Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

I can imagine what that boat trip with little Alice Liddell was like.  It seemed innocent enough, but that one little trip probably changed her life forever.  I remember Billy Gray telling me stories as a small child, of episodes from The Twilight Zone.  I saw the actual shows, but the way he told stories was way more effective, which means scary.  The thing is, I think Billy taught me lessons in narration.   Even though I knew how the story ended, it was the journey to the end of that narrative that was the most important to me.  So as I mentioned, I can understand why Alice was so entertained by the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson story, but what amazes me is the manner in which Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll came up with such a tale in such short notice. 

When Dodgson told the story to the three little girls on the boat - Alice and her two sisters, he was just trying to amuse them, perhaps out of their boredom of taking this specific boat trip from Folly Bridge near Oxford to the village of Godstow.  In fact, the story is about a bored young girl by the name of Alice.  I always felt that boredom have a role in creating and doing art.  Speaking for myself I find boredom as a great source of inspiration. When Alice requested Dodgson to write down the story, so she can have it, clearly gave him the idea of making a book.  Eventually Dodgson gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of “Alice’s Adventure Under Ground, ” with him doing the illustrations himself.  He inscribed to her “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day.” The version he gave to her was 15,500 words, but he went on to do another version of the narration that’s 27,500 words, where he added the Cheshire Cat and the Mad-Tea Party scene.  

The beauty of Dodgson’s work is how he mixed up the world of pure fantasy. Yet it was inspired by natural science.   In a way he must have been like Sherlock Holmes in figuring out the narrative by what was around him at the time.  Nature usually brings me nothing but dread, but here is a story that is based on a certain type of nature, that to my taste, is a perfect cocktail of a book.  The book works like a great Rube Goldberg machine, which is always elaborate machinery or system to do very simple things.  As a writer, I want to explore my world in such a fashion where I tear up my room and then put it back together again.  But of course, all under my power of observation, which is entirely subjective. 

The TV show “Twilight Zone” had a huge effect on me as a child.  It was the first time that I realized that there may be another sort of world out there, besides the one I’m living in or on.  Billy’s telling me of the stories from the TV show had a profound influence in how I perceived the landscape that lay in front of me.  If you dig around, or look at that world in a certain light, you may find another form of life or perhaps an entrance to another world.  I’m fascinated that the ‘other’ world of “Alice” was all underground.  I think here of the sky or above the sky as being endless, but how far down does the core of the earth go?  Surely it can’t be endless.  In my generation, it comes above, but perhaps in the era that Lewis Carroll lived in, the answer was placed under the ground.  I’m also intrigued by the thought that people when they die, are buried under the ground.  Does death and mad-Tea parties go hand-in-hand?

Alice Liddell appeared to have a long and rather normal life. Yet what must it have been like to be the model for one of the most eminent literary character of all time?  The only thing I can compare what I imagine is her oddness of seeing copies of those books in a bookstore, is seeing my father’s face on the Sgt. Pepper cover in gift shops.  It is part of me, but at the same time it has nothing to do with me.  It is the property of someone else.  Clearly I have an emotional sense of ownership of that image, and Alice was the spark that lead Dodgson to create his masterpiece.  Inspiration comes from all places, and once we know where it comes from, our lives are and will always be affected by the attention one gets that is not from us specifically, but being the son of the artist, and her being on that boat trip, changes everything. 

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