There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (`which certainly was not here before,’ said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words `DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.
Alice threw back her head and laughed a long, white-throated laugh. “Is there any doubt,” she asked splendidly, “That drug addiction is an escape from an unbearable inner state – from a reality that one cannot deal with – from an atrophying mind one can never fully destroy? If Apollonian reason were unnatural to man, and Dionysian intuition brought him closer to nature and truth, the apostles of irrationality would not have to resort to drugs. Happy, self-confident men do not seek to get stoned. Drug addiction is the attempt to obliterate one’s consciousness, the quest for a deliberately-induced insanity. As such, it is so obscene and evil that any doubt about the moral character of its practitioners is itself an obscenity.”
Alice adjusted the jade cuff at her bone-white wrist. She drank nothing and went on her way, secure in her choice.
“Who is Dinah?” the Field Mouse asked.
“Dinah,” Alice said, shaking her blond hair loose over her naked shoulders, “is my cat. She provides for herself. I love her because she requires nothing of me, and I require nothing of her. This is the highest form of love that can possibly exist. She adores herself next to me, and I do the same.”
The Field Mouse fled in terror.
“You are right to fear her,” Alice called after him. “She is an individual.”
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take LESS,” said the Hatter. “It’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.”
“We who live by values — not by LOOT — are traders both in matter and in spirit,” Alice replied in scorn. “A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. I will take no tea; I will take only that which I have earned by the value of my own spirit.”
“Try the cucumber sandwich,” the Hatter said airily. “It’s wonderful. It doesn’t exist.”
“You are a parasite,” Alice said.
“I once saw a pair o’ sights,” the Dormouse murmured from inside the milk-jug. “I shall sing a song about it now,” he said, then promptly fell asleep.
(The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.)
“How am I to get in?” asked Alice again, in a louder tone.
“Are you to get in at all?’ said the Footman. “That’s the first question, you know.”
It was, no doubt: only Alice did not like to be told so. “It’s really dreadful,” she muttered to herself, “the way all the creatures argue. It’s enough to drive one crazy!”
The Footman seemed to think this a good opportunity for repeating his remark, with variations. “I shall sit here,” he said, “on and off, for days and days.”
“But what am I to do?” said Alice.
“The Passive Man,” the Footman said, smiling, “is found on every level of society, in mansions and in slums, and his identification mark is his dread of independence. He is a parasite who expects to be taken care of by others, who wishes to be given directives, to obey, to submit, to be regulated, to be told. He welcomes collectivism, which eliminates any chance that he might have to think or act on his own initiative.”
“I –” Alice began.
“In other words,” said the Footman, “you may do anything you like,” and began whistling. “But if such a thing as sin exists, to ask for directions is a mortal one.”
“If everybody minded their own business,” the Duchess said in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”
“Which would not be an advantage,” said Alice, who felt very glad to get an opportunity of showing off a little of her knowledge. “Just think of what work it would make with the day and night! You see the earth takes twenty-four hours to turn round on its axis–”
“Talking of axes,” said the Duchess, “chop off her head!”
“You have no right to do that,” Alice said calmly. “The removal of heads does not fall under the purview of government.”
The Duchess gasped.
“A society that robs an individual of her head,” Alice continued, “or in any way attempts to limit the freedom of her head, is not, strictly speaking, a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang rule. You cannot promote the aristocracy of non-value at the expense of individual liberty.”
The Duchess fell silent.
“I am going to build a railroad here,” Alice said. “There is nothing you can do to stop me.”
“By the way,” Alice said as she turned to leave, “The appropriate posture of a worthy woman to a worthy man is hero-worship, not in chopping off his head. She never loses the awareness of her own sexual identity and theirs. A properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother—or leader. There will never be a woman president.”
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her sister running over to her.
“Why, Alice dear!” cried her sister. “Have you been sleeping this whole time? Where have you been?”
“I don’t have to tell you anything,” Alice said. “The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.