Friday, August 21, 2009

And Who Are You?

As a child and even as an adult, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland has made a lasting impression on me. The caterpillar asking Alice, "Who are you?" was one of the most frightening scenes in the Disney movie. Maybe because I had an uncle that was a great deal like that caterpillar. He used to pick up my doll and tilt her back and forth to see her eyes close and open and then pick me up and tilt me and ask why my eyes did not open and close like hers.

Do adults know the scary questions they pose to children? I could not have been more than four or five at the time. I think it was later before Disney came out with the movie of Alice in Wonderland, though Dad used to read from the book certain selections. My favorite was The Walrus and the Carpenter. I used to take the book and read it to myself at a very early age. Is that why I have "Wonderland" dreams. Or do we all dream like that at times and Lewis Carroll tapped into it with his words.

Last night was one of those dreams. I climbed out of a car driven by my niece because she wanted to party with strangers at a rave on the Rio Grande River. And she had left the dogs behind. I went in search of them. They seemed always just within sight like the White Rabbit. Following me instead of me them we walked along the river and through a huge house where a party was going on (mad hatter's tea party?) then out the other side to a large open meadow (the Queen's Rose Garden?). The dogs would not keep up and the sun was setting and I seemed never to get closer to home.

I woke up carrying the dream with me into my day. What was I looking for? Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee or the Cheshire cat. Or me? Answer to that age old question: Who are you? Or why don't your eyes blink open and closed?

Now they are making a new version of Alice starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. I have always identified with the Mad Hatter. What character in Alice in Wonderland are you?


  1. I have often thought that Alice was a book for adults as well as children. The symbolism is mysterious and definitely inspires introspection if not nightmares. The Johnny Depp movie is by Tim Burton, so it will undoubtedly be dark and unlike Disney in any way. I look forward to seeing it. Now for the meaning of that dream . . .

  2. A dream analyst would probably have a field day with it. I generally have "Journey" dreams when under stress or at a turning point I am unaware of. The turning points can be good.

  3. I also suppose disturbing late night conversations could also trigger "Journey"

    The Chesire Cat, perhaps?

  4. Are you suggesting we sanitize our evening chats? How die you sleep, Cheshire Cat?

  5. I think I may be Humpty Dumpty... Certainly feel as though I am very fragile at times!
    I look forward to seeing the new "Alice..." with Johnny Depp.

  6. Whilst I read Alice in Wonderland as a child, I never knew why I didn't really like it until later in life.

    I had fears for Alice as she disappeared. I disliked the Queen intensely and somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall a movie or a cartoon where she frightened me to death. "off with his head" were not words I liked. I didn't really like the White Rabbit much and as for the Mad Hatter....... I thought he was 'quite potty'.

    It is said that Lewis Carroll wrote this for his niece but as I grew older, I didn't buy it. I think that LC had a 'dark side' but then again, so did Enid Blyton!

    Waking bringing a dream into day is a nasty experience. There is the relief that all is safe and well with the world but that relief can be accompanied by an unsettled feeling.

    Your description of what your uncle did is frightening. I don't believe that that generation realized how frightening their actions could be. It was all 'good fun' to them but uncles making a doll's eyes roll is frightening. It seems as though it was almost a fixation with him. I have visions of a little girl watching her doll and dreading what was coming next.

    It's a wonder we all turned out sane! Unlike the characters in Alice in Wonderland. To me, a wonderland it was not!


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