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Algebra In Wonderland

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-are-sad-said-the-knight dept.

Math 184

theodp writes "As Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' shatters 3-D and IMAX records en route to a $116.3 million opening, the NY Times offers a rather cerebral op-ed arguing that Alice's search for a beautiful garden can be neatly interpreted as a mishmash of satire directed at the advances taking place in mid-19th century math. Charles Dodgson, who penned 'Alice' under the name Lewis Carroll, was a tutor in mathematics at Christ Church in Oxford who found the radical new math illogical and lacking in intellectual rigor. Op-ed writer Melanie Bayley explains: 'Chapter 6, "Pig and Pepper," parodies the principle of continuity, a bizarre concept from projective geometry, which was introduced in the mid-19th century from France. This principle (now an important aspect of modern topology) involves the idea that one shape can bend and stretch into another, provided it retains the same basic properties — a circle is the same as an ellipse or a parabola (the curve of the Cheshire cat's grin). Taking the notion to its extreme, what works for a circle should also work for a baby. So, when Alice takes the Duchess's baby outside, it turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat says, "I thought it would."'"

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184 comments

Yeah Not Really (3, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393454)

Sure, Dodgson was a mathematician and logician. But he was writing a mind bending kids story, not "satirizing" his trade.

Re:Yeah Not Really (1)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393482)

Yeah, but that duality is possible: In the same way Animal Farm is both a political critique/swipe and also works as a children's story

Re:Yeah Not Really (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393628)

Except there's nothing to "swipe" at in mathematics. Even though he was a constructivist logician, a la Brouwer. There was plenty of constructive mathematics going on, if he didn't like the classical stuff. (Which the author suggests he thought was wishy-washy and unrigorous...)

Re:Yeah Not Really (4, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394026)

How can math be unrigorous? Either something adds up, or it doesnt, or both.

Re:Yeah Not Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395080)

You old farts with your three-valued logic, my logic has been infinitely-valued from the 60's and even my washing machine infers with it!

Re:Yeah Not Really (4, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393526)

It's pretty well established that the Alice books contained all kinds of references and allusions that would have gone straight over a child's head.

Re:Yeah Not Really (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393926)

So do Saturday morning cartoons; hence the dual audience.

Re:Yeah Not Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395322)

So do Saturday morning cartoons; hence the dual audience.

Of course, just look at the number of time Bugs Bunny appears in drag [mahalo.com].

Freaking hilarious.

Re:Yeah Not Really (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393656)

he was writing a mind bending kids story, not "satirizing" his trade.

Why not? Did you even RTFA? The arguments are sound, the evidence is there.

It isn't an unusual literary device to write allegorically about other topics. For example, the Wizard of Oz was a play on the politics of a silver based economy and westward expansion.

If I had such a gifted imagination, perhaps I could write a children's story based on floppy discs and CDs, of filesharers and industry groups, but all dressed up like trading kittens and bunnies eating cabbages and milk. (If that sounds awful, well, I'm not very good at writing children's stories now, am I?)

Re:Yeah Not Really (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393856)

If you read xkcd, I'm sure you'll understand why it's possible to think allegorically about math. Theorems and proofs and magic!

Re:Yeah Not Really (5, Insightful)

Cabriel (803429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393986)

Judging intent is a phenomenally difficult task. To say Charles Dodgson was satirizing his trade can only be speculative, and it's just as easy to speculate that he wasn't. If an author writes a modern-day story involving a corrupt god, is he satirizing religion or is it merely just a story device he decided to use because he's religious and familiar with the concepts deity and good/bad?

Ultimately, and I think you know this already, authors write what they know about. Dodgson knew math, so is it really so odd to think he included mathematical concepts in his story because he thought it would be cool?

(Yes, I read the full article, and I see a whole lot of room for uncertainty.)

Re:Yeah Not Really (1)

NonSenseAgency (1759800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394244)

And is their similar symbolism in "The Hunting of the Snark"? I am thinking specifically of the poem "Jabberwocky".....

Re:Yeah Not Really (4, Informative)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394966)

Judging intent is a phenomenally difficult task.

Sort of. If you look at it in an absolutist, objective sense, then yes. If you look at it in a subjective, probability sense, it's not that difficult at all. In fact, most people successfully do this many times a day.

To say Charles Dodgson was satirizing his trade can only be speculative

Of course. But that's true of anything done by anyone. Even if they tell you to your face exactly what their intentions are, you can only ever speculate if they are telling the truth. At the end of the day, it always comes down to speculation.

and it's just as easy to speculate that he wasn't.

This is the part you get exactly wrong. It's *not* just as easy, because given that he was a mathematician, and that the two Alice books abound with satire, it's difficult to believe that he wasn't satirizing mathematics when his books have so many examples of such.

Ultimately, and I think you know this already, authors write what they know about. Dodgson knew math, so is it really so odd to think he included mathematical concepts in his story because he thought it would be cool?

Here's a simple litmus test. Does the math seem bolted-on? Or does it integrate with the work as a whole? If it feels bolted-on, then perhaps it's just something he thought would be cool. If it fits the work as a whole, then it's most likely meant to be taken in the same way the rest of the work is, which is very much to be satire.

Like you said, though, you can never be absolutely certain, but you can be certain enough to make a personal judgement.

Re:Yeah Not Really (2, Funny)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394226)

I always thought Alice was more about pedophilia then mathematics.

Re:Yeah Not Really (2, Informative)

Ricwot (632038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395308)

Odd that this is marked as a troll when a widely held belief is that Lewis Carol wrote it about a small girl of his acquaintance with whom he was reputedly on intimate terms.

Re:Yeah Not Really (-1, Redundant)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395392)

While the phrasing may not have been the best, I don't know that it's necessarily a troll to mention pedophilia wrt Lewis Carroll. He *did* spend a lot of time around young children, one of his hobbies was photography, his favorite subject young children. And he named the main character of and dedicated "Alice" to a certain young girl he spent an excessive amount of time with.

There are a *lot* of "but that doesn't *mean* he's a pedophile" examples you can pull from Charles Dodgson's life. Enough that the possibility is certainly up there. Though you can't necessarily prove anything (though the pages missing from his papers and journals do pique suspicion).

Re:Yeah Not Really (2, Insightful)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395514)

While the phrasing may not have been the best, I don't know that it's necessarily a troll to mention pedophilia wrt Lewis Carroll.

You don't know? OK, let me help you out there, it is.

He *did* spend a lot of time around young children ...

What proportion of his time was that?

one of his hobbies was photography, his favorite subject young children.

Quick! Let's run out and lynch Anne Geddes! (Well that might not be such a bad idea ;)

And he named the main character of and dedicated "Alice" to a certain young girl he spent an excessive amount of time with.

Quick, let's run out and lynch all children's books writers especially those who spend more than a hour with a child.

There are a *lot* of "but that doesn't *mean* he's a pedophile" examples you can pull from Charles Dodgson's life.

He was a mathematician. "But that doesn't *mean* he's a pedophile" Oh look you're right.

Enough that the possibility is certainly up there.

It's just as possible that you are, surely?

Though you can't necessarily prove anything

Yeah that would be because of the complete lack of evidence.

There is not the least suggestion not the merest whiff of any impropriety. To level an accusation like that is a troll at best.

Re:Yeah Not Really (2, Informative)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394476)

As it is, the article was substantially more convincing. Had you included references to his other works such as

Moreover, Dodgson was a rather exceptional student of Aristotelian logic, and he delighted his friends with games, puzzles and riddles. Dodgson's mock-heroic poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1876), ending with the line "For the Snark was a Bojuum, you see", received mixed reviews when it appeared. The meaning of the poem, which tells of the journey to capture the mythical Snark, has puzzled generations of readers. "I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense!" Dodgson later said.

along with a verifiable reference like: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/lcarroll.htm [kirjasto.sci.fi]

your comment might have had a little more sway.

Also, if you accounted for your method of understanding the intentions of someone who is now deceased, and has been for a while, we might have been able to independently confirm your theory, or properly and with all authority label you a quack.

All that remains is for you to post a picture of yourself so that we may properly ridicule you, since you have left us nothing else by which to counter your theory.

Re:Yeah Not Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395368)

Sure, Dodgson was a mathematician and logician. But he was writing a mind bending kids story, not "satirizing" his trade.

How is that "insightful?" It's just a bare contradiction of TFA. No insight, reason, or evidence is provided as to why we should prefer this, apparently uninformed, opinion to TFA.

you're kidding (3, Funny)

pbjones (315127) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393478)

sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...

Re:you're kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393590)

How do you know? If you observe the cigar you may change the outcome of your observation.

Re:you're kidding (4, Funny)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394046)

And sometimes a caterpillar sitting on a giant mushroom smoking a hookah is just a caterpillar sitting on a giant mushroom smoking a hookah.

Re:you're kidding (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395484)

Personally i think the person that wrote the article was smoking the hookah a little much.

Re:you're kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395278)

But if you take a spherical cigar, in vacuum...

But what about (1)

daniel.waterfield (960460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393490)

Well death of the author and all that, and it's an interesting idea, but I can't really see how this holds weight. It just seems as though the paper is reading far too much into this, and I'm saying this after just writing a paper on psychoanalysis..

wat is this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393496)

i dont even

its math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393718)

says so in the

A baby is not a sphere (4, Funny)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393502)

Surely a mammal is a torus.

Re:A baby is not a sphere (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393598)

You're forgetting about the nose!

Re:A baby is not a sphere (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393702)

I was going to argue that the nose terminates at the lung, but you're right -- there is a hole starting at the nose and ending at the mouth.

Re:A baby is not a sphere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393754)

Genus of three?

Actually, mammals are tori... (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393660)

Following the developmental path of mammals back in evolutionary time, back past chordates, the basic design behind mammals and similar animals is a hypothetical creature that is simply a mouth and a digestive system, expelling waste at the other end. Essentially, a torus. When mammal embryos are developing, one of the stages is essentially just that. It's the basic core of mammalian structure.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Actually, mammals are tori... (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393802)

You forgot the nostrils. 3-torus is our final topological design.

Re:Actually, mammals are tori... (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393980)

Aren't the two nostrils independent? So wouldn't it be 4-torus?

Re:Actually, mammals are tori... (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394450)

Nope. It's 3-torus.
It's N-1 (-1 if for the last "hole").
Take wire tetrahedron and faltten it.

Re:Actually, mammals are tori... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31394560)

Don't forget the tear ducts...

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393774)

Actually, no. I don't have any piercing and I believe I represent an average mammal in all its glory.
Counting my own orifices, it's more like 3-torus [wikipedia.org].
Ears, while having Eustachian tubes, are still closed by ear drums and urinary tract is a dead end.

I also believe the above applies not to mammals only but to all tetrapods.
Maybe to all vertebrae too but I am not sure how many open orifices fishes have.

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393946)

people have 4 entry and exit points, all linked. Each nostril connects to each other, and that connects to the mouth, and that connects to the sphincter. A person is more like a 4 way tube intersection with asymmetrical tubes. I have no idea what to call that geometric configuration though.

Re:a mammal is a torus (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394072)

people have 4 entry and exit points

I am sure there is some German porn on the Internet that refutes that statement.

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394234)

No, there are 5: topologically, mouth and anus constitute one "hole", going through the entire body, albeit in a labyrinthine way. But topology does not care about the twists and turns, it is still just one "hole" going all the way through.

Nostrils go through to the sinuses, which are also connected to the throat, but the latter doesn't matter much; with the proper stretches and contortions, it can be shown that topologically, that makes 3 "holes".

And then there are the tear ducts, which also go through to the sinuses. So: 5 holes total. All other apparent "holes" are dead ends.

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394340)

I don't think I follow.

2 nostrils.
2 tear ducts.
1 mouth.
1 sphincter.

I count 6 orifice if you count the tear-ducts (i didn't consider them earlier).

But to state that the mouth-> sphincter is one hole? Then wouldn't it be one hole with 6 openings for the whole thing and not 5 holes?

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395180)

So, topologically speaking, I should not end up in court for slander when I see someone drink a coffee and ask whether he enjoys his enema?

Re:a mammal is a torus (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393982)

The default state of a sphincter is, arguably, not 'orifice'.

(It is also fairly unlikely that all of the various constrictions between the mouth and anus would be open simultaneously)

Re:default state of a sphincter (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394522)

For topology it does not matter. An opening is an opening even if it is tightly squeezed to a point.

Re:default state of a sphincter (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394846)

what about sweat glands? sure they are small but you can't dismiss them.

Headache from reading only the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393504)

Can I haz one?

cash in now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393514)

while it lasts cause this fad is like time travel right back to whenit was created 3d heh
what a twitty attempt at some wonder of tech ya know what i just saw

a p2p release you can download and YOU guessed it watch in 3d
now its gonna fade quick as the money goes ALL cause a p2p im sure

You mean P2P isn't killing cinema?? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393524)

How is that possible...?

Re:You mean P2P isn't killing cinema?? (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393940)

Funniest thing I always take away from all the highest grossing movie bragging that the studios always do is that if they are grossing more each time, doesn't that mean the sales are going up? Or is the "highest grossing" concept complete BS they use simply to sell their movies. I lean more toward the latter.

Re:You mean P2P isn't killing cinema?? (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395416)

Both can be true, since gross isn't adjusted for inflation [boxofficemojo.com].

So even though the number of dollars is higher than ever, blockbusters are selling fewer tickets than they used to. Of course, whether this is due to P2P, people waiting for DVD releases or simply because Avatar was just Pocahontas performed by tall thin Smurfs is a matter of debate.

Re:You mean P2P isn't killing cinema?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395428)

Maybe its their nice way of saying one of their movies bombed and everyone else went to see the other?

The movie got ok reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31393544)

I heard the movie infringed upon some readers ownership of the idea of Alice In Wonderland. Not everyone was happy
'

Uh huh (2, Funny)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393556)

It was my understanding that there would be no math.

All of the above and Cowboy Neal (4, Insightful)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393560)

The nice (frustrating) thing about both Alice stories is that they can stand for pretty much everything. From the obvious ( one pill makes you larger ... dumdidum) to the less obvious ( Alice is supposed to be Queen Victoria?). Unless you can ask Dodgson directly, my guess is that it's just a tale he concocted on the fly, using whatever was on his mind at the time (so, yeah, probably mathematics, queen Victoria and possibly perspective-stretching mushrooms).

Re:All of the above and Cowboy Neal (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393994)

Unfortunately as far as I'm concerned you basically discribed high school english lit. I remember always sitting there thinking, "Yeah, sure it could be a metaphor for his penis, but how did you know the author didn't just really like bannannas?" Well, ok maybe not that exactly but it's close enough.

Not sure about the specifics (5, Interesting)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393728)

The weirdness of logic and maths certainly is a large part of Alice, though I doubt it's all of it. But it's fairly obvious to me, just as a geek with a bit of general knowledge, that the Alice books parody a number of things from late-Victorian era politics and education. It's also about puns, wordplay, and the strict application of logic beyond the domains where it applies; and just general nerdy amusement.

* The organising principle of 'Wonderland' is the card game
* The 'Caucus-race' obviously a satire on politics: the members run in a circle, accomplishing nothing except a lot of hot air. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caucus_race [wiktionary.org]

I couldn't speak for certain about whether the Mad Hatter's party and the stuckness of Time really is a reference to Hamilton's quaternions, but quaternions are fascinating and they did introduce the idea of a 4D space-time continuum (and therefore time travel) half a century before Einstein/Minkowski, and scandalised and baffled the maths world, so it wouldn't surprise me if that was in the background.

* The organising principle of 'Looking Glass' is the chess game
* Anglo-Saxon literature (possibly Beowulf?) appears in Looking Glass - 'Jabberwocky' is a parody of the Beowulfian sort of epic, with the hero slaying the monster and lots of untranslated words
* The March Hare and Mad Hatter reappear as 'Anglo-Saxons' Haigha and Hatta. Again, this is the sort of stuff that educated children would have been expected to know as a matter of course, along with Latin and Greek and art ('Laughing and Grief; reeling, writhing and fainting in coils')

* The White Knight's speech ('the name of the song is called...') parses out the fine but very important distinction between objects and names, which becomes a major issue in logic (and more so in computer programming):

The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes.'"

"Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?" Alice said, trying to feel interested.

"No, you don't understand," the Knight said, looking a little vexed. "That's what the name
is called. The name really is 'The Aged, Aged Man.'"

"Then I ought to have said 'That's what the song is called'?" Alice corrected herself.

"No you oughtn't: that's another thing. The song is called 'Ways and Means' but that's only
what it's called, you know!"

"Well, what is the song then?" said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

"I was coming to that," the Knight said. "The song really is 'A-sitting On a Gate': and the
tune's my own invention."

Like Terry Pratchett (and Bram Stoker - see Dracula Blogged [typepad.com]), Alice really needs a decent annotated edition to explain the obvious cultural and scientific references, since it is densely packed with references which might now be misunderstood, and so many weird conspiracy theories have arisen around the books.

The classic example of Dodgson's geeky humour is from 'Four Riddles':

http://www.online-literature.com/carroll/2826/ [online-literature.com]

Yet what are all such gaieties to me
Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds?

x*x + 7x + 53 = 11/3

It doesn't just rhyme and form part of an overall story - it's an equation to be solved, which gives you a word, from which you can take the first and last letters and which give you a crossword/acrostic clue. Beat THAT for geek cred.

Re:Not sure about the specifics (2, Informative)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393828)

Alice really needs a decent annotated edition to explain the obvious cultural and scientific references

I searched in vain for a reference to The Annotated Alice in your post but didn't find one. Pardon me if I just overlooked it. Anyway, here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Annotated-Alice-Definitive-Lewis-Carroll/dp/0393048470/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267996987&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

Re:Not sure about the specifics (4, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393864)

There's an annotated edition that is much more than "decent".

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Annotated-Alice/Lewis-Carroll/e/9780393048476/?itm=1&USRI=annotated+alice [barnesandnoble.com]

-1, Don't Care? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393826)

I mean, it's 3D, and has Johnny Depp playing another cookie-cutter role, but why the fuss over the Nth retelling of Alice ?

Re:-1, Don't Care? (2, Insightful)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393942)

It's in 3D, which much like "...on a computer" and patents, completely changes everything. And yes, I'm planning on seeing it tomorrow with my wife, ;^P

Re:-1, Don't Care? (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394056)

You answered your own question. It is 3D and had Johnny Depp. Maybe you don't care, and I don't care, but those two points are definitely the cause of "the fuss."

Re:-1, Don't Care? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395262)

Alice in Wonderland is one of the few books that you can make a billion movies of and still manage to show a different angle of. The book gives you the material to tell pretty much anything, from a Disney-esque fairy tale with fluffy animals and a song every other minute to a gothic-horror splatter movie that makes you lift your feet every other minute to let the blood flood past.

I'm fairly sure that it's also the book that has been reviewed and discussed in more different classes and subjects than any other book. It contains material for sociology, politics, psychology and as we can see now, math. And I'm fairly sure a few more that I can't think of right now. It has a lot of angles you can look at it.

Yes, it's yet another Alice movie. And I'm quite sure it's different from any that have been made so far.

right idea, wrong details (1)

HolyChao (7909) | more than 4 years ago | (#31393838)

"a circle is the same as an ellipse or a parabola (the curve of the Cheshire cat's grin). Taking the notion to its extreme, what works for a circle should also work for a baby."

It's been a while since I studied topology, but as I recall, a circle is homeomorphic to (topologically the same as) an ellipse, but not a parabola or a baby.

Re:right idea, wrong details (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31394006)

this isn't topology, nigger. did you skip class to smoke / make crackbabies / steal some art major's ipod on the day that projective geometry was discussed?

Re:right idea, wrong details (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31394348)

In projective space a "parabola" has a point at infinity and thus is homeomorphic to a circle.

Re:right idea, wrong details (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394678)

They went a bit overboard there, but a pig and a baby are probably homeomorphic.

Re:right idea, wrong details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31394940)

They did not go overboard, read the other replies.

If you had read the cliff notes thirty years ago (4, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31394310)

you'd already know that "Alice" was a satire.

Re:If you had read the cliff notes thirty years ag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395324)

Thanks for saving us the trouble of having to read through the Cliff's Notes. I hate long waits.

The post is pretty accurate (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31395202)

Try "The Annotated Alice" by Martin Gardner. While Carroll's works have redeeming entertainment value, the truth is they contain considerable social and academic references which are undeniably obvious when placed in appropriate historical context. There is a fair amount of philosophical musings and, yes, mathematical concepts; some of which are mocked, others advanced, others simply mentioned in passing. I can't see how his intent could be misjudged here; it was not to entertain drug-influenced hippies, or amuse little children. His intent was to broadcast a host of sophisticated views on some rather advanced subject matters. Carroll is not the only person to take this route to deliver philosophical ideas or social critiques under obscurity of allegory and metaphor. Dante did it. Parmenides did it. Well, a hell of a lot of people have done it. *shrugs* There is really no point in arguing about it.

orly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395206)

not to be that guy, but i thought this was common knowledge.

guess not!

Off With Your Heads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31395376)

- youll be telling me "Puff the Magic Dragon" was about cannabis next.

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