutely defeated.

In the rabbit’s house, Alice finds and drinks another growth potion. This time, however, she becomes so enormous that she fills up the room so entirely that she can’t get out. These continuing changes in size illustrate her confused, rapid identity crisis and her continuous perplexity. After repulsing the rabbit’s manservant, young Bill, a Lizard (who is trying to evict her), Alice notices that pebbles that are being thrown at her through a window are turning into cakes. Upon eating one of them, she shrinks until she is small enough to escape the rabbit’s house and hide in a thick wood.

In Chapter V, “Advice From a Caterpillar,” Alice meets a rude Caterpillar; pompously and dogmatically, he states that she must keep her temper — which is even more confusing to her for she is a little irritable because she simply cannot make any sense in this world of Wonderland. Alice then becomes more polite, but the Caterpillar only sharpens his already very short, brusque replies. In Wonderland, there are obviously no conventional rules of etiquette. Thus, Alice’s attempt at politeness and the observance of social niceties are still frustrated attempts of hers to react as well as she can to very unconventional behavior—at least, it’s certainly unconventional according to the rules that she learned above-ground.

Later, Alice suffers another bout of “giraffe’s neck” from nibbling one side of the mushroom that the Caterpillar was sitting on. The effect of this spurt upward causes her to be mistaken for an egg-eating serpent by an angry, vicious pigeon.

In Chapters VI and VII, Alice meets the foul-tempered Duchess, a baby that slowly changes into a pig, the famous, grinning Cheshire-Cat, the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the very, very sleepy Dormouse. The latter three are literally trapped (although they don’t know it) in a time-warp — trapped in a perpetualtime when tea is being forever served. Life is one long tea-party, and this episode is Carroll’s assault on the notion of time. At the tea-party, it is always teatime; the Mad Hatter’s watch tells the day of the year, but not the time since it is always six o’clock. At this point, it is important that you notice a key aspect of Wonderland; here, all these creatures treat Alice (and her reactions) as though she is insane — and as though they are sane! In addition, when they are not condescending to her or severely criticizing her, the creatures continually contradict her. And Alice passively presumes the fault to be hers — in almost every case — because all of the creatures act as though their madness is normal and not at all unusual. It is the logical Alice who is the queer one. The chapter ends with Alice at last entering the garden by eating more of the mushroom that the Caterpillar was sitting on. Alice is now about a foot tall.

Chapters VIII to X introduce Alice to the most grimly evil and most irrational people (and actions) in the novel. Alice meets the sovereigns of Wonderland, who display a perversely hilarious rudeness not matched by anyone except possibly by the old screaming Duchess. The garden is inhabited by playing cards (with arms and legs and heads),who are ruled over by the barbarous Queen of Hearts. The Queen’s constant refrain and response to seemingly all situations is: “Off with their heads!” This beautiful garden, Alice discovers, is the Queen’s private croquet ground, and the Queen matter-of-factly orders Alice to play croquet. Alice’s confusion now turns to fear. Then she meets the ugly Duchess again, as well as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire-Cat, and a Gryphon introduces her to a Mock Turtle, who sings her a sad tale of his mock (empty) education; then the Mock Turtle teaches her and the Gryphon a dance called the ‘Lobster-Quadrille.” Chapters XI and XII concern the trial of the Knave of Hearts. Here, Alice plays a heroic role at the trial, and she emerges from Wonderland and awakens to reality. The last two chapters represent the overthrow of Wonderland and Alice’s triumphant rebellion against the mayhem and madness that she experienced while she was lost, for a while, in the strange world of Wonderland.

This story is characterized, first of all, by Alice’s unthinking, irrational, and heedless jumping down the rabbit-hole, an act which is at once superhuman and beyond human experience — but Alice does it. And once we accept this premise, we are ready for the rest of the absurdities of Wonderland and Alice’s attempts to understand it and, finally, to escape from it. Confusion begins almost immediately because Alice tries to use her world of knowledge from the adult world above-ground in order to understand this new world. Wonderland, however, is a lawless world of deepest, bizarre dream unconsciousness, and Alice’s journey through it is a metaphorical search for experience. What she discovers in her dream, though, is a more meaningful and terrifying world than most conscious acts of intelligence would ever lead her to. Hence, “Who in the world am I?” is Alice’s constant, confused refrain, one which people “above-ground” ask themselves many, many times throughout their lifetimes.

Throughout the story, Alice is confronted with the problem of shifting identity, as well as being confronted with the anarchy and by the cruelty of Wonderland. When Alice physically shrinks in size, she is never really small enough to hide from the disagreeable creatures that she meets; yet when she grows to adult or to even larger size, she is still not large enough to command authority. “There are things in Alice,” writes critic William Empson, “that would give Freud the creeps.” Often we find poor Alice (and she is often described as being either “poor” or “curious”) in tears over something that the adult reader finds comic. And “poor Alice” is on the verge of tears most of the time. When she rarely prepares to laugh, she is usually checked by the morbid, humorless types of creatures whom she encounters in Wonderland. Not even the smiling Cheshire-Cat is kind to her. Such a hostile breakdown of the ordinary world is never funny to the child, however comic it might appear to adults. But then Wonderland would not be so amusing to us except in terms of its sheer, unabated madness.

One of the central concerns of Alice is the subject of growing up — the anxieties and the mysteries of personal identity as one matures. When Alice finds her neck elongated, everything, in her words, becomes “queer”; again, she is uncertain who she is. As is the case with most children, Alice’s identity depends upon her control of her body. Until now, Alice’s life has been very structured; now her life shifts; it becomes fragmented until it ends with a nightmarish awakening. Throughout the novel, Alice is filled with unconscious feelings of morbidity, physical disgrace, unfairness, and bizarre feelings about bodily functions. Everywhere there is the absurd, unexplainable notion of death and the absolute meaninglessness of death and life.

Alice’s final triumph occurs when she outgrows nonsense. In response to the Queen’s cry at the Knave’s trial: “sentence first — verdict afterward,” Alice responds: “Stuff and nonsense! Who cares for you? You’re nothing but a pack of cards!” At last, Alice takes control of her life and her growth toward maturity by shattering and scattering the absurdity of the playing cards and the silly little creatures who are less rational than she is. In waking from her nightmare, she realizes that reason can oppose nonsense, and that it can — and did — win. And now that the dream of chaos is over, she can say, from her distance above-ground, “It was a curious dream,” but then she skips off thinking that — for a strange moment — what a wonderful dream it was.

Of all Lewis Carroll’s major works, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has a unique standing in the category of whimsical, nonsense literature. Much has been written about how this novel contrasts with the vast amount of strict, extremely moralistic children’s literature. This is true; Alice is quite different from all other Victorian children’s literature. Yet, as odd as this story appears in relation to the other Victorian children’s stories, this short novel is odder still because it was written by an extremely upright, ultra-conservative man — in short, a quintessential Victorian gentleman.

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on January 27, 1832, in the parsonage of Daresbury, Cheshire, England, the third child and eldest son of eleven children of Reverend Charles Dodgson and his wife, Francis Jane Lutwidge. The parents were descended from two ancient and distinguished North Country families. From the Dodgsons, the son inherited a very old tradition of service to the Church and a tradition that he belonged to one of the most respected lineages in England — for example, family legend has it that King James I actually “knighted” either a loin of beef or mutton at the table of Sir Richard Houghton, one of Carroll’s ancestors. This incident has been thought by some critics to have inspired the introductory lines in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, when the Red Queen introduces the leg of mutton to Alice: “Alice — Mutton: Mutton — Alice.”

For the sake of those who are curious about pen names and how authors choose one over another, “Lewis Carroll” is an interesting example. While teaching at Christ Church, Oxford, Charles Dodgson (Carroll) wrote comic literature and parodies for a humorous paper, The Train. The first of the several pieces submitted to The Train was signed “B. B.” It was so popular that the editor asked Dodgson to use a proper nom de plume; at first, Dodgson proposed “Dares,” after his birthplace, Daresbury. The editor thought that the name was too journalistic, so after struggling over a number of choices, Dodgson wrote to his editor and suggested a number of variations and anagrams, based on the letters of his actual name. “Lewis Carroll” was finally decided on, derived from a rearrangement of most of the letters in the name “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.” Clearly, Carroll was fascinated with anagrams, and he will use them throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; his interest in anagrams also explains much about the writings in his later life, and his mathematical works. Concerning Carroll, one cannot safely exclude any influence, least of all hereditary ones, but a good case can be made for the formative effect of Carroll’s father on him. Those who knew Reverend Dodgson said that he was a pious and gloomy man, almost devoid of any sense of humor. Yet from his letters to his son, there is recorded evidence of a remarkablesense of fun. For example, in one letter to his son, he speaks of screaming in the middle of a street:

Iron-mongers-Iron-mongers — Six hundred men will rush out of their shops in a moment — fly, fly, in all screwdriver, & a ring, & if they are not brought directly, in forty seconds I will leave nothing but one small cat alive in the whole town of Leeds, & I shall only leave that because I shall not have time to kill it.

To a boy of eight, such correspondence from his father must have greatly heightened his later love for literary exaggeration; indeed, such fanciful letters may have been the genesis for Carroll’s so-called nonsense books.

As we noted, Reverend Dodgson was said to be an austere, puritanical, and authoritarian Victorian man; Lewis Carroll’s mother, however, was the essence of the Victorian “gentlewoman.” As described by her son, she was “one of the sweetest and gentlest women that had ever lived, whom to know was to love.” The childhood of Lewis Carroll was relatively pleasant, full of ideas and hobbies that contributed to his future creative works. His life at Daresbury was secluded, though, and his playmates were mostly his brothers and sisters. Class distinctions did not permit much socializing between children of the parsonage and the “lesser” parish children. Curiously, a number of the Dodgson children, including Carroll, stammered severely. More than one author has suggested that, at least in Carroll’s case, his stammer may have arisen from his parents’ attempts to correct his left-handedness. Isa Bowman, a childhood friend of Carroll’s, has said that whenever adults approached them on their walks, Carroll’s speech became extremely difficult to understand. Apparently, he panicked; his shyness and stammering always seemed worse when he was in the world of adults. This stammering made him into a bit of a “loner” and explains, somewhat, Carroll’s longtime fascination with puzzles and anagrams, solitary games to amuse himself. It was as though the long suppressed, left-handed self endured in the fanciful, literary adult Carroll — in contrast to the very stern adult librarian, mathematics lecturer, deacon, dormitory master, and curator of the dining hall. Carroll was, seemingly, the archetype of the left-handed man in a right-handed world, like his own White Knight in Through the Looking Glass (the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).

And now if ever by chance I put My fingers into glue Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot Into a left-hand shoe . . .

Carroll’s fondness for games, language puzzles, and the world of the bizarre is further demonstrated in his flair for amusing his brothers and sisters — especially his sisters, which explains, perhaps, his lifelong attraction for little girls. In fact, a great deal of Carroll’s childhood was spent taking care of his little sisters. At home, it was he who was in charge of these seven sisters, and his imagination was constantly being exercised in order to entertain them. In one of his fanciful story games that he invented, he imagined a sort of “railway game,” and as one of the rules of the game, at least three trains had to run over the passengers in order for the passengers to be attended to by physicians. Fortunately, though, rarely were Carroll’s amusements cruel, and when the family moved to the Croft Rectory, Yorkshire, where Carroll’s father assumed the Archdeaconry, Carroll wrote, directed, and performed light, gay plays, and he also manipulated puppets and marionettes for his family and friends.

In addition to the plays that Carroll wrote and the scripts that he composed for his puppet theater, he also wrote poems, stories, and humorous sketches for his own “magazines.” In his “Useful and Instructive Poetry” magazine, for example, a volume that was composed for a younger brother and a sister, he satirized a copybook of stern, dogmatic maxims (a typical Victorian children’s book), and in this poem, he alluded to his own handicap:

Learn well your grammar And never stammer.

Eat bread with butter; Once more, don’t stutter.

Other poems in the volume focus on the theme of fairy tales, an interest which played a large part in the creation of Alice. An early poem of Carroll’s, for instance, “My Fairy,” suggests the contrariness of the creatures that Alice will meet in Wonderland:

I have a fairy by my side Which cried; it said, “You must not weep. “If, full of mirth, I smile and grin, It says, “You must not laugh.” When once I wished to drink some gin, It said, “You must not quaff.”

Similarly, in another early poem, “A Tale of a Tail,” there is a drawing of a dog’s very long tail, suggestive of the very slender, increasingly smaller mouse’s tail in Alice, which coils across a single page in a sort of S-shape. Also, an early poem about someone falling off a wall anticipates Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, and a “Morals” essay reminds one of the ridiculous conversations between the ugly Duchess and the evil Queen in Alice. It is difficult to ignore the writings of Carroll as a child in any analysis of his works, for in his childhood productions, we find conclusive evidence of early imitations, hints, allusions, suggestions, and actual elements of imaginary creatures, dreams, and visions that will appear in his later works.


All his life, Carroll was a scholar; when he was not a student, he was a teacher, and until two years before his death, he was firmly imbedded in the life of Oxford University. Quite honestly, though, nothing very exciting ever happened in Carroll’s life, apart from a trip to the Continent, including Russia. His vacations were all local ones, to his sister’s home in Guildford, his aunt’s home in Hastings, and to Eastbourne, the Lake Country, and Wales. He did not begin his formal schooling until the age of twelve, when he enrolled in Richmond Grammar School, ten miles from the Croft Rectory, but he had already received a thorough background in literature from the family library. Yet it was mathematics — and not English literature — that interested Carroll most. When he was very young, for example, Carroll implored his father to explain logarithms to him, presumably because he had already mastered arithmetic, algebra, and even most of Euclidian geometry.

Carroll entered Rugby in 1846, but the sensitive young child found the all-boys environment highly unpleasant; the bullying abuse, the flogging, and the caning was a daily part of school life. Nonetheless, Carroll was, despite his three years of unhappiness there, an exceedingly studious boy, and he won many prizes for academic excellence.

Carroll matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1851, and remained there for forty-seven years. But, two days after entering Oxford, he received word of his mother’s death, something which deeply distressed him and seemed to have worsened his stammering. By all accounts, Carroll was not an outgoing student; with little money, and because of his stammer, his circle of friends always remained small. Yet in his academic work, he applied himself with the same energy and devotion that characterized his career at Rugby. He won scholarship prizes, honors in Classical exams, and also won a First Prize in Mathematics. His scholastic efforts were rewarded by a lifetime fellowship and a residency at Christ Church, so long as he remained unmarried and proceeded to take Holy Orders.

In 1854, the year Carroll took his B.A. degree, he began publishing poetry in the student magazines and in The Whitby Gazette. Carroll’s writings had already established him as both a superb raconteur and humorist at Oxford, and in 1854, he began to seriously teach himself how to express his thoughts in proper literary form; it was at that time that his writings began to show some of the whimsy and fantasy that are contained in the Alice books.

In 1857, Carroll took his M.A. degree and was made “Master of the House.” During those years, he immersed himself in literature, mathematics, and also in the London theater. He produced freelance humorous prose pieces and verses for various periodicals, explored theories of dual identities, wrote satires, published mathematical and symbolic logic texts, invented word games and puzzles, and took up photography, a hobby that would make him famous as one of the best Victorian photographers. In short, Carroll became a sort of lesser English equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci. He invented the Nyctograph, a device for writing in the dark, and he also invented a method of remote control self-photography. Helmut Gernshein, the author of Lewis Carroll: Photographer, calls Carroll’s photographic achievements “astonishing”; in his estimation, Carroll “must not only rank as a pioneer of British amateur photography, but I would also unhesitatingly acclaim him as the most outstanding photographer of children in the nineteenth century.”

Carroll’s Interest in Little Girls

In every study of Carroll’s life, one finds that Carroll had only the most formal encounters with mature women. There was seemingly no romantic interest in adult women. Some biographers have attributed this asexual interest to Carroll’s stammering and his self-conscious shyness about it. On the other hand, Carroll’s diaries and contemporary accounts about him are full of his encounters with children, nearly always with little girls. He obviously delighted in the company of little girls twelve years old and younger, and his diary records in great detail the aesthetic pleasure that he took in viewing “nice little children.” Carroll’s attractions for little girls were honorable and above reproach — at least we have, almost a century later, absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

Carroll’s interest in discovering new little girls for his photographic studio seems to have amounted to his discovering hundreds, perhaps thousands, of girls in his lifetime. And in nearly every recorded case, Carroll produced a masterpiece of character study. His photographs are filled with unusually sensitive and candid “personalities” of the subjects. They caught the essence of human beings; they were not merely stiff, embalmed-like “objects.” Occasionally, there is an extraordinary sense of straightforward eroticism — but it is straightforward; it is not murky or perverted. And in nearly every recorded case, Carroll had the full approbation of the child’s parents, and invariably his work was chaperoned, at least indirectly. Had there been any intimacies between Carroll and his young female subjects, it would long ago have been ferreted out by the multitude of Freudian-oriented literary critics.

Today, we can understand why, occasionally, certain people thought Carroll’s photographs to be erotic. Most people now, however, wouldn’t consider them to be. His photographs are alluring; they look as if they almost could speak. They all have a provocative quality about them. But, they are “safe,” and as we view them, they help us to understand Carroll’s interest in seeing children as his own personal, private, peculiar escape from mature sex.

Alice Liddell

In 1846, Carroll met Alice Liddell, the four-year-old daughter of Dean Henry George Liddell of Christ Church. Carroll had already established himself as a close friend of Alice’s elder sister and cousin. But it is Alice who figures most prominently in Carroll’s most famous creation, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

On July 4, 1852, Carroll and a friend, Rev. Robinson Duckworth, took the Liddell children, Lorina (13), Alice (10), and Edith (8) on a boat ride (a row boat) up the Isis River (the local name for the Thames River). As they made their way upstream, Carroll began telling a story about the underground adventures of a little girl named Alice. According to Duckworth, the story “was actually composed and spoken over my shoulder for the benefit of Alice Liddell, who was acting as ‘cox’ of our gig. I remember turning around and saying, ‘Dodgson, is this an extempore romance of yours?’ And he replied, ‘Yes, I’m inventing as we go along.'”

Upon disembarking, Alice asked Carroll to write out Alice’s adventures for her, and Carroll promised to do so by the following Christmas, but the work was not completed until February 10, 1863. By that time, Alice was eleven, and Carroll was no longer seeing her with the regularity that he used to. Now he had made a new friend, the famous ingénue Ellen Terry, who was nearly seventeen. His interest in Ellen Terry is the closest relationship that Carroll had with an adult woman, apart from his family, of course.

From an initial length of 18,000 words, Carroll’s manuscript expanded to 35,000 words, and the famous English illustrator John Tenniel read it and consented to draw illustrations for it. As Carroll searched for a publisher, he gave anxious thoughts to a perfect title. Various ones came to him: Alice’s Golden Hour, Alice’s Hour in Elf-land, Alice Among the Elves, Alice’s Doings in Elf-land, and Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. Finally, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was chosen, and Macmillan, the publishers for Oxford University, agreed to publish the book on a commission basis.

Alice was an immediate critical success when it appeared in 1865. The Reader magazine called it “a glorious artistic treasure . . . a book to put on one’s shelf as an antidote to a fit of the blues.” The Pall Mall Gazette wrote that “this delightful little book is a children’s feast and a triumph of nonsense.” About 180,000 copies of Alice in various editions were sold in England during Carroll’s lifetime; by 1911, there were almost 700,000 copies in print. Since then, with the expiration of the original copyright in 1907, the book has been translated into every major language, and now it has become a perennial bestseller, ranking with the works of Shakespeare and the Bible in popular demand. In the words of the critic Derek Hudson: “The most remarkable thing about Alice is that, though it springs from the very heart of the Victorian period, it is timeless in its appeal. This is a characteristic that it shares with other classics — a small band — that have similarly conquered the world.”

I consider Alice in Wonderland to be a real treasure of literature—and relevant in a metaphorical way to Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, which is a favorite of mine—just for the puzzles and allusion to another dream-like existence.  Finnegan’s Wake is far more complicated than Alice in Wonderland nearly to the point of being completely useless to the average person.    Disney saved Alice in Wonderland by making it relevant as a cartoon—which would have been the only way to preserve such a story as the age of media has cheapened the mind of man by providing information so easily that few wish to think deeply about things any longer—being less prone to exploring the Rabbit Holes of existence—rather than the other way around.  The question of the day—philosophically, which reality is the dream in our lives and which is the true reality—and this is my primary concern with this blog.

Most people accept that the words they hear coming from President Obama at a press conference, or a school board announcement for more tax money, or the tragedies on the nightly news reflect the reality of the living world—but I contend that it is far from the case.  What we see are only marionettes to a stage play without a title anybody understands, and to learn the plot, title, and actual cast members you have to follow the strings down the Rabbit Hole to where reality actually exists.  In this way most of society is already Alice—they are in the land of the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, or the Cheshire-Cat and the way to understand the bizarre behavior of Wonderland—the stage play we are all witnessing in “reality,” is to go down the Rabbit Hole to where quantum mechanics will reveal who holds the strings and ultimately the fate of mankind hidden behind the deceptions of reality.

But beware while traveling down that hole—it is a superhuman journey that requires courage, and a sane mind.  While it may seem easy to get up out of your chair while watching a puppet show and gaze up at the puppeteers above the stage with their hands on the strings of the stage actors—it is not.  It is one thing to notice that the strings extend beyond the reality of a stage play—it is another to confront those puppeteers on their terms and deal with them directly.  For that—it will require every bit of cleverness, and intellectual aptitude that can be gathered—and for that—I have prepared a road map to guide the weary traveler inclined through the curiosity of Alice, to jump down the Rabbit Hole to the truth and to meet the horrors found there squarely, and with valor.

When traveling down this Rabbit Hole, be sure to stay sane, stay grounded, and maintain a relationship to those still stuck in the dream so not to get lost along the way—otherwise—you will never be able to help them down the Rabbit Hole when they are ready to travel.  Because it’s only a matter of time before they will.   Talk to them about sports, movies, books and other nonsensical trivia because all those things are part of the dream.  And most of all beware of ultraterrestrials, they are devious creatures who are more a part of your life than you might wish to acknowledge.  To learn more about them, read the Mothman Prophesies by John Keel.  The strings of the puppet show extend into their hands—and they are not friends—but rival foes in a fight for the same resources in the long drama known as the human race.   Ultraterrestrials have formed religions to serve their needs in a plot they wish to sell to their four-dimensional rivals—us—and they are withholding much of the truth to serve their own ends.

See you in the Rabbit Hole………………………………

Rich Hoffman