Jabberwocky and Napalm
By H.E. Curtis
“'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'
So spoke Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass-And what Alice Found There. As always, Mr. Carroll’s book version was much different than our most recent film version starring Jonny Depp. As much as I enjoy Johnny Depp’s versatility as an actor, I think the Alice in Wonderland movie casting him was doomed from the start, no matter which modern or past production (including Disney) took it on. This in no way reflects badly on his acting ability in anyway, simply there are just some stories which transcend our human technology and modern innovations and simply can not be captured on film or any other media without doing a serious injustice to the tale. It would be like someone attempting to remake the motion picture Apocalypse Now. There are just some things which need to be left alone and unmarred.
Alice was quite prophetic in one respect, the Writer’s Craft, does indeed fill one’s heads with ideas. Unfortunately the ideas which appear are ones not always welcome. Certainly Marlon Brando’s afore mentioned film made people look much differently at the Vietnam War and caused them to actually THINK about it and to realize the surreal nature of the war itself. Very much in the same vein as Alice’s adventures, where her world is turned backwards, head over heels to the point of the “normal” rules don’t apply. If Lewis Carroll had written in the 1960’s, I suspect his vision of Wonderland would have been assigned to the use of LSD, Peyote or other mind altering substances. White Rabbit certainly was blunt enough about it.
Yet, Alice’s Adventures have retained a timeless fascination for many of us and it is no wonder the master of imagination, Walt Disney, was drawn to the tale. Yet for all of our growing up, or being placed in the position to have to do so, our innocent inner journeys always transform us into something we least expect, with an insight into who we are and what our place is in the world around us. The deep down, sometimes painful mystical understanding and awareness- which surpasses words- but can take on the nightmarish forms of Jabberwocky or Napalm burst against a jungle skyline if we step upon the path with too much innocence and risk the danger of being lost in the looking glass. Seduction to the vision is always a danger, not realizing the cruelty of painting white roses red, or playing Croquet with flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls. One is reminded of a conversation from Beckett, when the king asks one of his barons;
“Do you ever think?”
And the reply comes back “Of course not, a gentleman has better things to do.”
Perhaps we should follow Alice’s example more often, and let the ideas of great writing take root in ourselves and listen to our inner guides, least we hear our own voice saying, “Off with our head!”