Remember What the Dormouse Said


A little while ago, Jared mentioned that he didn’t like the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit” because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wasn’t about drugs. I have to say I agree. That’s not to say there aren’t any drug references in the book, considering that the Caterpillar smokes a hookah and sits on top of a mushroom with magical effects. Then again, pretty much everything Alice eats increases or reduces her size, so putting too much emphasis on the mushroom probably isn’t the best idea.

It’s quite unlikely that Lewis Carroll was on drugs when writing the story either, although opium was pretty common and unregulated at the time. It seems more to me like 1960s drug culture more or less appropriated anything that could be considered psychedelic, and it bugs me a little. Not that drug users can’t appreciate Alice in their own way, but it comes across as sort of reducing a complex story to something overly simple.

The thing is, this sort of works both ways. I know I’ve fallen into the trap (or should that be the rabbit-hole?) of essentially dismissing a piece of art by saying, “Well, they were on drugs,” as if nothing more needs to be said after that. In truth, though, not everything created by someone on drugs is ABOUT drugs, and plenty of both good and bad art has been created by people under the influence. I don’t know all the facts here, but I’m inclined to think that drugs can’t make you creative. And in my opinion, a lot of the bad stuff created while on drugs is the material that really does focus on the drugs. It’s like how I’m not opposed to pot; I’ve never tried it, but I know plenty of well-adjusted people who have. I am, however, annoyed by stoner culture, which I might actually blame in part for the stigma against the drug. Come on, stoners, it’s not like marijuana is even a very attractive plant. Why put it on everything?

This entry was posted in Authors, Drugs, Lewis Carroll, Music, Songs I Don't Care For and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Remember What the Dormouse Said

  1. Well, I LOVE “White Rabbit” AND I get annoyed when anything psychedelic-esque is dismissed as “about drugs,” so there! “White Rabbit” strikes me as not so much an interpretation of the book as it is a song about drugs that uses the book as a metaphor. There’s a difference between “This book is SOOOO about drugs” and “Drugs remind me of this book.” And, like, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”– oh my gosh it spells LSD! and yet, ironically, it’s inspired by Alice, again. And it’s also kind of insulting to the real Lucy, who Julian some months back was trying to raise money for because she was really sick, and people try to say John just made that title up… okay, end random I-know-more-about-the-Beatles-than-other-people rant. BUT, anyway, yes, as someone who is a HUGE fan of psychedelia in music, art, and literature and YET I’ve never even been DRUNK let alone done serious drugs, to have all this art reduced to Drug References has always offended me. But see, I even defended “White Rabbit” in this sense. It’s not just ABOUT DRUGS, it COMPARES drugs to literature, and I even threw in the word “metaphor” in my first defense, so there.

  2. saintfighteraqua says:

    I agree with what’s said here.
    To me, marijuana even looks a bit like poison ivy. Very ugly and a stupid thing to wear in my opinion. I hate stoner culture.

    I don’t really care for White Rabbit, even though as a kid I was innocent and thought it was really about Alice. I still like to think that way.
    Like the above commenter I’ve never been drunk. I’ve also never done any kind of illegal drugs (taking head ache or allergy medicine is my limits.) and I am opposed to tobacco.

    I don’t care at all for drug culture and the problems it’s put on society.
    People can claim all they want that it’s the government giving drugs a bad name but honestly, it’s the violent people and the addicts that have given it the bad name.
    Drugs are just bad.

    Poor Alice, to me the story will always be about a curious little girl having a crazy dream.
    I can sympathize all day long with that kind of character!

    • Nathan says:

      I’ve long wondered what the people who insist natural things are good for you think of poison ivy.

      I’ve been drunk once in my life. Usually I don’t drink simply because I don’t like the taste, but I’ll occasionally have an alcoholic beverage where you can’t really taste the alcohol.

      Also, Alice’s adventures are pretty crazy, but they’re still more coherent than most of my dreams!

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