THE surreal landscape of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glasshas Alice wondering what the world is like on the other side of a mirror.
To her surprise, Alice is able to pass into it, as if into the astral world, and experience an alternate existence.
A puzzled Alice discovers a book with looking-glass poetry called “Jabberwocky,” which she can read only by holding it up to a mirror.
Carroll’s imaginative invention is likely an unambiguous reference to “the astral light” of occultism, where images of all things are stored in reverse of their counterparts on our normal terrestrial plane.
In 1871, mediumship and table-tipping were all the rage, detailed in Mitch Horowitz’s recent book Occult America. Understandably, Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland was wildly popular at the time.
Clairvoyance and psychic powers have always fascinated the public. But then, as now, they were considered nonsensical by mainstream scientists.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” the White Queen confides to Alice.