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Real loss only occurs when you lose something that you love more than yourself.
Do not judge men by mere appearances; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over the depths of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace and joy.
Edward Chapin

Someone asked me if the first quote had to do with the Hatter's loss of his own sanity. That's a very interesting way to look at it, because what I was going for was the tragedy of the Mock Turtle losing the embodiment of his own reason—the Gryphon. It's a tragedy to lose half of your self. The second quotation is a reminder that even the silliest people can run like deep, still waters.

“Red herring,” said the Hare, standing on the table and slicing into it with a tong fork.
Red herring is a type of preserved fish. It's also a type of literary device meant to stand out in such a way as to distract the reader from the reality of what's going on, a diversionary tactic. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is which here.

“Anyway,” said the Hare in vicious italics, “There is food other than what's on the tea service, and you're welcome to it if you like.”
I think the Hare talks in too much italics. It makes the chapters difficult to format.

“We do what we must because we can,” said the Hare sagely, and raised a cup before they nodded a toast.
It's a small nod to Portal.

“No, I'm telling you: it's a lyrebird, not a mockingbird, and it has got to go. It's making this awful racket in broad midday, and it's interrupting everything I'm trying to--”
A lyrebird is exotic and only found in the Australian outback. It's called a lyrebird because a man who tried to paint the bird in the 19th century received a taxodermied bird with its feathers all wrong, and so he painted its tail in the shape of a lyre. It's also a “liar-bird” because it mimics sounds. It's more versatile and convincing than a mockingbird, and is rarely seen naturally. Today, though, its habitat is dwindling because of urban sprawl, and it's sadly easier to find them because they can mimic the sound of chainsaws and camera shutters remarkably well:

“What on earth is that!” cried the March Hare, for he had never seen a creature like this one before and thought it quite a remarkable looking thing.
“It's a girl,” said the Hatter, who sounded very astonished.

Alice's dialogue is from the original book. I can't say anything else, or I'd give it all away.

Zéphyrs embrasés,
Versez-nous vos caresses,
Zéphyrs embrasés,
Donnez-nous vos baisers!
vos baisers! vos baisers! Ah!

The Barcarolle, from Les Contes d'Hoffmann. It translates to:
Burning zephyrs
Embrace us with your caresses!
Burning zephyrs
Give us your kisses!
Your kisses! your kisses! ah!

The stuff of dreams, the triumph of a dynasty forged, heaved, ripped out of a resisting land long far away, hidden among these trees and viewable only from extremes.
Again with the bizarre references. “Dynasty” and “ripped” call to my mind Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom! with Thomas Sutpen heaving his dynastic Southern gothic mansion out of the Mississippi swamps with his own bare hands and a team of shady characters. He moves toward being an upstanding Southern gentleman, but the cold hard reality is that he has no moral code and has had to spend his own sweat and blood to get there, and that's just not good enough for everyone around him.

“No,” said Alice, “I haven't been to bed yet. I wanted to talk to you.”
“In the middle of the night!”

This isn't a reference at all, but the idea of the middle of the night always makes me think of the voodoo priestess Minerva in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and a peculiar line of hers: “Dead time lasts for one hour -- from half an hour before midnight to half an hour after midnight. The half-hour before midnight is for doin' good. The half-hour after midnight is for doin' evil."

Alice discovered that the Hatter was standing before her very oddly, situated so that his entire upper body was at a near right angle from his legs...
He's standing like Det. Goren does when he's thinking real hard.

and she heard him singing something about how he feared no foe in shining armor, “though his lance be swift and keen,” or something like that.
That's a song that Lord Squiffy Tidmouth sings in the Wodehouse novella Doctor Sally, which is quite possibly my favorite out of the Wodehouse panoply, especially for its passionate conclusion which involves a discussion about how dairy farms work. I'm not joking.

“Life, the universe, etc.?”

The Hatter had begun making glances toward the torsion clock on a side table soon after their conversation...
Torsion clocks are lovely devices that put me in a steampunk frame of mind. They look like this:

under a large sign which called it the Wynn and Beaumont
Ed Wynn and Kathryn Beaumont voiced the Hatter and Alice in the 1951 movie.

“I love stories,” said Alice, pretending in the same vein that they were not having this conversation.
She is rapidly becoming his girl Friday. I love it; it makes me so happy.

And all I can remember is that he must have paid off the servants to throw mickey finns in every highball I touched out of revenge, for I woke the next morning in a public fountain, dressed like a bat and drunk as a lord, and--” He raised a finger and pressed on despite Alice's giggling into her napkin, “And I had lost my pocketwatch.”
A mickey finn is slang for knockout drugs, usually put into cocktails. The Hatter's description of the party and his resulting bad luck, and especially his costume, are all from the famous German comedic opera Die Fledermaus, which means The Bat. It's all about sending a proxy to jail so you can go to champagne balls and dance with someone else's wife, and waking up drunk in fountains. There is also a very large subplot regarding a lost pocketwatch.

The man posturing at the counter with his Hessian resting upon the golden bar at its base had a dashing coif of tomato red hair...
A Hessian was a type of fashionable boot.

Alice nodded as he bounced away most seriously, and rose in some amusement to follow him, just to see where he went.
She ought to know better than to follow rabbits, but she's Alice, so it really can't be helped.

before deciding that in fact, in complete and utter fact, was the man currently involved in a business transaction of sorts with a chap by the name of Hypnos.
Hypnos was the Greek personification of dreams. His brother was Thanatos, the manifestation of death.

What widened within him? Alice half-smiled; Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in slanting rings, it does not set for months.
An oblique reference to Walt Whitman's “Salut au Monde!” in Leaves of Grass. The poem is literally a greeting to the world, and there's a feeling of cosmic envelopment—as if the subject of the poem knows everything, sees everything, and is a part of everything.

It almost appeared as though they had not bred by the natural force of life; had some invisible artist's hand taken up a tiny paintbrush and applied each individual circle with care and levity?
The park Hatters have their freckles painted on.

I must say you do have something of Selene herself bending to gaze down upon young Endymion...
The reference I've been waiting to explain! Selene was the goddess of the Moon who fell in love with the sleeping shepherd Endymion. Her sister Eos, goddess of the dawn, asked Zeus to grant immortality to a beautiful young man named Tithonus—unfortunately, Tithonus could still age and eventually turned into a cricket or a cicada. Selene knew that she didn't want to lose Endymion to death but also didn't want to have an insect for a husband, so she asked Zeus to grant him eternal sleep so he would stay handsome forever. There's an emerging theme connecting Alice and the Moon.

“Salut au monde,” he said in mild cheerfulness upon seeing her there...
Walt Whitman!

The Hatter and the Hare looked at each other for a moment before the Hare burst out in bizarre laughter at this, and Alice would eventually learn why.
Silly girl! I see pleasant and drunken revelry in your future.


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May 2009

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