Friday, November 10, 2006

Symbolic Logic

For some reason I had the urge to re-read Alice In Wonderland (And Through the Looking Glass), one of my all-time favourite books, and was struck by couple of things: 1) How well I remembered every detail of it (I felt like I read it yesterday, or tomorrow I guess, in Looking-Glass time); and 2) That it's really kind of a mystery novel, too, in its own way. I mean, here's this girl and she's hell-bent on finding out who this rabbit is and where he's going, and she follows him until she finds him again. Following clues, interviewing "witnesses" (of a sort) and trailing a "suspect" ... or am I reaching?

Or are all narratives mysteries? And not in that lame Joseph Campbell way (like all narratives are quests and everyone's a hero, blah, blah, blah) but in a very general and abstract way every story has a "corpse," the inciting incident, the thing that makes a protagonist get up, ask questions, and do something. And the reason why that corpse is there must be discovered. I don't know, it's just a thought.

In any case, Alice's witnesses are spectacularly uncooperative, and in the end she doesn't really do much when she finds the rabbit (also her goal shifts from finding the rabbit to finding her way home as she moves through Wonderland). Which is what makes it absurd, and what makes it oddly satisfying as a mystery -- it's satisfying because it's frustrating.

And it's scary, too. The Jabberwocky scared the crap out of me when I saw the live action version, the one with Carol Channing as the White Queen and Sammy Davis Jr. as the caterpillar and Lloyd Bridges as the White Knight. I loved that movie version, which was actually made for television, and if anyone wants to surprise a Spinster Aunt at Christmas with a snazzy new DVD version of it (my old VHS one is MIA), she wouldn't say no.

One final musing: I'm not sure why this is, but I find people quoting from Alice to be incredibly irritating, I don't know why. The only person in the world who can get away with that is Linda Goodman, author of "Sun Signs."

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