Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll

 

Lewis Carroll

Today we celebrate the life of Lewis Carroll, best known for his books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass.  He was an author, mathematician, Oxford don, part time babysitter, photographer, inventor, and a bit of an all-around inscrutable person.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know of my big obsession with Alice in Wonderland. I have long been fascinated by its white rabbits, mirrors, painted rosebushes, flamingo croquet, and the man who brought then to life.

His given name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but I will call him Lewis, since he is best known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. He was born on January 27, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire, England.  Yes, Cheshire! No evidence as to whether or not he had a cat 🙂

Cheshire_Cat

Carroll’s father was a conservative minister in the Church of England, one in a long line of Dodgson men who had respectable positions in the Anglican clergy. Lewis was home-schooled until the age of twelve and developed an early love for reading amd writing. He attended grammar school at Rugby in Warwickshire, and began study at Oxford University in 1850.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and graduated with high honors.  In 1855 he won the Mathematical Lectureship for the college of Christ Church at Oxford, which he held for the next 26 years.

In 1856, a man named Henry Liddell took a position as Dean at Christ Church. Henry arrived in town with his young family, all of whom would eventually serve to influence Lewis’ writing. Lewis became close friends with  Liddell’s wife Lorina and their children, particularly the three sisters Lorina, Edith, and Alice Liddell.

LewisCarroll3

It was this Alice Liddell who served as the inspiration and namesake for the fictional Alice.  Lewis frequently took the children on outings. It was on one such outing, a rowing trip, that the girls begged to hear a story; the result eventually became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It is said that Carroll never intended to publish Alice’s adventures, but his friend, fairy-tale author George MacDonald convinced him to do so after Macdonald’s own children read the stories and and loved them. Good thing they did! Can’t imagine a world without Alice.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865. The book quickly became an international hit, and was liked and promoted by Queen Victoria herself! In 1871, Carroll published the sequel Through the Looking-Glass. The Alice books are still among the most popular in the world. Reportedly they are also among the most quoted, second only to the Bible and Shakespeare.  And many of those quotes are really phenomenal, full of wisdom and humor.  Some of my favorites:

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”

“I give up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter. 

“I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended,” Alice thought to herself.

“Shall I never get any older than I am now? That will be a comfort, in one way — never to be an old woman. But then — always to have lessons to learn? Oh, I shouldn’t like THAT!” 

“How am I to get in?” asked Alice. “Are you to get in AT ALL?” said the Footman. “That’s the first question, you know.”  It was, no doubt; only Alice did not like to be told so.

“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.”

real

Lewis Carroll was also an amateur photographer. He ran in artistic circles with pre-Raphaelites Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

He took this photo of Alice Liddell. dated 1868. Alice would have been about six.

Alice LIddell

Years later, Julia Margaret Cameron photographed the grown up Alice.

Alice LIddell 2

Despite the fact that the Alice books brought him fame and fortune, Carroll never left his position as don at Oxford. Other than traveling a bit throughout Europe, he seems to have lived modestly. He wrote a few more books — The Hunting of the Snark, a fantastical “nonsense” poem, and Sylvie and Bruno, a fairy tale which satirized English society. Neither had the astounding success of the Alice stories. He also wrote several treatises  on mathematics, which he published under his real name, Charles Dodgson. His writings included works of geometry, linear and matrix algebra, mathematical logic and recreational mathematics. Yes, complicated stuff!

Carroll/ Dodgson’s mathematical contributions are noteworthy. Apparently, he was exploring The Matrix long before Keanu Reeves.

matrix

At Oxford he developed a theory known as the “Dodgson Condensation”, a method of evaluating mathematical determinants and patterns within equations. His work attracted renewed interest in the late 20th century when mathematicians Martin Gardner and William Warren Bartley reevaluated his  contributions to symbolic logic. This led them to the “Alternating Sign Matrix” conjecture, now a theorem. The discovery  of additional ciphers that Carroll had constructed showed that he had employed sophisticated mathematical ideas in their creation.  Perhaps he understood that through mathematics and chemistry, humankind may eventually reach the kind of alternate worlds he created for Alice.

alice matrix

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll died of pneumonia on 14 January 1898 at the age of 65.

Some Fun Facts:

  • He was one of eleven children, the oldest son
  • As a young child, he suffered a fever which left him deaf in one ear
  • He was six feet tall — really tall by Victorian standards.
  • A self- deprecating guy, he often referred to himself as “the dodo” and is said to have modeled the Dodo in Alice after himself!
  • In actuality he was hardly a dodo, more like a near genius.
  • He invented the earliest version of Scrabble — a type of word ladder in which the words were changed by adding one letter.
  • He was an ordained deacon of the Anglican Church.
  • Don’t let the stoic pictures fool you. Although he never married, his letters and diary entries indicate he had relationships with several women, both married and single, which would have been considered “scandalous” by Victorian standards.

 

Happy Birthday Lewis!

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Parallel Universes & The Berenstein Bears

berentsein-bears-parallel-universe

We all remember the Berenstein Bears, right?  That wacky family of talking bears that got into all sorts of mischief?   They even had their own cartoon show. The Bears were outlandish, witty and fun. I remember their name distinctly. It was Berenstein. Such clever alliteration.  As  I got older, I even pictured the Berenstein Bears as Jewish comedians, right up there with Seinfeld or Larry David.  I am certain —  positive — I mean,  lie detector test SURE —  that the name was Berenstein! Stein with an ‘e’.  However, it seems I am wrong.

There currently exists not one book, not one cartoon, dvd or vhs of the Bears in which their names are spelled Berenstein. Look ‘em up on Wiki.  Their name, it seems, is Berenstain (like a grass stain or a stain in your blouse.)  It has, apparently, always BEEN Berenstain.

Huh? This actually freaked me out.  How do you remember the name?

I had some of the books, like this one:

Berenstain learn to read

I first became aware of this of few days ago while perusing youtube for parallel universe vids. The one I happened to find stated several ‘matrix glitch’ incidents which could be explained as parallel universes. But the spelling of the Berenstain Bears really hit home for me, because I DEFINITELY remember them as ‘Berenstein’. And so do a lot of other people.

I am a believer in parallel universes.   Even before this Bear phenomenon, I have been certain they exist. As I have stated in other blogs, recent findings of quantum physicians suggests that there may be as many as eleven different dimensions existing on unseen microscopic planes.  If these multi-dimensional planes exist, why not parallels of space and time? Past, present and future could all actually be happening at once, cutting through distance in a super-imposed matrix of reality.

Cool, huh?

space-suits-shot-from-a-parallel-dimension-6

Some psychics and paranormal observers have suggested that humankind actually move through several different parallels on any given day.  The problem is, the parallels are so similar that we do not notice the slight differences. Like the spelling of a bear’s name, for example 🙂

This matrix glitch has become a bit of a pop cultural phenomenon.  There are TONS of other videos out there exploiting the theme and declaring that all sorts of commonplace items have ‘mysteriously’ changed names. Take Jif peanut butter. Was it always Jif? Some claim it was  Jiffy.

For the record, and as a bona-fide peanut butter connoisseur, I contend it was always ‘Jif’! There was, however, ‘Jiffy Pop’ popcorn.  There is also Jiffy Lube and Jiffy Cakes. Memory is selective. Memory is peculiar.

Here are some more examples of the so-called matrix glitches: Is the product Fabreze or Fabreeze? Coca-Cola or Coke-Cola? Sex in the City or Sex and the City?  Captain Crunch or Cap’n Crunch?  Fruit Loops or Froot Loops? What was Forest Gump’s famous line — either ‘Life IS like as box of chocolates’ of ‘Life WAS like a box of chocolates’?

Yeah I admit it sounds a bit contrived.

I contend it was always Fabreze. It was always Cap’n Crunch. It was always Froot Loops. This being because advertisers, like rock bands, know the value of bad spelling. It draws attention to the product. That is why we had The Beatles, not The Beetles.  (Interestingly I notice as I type, my spell check does not even pick up Beatles as a misspelled word!  Way to go Lennon 🙂  )

I contend it was always Sex AND the City – this being because the city of New York was considered a character in the show as much as Carrie, Samantha, et al.

Coca-Cola? You know the story and it is true. In the 1920’s when cocaine was still legal in America, this soft drink did indeed contain strains of the substance itself.  It was always Coca. (At least I think so…)

The doomsday theorists have taken this whole parallel thing one step further. They are claiming the King James Bible itself has been tampered with.  Pop quiz for Bible enthusiasts:  Does the Lord’s Prayer ask ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ or ‘Forgive us our debts’?  Do the ‘Lion and the Lamb’ sit together in the peaceable kingdom, or is it the ‘Wolf and the Lamb’?   Well now. The poor old Bible has been interpreted and translated from Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew and Latin so many times, it would actually be strange if we did NOT have some  ever changing words in it.

Here is where Dana Carvey pops in, purses his lips and asks: “Could it be… SATAN??”

satan

 

Although there are a plethora of youtube clips exploring this phenomenon, I will include the following because it makes an interesting comparison to Star Trek. (Incidentally, I remember ‘Interview With THE Vampire’, not ‘A Vampire’, which is apparently correct in this current matrix… but I am a huge Anne Rice fan 🙂 )

 

At any rate, I also contend that no matter how you remember any these words, parallel universes DO exist and they always have existed. It is only now that they are actually coming to the surface in tangible, pop culture type ways. Finally!  (Thanks, Berenstein Bears!)

What starts out as tiny, seemingly insignificant words can grow to greater awareness, paradigm shifts and life changing phenomena.

Would you like to live in another parallel where, for example, the current system of banking is changed? Would you like to live in a parallel where water is abundant? (Yes, California, I mean you.)  Would you like a parallel where food, clothing and shelter are adequately provided for all regardless of economics and demographics?

But where would all this stuff come from? you ask. Well now.  Where did electricity come from?  Where did this very internet upon which you are reading, actually come from? Either the grand Magi pulled it out of her hat, or there are several hidden parallels which are constantly adding to the development of humankind. Which is kind of the same thing, really…

Nikola-Tesla-1

To take it one step further, would you like to live in a parallel where wars are eradicated, where hatred and power-mongering have been replaced with love and world peace?  Well then. Follow your matrix. It is the human mind that leads to discoveries, inventions and the archeology of new dimensions.  We will get what we think about. Whether we want it or not. We will achieve as little, or as much, as we believe to be possible in human capacity.

BrighteningthePath