Shabgraff in Wonderland (Shabcast 7)


"[T]he speaking of language is part of an activity, or a form of life."
- Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Today is the 150th anniversary of the origins of Alice in Wonderland.  A century-and-a-half ago today, Lewis Carroll took a boat trip with the Liddell family, and told the children a story.  Alice Liddell asked him to write it down.  He started the next day.

To celebrate, follow me down the rabbit hole and listen to Shabcast 7 - here.

A special one, this.  I'm once again joined by Josh Marsfelder (of Vaka Rangi) and for the first time by the wonderful Jane of many fames.  We watch (and chat about) the neglected 1966 Jonathan Miller TV version of Alice in Wonderland.  A forgotten masterpiece.  Well, maybe not forgotten... but not exactly remembered either.

This podcast had various titles before I settled on my final choice: 'Alice Narrates Herself'.  It was going to be called 'Cobwebs on the Tea Urn', then 'Mock Turtles all the Way Down', then 'Pig Latin'...  I even toyed with a facile but amusing 'Shabcast Madness Returns'.  I eventually settled on a title which reflected something myself and my guests all seemed to notice and cherish: the fact that this production gives control of the narrative to Alice herself, and lets her tell the story.  One of the many things which makes this production unique.

I'm very proud of this episode, not just because I was lucky enough to get Jane to guest with myself and Josh, but also because the dynamic of the discussion is lovely.  The three of us attend a tea party, detached from time (it's the evening for them, the middle of the night for me) and talk at cross purposes for ages... though, of course, unlike the Hatter and his friends, we're hopefully not talking nonsense.  I love the way our distinct perspectives each hook into something different about the story we're watching, and the way we overlap and converge.  We don't always end up in exactly the same territory... but we get to read and enjoy each other's maps.

What could be more apt?


UPDATE (Same day):

I somehow forgot to link to Josh's pieces about Alice.  Here they are: 

And here's Jane's essay about LOST, mentioned in the Shabcast:


EDIT (Also same day):

In the original version of this post I mistakenly claimed that today was the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book.  I have corrected this howler.


jane 5 years, 6 months ago


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Anton B 5 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for this. The Jonathan Miller Alice is certainly not forgotten by me. I remember, as a child, being allowed to stay up and watch it on its first late night BBC broadcast (yes I'm that old!) even though it was heavilly trailed and publicised as being 'unsuitable for children'; I found that intriguing in itself but Miller's decision to dispense with the traditional funny animal costumes to reveal the savage satire and psychologically disturbing Victorian gothic of the piece left a lasting impression on me. I'm really looking forward to listening to your commentary.

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