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.DickArmey, and the House Republicans to Change the Nation, eds.Ed Gillespieand Bob Schellhas (New York: Random House, 1994).17.Carroll, Annotated Alice, 157.18.Ibid.19.Ibid., 161.20.Ibid.21.Ibid. PART T WO THAT S LOGIC  SIX IMPOSSIBLETHINGS BEFOREBREAKFASTGeorge A.Dunn and Brian McDonaldAlice is a no-nonsense girl.Not that she s unadventurous orunimaginative.Far from it! And she s certainly not averse totaking advantage of the opportunities for fun afforded herby the magical worlds she encounters down the rabbit-holeand through the looking glass.But through it all, she dis-plays a relentless insistence on making sense of things thatcontinually runs afoul of the equally relentless insistence ofthe Wonderland and Looking-Glass worlds on making non-sense of everything.The mad chatter of the creatures thatpopulate these worlds supplies much of the whimsy of LewisCarroll s stories.But it s the maddening tug-of-war betweenAlice s obstinate good sense and the brilliant nonsense of thecreatures she meets that supplies the hilarity.61 62 GEORGE A.DUNN AND BRIAN MCDONALD Everything Is So Out-of-the-Way Down HereAlice s forays down the rabbit-hole and behind the looking glasspit her in a two-front war against what we might call tolerableand intolerable nonsense.Most easily tolerated by Alice are thevery things that would unhinge most of us in no time flat,the nonsensical conditions of these strange worlds with theirsurprising natural laws that decree, for instance, that ediblesand drinkables are apt to instigate sudden and drastic changesin shape.What makes these bizarre conditions tolerable evencuriously stimulating is that they can be mastered with a littletrial and error.As the shape-changing rules get  curiouser andcuriouser, they arouse Alice s own curiosity.Proceeding witha laudable if somewhat reckless willingness to experiment,she eventually discovers the useful properties of Wonderlandmushrooms and can henceforth negotiate her new environ-ment as a master of the rules of shape-changing rather thantheir helpless victim, nibbling one side or the other of themushroom to produce whatever height she desires.So when it comes to the curious conditions of Wonderland,Alice s efforts to make sense of the nonsensical pay off withdividends.But that s because the nonsense is only provisional,only on the surface, beneath which a diligent investigator likeAlice is able to discover perfectly intelligible, albeit unexpected,laws of cause and effect. One side will make you grow taller,1and the other side will make you grow shorter, remarks thecaterpillar about the rule that governs mushroom ingestion inWonderland.People we know have reported some pretty spec-tacular results from eating mushrooms, but few as spectacularas that! As surprising as this outcome may be, though, it obeysthe rules of Wonderland, and once Alice has learned what theserules are, she can count on them to operate as dependably asany of the laws of nature that obtain in our world.They onlyseem nonsensical to us because our experience in our worldaboveground and on this side of the looking glass has burdened us  SIX I MPOSSI BLE THI NGS BEFORE BREAKFAST 63with a slew of preconceptions about what can and cannot beaccomplished by ingesting the caps of gilled fungi.Our ordinary preconceptions about the effects ofmushrooms and, more generally, about what s really possibleand impossible in our world usually stand us in good stead,especially when they generalize from the actual experience oflarge numbers of people.They help make our world more man-ageable and trustworthy by allowing us to predict with con-fidence the likely outcomes of our actions and the course ofevents in the world, if not with infallible certainty, then at leastwell enough for most of our purposes.But in the extraordi-nary domains Alice discovers, governed by surprisingly differentnatural laws than those of our familiar world, her ordinary pre-conceptions about what s possible and impossible may actuallyimpede her discovery of successful strategies for coping with thebizarre situations she encounters.Wanting to catch up withthe Red Queen in the Looking-Glass world, Alice initially brushesoff the advice of the Rose to walk in the opposite direction.This sounded nonsense to Alice, so she said nothing,but set off at once toward the Red Queen.To hersurprise she lost sight of her in a moment, and foundherself walking in the front door again [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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