Friday, June 19, 2009

And What Exactly Is a Dream?

"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle." the dreamer behind Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll proclaimed that. Everyone asks that question. "Who am I? Who are you?" No one ever knows the answer, even if they think they do. It is a puzzle, knowing who you are. I don't Lewis Carroll ever knew who he was. A holy man? A writer? A mathematician? A living, breathing Peter Pan? Or merely a dreamer?

Even before I could crawl, I always knew my namesake Alice Liddell. And I always knew the man who loved her. I always her own personal Aquarian dreamer. I always knew Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland was read to me over and over as a child. I can even recite some passages by heart.

When I was younger, I never thought much about Lewis Carroll or his life or his poetry. I just liked the Cheshire Cat and wanted to be just like that character. I never knew much about his relationship with the Liddells, going from beloved friend to estranged outcast. I never knew how lost he felt, I never knew how heartbroken he was. Now for the past six years, I've somewhat understood his soul, his mind, his heart.

I now know that he really loved Alice Liddell, enough to propose to her when she was twelve. I don't think he had a sexual love for her, he was never comfortable around the sexuality of women, or any people for that matter. I think he just wanted to be with her. She was beautiful, no question, and she was an inspiration. She was Alice in Lewis Carroll's maze known as Wonderland. Before he proposed to Alice, he was a beloved friend of the three Liddell girls. Occasionally taking them out on a rowboat telling them fantastic stories full of magic and nonsense. Once he proposed to Alice, after the publication of Alice in Wonderland and before Through the Looking Glass, he was cut off completely from the Liddells.

He was heartbroken after that. He loved Alice so much, and maybe showed lack of judgement. He loved children because they lacked sexuality, not because he got his kicks from them.

Lewis and his poetry opened up the doors of a beautiful world of imagination to me. I learned of hookah smoking caterpillars and croquet with the Queen of Hearts from his stories. I grew up with my mind becoming Wonderland. I thought only through nonsense for years. Everything I said sounded so strange but it was so clear to me in my head. I eventually obtained a certain graspe on reality at nine, but never lost the fairy dust that lined my mind.

Lewis' stories were magical, and they spoke to me as a little girl. And I liked them because I had the same name as the main character. I longed to be part of that maze of Wonderland, but I soon found out that I can create that maze thorough dreaming and my imgaination. That's why writing appeals to me. I want to create a world that people can escape to. Where they can be my Alice and I can be their Lewis. I want to be another Aquarius planting seeds of magic and wonder everywhere I go. I want to be Lewis Carroll.

Who am I? I think I'm a dreamer. I think I am a contridiction. I think I am a groupie. I think I am a writer, an essayist. I think I am planting seeds of magic and wonder everywhere I go. Yet, what exactly is a dream? And where can I get a new one? And where is Lewis? And where is Alice? Where is the Mad Hatter? Why, they are all in my head, aren't they?

A BOAT beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July --
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden dream --
Life, what is it but a dream?

Lewis Carroll's "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" also vertically spells out Alice Pleasance Liddell, the little girl he once truly loved.

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