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i think lewis carroll has an influence on our perceptions of being mad for three reasons:
1. we read it as kids and dont enquire further into being mad when we get older
2. it forms part of our general knowledge.
3. Carroll is a great author, a genuis and has written a classic book
do you think all this affects our perceptions as being mad as comical?
Not quite. Carroll represented insanity in humorous ways. His characters were nonsensical but delightful to imagine. His words were nonsensical and had a lyrical tone to them, making the sentences he wrote and ideas that they described pleasant. As children we have no concept of "madness." Our general knowledge usually does not connect insanity with Carroll's stories. On the other hand, he certainly was a genius and his books are interpreted by many of the sciences including psychiatry. I think we may see insanity as humorous because we joke about what we fear and do not understand.
because he was a genuis is it that many people will be influenced by it?
No, sorry, I did not mean to imply that being a genius alone made him influential. His ability to make up words which sound like real words (some have been adapted and put in dictionaries), his creation of a world where a character can go and then return is a childhood desire which lives in us. His characterizations of creatures who are clearly not sane, but spout seemingly sane advice makes his writing both memorable and influential.
i was wondering with Carroll if there is a distinction between genuis and great genuis? Also is it that mad as a hatter is still a phrase used today?
I see Alice is in the movies now.
Yes, mad as a hatter is still used today. Genius is a generalized binary state; one either is or is not. There are generally no degrees of genius. There were two Alice books ... "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." The most recent "Alice in Wonderland" movie came out in 2010 and the "Through the Looking Glass" movie is the one in theaters now.
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as mad as a hatter is still used does it still carry meaning?
also mad is used to dscribe a range of conditions: is it one of Carrolls portmanteau words?
Mad as a hatter is a flippant way to say a person is perhaps reckless or adventuresome.
No, mad was not a portmanteau word. His portmanteau words were combinations (two words packed into the same suitcase). Some of my favorites were chortle and galumph (actually words I use). The first one I learned was "slithy" which I thought was quite descriptive of a quiet movement. It is from "Jabberwocky" ... "'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe." ... can't you just see them?
i came across this definition on the web for mad as a hatter:
That is to say, crazy—like, really, really crazy.
is it valid>
Hmm .. yes I see them as well. Not in my family. We used the expression to fondly ***** ***** who was a little bit different from others and who usually had little disregard for their personal well being. We also used the word "kooky" in the same vein.
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so just one last question: mad as a hatter can means really really crazy today as well?
We are generally a bit kinder when speaking of mental illness and do not attach such expressions. It is a form of name calling which is also a form of bullying. I would recommend that you do not use the expression to describe someone who is diagnosed as mentally ill.
If you are referring to someone who behaves erratically, but who would not be considered mentally ill, then please use it with kindess and a fond, friendly attitude, not as a put down.
what I mean is would other people use mad as a hatter in a derogatory way today?
I don't think so. They might use it in a dismissive way to explain someone's behavior. For example, if a person has 10 cats, someone might say, well, they are mad as a hatter anyway. It is a figure of speech. "She threw away all her dishes. She's mad as a hatter." Use it like you would "mad as a March hare" or "He was driver her mad" or "If I work like mad, I might pass this test"