“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream! said Alice. And she told her sister, as well as she could remember… her sister kissed her, and said “It was a curious dream, dear, certainly; but now run in to your tea; it’s getting late. So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well as she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.”
Ironically, while reading Alice and Wonderland, I consistently found myself getting lost in my own wonderland and dosing off to sleep… I couldn’t help but wonder if that was part of Lewis Carroll’s intent. She paints a dreamy labyrinth of imagery that is as playful and childish as it is profound and adult.
“And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing.”
As Alice travels through Wonderland, meeting various creatures, larger metaphorical questions are raised about life, choices, the collective unconscious, and the characters one meets along the way.
“The Caterpillar was first to speak ‘ What size do you want to be?’ it asked. ‘Oh, I’m not particular as to size.” Alice replied ‘only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.'”
The story ends with Alice’s sister sitting with closed eyes trying to believe herself into the dream of Wonderland.
“She half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality.”
Her sister realizes that soon Alice is going to be confronted with that “dull reality” as well, and will have to hold onto the memories of Wonderland, and “happy summer days.”
I think this concept of reality and Wonderland in relation to technology is an interesting one… On one hand, I think drawing on people’s imaginations and sense of Wonderland is the ultimate goal. On the other, I think it’s important to create technologies that don’t take us somewhere else but remind us of where we are. To be completely corny, to remind us that reality and wonderland, or the virtual and real, are perhaps not so far apart but one in the same.
I recently read something by the Tibetan Budhist Pema Chödrön that said, “we’ve strengthened the habit of escape, choosing fantasy over reality. Unfortunately, we get a lot of comfort from leaving, from being lost in our thoughts, worries, and plans. It gives us a sense of false security and we enjoy it.”
I’ve contemplated this idea a lot in regards to ITP and this story. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons I’m wary of technology. It inherently takes us somewhere else, which can be endlessly seductive. Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing though, as long as we can be equally seduced by what’s infront of us…
“’I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied, very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself, to begin with.”