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Carrollian Syllogisms

Recently when not frantically trying to finish Hylozoic, I’ve been working on an email interview with Cris Hollingsworh and Steve Hooley, intended as a contribution for a volume of articles that Cris is editing: The Spaces of Wonderland (University of Iowa Press). My interview topic is my thoughts about Lewis Carroll and his influences on me. I even started rereading the two Alice books, having nothing else on my reading table just now—other than my notes about the maelstrom and beanstalk bridges to infinity in Hylozoic. More on that anon.

Re. the interview, I started thinking back to the mid 1980s when I read Carroll’s book The Game of Logic, and I described some of his ideas in the “Logic” chapter of my nonfiction book Mind Tools . Carroll made up these wonderfully mad syllogisms to illustrate modes of logical reasoning. The syllogisms are almost like haiku, where the restriction is that the three lines must represent a rigorously logical argument about three properties of things. The essence of a syllogism is that if you accept the first two premises, you are obliged to grant the correctness of the third.

In 1985 I myself wrote a series of transreal Carrollian syllogisms, each illustrating a distinct mode of reasoning, and each of them crafted them to express something about my personal life. (Here’s a link to syllogism info that I found on the fabulously comprehensive Lewis Carroll society page. I’ll quote five of my syllogisms here, taken from pp. 203-204 of Mind Tools, each preceded by a sentence of explanation.

[Most of today’s pictures are from Moffet field.]

I was living in Lynchburg, Virginia, the home town of evangelist Jerry Falwell.

No beggar is honest;
All evangelists are beggars.
No evangelist is honest.

I was out of my latest teaching job, even though I was in fact a popular teacher.

No teachers are enthusiastic;
You are enthusiastic.
You are not a teacher.

Ronald Reagan was president.

No president is a moron;
Some illiterates are morons.
Some illiterates are not president.

As always, my books were getting less recognition than I would have liked.

Every good book is readable;
Some classics are not readable.
Some classics are not good books.

As always, I was terminally out of step with mass culture.

Everything he likes is esoteric;
No esoteric things are on TV.
Nothing on TV is what he likes.

Kvetch, kvetch! Resent, resent! Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!

I’m happier now, these 23 years later, in my golden twilight age.

3 Responses to “Carrollian Syllogisms”

  1. Vanderleun Says:

    23 years. Humm, I guess you’re right. Man, turn around a decade’s gone.

  2. Gamma Says:

    thank u fur da daze dogone begonia & the pollen of plantz of variorium miiscukar fingw=erz hit wrong keys shud a learned to type – hey i really got off on the Holy Mountain (jodorowsksi)

    7 now St.Valentine sez


  3. unreliable narrator Says:

    These are very charming! That’s all, really.

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