These days I feel more and more like Alice who goes down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a world that doesn’t make sense. Although, at least when Alice returned from the strange world below, things went back to normal.
Today, the world makes less and less sense. It seems the world we are living in has become the same as the world Alice encountered when she went down the rabbit hole.
We try to ask questions but are either ignored, censored, or told that up is down and down is up. If we express confusion at the answer given to us, we are called a name so we will either forget the original question or feel threatened into silence.
I only recently realized that Lewis Caroll actually wrote two books about Alice. “Alice in Wonderland” (1865) was first, but his second book, “Through the Looking-Glass (1871) was a sequel in which Alice once again enters a fantastical world. This time she doesn’t drop down a rabbit hole, she climbs through a mirror into the world she finds is just like a reflection, everything is reversed, including logic.
In this upside-down world, running helps one remain stationary, and walking away from something brings one towards it. Alice finds chessmen that are alive, and nursery rhyme characters who converse with her.
An interesting conversation Alice has with Humpty-Dumpty alarmingly makes sense in the world we live in today. Here’s a portion of it…
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”
(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)
All too often today, like Humpty Dumpty tells Alice, words mean what the powerful want them to mean. The conversation Alice has with Humpty Dumpty continues for a spell, but Alice is puzzled and cannot make sense of it. Soon, tired of Alice’s questions, Humpty Dumpty simply dismisses her and disengages from the conversation.
Why am I bringing up the vexing world Alice passed into? Because I think we should all recognize the seeds of confusion the powerful in our world are sowing today. If we are aware of the word games, we may be able to keep the confusion from growing, by deciding not to water the seeds or nourish them with our consent to the notion that words can mean anything the self-proclaimed elites decide they should mean.
In other words, let’s exit the looking glass and insist that our language not be transformed into a Newspeak in which we can not communicate in a meaningful way.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read her blog series Statues: The People They Salute.