I have finished reading to my two younger grandsons the two Alice books by Lewis Carroll. I read the edition with commentary by the late mathematician, Martin Gardner, who used to write for Scientific American. I also just listened to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” which is pretty bloody sharp, but which draws on both of the Alice books. While most attention is on the first one, “Wonderland,” which got made into a not bad cartoon by Disney, the deep one is the second one, “Through the Looking Glass,” with Dodgson (oh, excuse me, Carrol) a professor of logic at Oxford University, Oh, it really is deep shit.
There are so many cliches out of the book, but in fact the more serious ones come from the second one. The most cited of all lines from all the Alice books comes from the second one. It is when Alice encountereds the notorious Red Queen, whom she ultimately captures in the end, although that leads to the deep matte of life being a dream as the Red Queen turns into a silly kitten upon shaking and waking.
Anyway, that most famous line from all of them, which has economics signifigance, is the famous moment when the Red Queen drags her on to run very very fast, only to stay in the same place.
Love both books, and the Gardner annotations! As a child, I listened endlessly to the narration of Wonderland by Cyril Ritchard:
The illustrations by Sir John Tenniel are also synonymous with the stories, in my mind.
Going a bit farther afield, The Hunting of the Snark is a great Carroll/Dodgson poem that probably could serve as a parable for modern economics.
In 1969 at the Atlantic City Pop Festival my buddy got up on the stage and got a kiss from Grace Slick.
I suppose the increasing levels of mercury in the atmosphere would explain how we’ve become a nation of Mad Hatters …
actually, the lead has never gone away. i remember coming upon a whole shelf full of reports in my university library proving that lead was good for you. plus ca change.
In biology, the Red Queen Hypothesis argues that species are forced to continue evolving even when lacking obvious pressures because competitors, symbionts and the environment are also going through evolutionary change. It takes all the running a species can do to stay in the same place.
Weirdly, at the edge of physics and mathematics, there is a space called Carroll space where it is possible to have momentum but no motion. I believe Freeman Dyson was involved in developing it.
Back in 1982, I was working at a software company and part of a team invited by Steve Jobs to preview the Macintosh computer then under development. There was a demo game that had you playing Alice against a board full of chess pieces that would try to stomp you. You had to use the mouse to move Alice to safety. As far as I can tell, the game was never shipped or released, it was just a technology demo / proof of concept for the Quickdraw graphics system.
the quote i like best
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.“