Common steps and sub-activities

Solving riddles with no answer

Much of the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland is about the use of nonsense and riddles to befuddle reason, this is an example, Lewis Carroll knew what he was doing when he wrote this chapter………….

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER VII. A Mad Tea-Party

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. 'Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; 'only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: 'No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. 'There's PLENTY of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

'Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. 'I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

'There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

………………

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide [and said], 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'

'Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.--I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.

………………

Here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.

…………..

'Have you guessed the riddle yet?' the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

'No, I give it up,' Alice replied: 'what's the answer?'

'I haven't the slightest idea,' said the Hatter.

'Nor I,' said the March Hare.

Alice sighed wearily. 'I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, 'than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'

'If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, 'you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'


More examples

 

"What is the difference between a duck? ...

One has wheels."

 

"A rhino and an elephant are taking a shower together.

What does the rhino say?

 Radio!"

 

"Why is a mouse when it spins?

Because the higher, the fewer."

 

How many engines is a greyhound?

Only whilst practising

 

What greys and bites and who?

Larger than the smallest

 

Give me smoke battles soup number?

Fifty five on Saturday

 

Who is the last first then?

Tomato soup and bicycles

Carroll was using the children’s story to record what he knew about spiritual states and how you invoked them – mushrooms, for example and hash cakes and smoking opium are but three mentioned in his book.

But whole books have been written containing meaningless riddles for use in this way.

Again the truly comical aspect of this is that there are people who are desperate to find some logical meaning to it and sit there for hours trying to work out the inner meaning. 

There is none.

That’s the point.

The whole point is that you read the riddles, one after the other until your mind is so confused and your reasoning function so befuddled it stops working.

Observations

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