Go Ask Alice: Sabbatical Postcard #2

Who of a certain age does not remember the Jefferson Airplane (or was it Starship?) 1967 psychedelic anthem: Go Ask Alice? Inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. To spark your memory, you can listen to the music. Lyrics quoted here in full.

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all

Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits

And you know you're going to fall

Tell them a hookah-Smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
He called Alice when she was just small

When the men on the chess board get up
and tell you where to go
And you just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's lost her head
Remember what the door mouse said

Feed your head
Feed your head

Very appropriately, included on the aptly named album, Surrealistic Pillow, at twelve years old this was my very first encounter with Alice. I did not read the actual books until I was a student at Catholic University and took a course called The Literature of Fantasy, fantasy of the C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien kind.

A philosophy major whose childhood upbringing had been somewhat dark and upside down, I immediately fell in love with the twisted logic and clever wordplay in both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass. (The latter so beautifully subtitled: And What Alice Found There.)

A posthumous tribute given to the author — at the dedication of the Lewis Carroll Cot at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital — sums this up well.

It is now thirty years since I first encountered Alice… It is the only children’s book, perhaps, which can be read with equal pleasure by old and young. I should frequently read it still, but for the fact that I know it by heart. It is also the only child’s book of nonsense which is never childish though it always appeals to a child… a book of that extremely rare kind which will belong to all the generations to come until language becomes obsolete.

Sir Walter Basant

My love of these books, discovered in college, became somewhat of an obsession that has continued to the present day. Over the years I have collected variously illustrated editions of the book and all kinds of Alice things. So much so, that I actually have an Alice Room in my house. Is that too weird to confess? A guest room dedicated to a book? Take a tour of the photo gallery below. (And apologies, if you receive Voices via email, this slideshow might appear as too many separate pics!) In any event, you all must come over sometime for tea!

I know this is only day #16, but I have discovered the zen of sabbatical is a bit like stepping through a mirror. You are still the same but also different. You are not quite sure where you are but each day grows curiouser and curiouser. It’s really quite a wonderful, disorienting, and bewildering thing.

I have been greatly and gratefully gifted with a full three months. But sabbath time actually comes around every seven days. Saturday actually, not Sunday, but either will do.

Here are some weekly Alice themed sabbath activities for the good of all!

  • Sit by the water and lazily read a book. (Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass are highly recommended.)
  • Go somewhere you have never been before. Keep it simple. It might be just across the river or possibly down a rabbit hole. All who wander are not lost, you know.
  • Introduce yourself to someone new. A neighbor you have never met or a stranger at a tea party, a door mouse or a Mad Hatter. You will be happier for it.
  • Have a stimulating conversation or friendly debate. Disagreements are healthy. Just ask Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Speak up. Give it a try. Alice had no fear facing the Caterpillar.
  • Cultivate your curiosity. Visit a museum, an art gallery, a concert, or a play. The Cheshire Cat might just point your way.
  • Expand your pallet. Pick something off the menu you have never eaten before (or make it at home)! Remember one bite may make you smaller and another make you tall. However you might interpret that!
  • Pull out a deck of cards and play a game of Hearts. Or pull out a checkered board and challenge a friend to a game of chess. Never mind the Queens, just have a good time.

Thus concludes Sabbatical Postcard #2. These may come more frequently than the few I originally intended. I am afraid I just can’t help myself. Writing is a way that I navigate my way through Wonderland.

Over and out!


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The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

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