Posts Tagged ‘lewis carroll’

“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” go the lyrics of the “Lobster Quadrille” (the “Mock Turtle’s Song“) in Alice in Wonderland.

And Wonderland is where you may imagine you have landed if you stumble upon this irresistible invitation to dance with your shadow.

At FastCoDesign, Mark Wilson explains how the dancers are drawn in.

“At some point between ages 3 and 13, we go from the life of the wedding dance floor to being the awkward kid standing at the edge of the gym wondering why we wore a silk shirt. …

“But what if our environment could encourage us to dance — without any balloons, bridal parties, or booze? A project called Mesa Musical Shadows, by Montréal’s Daily Tous Les Jours studio, is doing just that. It’s a public installation that turns a chunk of pavement in Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center into a giant game of Dance Dance Revolution that you play by moving your shadow.

“As detailed by Creative Applications, the system itself uses light sensors, coupled with speakers built into the mosaic tiles. If the tiles sense a shadow—or even just you stepping directly on the sensor—it plays a note. And so as many people swing and kick together, these notes combine into a harmonious soundscape generated in real time. …

“Now that the physical installation of sensors and speakers is done, the studio can see how people use it, and actually program the system’s entire logic to react in more complicated ways to a user’s behavior, like ramping up with more and richer sounds as a person becomes more and more engaged.” More.

Video: Creative Applications

Read Full Post »


Art: Salvador Dali

I was swept away by theater at age 10 as the understudy for Alice in Binny Rabinowitz’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Ever since, I’ve been a fan of the little girl who was so clear-eyed about the unreasonableness of grownups.

So imagine my delight at Maria Popova’s essay on the many different ways the story has been illustrated, including by Salvador Dali.

“In the century and a half since Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations, the Carroll classic has sprouted everything from a pop-up book adaptation to a witty cookbook to a quantum physics allegory, and hundreds of artists around the world have reimagined it with remarkable creative vision. …

“In 1969, Salvador Dalí was commissioned by New York’s Maecenas Press-Random House to illustrate a special edition of the Carroll classic, consisting of12 heliogravures — one for each chapter of the book and an original signed etching in four colors as the frontispiece. Distributed as the publisher’s book of the month, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time.”

See a splendid array at Brainpickings, here.

Art: Lisbeth Zwerger 

Read Full Post »

How delightful! Suzanne told me that Georgia’s childhood friend Jules calls his Rhode Island oyster business Walrus and Carpenter.

Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” was the first poem I memorized in school. I was 11. It was a long poem but not too hard after memorizing the script of Alice in Wonderland at 10 (I was Alice’s understudy).

Here’s where oysters come in:

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The oldest oyster is wary and has no intention of leaving his oyster bed. But a slew of young oysters jump up, ready for a pleasant walk and talk. After many verses:

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Read the whole poem, here.

And if you are in Rhode Island, please check out Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. On their website, you will find bios about the oyster cultivators on the team and information on where to show up for their current dinner series.

Suzanne particularly recommends reading some of the links on the company’s press page, especially the one to the New Yorker article (here) about how a dismantled bamboo art installation from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art called Big Bambú ended up making oysters happy in Rhode Island.

Photo of the original John Tenniel art: wikimedia.org

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I was thinking about how Lewis Carroll’s wry humor was a kind of code targeted directly at kids. No kid could miss that Alice is the only sensible person among a nutty bunch of adults in Wonderland — Caterpillars, Mad Queens, March Hares, and Mad Hatters — who can’t seem to follow the rules of social behavior they always lecture children to follow.

I was thinking particularly of Carroll’s spoof on the moralizing poem about the little busy bee — familiar to children of that day — and how he entertained with verses about a completely irresponsible and self-indulgent reptile.

Instead of admonishing children to be industrious with “How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour,” he writes, “How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail.” (Click there and watch the delicious Disney version on YouTube. Note how confused Alice looks at hearing the wrong words and how polite she is anyway.)

I realized I could write a post on spoofs of poems after my husband pointed out a second item this morning. It seems that the tree Joyce Kilmer praised in his best-known poem turns out to have been close to where I grew up.

And I can never hear these words by Kilmer — “I think that I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree” — without immediately hearing Ogden Nash spoofing Kilmer with “I think that I shall never see/A billboard lovely as a tree/And that unless the billboards fall,/ I’ll never see a tree at all.”

Please help me think of more examples. I’m sure there must be more.


Read Full Post »

At ConceptualFiction.com, Ted Gioia writes that the friend of Lewis Carroll who helped organize the boat trip where  Alice in Wonderland emerged deserves much of the credit for its being a story that amuses adults as well as children.

“On July 4, 1862, mathematician Charles Dodgson—better known to us as Lewis Carroll—spent a pleasant afternoon with a small party of acquaintances. The group embarked on a rowing expedition from Oxford, journeying to Godstow some three miles away, where they stopped to have tea on the river bank.  Dodgson was joined by his friend Reverend Robinson Duckworth and the three Liddell sisters:  Edith (age 8), Alice (age 10) and Lorina (age 13).  As he often did on such occasions, Dodgson regaled his companions with an extemporized tale.”

Some of the bits the children found funniest on their level could be understood differently by the adults, and Gioia thinks that is what gave the story its lasting appeal.

Rev. Duckworth later wrote an account of the day:  “I rowed stroke and he rowed bow … and the story was actually composed and spoken over my shoulder for the benefit of Alice Liddell.” In essence, it was being told to both Duckworth and Alice.

The e-mailed Poem-a-Day I just received:
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
by Lewis Carroll

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

Read Full Post »

In Slate magazine, Katie Roiphe wonders whether good children’s book writers need to be childlike themselves.

“Is it possible that the most inspired children’s book writers never grow up? By that I don’t mean that they understand or have special affection or affinity toward children, but that they don’t understand adulthood, and I mean that in the best possible sense. It may be that they haven’t moved responsibly out of childhood the way most of us have, into busy, functional, settled adult life.” Read more.

Roiphe may be right about certain children’s writers, but I think she misses an important aspect of Margaret Wise Brown and Goodnight Moon. The book is based on research conducted at the Bank Street School in New York. Educators there observed that very young children like to hear about common things that they see around them and know about. And they like repetition. Watching toddlers react to Goodnight Moon is proof of the theory.

Some people known for their children’s books were indeed Peter Pans who never grew up. Hans Christian Anderson comes to mind. Roiphe mentions Lewis Carroll. But surely the most important thing, whether you are a childlike children’s author or an adultlike children’s author, is to see things the way children do. Ed Emberley, the subject of my March 24 post, is an example. Mister Rogers, too, for that matter. I became an instant convert to Mister Rogers when I saw how my 3-year-old responded to him.

Would love to hear your take on this.

Read Full Post »

Did you catch the National Public Radio story on backwards running? Who knew that there are actually competitions in backwards running? I thought it was something kids do, and only for a minute or two.

“Achim Aretz holds the Guinness World Record for running the half marathon, backward. But now, the 27-year-old German athlete says he’s tired of doing something almost no one else does and wants to head in a new direction. Reporter Caitlan Carroll caught up with him in Hanover, Germany.” Listen to the Interview.

What would Lewis Carroll do with this? I immediately thought of the Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass.

Wikipedia has the story: “The Red Queen’s race is an incident that appears in Lewis Carroll‘s Through the Looking-Glass and involves the Red Queen, a representation of a Queen in chess, and Alice constantly running but remaining in the same spot.

” ‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

” ‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’ ”

Pretty much anything Lewis Carroll wrote has always made perfect sense to me.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: