Friday, November 20, 2009

Precisely because it is absurd.

After writing about "Alice in Wonderland" yesterday, I remembered many different things.
The sequel, "Through the Looking-Glass", is also very delightful. I love, for example, the remark by the Red Queen.

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Historically, this sentence has been giving inspirations to evolutionary biologists.
When I first read the Looking-Glass in the teens, the Jabberwocky poem struck me with its sensitive sense of humor.

This was the poem that Alice read.


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's
RATHER hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, even
to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems
to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are!
However, SOMEBODY killed SOMETHING: that's clear, at any rate--'

" However, SOMEBODY killed SOMETHING: that's clear, at any rate".
What a fine spirit of nonsense!

Nonsensical things lifts our spirit.
And the world is the merrier, precisely because it is absurd.

The Jabberwocky. Illustration by John Tenniel.


Anonymous said...

Back to my prior point - Absurdity can be appreciated and cherished every so often only when one already has an established sense and consciousness of the true reality they live in. I believe there are many in our nation who are rather dwelling in their own "peaceful" Wonderland 24/7 and peeking at the "harsh" outside world through their tiny looking glass window, or worse yet, solely through their television and computer screens. These people are not even able to speak for themselves to their own family members! When we think about our own educational system, I believe the "reality/wonderland" distinction is a critical theme which requires some very serious consideration.

nutty naughty said...

I totally don't understand the poem "JABBERWOCKY" however the rhyme seems to me vigorous like hip-hop.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult for me to understand Lewis Carroll.


(ma)gog said...

When I was little, maybe four or five, my mother read me a picture book of Alice. I remember I started to have nightmares which must have had come from the fantasy induced from this picture book. Because of that, I completely lost interest in the story (or tried rather not to come close to it)even when I grew older.

In the nonsense of "Jabberwocky" poem, I still feel some misterious danger which I found long long time ago.

Isn't it a nonsense?

yuzu said...

How true this poem is.
You are so sharp, delicate and enthusiastic
since when you are kid.