Alice in Wonderland And Philosophy Reviewed By Amy Lignor Of
Amy Lignor

Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles.  She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books.  She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben

By Amy Lignor
Published on February 28, 2010

William Irwin (series editor); Richard Brian Davis (editor)
ISBN:  978-0-470-55836-2

There are chapters upon chapters in this book that will sincerely make you think.  They make absolute sense

William Irwin (series editor); Richard Brian Davis (editor)
ISBN:  978-0-470-55836-2

The sub-title of this wonderful look at life, dreams, reality, and so on, is curiouser and curiouser, and I found myself completely understanding of these words as I read every eye-opening chapter.  This is part of a series of books called The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series; books that offer parallels between popular culture such as, 24, Twilight...even South Park, and everyday life. 

Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, logician, and teacher, so it really is no surprise that he took fodder from all areas of his life to create the story of a girl who is as close to a twenty-first century female as humanly possible.  We begin when a teachers gives her students an assignment; they are to write a paper based on a female in fantasy literature.  It is no surprise to me that most of the female students chose Ariel or Cinderella, or the much-beloved Snow White, as their subjects.  There were, however, two students who chose the remarkable Alice.  I had a paper due when I was in high school (years ago, when Jesus was just a boy:)) where my teacher asked the class to watch Nicholas and Alexandra.  The girls, of course, chose Alexandra as the topic of their paper, whereas the boys picked Nicholas.  Me?  I wrote a paper about Rasputin.  I, like Alice, did not wish to conform to the "roles" that are set in stone for boys and girls.  Now...that could be a sign of an open mind or it could simply be that "psycho" would be a future occupation for me to try.

Anyway...when Alice decided to leave her sister in the field of daisies and escape from her dull and mundane world into Wonderland, she showed the fact that she wasn't going to be placed in a category.  She wanted to think.  She wanted to be a part of the world, not simply the character of wife and mother that she was expected to be.  She used her logical mind to "eat" and "drink" the correct amount in order to bring her size and shape to what it needed to be to enter Wonderland; a purely impossible feat that Alice found completely possible by using reason.  We then come across the subject of motherhood.  We see how Alice reacts when the meets the robin.  The robin beats her with its wings, trying to protect her babies from a serpent.  Although Alice tells the bird she's no such animal, the mother is cross and extremely tired; letting Alice know that it was hard enough to bring them into the world, and keeping them safe was going to be no easy feat.  We also see the "motherhood" concept when The Duchess shakes her small baby as it wails and cries.  The Duchess throws the baby into Alice's arms and marches out - wanting to do something far more fun, like playing croquet with the Queen.  We won't even get IN to the fact that there are alot of mothers nowadays who do and feel the same way.  Alice is more than happy when the baby turns into a pig and waddles off into the forest.  Carroll, quite literally, makes a statement with his character that motherhood is not for every female - and that's okay.

When Alice attends the Tea Party we can clearly see an overlap on real life.  She sits down at a table with all men who look at her as if she's an idiot.  The Mad Hatter has no time for females, yet Alice is assertive and asks questions of the table filled with men and they disregard her because she's too dumb to address.  Hello?  Isn't that daily life at its finest?  The opposite side of the coin is when the Duchess speaks to Alice as if she should simply go through life playing the "dumb-blonde" card.  With her cliche' speak, the Duchess is simply trying, as the Mad Hatter was before, to put Alice in her rightful place, and Alice will have none of it.

One of my favorite chapters is when the authors speak about the concept of "jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but no jam today."  The White Queen tells Alice that if she comes under her employment she will be well compensated.  Alice says that she dislikes jam, and the Queen looks at her like she's crazy.  Alice will not actually GET the jam, the Queen states, because there is never jam TODAY.  Think about this.  In your daily job, you can look back over the years and notice the good parts that have gone before; you can also look up ahead to the future and see the raises, and steps up the ladder that are hopefully out there.  But when you'are in the daily grind - the watercooler talks, the angry phone ringing constantly, etc, there is no jam.  The high-notes (the jam) are behind and ahead...only.

Philosophers urge people to think.  They figure that if you think of the correct answer, and its worked before, than that's the choice you should make.  Poets, however, are the ones who feel the road less traveled is the way to go.  Who to believe?  There are chapters that go into the facts of nuclear war.  They are much like the Tea Party, where the men sit at the table and surmise what will be going on in the future.  They are strategists; they make up scenarios - but when you really think about it, no one knows how nuclear war will go seeing as that it hasn't happened yet.  Like Alice, we are all just pawns in a chess game waiting to see how the higher ups are going to "move".  The authors also cover social rules.  Alice, at her trial, can stand up and "slap" the court of law.  Why?  Because she isn't from Wonderland.  She's not living under the social contract of that place, therefore she can scream the house down.  Take Socrates.  This was a very brilliant man who could've gone into the marketplace and shouted until he changed the laws of society.  What he did instead, was to accept the guilty verdict that the court handed down because - his reasoning - since he lived in Athens all his life he couldn't disregard their laws.  He had a social contract to live under their rules, and since he didn't try to change them in some way, he had to accept his fate.

There are chapters upon chapters in this book that will sincerely make you think.  They make absolute sense.  I wish I could go into each one like Humpty Dumpty and his powers of reasoning, but I can't.  I want you to go out, get this book, and see for yourselves.  The one thing I love about Alice is the one thing I love about life - very few things were actually impossible for Alice because she was able to tolerate the nonsensical, which the majority of us today can't do.  We want definitive answers.  We want to live by an invisible moral code and be left alone.  But, why?  I think it's okay to jump down that rabbit-hole once in a while.  We need to.  All of us do.  Imagination and creativity are a gift.  And, certainly - just like Lewis Carroll put forth - these gifts should be cultivated in order to really enjoy this absolutely "mad, mad world."