Happy 150th Birthday Alice! What Really Was In That Liquor ‘Juice’, Me Wonders

Posted on February 17, 2015 in Books

By Abhishek Jha:

It has been 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. That it is read with pleasure even today is not surprising. The superior brew concocted by Oxford badass Charles Lutwidge Dodgson for entering his dream world ensured that each person could build his own worlds inside the wonderland. And as Dom Cobb (of Inception fame) will tell you, that can land you in a prolonged limbo. Here, such a trapped man hopelessly tries to prosecute Charles with something (anything!). Welcome to the trial by media of Charles Dodgson.

Picture Credit: Sophie Douglas
Picture Credit: Sophie Douglas


Dodgson’s Crime
This, for the benefit of the reader, is a brief account of the crime of the accused. Documented research confirms that a young Dodgson was under apprenticeship of London’s infamous mafia-lord, The Artful Dodger. As was usual in the then monastic precincts of Oxford colleges, Dodgson was at the same time learning the dodge-them-balls game. But TAD wouldn’t allow his protégé that luxury. So, Dodgson decided to take his revenge in a manner that is unique to people from Oxford. What does he do? He invites three little girls to a game of dodgeball by a river. While at it, he steals their hearts and brains, crushes them with his mortar and pestle, and creates an invisible ink. That he then uses to write a story about the game he had witnessed on the river, putting in several invectives about his cruel master. Obviously TAD never found out. Dodgson had already taken up the alias of Lewis Carroll. Others, however, did find a way to read the ink when another pupil of TAD, Sigmund Freud, found ways to smell spirit in people and books.

Exhibit 1: The Distillation Column
We all today know that a special kind of liquor is needed to enter into Wonderland. But what is it about that liquor (juice?) that dreamers continue to loll in its effects till date? Several journalists- taking cue from Alice- have tried to find out by going down the rabbit hole. They say that it has to do with the distillation and packaging (read condensation and displacement) techniques employed by Charles. Children will remember that all sorts of things are obtained by distilling crude oil in a long column, a column not very different in nature from Alice’s rabbit hole. See? That’s all of your household- from the closet to the street- in the crude oil. No doubt then that many have fell for the rabbit hole.

Exhibit 2: The Requiem (for the dream)
Once intoxicated by the wonders of Alice’s dreams, people have continued to come back for more. Hence, dream junkies, perennially sleep deprived in REM, prefer to read the book more as a guide to inception into the wonderland rather than some old loony’s revenge plan.Who could have such rabbit dreams as Alice on a sunny afternoon? It must involve some kind of training. Note the quaint rabbit who is always in a hurry (or on speed) and the cat who can’t help smiling (a clear indication of a balanced grass diet). As if that was not it, they have gone on so far as to compose a requiem for the three dead girls, which they sing between howling “Mushroom” and “Hookah” at the ghost of Charles, which repeatedly appears to defend his monastic life. If any young children are reading this, they should know that ghosts are an abhorrent fantasy of dream-eyed people. And so are long sentences.

Exhibit 3: The Deconstructed Black Mirror
After the drunkards and the dreamers came the slipshod, namely The Carroll Syndicate. Reflecting on each other and the real world, they have caused a slippage that has eroded the line between truth and fiction. Carrying forward the polymath Carroll’s legacy, a scientist has translated the wonderland into quantumland. Small thugs of the syndicate, who call themselves filmmakers, repeatedly do a live telecast of their Alice dreams on expensive mirrors, which they call a TV. Then there are the hardcore criminals- the playwrights and the actors- who perform the whole drama in front of an elite audience in run-down buildings at undisclosed locations.

We Wonder, We Wonder…
After having viewed all the exhibits, it can be said that it has become increasingly difficult today to distinguish the trial from the reporting, truth from fiction in the case of the accused, Mr. Lewis Carroll aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. So I must take your leave. Investigation in wonderland is risky and one must keep one’s cards close to one’s chest. Before I am caught and the Queen of Hearts goes “Off with his head!” let me drink my potion and shrink myself to my own size. Oomaloom!