Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, and its sequel ‘Through the Looking Glass’, has many translations and adaptations. Many artists also told their versions of the story.
Alice follows the White Rabbit, symbol of her curiosity, down the rabbit hole. She finds herself in Wonderland, a place where logic doesn’t exist and where animals and various strange creatures can speak. Her body changes the height and shape after she eats or drinks something, which symbolizes the changes that her body goes through. She is going through puberty and doesn’t really understand what is going on. She sometimes gets emotional and cries, but she tries not to lose herself completely and achieve her goals. She wants to enter the beautiful garden which represents her dreams and hopes.
At first everybody commands her and she listens to them but with time she starts thinking for herself and finally opposes the Red Queen. She matures and learns a lot through her journey across Wonderland. She understands that she shouldn’t always listen to all adults because some of them are just ridiculous and their ideas of how a young girl should behave are just silly. The role of the women in Victorian society was also very restricted and they were treated just like little children. Alice saw that clearly and she surely became a suffragette when she grew up.
Alice’s story inspired many people and I will write about some film adaptations soon. But today I wanted to mention the song by Jefferson Airplane titled ‘White Rabbit’ from 1967. It was used in many films and tv shows lately, most recently in the fourth part of ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’. The song talked about psychedelics and suggested that Alice was high, and so was Lewis Carroll when he wrote her story. Here drugs make us either larger or smaller but we also take pills that are not good for us, prescribed by the doctors and given to us by our own mothers. Mushrooms make our minds ‘move low’ but also make us see clearly our reality where ‘logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead’.
The whole world is on its head, upside down, and young people need to oppose their parents’ generation with their absurd rules to create a better future. And their parents only have themselves to blame – they were the ones who read their children about Alice’s adventures, as well as other books such as ‘Peter Pan’ or ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. The caterpillar, who is smoking hookah, calls them to do this. This song also contains the message against the Vietnam war – the Red Queen represents Communism, beheading American soldiers, who are told where to go by ‘the men on the chessboard’ – the generals.
The moral of this story in the song written by the singer of the band, Grace Slick, was to think for ourselves. The last message: ‘Feed your head’ means that we should read and educate ourselves and not listen uncritically to what others tell us. And that instruction is still valid today.