The Mad Hatter‘s Riddle:
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
Hamlet‘s Cloud: Act III Scene II
Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud, That’s almost in the shape of a camel.
Polonius: By the mass, and ’tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Me thinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius : It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or, like a whale?
Polonius: Very like a whale?
I have been reading Alice in Wonderland to one of my students at slow times during the long days, and reading a book called “the Whale” by Philip Hoare to myself at home. These two quotations from very different sources connected in my mind for some reason. Maybe because they are both madness disguised as normal conversation, or maybe there is a strange sense to it. Maybe you could figure it out if you tried hard enough. It is like my life these days. On the surface things seem to be proceeding normally except everything is floating in the air and could come crashing down as soon as somebody decides to remember gravity. I feel like a cartoon character who overruns the cliff edge, but will not fall until he looks down. I am not looking down until I feel the solid earth under my feet. No way! I will not end up a puff of dust in the distant canyon depths. I will just keep my legs moving and hope I get to the other side before the bottom drops out.
I am sure there is an answer to the riddle if I could just think about it from the right angle. Maybe it has to do with ink stained quills or the sound of claws on paper. It seems to me a conversation about clouds could go much the same way. Once you see from the other person’s point of view you can usually see what they are talking about. And then again maybe it makes no sense and will all end in a mess at the bottom of the gorge as soon as I see the fatal flaw in my carefully constructed scenarios for the near future. But, until then I will just keep my eyes on the road that runs, with a few unbridged chasms here and there, through canyon country. I am sure it will all end with a stuttering pig saying “that’s all folks.”