Interpretting White Roses

salus in ardunis sancte et sapienter

Alice In Wonderland Syndrome…(or as it’s also called: Todd’s Syndrome or Lillipution Hallucinations) sounds made-up but it’s a very real condition.  People seem fine optically, but they have weird visual perceptions. They have what’s termed a “rare form of migraine” (migrainous ischemia?).

All of their senses are strangely distorted. The thing that intrigues me about this condition is the way their sight is affected. To name it after Carroll’s story is apt! A foot looks swollen to monstrous proportions. An object in the room has shrunk. This perceptual distortion can last a few minutes or a few weeks! No acid needed for people with Alice In Wonderland Syndrome sufferers to ‘trip!’ Most people who are affected by this are under the age of 13 and most outgrow it but many don’t and people have had it up into their 70s.

They say artist Kaethe Kollwitz (1867-1945) had it. Her work is described as passive with her images depicted as enduring, suffering, waiting, and mournful.


Aah the wonderful world of Neurophilosophy!

This Alice In Wonderland Syndrome thing is rare. I can’t really find any statistics on how common it is. I would venture a guess that more people get struck by lightning than have Alice In Wonderland Syndrome. Either condition would be life altering. After reading the book The Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman, I was struck (pardon the pun!) by the patterns lightning can physically leave behind on the skin of its survivors. I thought Alice made it up for the sake of her fiction novel but it’s true. Look here:


In the book, one lightning strike survivor loses the ability to see the color red! Red roses looked gray or white to the book’s main character. Lips looked pale. How bland her world became; and predictably she realized she never appreciated the color red and all of its shades and hues- until she could no longer see it! She transformed on the inside because literally she saw the world differently.

Some people get lightning strike scars made into tattoos:


Those ingenious tree tattoos designed over lightning strike scars are but one example of human beings making the best out of what’s happened to them. Women are getting tattoos over breast cancer scarring too… How do people transform themselves when they’re filled with an inner turmoil; one not overtly seen as conspicuously as a physical scar?

A certain singer/songwriter named Adam who is in a band I have liked since 1994, has had a “morose,” “tortured,” “introspective” (as described in Wikipedia!) style of songwriting which has always appealed to me. He blogged years ago- I believe in something called “Down The Rabbit Hole,” has been known to dress in a pink bunny suit, and references “Wonderland” in CC’s new album Somewhere Under Wonderland. A lot of his songs have circus themes. Walking on tightropes, spinning on amusement rides. Filming a song video at the famous Coney Island ferris (Wonder) wheel. There’s an intertwining here of several things-

Adam Duritz tries not to speak between shows — spending his spare time playing solitaire; reading. The lack of human contact is important for his vocal health but doesn’t help his mental condition, or so says an online article about him. Adam ‘came out’ a while back about having a “depersonalization” disorder, whereby he says, the world doesn’t seem real to him and he feels disconnected from his mind and body.

“Being stuck inside your own head is not fun when you have something like this,” he says. But over the years, he says he’s come to terms with his disorder and weaned himself off medication.“I know it won’t kill me. Just because you can’t have the perfect life, doesn’t mean you can’t have any life.”


Here’s an excerpt from a review of a song off the new CD, by

“Palisades Park” circles through a dense, wordy narrative centered around a New Jersey theme park that shut its gates in 1971. It also introduces us to a character named Andy, who the song suggests is going through a deep struggle with gender identification. Duritz flips chaotically back and forth between “he” and “she” pronouns throughout, just as the song itself accelerates and decelerates like the roller coasters at the titular theme park. . .”

I first heard this song live in Boston in July. If you’ve read my blog MY DOLLMAN, then you know my daughter Kerry Annie is transgendered and wants to be male. In the song Palisades Park, I can’t help but think of her. There are lines like this:

Have you seen Andy? Have you seen him? Have you seen her? Have you seen Andy?

I can’t help but think he’s saying Annie. Layered meanings of “window panes, candle wax, red balloons and birthday cake,” right?

People are more resilient than we think we are. We don’t always bounce right back up like those old inflatable punchy clowns, but we usually figure out how to add more air as needed and adjust. I’m surprised by something every day.

Did you know that scientists have unearthed an Egyptian woman with 70 hair extensions? Yes, someone counted them. An example of early Egyptian Art expression? Vanity? Certainly creative.

Do highly creative people with mental illness- paint, write, and create because their pathology drives them to do so? Do great works of art (songs, paintings, sculptures) exist because the creator is a tortured soul? Or are these works created despite the mental illnesses?

salus in ardunis sancte et sapienter

(A stronghold in difficulties with holiness and wisdom)

P.S. Thanks to Jenny Boylan, who not only read MY DOLLMAN, but wrote me a beautiful letter about it. I love your term “my rising son…”


Tattoos on lightning scars:

More on Alice In Wonderland Syndrome:

Adam NYPost:

Egyptian hair extensions:

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