Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now this one of those oddities in my usual series, a story that I wrote for a class. To try and break down all the meaning and symbolism in it would take a long time and a lot of effort, but essentially it’s a discussion on memory and the like. Without further ado, enjoy.
NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. One may see reference to the text Photo Essay: Tropes of Memory, but one should only do so with extreme caution. Likewise one may also find themes and ideas relating to Aristotle and Jacques Derrida’s theories on public rhetoric and structuralism respectively, but should only do so if one is a trained profession to ensure their own safety. You have been warned.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR,
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.
Keywords: Memory, speaker, audience, speech, blatant plagiarism and tea.
â€œTell me Alice,â€ said the Hatter as he poured himself another cup of tea, â€œwhat do you remember about the subject of memory?â€
â€œI remember that I remembered not a lot about remembering that is worth remembering,â€ admitted Alice. â€œWhy, is it something worth knowing?â€
â€œWell is it not unusual how tragic events are so quickly forgotten about?â€ pondered the Hatter. â€œSomething that defines a generation, shapes the lives of countless humans, quickly becomes nothing more than a note in a history book. History is not only written by the winners, but those who won the war without spilling a drop of blood. To the victor go the spoils, and with that to spoil the facts of history by distorting it with their own views.â€
â€œThat’s an awfully grim assessment,â€ said Alice, staring forlornly into her teacup.
â€œNot mine, my dear girl. The work of Jens Meierhenrich and Martha Lagace.â€
â€œWho?â€ asked Alice, thoroughly bamboozled.
â€œIt matters not,â€ said the Hatter dismissively. â€œAll that matters is what they said. After all, is not what is said not more important than who is saying it?â€
â€œThat depends,â€ replied Alice. â€œIf the March Hare were to say that all hares were fabulous creatures, I would suspect a certain level of bias is involved.â€
â€œBut hares are the most fabulous creatures,â€ interrupted the March Hare, as he replaced the top on the pot and the puc on the cup.
â€œBut you would say that,â€ argued Alice, â€œbeing a hare and all.â€
â€œIt matters not,â€ said the Hatter. â€œWhat matters is what is being said, not who is saying it.â€
â€œAnd why not the people who are listening?â€ asked the Cheshire Cat as he appeared. â€œIf you are talking to anybody, nobody won’t reply. If you are talking at everybody, somebody will feel ignored.. But is it not better to have everybody in your audience at the risk of ignoring nobody and giving somebody and anybody a chance to speak their minds?â€
â€œOh you’re just a head on some body,â€ sniffed the Hatter snobbishly. â€œWhy do you think it’s better to talk to everybody? I’d rather talk to nobody and have an intelligent conversation than talk to anybody and get all sorts of nonsense thrown back at me.â€
â€œWell if it pleases you,â€ said the Cheshire Cat, â€œI shall leave you to be. But to everybody here I tell them not to listen to nobody, since nobody has nothing to say and no mouth to say it with. Better to address somebody or anybody, since they’re more likely to responded to what you are saying. Goodbye.â€ And with that he left as mysteriously as he arrived.
â€œWell that was very confusing,â€ said poor Alice, who had failed to follow along with the conversation. â€œWhat was he trying to say?â€
â€œThat the audience you’re speaking to matters greatly,â€ said the March Hare impatiently. â€œIf you’re having a conversation with yourself then you’re not really having a conversation, are you? You’re just a madman talking to themselves.â€
â€œOh don’t be too harsh,â€ said the Cheshire Cat as it popped back in. â€œYou can’t help but to go mad amongst mad people. You’ll be mad not to.â€
â€œI see…â€ said Alice slowly. â€œSo does it matter that we are the audience for the speakers you mentioned, Mister Hatter? Or is it more important to focus on what they’re saying?â€
â€œWell naturally whatever they say is going to be distorted through our perception of it,â€ commented the Hatter. â€œBut without them speaking the words, neither we nor they would be of much use to each other. It is only the speech that they make that provides a connection between the two of us. That, my dear Alice, is what we must focus on the most.â€
â€œSo what is the speech?â€
â€œI don’t remember,â€ admitted the Hatter. â€œOh well, I’m sure that if it’s worth remembering I’ll remember why it’s so important when I remember it.â€
â€œWell what does Jens and Martha have to say on memory?â€ prompted Alice.
â€œOh, nothing of any real consequence,â€ said the Hatter with a dismissive shrug. â€œMerely how people deal with a crisis when it is all said and done.â€
â€œAnd how do they deal with it?â€
â€œLike I said before, they either tend to put it down in the history book to be forgotten about, or ignore it with their very own eyes. People get use to the bloodshed and the death so much that, when all is said and done, there is nothing left to be said or done about it.â€
â€œBut that’s rather horrible,â€ repeated Alice. â€œSurely people should remember what happened before and learn from it.â€
â€œBut how many times have we had this conversation?â€ asked the Hatter. â€œA tragedy happens, we all grieve, and then we move onto our lives without a care in the world. How many people still now shed a tear for those killed in the Hindenburg, or suffered from the black plague, or were wiped away by the Ice Age?â€
â€œYes, but just because those things will become less important with time doesn’t mean we should forget them.â€
â€œCan you remember everything, dear Alice? We all forget. We forget what we did, when we did it, why we did it. We forget why the wars were fought or who were the men and women that died fighting them. We forget the ideals they battled for and the Gods they fell for. We forget everything, given enough time. Why, some of us forget our own names.â€
â€œWell I don’t particularly like Jens and Martha,â€ said Alice in a huff. â€œI think they’re entirely wrong. As long as someone remembers that it happened, and someone remembers that person that remembers that tragedy happening, then the tragedy will always be remembered in some way. Nothing gets forgotten as long as people remember each other.â€
â€œBut of course,â€ said the Hatter. â€œBut then would that not make the speaker of who is remembering the more important part of the conversation? And how could they remember anything if they did not have a grounding in the world around them?â€
â€œI don’t understand what you mean,â€ repeated Alice, showing her to be a girl not suited for such types of trivial discussions.
â€œTake this tea party, for instance,â€ said the Hatter. â€œFor you to understand it was a tea party, you must first understand the concepts of ‘tea’ and ‘parties’. If you were to have a discussion on this tea party, you must first know what a tea party is in order to have a discussion on it. You can’t have a conversation based on something that you don’t know that exists. If I asked you to talk about the Jabberwocky, you would be at a lost since you have no idea what a Jabberwocky is. You would not recognize the sign of the beast, so to speak. The speaker can only structure their speech through a reflection of what they themselves know to exist.â€
â€œI suppose that makes a little bit of sense,â€ said Alice carefully, trying not to catch the madness.
â€œWell since you can’t have a conversation about something without knowing that the something doesn’t exist, something must be done to make you know that the something exists and is indeed a something,â€ riddled the Hatter in a roundabout way. â€œAnd since your existence is different to mine, you see the something differently to me. Since I am stuck at teatime all the time, my concept of time is different to yours. I know Time exists and he got very angry once, but you do not know what He is like. You and I have entirely different views on time, or Time, and our discussion about it or Him are going to be fundamentally different.â€
â€œIt does?â€ asked Alice.
â€œOh you stupid girl,â€ said the March Hare angrily. â€œAll speech must come from somewhere, with that somewhere being the world that we perceive. Since you and I see the world in very different ways, we’re going to have different speeches, aren’t we. What do they teach you in schools these days, if it isn’t an in-depth understanding of structuralism?â€
â€œI don’t have to listen to you,â€ retorted Alice. â€œYou’re a rabbit. How much can you even know about such a complicated subject? You’re no doubt just putting on airs to make yourself look smart. I bet neither of you actually know what you’re talking about.â€
â€œThey don’t,â€ said the Dormouse sleepily, as he popped his head out of the teapot. â€œThey’re just sprouting nonsense for the sake of nonsense. To them it does not matter if you agree with them or not. They’ve already achieved their goals and passed on. They merely chose to waste time with this conversation as a way of appeasing anyone who would be foolish enough to listen and think that what they were saying was worth anything indeed.â€
â€œOh dear,â€ said the Hatter. â€œOh deary deary dear.â€
â€œWhat?â€ asked Alice.
â€œRun, Alice, run!â€ shouted the Hatter as the table started to rattle. â€œWe have wasted time, and now he is angry with us. Get away before it’s too late.â€
â€œGo! Leave us to our fates. Oh how this whole conversation was a foolish exercise. We had already passed, so what was the point of even speaking? The very nature of rhetoric is of no use to us now. Go, girl, and save yourself. But-â€
â€œRemember us, dear Alice. We’d so hate for this tragedy to be forgotten.â€ And with that Alice ran, leaving the poor souls to their fate, learning but one valuable lesson: Never waste time discussing things that don’t matter in
So there you have it. My odd little blog about complex English ideas in the vein of an Alice in Wonderland fan fic. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.