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ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?

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  • mikeindex2001
    What would be the ten best - or the ten worst - theories about the meaning of the Alice books? Do they have meaning? Or is the meaning that they have no
    Message 1 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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      What would be the ten best - or the ten worst - theories about the
      'meaning' of the Alice books?

      Do they have meaning? Or is the meaning that they have no meaning? Do
      they - as Dodgson said they might - mean more than he intended? (can
      books mean more than their author intended?) Or are they just
      confections of charming nonsense?

      Why do so many people care?

      Mike
    • Moktefi
      Hi, My own conviction is that there is absolutely no moral in the Alice books, and this explains partly its success. But people like seeking morals. Last year,
      Message 2 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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        Hi,
        My own conviction is that there is absolutely no moral in the Alice books,
        and this explains partly its success.
        But people like seeking morals.
        Last year, I gave a presentation at Cambridge on the subject, and I claimed
        that there were no such morals in the Alice books, and I remember that
        people were very surprised (not to say scandalised)
        Amirouche


        -----Message d'origine-----
        De : lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com [mailto:lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com] De
        la part de mikeindex2001
        Envoyé : mardi 4 octobre 2005 11:38
        À : lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com
        Objet : [lewiscarroll] ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?

        What would be the ten best - or the ten worst - theories about the
        'meaning' of the Alice books?

        Do they have meaning? Or is the meaning that they have no meaning? Do
        they - as Dodgson said they might - mean more than he intended? (can
        books mean more than their author intended?) Or are they just
        confections of charming nonsense?

        Why do so many people care?

        Mike









        visit our homepage at:

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/

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      • Kate Lyon
        Hi Mike - yes - I believe that they have meaning, but that the meaning must be sought after by the reader. My theory, as you know by now, is that Carroll used
        Message 3 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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          Hi Mike - yes - I believe that they have meaning, but that the meaning must be sought after by the reader. My theory, as you know by now, is that Carroll used many references to myth i.e. archetypes in his works.  For example, the reference to the Aeneid in Alice in terms of the Pool of Tears. Virgil wrote about Coccytus (one of the bodies of water surrounding Hades) which was referred to in the Aeneid as the Pool of Tears/River of Tears. Putting all these references together - and there are many - one comes up with the universal theme of the search. Another is the Black Kitten and the wool at the beginning of TTLG - the theme of the search again, only drawing on the myth of Ariadne and Theseus - Ariadne gives to Theseus a ball of wool, to help him journey to the centre of the labyrinth and find his way out again safely. I think this is why the books appeal to so many people - one finds one's own truth, and like the Grail search, the questions are more important than the answers. The answers have always been there, but finding the right question is the key. And just about everything in the books - including Alice - asks questions.
           
          Kate 
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Moktefi
          Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 10:47 PM
          Subject: RE: [lewiscarroll] ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?


          Hi,
          My own conviction is that there is absolutely no moral in the Alice books,
          and this explains partly its success.
          But people like seeking morals.
          Last year, I gave a presentation at Cambridge on the subject, and I claimed
          that there were no such morals in the Alice books, and I remember that
          people were very surprised (not to say scandalised)
          Amirouche


          -----Message d'origine-----
          De : lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com [mailto:lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com] De
          la part de mikeindex2001
          Envoyé : mardi 4 octobre 2005 11:38
          À : lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com
          Objet : [lewiscarroll] ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?

          What would be the ten best - or the ten worst - theories about the
          'meaning' of the Alice books?

          Do they have meaning? Or is the meaning that they have no meaning? Do
          they - as Dodgson said they might - mean more than he intended? (can
          books mean more than their author intended?) Or are they just
          confections of charming nonsense?

          Why do so many people care?

          Mike









          visit our homepage  at:

          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/

          to unsubscribe  send a blank email to:
          lewiscarroll-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com 
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        • BRYAN TALBOT
          ... Worst: That it s a coded mathematical treatise? That it s a collection of anagrams revealing that Carroll is Jack the Ripper? That it s a disguised secret
          Message 4 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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            > What would be the ten best - or the ten worst -
            > theories about the
            > 'meaning' of the Alice books?
            >
            Worst:

            That it's a coded mathematical treatise? That it's a
            collection of anagrams revealing that Carroll is Jack
            the Ripper? That it's a disguised secret diary of
            Queen Victoria? That it's a secret diary actually
            written by Alice Liddell? That it reveals that Carroll
            wrote it under the influence of psychedelic drugs?

            Er, any more?

            Bryan
          • Darien Graham-Smith
            ... Abraham Ettleson, in Lewis Carroll s Through the Looking Glass Decoded , helpfully explains that TTLG is a story about the history of Judaism. And
            Message 5 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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              On 10/4/05, BRYAN TALBOT <bryan.talbot@...> wrote:
              >
              > That it's a coded mathematical treatise? That it's a
              > collection of anagrams revealing that Carroll is Jack
              > the Ripper? That it's a disguised secret diary of
              > Queen Victoria? That it's a secret diary actually
              > written by Alice Liddell? That it reveals that Carroll
              > wrote it under the influence of psychedelic drugs?
              >
              > Er, any more?

              Abraham Ettleson, in "Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass'
              Decoded", helpfully explains that TTLG is a story about the history of
              Judaism. And Richard Wallace's "The Agony of Lewis Carroll" is just
              too extraordinary to even talk about.

              D.
            • Cikayda54@aol.com
              Kate has a point. Any meaning will be determined by the reader. By definition, the approach is unique and indivividual. The meaning of and to the Alice
              Message 6 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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                Kate has a point. Any "meaning" will be determined by the reader. By definition, the approach is unique and indivividual. The meaning of and to the Alice books, the meaning of and to life.
                Question. Seek out adventure.
                Play cards and croquet!?!
              • RICHARD ANTHONY
                For the answer to this lot take a listen to the Beatles GLASS ONION ... On 10/4/05, BRYAN TALBOT ... Jack ... Carroll ... Abraham
                Message 7 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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                  For the answer to this lot take a listen to the
                  Beatles GLASS ONION
                  --- Darien Graham-Smith <darien@...> wrote:


                  ---------------------------------
                  On 10/4/05, BRYAN TALBOT <bryan.talbot@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > That it's a coded mathematical treatise? That it's a
                  > collection of anagrams revealing that Carroll is
                  Jack
                  > the Ripper? That it's a disguised secret diary of
                  > Queen Victoria? That it's a secret diary actually
                  > written by Alice Liddell? That it reveals that
                  Carroll
                  > wrote it under the influence of psychedelic drugs?
                  >
                  > Er, any more?

                  Abraham Ettleson, in "Lewis Carroll's 'Through the
                  Looking Glass'
                  Decoded", helpfully explains that TTLG is a story
                  about the history of
                  Judaism. And Richard Wallace's "The Agony of Lewis
                  Carroll" is just
                  too extraordinary to even talk about.

                  D.


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                • Keith Wright
                  Whilst the meaning of any piece of writing is ultimately determined by the reader s interpretation of it, there are clues in any piece of writing as to its
                  Message 8 of 16 , Oct 4, 2005
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                    Whilst the meaning of any piece of writing is ultimately determined by the reader's interpretation of it, there are clues in any piece of writing as to its purpose. So what has not been answered in this debate on coding in CLD's works is why.
                     
                    If Alice, Snark etc. are coded messages aka Animal Farm then why did CLD do this coding?  If they are codes then what purpose did they serve and why did people closer to CLD's time not see the parallels? 
                     
                    I doubt if Alice Underground was coded as it was told to the three girls on the boat and Alice and her sisters made no comment regarding it not being as per the original as told to them. If I was seeking any coding in Alice, which I'm not, I would look at the differences between Underground and AIW!
                     
                    Keith
                     
                     
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 5:57 PM
                    Subject: Re: [lewiscarroll] ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?

                    Kate has a point. Any "meaning" will be determined by the reader. By definition, the approach is unique and indivividual. The meaning of and to the Alice books, the meaning of and to life.
                    Question. Seek out adventure.
                    Play cards and croquet!?!
                  • mikeindex2001
                    I agree about Wallace s homosexual Jack the Ripper theory. It would probably get my vote as the worst ever attempt to decode Alice (though to be exact he
                    Message 9 of 16 , Oct 5, 2005
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                      I agree about Wallace's 'homosexual Jack the Ripper' theory. It would
                      probably get my vote as the worst ever attempt to decode
                      'Alice'(though to be exact he was using the Nursery Alice and Snark).

                      But how about the one that tries to interpret the stories as being all
                      about a theoretical journey Dodgson took to Cornwall - the clue being
                      that the dimensions of the Tamar Bridge are carefully concealed in the
                      text?

                      Or the one that suggests the wigs of the frog and fish footmen are
                      pubic hair tangling together during the sexual act?

                      So, what's the difference,do we think, between a good, stimulating,
                      interesting theory and one which makes us simply smile or groan? Is it
                      totally personal? Is the search for meaning here completely
                      subjective? Or is that simply a post-modernist cop-out?


                      Mike

                      -----------------------------------------------------------------
                    • arnemail@dds.nl
                      Scientifically speaking, one thing I can think of is that all good theories should be falsifiable. In other words, to the question is it possible to prove
                      Message 10 of 16 , Oct 5, 2005
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                        Scientifically speaking, one thing I can think of is that all good theories
                        should be falsifiable. In other words, to the question "is it possible to prove
                        your theory wrong?" the answer should always be "yes, namely by X".

                        Another nice one is asking why one should prefer THIS theory's over other,
                        sometimes more common or more plausible, theories.

                        And yet another good one is asking why nobody noticed this theory before. and
                        why they think so many people are sceptical about it?

                        The answers to all these questions should tell us something about the quality
                        of the theory.

                        Arne










                        Citeren mikeindex2001 <Mike@...>:

                        >
                        > I agree about Wallace's 'homosexual Jack the Ripper' theory. It would
                        > probably get my vote as the worst ever attempt to decode
                        > 'Alice'(though to be exact he was using the Nursery Alice and Snark).
                        >
                        > But how about the one that tries to interpret the stories as being all
                        > about a theoretical journey Dodgson took to Cornwall - the clue being
                        > that the dimensions of the Tamar Bridge are carefully concealed in the
                        > text?
                        >
                        > Or the one that suggests the wigs of the frog and fish footmen are
                        > pubic hair tangling together during the sexual act?
                        >
                        > So, what's the difference,do we think, between a good, stimulating,
                        > interesting theory and one which makes us simply smile or groan? Is it
                        > totally personal? Is the search for meaning here completely
                        > subjective? Or is that simply a post-modernist cop-out?
                        >
                        >
                        > Mike
                        >
                        > -----------------------------------------------------------------
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > visit our homepage at:
                        >
                        > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/
                        >
                        > to unsubscribe send a blank email to:
                        > lewiscarroll-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                      • Darien Graham-Smith
                        ... As you observe, Alice s Adventures Underground was more or less extemporised, and Carroll said in Alice on the Stage (1884 or something like that) that the
                        Message 11 of 16 , Oct 5, 2005
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                          On 10/4/05, Keith Wright <keith@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > If Alice, Snark etc. are coded messages aka Animal Farm then why did CLD do
                          > this coding? If they are codes then what purpose did they serve and why did
                          > people closer to CLD's time not see the parallels?

                          As you observe, Alice's Adventures Underground was more or less
                          extemporised, and Carroll said in Alice on the Stage (1884 or
                          something like that) that the extra stuff that made up Wonderland and
                          Looking Glass also just came into his head unbidden. Of course we only
                          have his word for this, but it rings true to me, for various
                          biographical and stylistic reasons.

                          So I personally don't look for secret messages hidden by Carroll in
                          the text; rather, I look at themes and symbols as potential hints as
                          to the sorts of things that were on Carroll's mind at the time. I
                          don't think this is a very controversial or even interesting position,
                          but that's my take on it.

                          D.
                        • Keith Wright
                          My take on it is that I am quite prepared to accept a de-coding as long as it can be proved. People have mocked this idea of proof but I m not talking here
                          Message 12 of 16 , Oct 5, 2005
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                            My take on it is that I am quite prepared to accept a de-coding as long as
                            it can be proved. People have mocked this idea of 'proof' but I'm not
                            talking here of legal proof just proof that makes sense to someone without
                            an axe to grind. Theories such as the Jack the Ripper one arise out of an
                            author's need to seek fame as the originator of some new slant on LC but, as
                            in his case, they often fail to do their homework so end up writing a farce.

                            Up to now I've seen no credible evidence of any coding in Alice.

                            Keith



                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "Darien Graham-Smith" <darien@...>
                            To: <lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 2:43 PM
                            Subject: Re: [lewiscarroll] ten best (or worst) theories about 'Alice'?


                            > On 10/4/05, Keith Wright <keith@...> wrote:
                            >>
                            >> If Alice, Snark etc. are coded messages aka Animal Farm then why did CLD
                            >> do
                            >> this coding? If they are codes then what purpose did they serve and why
                            >> did
                            >> people closer to CLD's time not see the parallels?
                            >
                            > As you observe, Alice's Adventures Underground was more or less
                            > extemporised, and Carroll said in Alice on the Stage (1884 or
                            > something like that) that the extra stuff that made up Wonderland and
                            > Looking Glass also just came into his head unbidden. Of course we only
                            > have his word for this, but it rings true to me, for various
                            > biographical and stylistic reasons.
                            >
                            > So I personally don't look for secret messages hidden by Carroll in
                            > the text; rather, I look at themes and symbols as potential hints as
                            > to the sorts of things that were on Carroll's mind at the time. I
                            > don't think this is a very controversial or even interesting position,
                            > but that's my take on it.
                            >
                            > D.
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > visit our homepage at:
                            >
                            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/
                            >
                            > to unsubscribe send a blank email to:
                            > lewiscarroll-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                            > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                          • Goetz Kluge
                            This is an old, but interesting thread. ... theories ... possible to prove ... Referring to authority is one possible way. However, for new ideas often no
                            Message 13 of 16 , Jan 4, 2009
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                              This is an old, but interesting thread.

                              --- In lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com, arnemail@... wrote:

                              >
                              > Scientifically speaking, one thing I can think of is that all good
                              theories
                              > should be falsifiable. In other words, to the question "is it
                              possible to prove
                              > your theory wrong?" the answer should always be "yes, namely by X".
                              >

                              Referring to authority is one possible way. However, for new ideas
                              often no authoriy is available. It was a child who openly told, that
                              the emperor was naked.


                              > Another nice one is asking why one should prefer THIS theory's over
                              other,
                              > sometimes more common or more plausible, theories.

                              In the statement, "The Snark is X", the "is" can be a prolbem. That is
                              what feeds discussions ;-) One possible approach is to use tools like
                              fuzzy logic (which is not fuzzy but deals with fuzziness) in order to
                              determine the "strength" of "is" for the various objects assigned to
                              X. As an result you get several statements, where the "is" has various
                              strengths.

                              Well, anyway, at least we know that Snark *was* a Boojum.
                              http://www.snarkdown.de/SnarkBoojumStates.pdf

                              >
                              > And yet another good one is asking why nobody noticed this theory
                              before. and
                              > why they think so many people are sceptical about it?

                              Good question with a good answer provided by the recent economical
                              crisis. Why had so many people been sceptical about those, who
                              questioned the financial system?

                              This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
                              (On moderate terms), or for sale,
                              Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
                              And one Against Damage From Hail.

                              Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
                              Whenever the Butcher was by,
                              The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
                              And appeared unaccountably shy.

                              Looking the other way could be an explanation for why nobody noticed
                              any theory. Even in these times presidents, who af all kinds of
                              intelligence at hand, looked the other way in order to be able to go
                              to war.

                              > The answers to all these questions should tell us something about
                              the quality
                              > of the theory.
                              >
                              > Arne
                              >

                              If there is a set of explanations for a theory available, it can be
                              helpful not only to observe the discussion about the most probable
                              explanation. Also the explanations which are excluded from the
                              discussion should be rechecked from time to time. If the discussion is
                              "difficult", one could find a protected environment within which one
                              could dig deeper.

                              Goetz
                            • fernando soto
                              Hi All, There are some good responses put forth by Goetz. I also have my two cents to throw in. I wonder what happens when we turn this general scientific
                              Message 14 of 16 , Jan 4, 2009
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                                Hi All,

                                There are some good responses put forth by Goetz. I also have my two cents to throw in.

                                I wonder what happens when we turn this general "scientific" theory upon itself and ask "is this 'good' theory about theories wrong, or falsifiable?" I guess we could end up at the paradox palace with this type of outlandish thinking!

                                Without going into meta-stuff, what happens when we hit upon a right answer. Would we then still apply this type of theory? Say to the Oedipal riddle one answers "Man!" and thus avoids being destroyed by the Sphinx. Now we would say that this "answer" ought to be able to be negated, say by the answer "Cat!", the Sphinx brought back and for the riddled to willfully jump into the Sphinx' jaws? This type of thinking, unless I am missing something, seems to apply only to weak or wrong answers, which of course can be "negated," particularly by the right answer!

                                All best,

                                Fernando


                                --- On Mon, 1/5/09, Goetz Kluge <goetzkluge.0001@...> wrote:

                                > From: Goetz Kluge <goetzkluge.0001@...>
                                > Subject: [lewiscarroll] Best (or worst) theories about the Snark?
                                > To: lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com
                                > Date: Monday, January 5, 2009, 12:48 AM
                                > This is an old, but interesting thread.
                                >
                                > --- In lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com, arnemail@... wrote:
                                >
                                > >
                                > > Scientifically speaking, one thing I can think of is
                                > that all good
                                > theories
                                > > should be falsifiable. In other words, to the question
                                > "is it
                                > possible to prove
                                > > your theory wrong?" the answer should always be
                                > "yes, namely by X".
                                > >
                                >
                                > Referring to authority is one possible way. However, for
                                > new ideas
                                > often no authoriy is available. It was a child who openly
                                > told, that
                                > the emperor was naked.
                                >
                                >
                                > > Another nice one is asking why one should prefer THIS
                                > theory's over
                                > other,
                                > > sometimes more common or more plausible, theories.
                                >
                                > In the statement, "The Snark is X", the
                                > "is" can be a prolbem. That is
                                > what feeds discussions ;-) One possible approach is to use
                                > tools like
                                > fuzzy logic (which is not fuzzy but deals with fuzziness)
                                > in order to
                                > determine the "strength" of "is" for
                                > the various objects assigned to
                                > X. As an result you get several statements, where the
                                > "is" has various
                                > strengths.
                                >
                                > Well, anyway, at least we know that Snark *was* a Boojum.
                                > http://www.snarkdown.de/SnarkBoojumStates.pdf
                                >
                                > >
                                > > And yet another good one is asking why nobody noticed
                                > this theory
                                > before. and
                                > > why they think so many people are sceptical about it?
                                >
                                > Good question with a good answer provided by the recent
                                > economical
                                > crisis. Why had so many people been sceptical about those,
                                > who
                                > questioned the financial system?
                                >
                                > This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
                                > (On moderate terms), or for sale,
                                > Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
                                > And one Against Damage From Hail.
                                >
                                > Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
                                > Whenever the Butcher was by,
                                > The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
                                > And appeared unaccountably shy.
                                >
                                > Looking the other way could be an explanation for why
                                > nobody noticed
                                > any theory. Even in these times presidents, who af all
                                > kinds of
                                > intelligence at hand, looked the other way in order to be
                                > able to go
                                > to war.
                                >
                                > > The answers to all these questions should tell us
                                > something about
                                > the quality
                                > > of the theory.
                                > >
                                > > Arne
                                > >
                                >
                                > If there is a set of explanations for a theory available,
                                > it can be
                                > helpful not only to observe the discussion about the most
                                > probable
                                > explanation. Also the explanations which are excluded from
                                > the
                                > discussion should be rechecked from time to time. If the
                                > discussion is
                                > "difficult", one could find a protected
                                > environment within which one
                                > could dig deeper.
                                >
                                > Goetz
                              • Goetz Kluge
                                ... two cents to throw in. ... upon itself and ask is this good theory about theories wrong, or falsifiable? I guess we could end up at the paradox
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jan 4, 2009
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                                  --- In lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com, fernando soto <ferjsoto42@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Hi All,
                                  >
                                  > There are some good responses put forth by Goetz. I also have my
                                  two cents to throw in.
                                  >
                                  > I wonder what happens when we turn this general "scientific" theory
                                  upon itself and ask "is this 'good' theory about theories wrong, or
                                  falsifiable?" I guess we could end up at the paradox palace with
                                  this type of outlandish thinking!
                                  >
                                  > Without going into meta-stuff, what happens when we hit upon a right
                                  answer. Would we then still apply this type of theory? Say to the
                                  Oedipal riddle one answers "Man!" and thus avoids being destroyed by
                                  the Sphinx. Now we would say that this "answer" ought to be able to
                                  be negated, say by the answer "Cat!", the Sphinx brought back and for
                                  the riddled to willfully jump into the Sphinx' jaws? This type of
                                  thinking, unless I am missing something, seems to apply only to weak
                                  or wrong answers, which of course can be "negated," particularly by
                                  the right answer!
                                  >
                                  > All best,
                                  >
                                  > Fernando
                                  >

                                  <Goetz 2009-01-05b>
                                  Here I adhere to authority, that is, to Humpty Dumpty's theory. In
                                  case of the Snark, I look for at least *two* right answers. And "what
                                  happens when we hit upon a right answer?" We may be in trouble. Does
                                  that have an impact on our selection of answers to be considered?

                                  2:26 p.m. in Munich, I think, I go to bed now.
                                  Looking forward to talk to you later,
                                  </Goetz 2009-01-05b>
                                • Goetz Kluge
                                  ... Sorry. a.m. So it s really time to go to bed.
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Jan 4, 2009
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                                    >
                                    > 2:26 p.m. in Munich, I think, I go to bed now.
                                    > Looking forward to talk to you later,
                                    > </Goetz 2009-01-05b>
                                    >

                                    Sorry. a.m.

                                    So it's really time to go to bed.
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