Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Riddle

In "Alice In Wonderland" Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) wrote the riddle "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

When Alice was asked this question in the story, she did not give an answer, however, the 1896 edition of "Alice In Wonderland" contains an attempt by Carroll himself.

Carroll wrote: "Because it can produce very few notes, tho they are
very flat; and it is nevar [sic] put with the wrong end in front."

Aldous Huxley, in the September 1928 issue of Vanity Fair, answered the riddle this way: "Because there's a 'b' in both, and because there's an 'n' in neither." It's possible that Huxley's answer was based on his observation of Carroll's writings. Sometimes the words themselves are more important than their meaning (or their grammatical correctness).

Please note that Lewis Carroll in his answer to his own riddle, spelled the word "never" incorrectly. Do you know why? What happens when you spell "nevar" backwards? A tragedy is that subsequent printings contained what a copy editor must have thought was a spelling correction. I think Carroll would have insisted that it be changed back to "nevar" had he not been dead by then.

Many years later another answer to the riddle "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" appeared in print. The answer is "Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both." [This discovery was attributed to Denis Crutch in "Jabberwocky," Winter 1976.]

Another answer can be found in the Stephen King novel, The Shining: "The higher the fewer, of course! Have another cup of tea!"

Some biographers of Lewis Carroll had another theory based on Carroll's keen interest in the occult. In fact, he was deeply interested in automatic writing, a technique employed by Aleister Crowley, who was into backwards writing as well. Combine that with the idea that the raven is associated with communication between the living and the dead and we have what may be the best answer of all to the question "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

Answer: A raven is like a writing desk because one might communicate with the dead through either.

Automatic writing as a means of communicating with the dead, could also be interpreted as tapping into the collective unconscious, a concept studied by C.G. Jung.

Yes, it must have been quite a conversation when this meeting took place.

This is Tafultong reporting from the rabbit hole...

the deeper you go the higher you fly

(source and numerous other sites)

A couple new videos have surfaced.

Paul is Dead - 1966 from sonofwhom
Who Is Iamaphoney from newcomer LetItBe


MikeNL said...

great : ]

Anonymous said...

awesome !

you are the best thing going Tafultong

Thank you for all of your articles, and all of the time and effort you must spend in preparing them


Anonymous said...

Tom Snyder: "What messages were you putting out?"

John Lennon: "The messages were subliminal."

Anonymous said...

As always, Taful, your blog is entertaining, thought provoking, and full of quirky (in a good way) information.

Quoth the raven: "Nevarmore."


Anonymous said...

"They're COMPLETELY ANTI-CHRIST. I mean, I am anti-Christ as well, but they're so anti-Christ they shock me which isn't an easy thing."
Derek Taylor, Press Officer for the Beatles

floyding said...

great post!

Anonymous said...

That's great stuff T! The raven/writer thing makes sense now..... thanks...

what are your thoughts about "the pool of tears"?

I'm crying, cry baby cry ?

Anonymous said...

`How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

`How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcome little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!'

Tafultong said...

Anonymous said...

what are your thoughts about "the pool of tears"?

"Tears of sorrow, tears of joy are drifting through my open mind" (Across the Universe)

"The wild and windy night has left a pool of tears." (Long and Winding Road)

Here is an interpretation of the Pool of Tears in Alice, but I'm sure there is more deeper in the web. Link

Anonymous said...

"The student must learn to DO SOMETHING ELSE in any moment of baffled consciousness. Alice turned to her own confusion and reestablished her equilibrium. The useless something else has its value in permitting consciousness to function unhampered by the limiting details of the confused situation, and consciousness has but to function by and of itself to restore itself."

those are the last two lines from that page.

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Anonymous said...

On the subject of sonofwhom's vid:

Vince, here.
I've often wondered....
I went ahead and purchased the re-issued Video of "How I won The War", though I thought one day it would be on DVD.
That day hasn't come yet, has it?
I think it's because of John looking right at you saying, "I knew this happen. You knew it would happen, too."
Maybe I'm wrong.

Miles Denton Oliver said...

Pig and Pepper