There aren’t any good horror movies anymore. In the 90’s we were scared of the end of the world, so we made movie on that. In the 80’s it was serial killers and psychopaths. Today, we just switch on the news. – Iain Thomas, “I Wrote This For You”
With all that we see happening around us, is it wrong to seek it? We’re all lost like Alice but we don’t seem to need wonderland for that, the real world seems confusing enough to be lost in. But the idea of being lost in a world we created seems to be so much more appealing, doesn’t it?
Wanting escape isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we have to be unhappy with the real world to seek it. It doesn’t mean we’re mad or do not have the capacity to survive in the real world either. Writers or story tellers who write about different worlds and the people who share their perspective are just people who experience reality through a different perspective then the one society deems proper. And like Alice, the character in Tim Burtons movie say’s – “Who’s to say what’s proper? If everyone decided that wearing a codfish on your head were proper, would you wear one? To me a corset is like a codfish.” Reality is defined by concepts instilled ‘within’ us rather then around us which makes it more subjective then we know.
C.S. Lewis observed that the only person who opposes escape is, by definition, a jailer.
Wonderland, though a scary place is a world where Alice’s and the readers notions of a fixed perspective are constantly challenged. The world that seems to bind us with logic, rationality and expectations seems to disappear into one filled with madness and irrationality. Logic holds no place there. Given how this novel written in 1865 is still as popular and influential as it was then and is one of the best in its genre, the idea of this alternate world appeals to more people then we could guess.
Quite a few writers, it is apparent, clearly identified and worked with the need to escape that surrounds all of us at some point or the other. Tolkien once wrote “There cannot be any ‘story’ without a fall—all stories are ultimately about the fall“, though he was talking about a particular kind of ‘fall’ there (the fall of evil), his statement in more then one way strikes the truth. Alice falls into the rabbit hole to reach another world, the little mermaid in the classic fairy tale falls in love with the prince and, thus, desires a human soul and feet to provide her existence in the world outside the sea and in LOTR, the destruction of the ring leads to the fall of Sauron, the main antagonist, thus reinstating peace in middle earth and the bumbling protagonists’ life.
It’s also clear to see how most of similar fiction plots deal with reluctant heroes. They’re not out to seek an adventure. It is when they’re not looking for it but they need it the most the adventure falls into their laps. It is with this lost, wandering, misunderstood character that the reader identifies himself, even thought it may be as reluctantly or unknowingly as the character wanders into the different reality. Something that sticks to my mind while talking about wonderland and the ways we seek to identify with characters in books is the number of drug enthusiasts online who relate Alice’s adventures to a ‘trip’, one essay actually giving excerpts from the book in which the caterpillar advises her (Alice) to eat the mushroom that shall ‘expand her mind as much as it did her body’ leaves you with plenty to think about. The theory even has its own Facebook page, telling you the number of people who agree with it.
‘Wonderland’ or ‘Never Never Land’, call it what you must. We all have our rabbit holes. We have different methods of seeking escape or breaks from ‘reality’, of chasing rabbits. Disappearing into a book isn’t the only way. Whether it’s plugging in earphones and turning up the volume, grabbing our pens and notepads, reaching for a cigarette or alcohol, finding a quiet place to think or just getting into bed at night hoping for a good dream, we’re all chasing rabbits and that too more often then we know.