Looking Glass Insects

Studies in Alice XV, by Marc Edmund Jones

This lesson considers the third chapter of Through the Looking Glass and the fifteenth great principle of wisdom in the Philosophy of Concepts as revealed through the adventures of Alice is that knowledge is stimulating or that the acquisition of knowledge lies at the beginning rather than at the close of any given activity and is challenging rather than rewarding in its nature. The law of growth or of evolution is conflict and it is in and through challenging competition that civilization has been born and has progressed to its present point. The mere transmission of knowledge is worthless if knowledge is not seen to be more than the facts imparted by textbooks and oral instruction. Thus it is notable that the most ancient example of a thorough educational system is to be found in India. In that country the antiquity of definite teaching methods is unexampled. Moreover the intellectual subtlety developed among the early Aryans in that country is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. But the philosophy of the East Indians was essentially non-competitive and knowledge was transmitted as absolute and beyond question and taken without the slightest indication of critical attitude or not taken at all, and as a result the progress of education and civilization in practically every other section of the globe has pressed so far ahead of India as to leave that country to be viewed in recent centuries as backward and as perhaps the world's most fertile field for missionary work and introduction to civilization. The transmission of facts and principles theoretically is never the basis of real knowing. Knowledge creates a necessity to do things. It is significant that with the gradual advancement of modern civilization the aristocracy or favored classes of various lands are increasingly recruited from the fields of intellectual or organizing achievement and that the scions of wealth are pressing out into the world to a greater degree to make their own way rather than remaining mere beneficiaries of transmitted advantage.

Here is the principle of classification and organization. Knowledge is found to be less the collection of facts than the correlation or fitting together of facts. Man has become the king of creation because of his ability to classify things or to establish them in categories in accordance with various organized points of view. In the Bible allegory of Genesis this principle is seen in the description of Adam's naming the animals or recognizing them and establishing that recognition in a name. Nomenclature and all fundamental agreement on terms and representations is the very basis of civilization. The symbolism of the third chapter of Looking Glass is interesting at this point in the delightful drawing or characterization of the woods in which all names are forgotten. As is pointed out a name must be answered to if it is to be a name and in the magic grove there is no answering or no responsibility and therefore no stimulation to effort because no names can be remembered. This was the general character of the land of the Lotus-eaters. In attaining a state of perfect peace within of a wrong sort as when responsibilities are forgotten there is an idle dream existence that is delightful only when contrasted with some state of present unrest and fear. It is a state actually sought by none but neurotics and subnormal individuals. Alice here has the idyllic comradeship with the fawn until they emerge from the woods but as soon as he is removed from the spell of forgetfulness the animal sees Alice for what she is and is off with a bound. Forgetfulness serves a constructive purpose that can be made very useful in psychological work by making possible a direct contact with those factors in life that will be most stimulating on any sudden rushing return of memory.

The achievement of imagination in the chapter, or the fifteenth great scientific anticipation, is the revelation here of the principles of a real education. This is marked in the modern world by a new elective system that is still in the stage of trial and experiment and the subject of much bitter controversy when this lesson was written in 1928. In ancient times it was well understood that whatever was forced into the being would not stay there, and now educators are beginning to realize that their task is more to interest students in the subject of study than to supervise the details of that study. More and more the world of every day is coming to realize that the principle factor for inducting the student into the consciousness of his section of country, his generation and his stratum of life. The basis of social being is the group consciousness that the organization of knowledge and its classification must serve fundamentally.

The symbolism of the inner voices in this chapter shows the Joan of Arc relationship of the group or overshadowing consciousness of life with each soul that is sensitive enough to feel the stimulating encouragement from above or more technically from within. The man dressed in white paper is recognizable to the student of symbolism as the man in linen of the Book of Daniel. As linen in the ancient world was the very finest fabric, so a real rag paper is of regal importance in the modern. This is merely the representation of the initiate higher consciousness or the visual form of that from which the voices have emanated as the outer matter or superior authority to which every aspirant must look for guidance. The thousands are a symbol of the fourth dimension, or the field of this consciousness of voices, because of the dimensional significance of all ciphers to the right of the unit in tabulation. Thus a millennium is not a period of time but a state of consciousness as suspected by all but literalists among the students of higher knowledge.

The law of applied psychology, or the fifteenth big idea for the solution of personal problems, is brought out here in the technique of foundations. Permanent things must be built on rock and this is consciousness as Jesus pointed out in his pun on the word petra. The aspirant who refuses to be in a hurry and who thereby prevents his consciousness from being thinned out is the one who arrives at his goal. The tiny size of the gnat is a symbol of the initial smallness of inspiration or is a wee small voice, but as Alice listens the gnat becomes large and what is more survives the sudden leap into the new square of consciousness. In the aberrant attempts to add to the reality of things through the rocking-horse-fly and others, the higher consciousness is weakened. Because its jokes or seeking of inner meaning are bad or do not stimulate the gnat sighs itself away. Sadness undirected dissipates live but poignancy or conflict in consciousness met by consciousness produces growth. The student must learn to LIFT THE CONSCIOUSNESS of life and make a joke out of things or must lend a forward directed and interest-awakening significance to all. When he is depressed he must know that the depression is opportunity if he will but grasp it. He must find