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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alice in Wonderland III -- Creativity A.D.D.: a Justification

warning: stream-of-conscious writing ahead

I have creativity A.D.D.

It's not that I'm particularly good at ... well ... ; I float right around average, really ...  but, so, throughout my life it's not been about the drawing or the writing or the drumming but the creating (those of you who know me might actually understand what the heck I'm talking about).  I've got this bug--a disease? --at least a disorder, I swear.  (Are there meds for something like this?)  I'm serious.  This borders on addiction: I must create!  And in the name of creation, I always have at least half-a-dozen projects going.  Music, drawing, Legos, reading, writing, poetry or fiction, cooking....

I get caught up in an idea, and I hold fast--cling desperately, really--until its adrenaline wears off or wears me out and I move on, at least temporarily, to the next thing.

Now with all that in mind, I need to be clearer about my intent for this reading of Alice.  It's an experiment, really, and the best place to put up such a thing is right here on the blog, and that just so for all the advantages already demonstrated by the last two books: here there's discussion, I see it, and I reply.  I follow through.  That's the point.  And maybe in this case it's a little more important than usual.  Somehow, the blog has held my attention more consistently than any creative thing to date.  (Not that that's saying a whole lot.)

This one is, I have to admit, is particularly egotistical, however (though, of course, what is blogging if not blatant egotism?).  I know I'm not alone in believing that Alice is one of the greatest books ever written, but, conflictingly, I'm not entirely convinced and this isn't an effort to prove it to myself as much as to you.  Look at it this way: it's about as hard to adequately and accurately critique your own creative works (I'm thinking of my novel-writing ambitions) as it is to separate excellence from nostalgia; and nostalgically, Alice is my favorite book.  Is it also the best?  Why did I compare it to Dante's L'Infermo, which is unequivocally the best book I know?  Does it merit such elevation?

I mentioned it maybe a million times or so in my ridiculously long reply to poor James' worthy answers to the first set of questions that I believe there's a "meta-story" in Alice.  What the heck does that mean?  ...  Well, I'm not completely sure.  I know it when I see it, but it's about as difficult to describe as it is difficult to describe my feelings when I'm upset to the person I'm upset with.  I worry that I'm too passionate about this book to adequately measure it.  I want the book to be, you know ("measuring" it now), yay-tall, but it just might not be--like a parent judging his kid's talent....

Exactly what I'm looking for in this meta-story is some direct--much more direct than usually made--connection Carroll and Alice.  Ostensibly, Alice appears alone as protagonist in the story.  We don't "see" Carroll.  I believe that he, intentionally or not, wrote himself directly into the story as an invisible co-protagonist or even an antagonist of sorts.  I mentioned in that stupidly-long reply that Carroll is a sort of god of Wonderland and, like those of Greek/Roman tradition, appears regularly amidst his creations.  He even falls a number of times under the weight of his own humanity. Generally this is because of his love for Alice.  Dispassionate in all other circumstances, he is wholly swayed by this girl he loves.  Interestingly, he is not the only god in the story.  While it is never named, though it must be one Christian, especially considering Carroll's (more aptly here: Dodgson's) history with the clergy, a higher god is present, which even Carroll is subject to.

So that's it.  Whatever I say, take with that ever-worthily proverbial grain of salt, because I might just be totally freaking crazy.


  1. I think that I know what you mean about it being really hard to evaluate the book objectively when you love it so much. There are a few things that come to mind for me: "Moby-Dick" which I read with my sister on summer vacation in Cape Cod, "East of Eden", which I love even beyond how good it is for a couple reasons, the main one being that it started me on the reading tear that I've been on for the past few years, "The Wind in the Willows", which was the first book that I read on my Nook, and finally, and oddly enough, the movie "Night at the Museum 2", which I enjoyed because I saw it with my mom who visited me in Washington after not seeing her for several months. I know that none of these is as good in the estimation of others as it is in my own eyes, but... does it really matter? If we all just praised the same things that others praised, what's the point of reading the book ourselves or even existing for that matter? Maybe this book is for you what Alice was to Lewis Carroll.

    Second, I don't think that you're wholly crazy for your Lewis Carroll theory. Lewis Carroll's always doing crazy stuff, and wouldn't inserting himself into the story be the ultimate trick? I'm still skeptical, but I can see where you are headed and why. The bottle had to come from SOMEWHERE.

    Finally, I get the creation bug, too, but I have it in an odd way. What I want is not to create new worlds, but to reformulate older ones. For example, I love the idea of setting old stories from the Bible in modern times with the moral complexity of modern-day thinking. Even doing this with other examples from mythology strikes me as pretty cool. What I basically want to do when I write is to adapt what's great from previous generations and subtly adapt it so that it can be useful for the present and future. Anyway, this is getting long, and, as you can figure out, I've never been able to do this to my satisfaction anyway.

  2. What I love best is that no matter how often I fail (and with COMPLETE success I fail) I never loose my thirst for it.

    Interesting how you couch things in your first paragraph. I'll use Steinbeck as my example: I read "East of Eden," and I think I love it much like you do (I might be over-estimating myself). In that very human and very irrational way, "East of Eden" saved me from myself when I lived in my realtor's basement for six weeks before my family was finally able to join me in Michigan. But I am able to gain to objectivity over it: I much prefer "Eden," but I have no difficulty in saying and describing "Grapes of Wrath" as the better book--not my preference, but better.

    I think I'm able to do a pretty good objective analysis of Alice: I just have to leave out the stuff that no one's ever claimed before (at least as far as my researches can discover). But, man, if I'm right.... I don't know. Whatever, really, because the book's just so much fun anyway.


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