Through the Looking Glass



Through the Looking Glass or It’s a Mad World

It happened again. “It” being the proverbial trip that Alice and Ozzie (that’s me) take through the looking glass where everything is “bassackwards”.

It has happened before. From time to time, everything I say and do is turned upside down. Somehow what I say is misinterpreted into meaningless gobbledygook. Words understandable only in a foreign language that I am not privy to.

If you have ever read H. G. Wells’ short story, The Country of the Blind, then maybe you will know what I am talking about. Haven’t read it?  Well, here is a quick summary – Nunez, a mountaineer, while attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a fictitious mountain in Central America,  slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. There he finds an isolated community perfect in every way except that all the villagers are blind. Nunez expects to bring light into their world, but is quickly disillusioned by a community that knows nothing other than darkness. The villagers decide to remove Nunez’s eyes on account of his obsession with “sight”, a.k.a. the “truth”.

Wells’ story is, of course, a spin on the older proverb, “In the Valley of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King” by Erasmus. Erasmus was my favorite 15th century philosopher, a classical scholar who wrote in Latin and tried to walk the tightrope between the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment. Of course, he failed. Erasmus straddled the 15th and 16th Centuries and with reason and erudition tried to bring order to the Reformation. He failed, but then few understood Latin.

He was followed by Galileo, who approached things from a more orderly and scientific point of view. Galileo had the effrontery to propose that the earth moved around the sun, and not vice versa as the Holy Catholic Church staunchly maintained. Others before Galileo had been burned at the stake for such false and heretical statements. And when push came to shove and Galileo was brought before the holy council, like Nunez was brought before the villagers, he recanted to save himself from becoming a “shish kebab”. Still, as Galileo recanted, he muttered under his breath that the “sun still stood still”.

I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad. What is now considered “cruel and unusual” punishment was formerly routine and matter of fact. But I digress, or do I? And, for that matter, in Nunez’s case or anyone’s, wouldn’t it be better to remove the tongue than his eyes? For having once seen the truth, we can not stray or deviate from the truth.

My crimes against truth seem trivial when compared to Galileo’s. I won’t even recount them, for in recounting them, I, like Nunez and Galileo offend convention. The truth never matters, only what we choose to believe.

And as for Alice, I wonder what she would have made of all of this. Maybe it would be as simple as this, ” If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see? ”

You see, don’t you? It is a Mad World.

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2 thoughts on “Through the Looking Glass

  1. Let me paint another picture for your that some what relates.

    In Ozzie’s hand is a piece of paper. It is not just any piece of paper, it is a ticket to the world premier of the Beatles reunion tour. Yes, you read correctly, the Beatles. John Lennon and George Harrison have awoken from the grave for a one night only concert that will go down in history.

    Ozzie, dressed in his finest, files into the packed venue. He begins drinking a cold beer with friends and loved ones. The anticipation and excitement is palpable in the room. The energy is electric. It is a moment when one recognizes that they will remember this time and place on their death bed.

    The lights suddenly go down, the curtain goes up and and on walk John, Paul, Ringo and George. The crowd goes wild, cheering, crying, dancing and singing.

    Halfway through the show the energy is even more electric, more alive, more intense. The audience seems to be in a trance, hypnotized by the music.

    Ozzie doesn’t see anything at first, but he smells it. The distinct familiar smell from days of camping in the North Carolina mountains, smoke. Then, out of the corner of his eye he sees the grey haze pour out from under a curtain.

    Alarmed, Ozzie looks around, but no seems to notice, or if they do no one seems to care.

    The smoke builds and flames begin to lick the stage.

    Again, Ozzie looks around but no one seems to notice or care.

    He begins to shout, but no one listens. The continue to dance, to drink and to ignore,
    He pulls on the sleeve of the man next to him, but he is ignored.

    Frantic now Ozzie sprints around the theater screaming at the top of his lungs. Not one person deviates their gaze from the singers on the stage, which is no engulfed in flames.

    So now Ozzie must decide, does he stay in this theater with all the oblivious fools, or does he believe his own eyes, forget the opinions and doubts of others, and save himself?

    I can tell you if he doesn’t chose the latter there will be three hounds at home very dissapointed!

  2. The older I get the more that I see, truth is in the eyes of the beholder. I think you can take any two people who see the same thing but if asked could have two completely different truths on what they saw, heard, or felt. The story of Nunez somewhat might back me up on what I am trying to say. He falls into a “perfect” world in every way but the fact the citizens do not have eyes. He feels as though they need sight or in his view “truth”….but whose truth is it? As for Alice I heard she was taking drugs at the time…..:)

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