“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“…one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
(This Lewis Carroll quote may be my favorite.)
Recently, I was reading an interview with actress Anne Hathaway in the NY Daily News. I came across a part in the interview in which she said, “There’s a great line in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where the Hatter says to Alice, ‘You’ve lost your muchness‘. And I feel like I am the age where I’m more able to easily identify what my muchness is and be more fierce about protecting it.”
I stopped reading. I was not familiar with that line at all, and needed to find out more about it immediately. It has been a long time since I read the Lewis Carroll stories; the copy I have is beat up. I set about finding the books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (two stories comprise what we often just refer to as Alice in Wonderland).
With new copy in hand, I scour it diligently, relishing the opportunity to read the stories again. I see a reference to “muchness” but not that line. I go back to my old beaten up copy to see if it might be there. Nothing. Feeling like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole myself, at last, through online sleuthing, I realize that the line is only in the Tim Burton film which (I did not know and had not seen) is a newly written story. It picks up with Alice at an older age. (I also learned that screenwriter Linda Woolverton was not thought highly of in some quarters for tinkering with Carroll’s story.)
I then set about to watch the film on Netflix. The line Hathaway (who plays The White Queen) quoted appears in the scene in which The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), encountering Alice six years after they first met when she was 13, says,”You’re not the same as you were before. You were much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.” What a perfect way to express something so seemingly hard to define!
Sometimes I feel that way. As if I have worn too many identities – publicist. aroma biz creator. activist. blogger. writer. blog designer. – to fit one person! Each one has been uniquely enriching but it can get a bit, uh, confusing. Then again, maybe the harder part is being so much more aware now of how troubled our world is – for people, places, animals, the ecosystem. Taking on issues and needing to be so logical so much of the time.
“It’s a terrible kind of memory that only works backwards.” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Growing up, I won a prize for best costume as Alice in Wonderland in our town’s Halloween parade. Somewhere a picture exists of me, elementary school age, standing, beaming, on the front brick steps of our white split level house; its red door visible behind me. Clearly, costumes were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are now. No matter, my makeshift Alice costume usurped whatever existed as my competition. My brown hair, made to replicate Alice’s blond mane was covered by what appears to be a mop-like wig; most likely comprised of thick strands of yellow – or was it white? – yarn. I remember my smile at this point more than my hair.
There is no doubt that I felt my muchness at that moment! – and of course have many times since. I think maybe that’s the point of it all – to be sure we are living up to our muchness potential.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I’m hoping to finish The B-girl Guide shortly (full progress update forthcoming!), it includes stories of my experiences in these different worlds, information on topics that I think are important to rethinking the way we live - in relation to people, places, the environment, animals and ourselves. Illustrated with images of the (to be updated) B-girl!
So, you see, I certainly need my muchness to complete it, don’t I?
How do we not lose our muchness in today’s world? Remain serious about things going on and yet retain a sense of the whimsical? Lewis Carroll purposefully sprinkled whimsy throughout the stories of Alice’s Adventures. Personally, I want to embrace the feeling that the world will change and that six impossible things are possible before breakfast.