In 2009, SyFy aired a two-part mini-series called Alice. It was a futuristic, sci-fi revisit of Alice to Wonderland, ahead of the highly-anticipated Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland. I remember TiVo'ing it and watching it at the time and thinking it was okay. Alice (Caterina Scorsone) wasn't blonde, but Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts) was hot. (I know a thing or two about liking people, and in time, after much chocolate and cream cake, "like" turns into "what was his name again?") The cast includes Kathy Bates as the Queen of Hearts, Tim Curry as Dodo, and Harry Dean Stanton as the Caterpillar.
DH got me a copy of the DVD for Christmas this year, and we watched it last night. It's an interesting take, not Victorian in the least, with some imaginative re-envisionings of the March Hare and the Dormouse. The basic plot is that the Looking Glass is a doorway between modern America and Wonderland, through which minions of the Queen of Hearts take humans to serve her nefarious purposes. Humans are called "oysters"--because of the great pearls they hide inside, explains Hatter to Alice--and they're kept mildly anesthetized in a high-rise casino built of cards. They're kept playing and winning at the tables, while the essence of their emotions are sucked out through their bare feet, via the really cool-looking tiled floor.
Carpenter, the evil scientist behind the oyster project, has devised a way to distill the pure emotions from the humans. They're traded like commodities at the Tea House, kind of a red market clearinghouse for such things. It's very modern speakeasy, reminding me of the Milk Bar. Dormouse is the trading master, setting prices for distilled emotions like Desire, Passion, and Joy. They even introduce a new product, Clear Conscience, which is an immediate success.
It's all thinly-metaphorical for the drug trade, of course, and later in the movie we see a hospital where Wonderlandians are treated after becoming addicted to feelings such as Sensation of Flying and Big Head. It's a little trite, certainly, but it's a SyFy movie; I wouldn't expect anything else.
But I was taken by this idea of distilling our emotions and choosing what we feel at a given time. How useful it could be to decide that you only wanted to feel happiness or lust in a moment, or that you needed to pad your life with a little innocence for a while. Sure, I see how the addiction to an emotion could happen, but that happens now. Almost anyone who's ever been through a bout of depression can tell you how it's a comforting, compelling feeling in its onset, how it feels good to feel so horrible, to wallow in the overwhelming emotion if for no other reason than it's something different than what you felt before. Lust and desire and hatred drive people to distraction every moment of every day.
It's the choosing that fascinates me, the temporary control of what you feel the most. Would you be able to take enough Love to override the Loathing you feel for someone? Could you temporarily forget your own Guilt by ingesting enough Contrition?
I had a conversation with Absolem once about the compartmentalizing of emotions. We agreed that, in general, men are much better able to separate their emotions from each other and from a specific situation, to tuck them away where they don't get in the way. Women, generally, have a much more difficult time with taking their feelings out of any equation for longer than a momentary respite. I'm sure there's something evolutionary about it, about having the woman care always for the child, whereas the man can discard the emotion and do what must be done to protect the offspring and its caregiver.
This is not to say that men are emotionless, heartless beings, no matter what my ex-boyfriend taught me. I absolutely recognize that they are capable of feeling the full depth and breadth of masculine emotion. But I still believe that men and women feel differently, perceive the world differently, based on their gender and hormonal make-up. There are always variances and exceptions, and I know men and women alike who seem much more like their traditional, gender counterparts than like their actual biological identities. Everyone is different, of course, varied and wonderful, which is what makes the huge canvas of human emotion so vividly dynamic. It's like a huge pointillism; if you're looking directly at it from almost no distance, you can see each individual dot, unique in its color and composition. You have to back up, gain a new perspective, to see the beauty in its entirety.
Sometimes I think I would most certainly like to be able to check-out of my own head and heart and ride a different emotional rollercoaster for a while. I guess any of us can do that at any time, really, by shaking up our life and seeing what happens. I've been known to thrive on that constant shaking, like a child with a snow globe, jostling it over and over in all different directions just to see where the plastic snow may fall. Ultimately, the shaking and upheaval become tiring, and it's nice to be able to sit back in your own little globe and let everything be just settled for a time--at least until someone (maybe you, maybe not) drinks a little Petulance and feels like shaking you up again.
Maybe 2011 is the year I shake it, and maybe it's the year I let it settle. As I said before, I'm neither a psychoanalyst nor a psychic. But my psycho senses are tingling a bit, and I have a feeling there may be a wild ride in store for me. Maybe I'll take a trip in the Hatter's hat and go sailing over the castle wall, or maybe I'll grow to my full muchness and forge my own path toward the Jabberwocky. Life is always a bunch of maybes, like brightly-colored, talking flowers giggling for you to pick them. I don't know if I want the red or the blue, or the pink or the purple, but I do know that I'll follow the SyFy Duchess's advice to Jack Heart and "have another little sip of honesty" before I choose.
I get one shot at this, and I don't want to fuck it up.