Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Week 3

Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!”

-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 1

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 Alice then looks through the door to discover an amazingly beautiful garden on the other side. Being the kind of curious child she was, Alice immediately set her mind to get to the other side and lie amongst the flowers; even though she couldn’t even get her head through the door.

Eventually, and after many adventures which involved considerable changes in her size, she manages to get to the garden and continue her journey as we know it.

But what about all the other doors that Alice didn’t open? What would her adventure have been if she had opened a different one?

These are the kind of questions that the great poet T.S. Eliot had in mind when writing the first few lines of his poem Burnt Norton, the first in his Four Qartets. Here’s a fragment of the poem:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future.
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. . My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
[continue reading]

In the text, T.S. Eliot ponders about the multiple futures that lie ahead of us at every moment and the infinite possibilities of what our past and future might have been.

During last week’s Book Club, while discussing the poem and its meaning, an interesting question rose: If you were given the possibility to go back and peek through the keyholes of your ‘other doors’, would you do it?  If so, to what purpose?

It was quite interesting to discover that even though many of us do not regret our choices in life, we do wish we could see what might have happened had we chosen differently at certain points in our life. Others however, fervently oppose going thorugh that old path and lingering on memories that never were.

Would you use your chance to look at your other possible lives?

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Week 2

Autism

Over 1 in 100 people in the UK live with autism and the number is growing worldwide, sadly there are no statistics about the number of people with the condition in Costa Rica but according to organisations such as ‘Fundación Autismo Feliz’ there are also new cases every day.

Here are some facts about the disease:

  • They find it difficult to tell people what they need, and how they feel.
  • They find it difficult to meet other people and to make new friends.
  • They find it difficult to understand what other people think, and how they feel.
  • Not everyone with autism will find these things difficult. This is because everyone with autism is different.

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On the other hand, people with autism can become extremely good at concentrating in one activity and eventually becoming very good at it, particularly in areas related to music and arts. In fact many great minds from history are thought to have lived with the disease, including the likes of Albert Einstein and Mozart.

But what is the connection between autism and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

None other than its author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carroll, who according to his behaviour, may have also been autistic.

Last week in the Book Club we discussed the context in which Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written and the sometimes ‘strange’ behaviour of its author, ranging from his inability to carry on discussions in public, due to his heavy stuttering, to his fixation with photographing little girls.

What was then seen as an adroit behavior on his part, could have well been characteristics of Autism. After watching this video, what do you think?

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Week 1

Is this scene familiar to you?

Alice and the Rabbit
Illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

 

Most likely, you’re now thinking about a white rabbit who’s running late, a mad hatter, a queen of hearts and a peculiar little girl. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! is the story of a little girl who falls into a world of fantasy where everything constantly gets “curiouser and curiouser. For more than a century and a half this story has been a favourite of new and older generations. It has been the inspiration for for several films, dating from the early stages of cinema to the latest Tim Burton version, showing no sign of loosing its charm. In March 2011, The Royal Ballet opened their adaptation of the story at the Royal Opera House in London.

In the original story, written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, Alice falls into a rabbit’s hole that takes her to a place where nothing stays the same too long, not even herself (specially not herself) and where she’s faced by the ever enduring question “Who are you?” posed by a rather ambivalent caterpillar.

Today we hold Alice’s hand and jump with her into the rabbit’s hole to discover a world of contradictions and symbols as seen through the eyes of a child from victorian England.

Join us at the bookclub every Friday at 5pm and find your way across Wonderland!

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”
 Lewis Carroll,Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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