We’ve all seen the Matrix. Wicked spies, all black outfits, leather trenches, and machine guns. Everything that makes an action movie perfect. And lets not forget the amazing story line that has established itself in the minds of many . A world full of people who are so called ‘asleep,’ and whose minds are at present within a non- reality while the ‘actually world’ is in ruins. This classic cinematic film made the world question, is Hollywood trying to tell us something? Is this philosophical dilemma something we should dwell on and think about? Turns out that the making of the Matrix wasn’t the first time this question, of reality versus illusion surfaced. In other instances classic literature has asked this question too. The stories by Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, have dealt with this conundrum, but like many other works, haven’t quiet solved it. How does one identify whether they are in a dream or if they are in reality? Is it possible to be apart of someones else’s dream, just as we are apart of each other’s realities, being a subject in a present time in which one can or cannot manipulate causes and results? How does one know or how can one define reality and illusion, and when do those two aspects merge, making it hard to distinguish between the two? In the Lewis Carroll stories the subject of identity plays a very significant role in asking these questions we pose in order to understand and theorize about ourselves and the world.
Doubt in almost every case is the cause to question, questioning being the result to uncertainty. In the Alice books there is much doubt. Alice doesn’t know who she is or who’s she’s become in this ‘new world’ of talking rabbits and caterpillars. She is told on occasion that she is not ‘real’ and in some cases it feels as though Alice is in limbo. She argues back to say, well I must be real for I can do all the things ‘real’ people do, in which the reply to that is, well…those actions that you deem real along with yourself are not. Pretty heavy stuff for a humorous children’s tale, but it is an inevitable question that is continuously asked, one that has been famously connected to the Alice stories. Was Alice dreaming? Is the present in which she belongs real? A question that we as ‘thinkers’ can not help but theorize about. We have to be able to understand all that is in or not in our world by placing ideas and concepts into categorizes and classifications that already exist. By doing this we compare what is considered to be an illusion to the rules in which we have created to be logical reasoning, the rules in which live by at present.
Let’s ponder the idea of so called being ‘asleep,’ or being awake. Is being ‘asleep,’ to Lewis Carroll similar to just being unaware? Is being asleep a connection to being under the illusion of a false reality? Are we really discussing being in an actual intrinsic sleep in which we haven’t awoken from? If we are thinking about actual sleep can dreams, just like what we deem to be reality, and just like reality be fluid? The Alice books seem to define reality, as something that is constantly changing. When Alice is ‘awake’ the idea of reality is a place where there is a sense of logical reasoning and convention, rules to life that have been enforced by the masses. But because the logic that she knows, the basic in and outs of the way things are suppose to be are not necessarily being in Wonderland, she deems it unconventional and as a result claims it is a dream, or something not related to reality. The idea that Alice eventually ‘wakes up’ from this ‘non reality’ can support the idea that Wonderland could be an illusion or dream. The fact that she has not awoken-ed from what she knows to be reality, could suggest that there is nothing else to wake up from. She could simply chose which of the two worlds she’s spent most of her time in and claim it to be reality, and that would be how she identifies it. It is difficult to answer such possibilities when we can not truly come up with a definition for reality without applying rules to a life full of convention. If we can not define reality how do we identify it?
The answer is we can’t really know anything for sure. As René Descartes put it, all we can be certain of is the fact that we as things, exist. The fact that we doubt, which requires us to think, explains that we as ‘thinking things’ are real, because thoughts do in require a host, but everything in which surrounds us as ‘thinking things’ is, and can be put to question. There is no true way to identify reality, as someone else’s definition can be obsolete to another’s. So in the case of Alice and Wonderland’s creatures their realities are questionable, but there existence is not when they are able to doubt and only when their able to doubt.
Most questions revolving around the idea of reality versus illusion can be seen just as rambunctious conspiracies that have grew a back bone or two. But is a question that will find itself in all kinds of works until one day we know for sure what there is to know.