Quest?

Molly's picture

 This post is sort of late, but I've been thinking about what we discussed in class last Thursday.  To me, it seems obvious that "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is a parody of "the quest."  Alice does so many things to try to advance herself in the world she has found herself in, but none of them really get her anywhere and she encounters many, many obstacles along the way.  She overcomes them, but where does she end up?  In the same place.  This is not to say that the story of Alice isn't a wonderful one, but none of her struggles seem worth it, and by the end of the book everything she's done seems so silly.  I think that this is what Anne meant when she said a few weeks ago that "Alice" is a parody of life--when you really think about it, isn't everything humans do silly in the end?

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Down the Rabbit Hole, and not figuratively

For all of our abstractions, have we truly been able to face up to the implications of our human category making? What happens when the mind can no longer handle the constructed universe, and the whole illusion simply comes undone? Psychedelic drugs have the power to do this, and not just figuratively. I've taken LSD before, but perhaps being in a different psychological or philosophical place I find that I am now winding deep down into the rabbit hole. I feel an incredible disconnect with all the "signifiers" I before took for granted. Everything has come apart, the whole construction of ego and community and law and meaning unwind themselves for the human inventions they are. How can one come back from this realization when not merely intellectually understood but also psychologically enforced? How can one live such an inversion of reality? I find I cannot separate what I have come to think about in this class from my now, lived, experience of the arbitrary nature of every category that humanity has ever and will make. Is there a way out of the rabbit hole, or does it actually go on endlessly and we just think we get out but actually enter into one rabbit hole after the next? I am personally terrified that it is the latter...and I wonder, am I alone in this realization?

Paul Grobstein's picture

rabbit holes and psychological empowerment

Among the ways of "dealing with it," my own favorite is to recognize that a "experience of the arbitrary nature of every category that humanity has ever and will ever make"  frees one to become a maker and reviser of categories oneself, to be a creative individual in one's own right.  Cf Writing Descartes, Paths to story telling as life, and Cultures of ability.

sgb90's picture

The Mind as Prison and Release

I would agree that in the absence of any absolute guidelines and in a reality defined purely by humankind, one is free "to become a maker and reviser of categories oneself, to be a creative individual in one's own right." In an abyss with no pre-determined meaning, one either must do this or, well, go insane. I think there is a paradox to this situation--it is both liberating and condemning (we are "condemned to be free" as Sartre would say). If you stop, though, and try to view the human situation from "the outside" as it were (as much as that is possible), you will see a species wandering around in its own self-imposed maze, and this maze I think is consciousness and its reflection in all human endeavors. It is impossible to exit the mind; the mind is both our ultimate prison and our sole release. Our minds, ever creating new narratives and new ways of being, are the source of an artificial light from within the perpetual darkness of a purposeless but continually generative existence.

Ann Dixon's picture

you are not alone

You are not alone. I think if you talk to a few people, you will find that many of us have experienced this, and there are probably as many different ways of dealing with it as there are people in the world.

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