Invited to the surreal world of a Mad Hatter tea party

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 February, 2024 at 9:05 am by Andre Camilleri

The Mad Hatter is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass. The nonsensical antics of the characters in the Mad Hatter’s tea party story serve as a vehicle for the author to explore deeper philosophical and existential themes in Victorian times.

Here are some interpretations of the deeper meanings behind their nonsensical behaviour and how it can relate to the present day scenario. The absurdity of the tea party can be interpreted as a reflection of the existential confusion experienced by Malta’s citizens when grappling with questions of climate change, power cuts, environment protection and our true identity.

In the book, we meet a number of characters engaging in nonsensical conversations which challenge traditional notions of rationality and logic, inviting us all to question the stability and coherence of our own perceptions in the realm of daily financial scandals.

Not to forget the assassination of a blogger, who was demonised by state propaganda and is still awaiting genuine closure from her family after six years. The chaotic and irrational nature of the tea party serves as a metaphor for the inherent absurdity of a daily bombardment of NAO inspections, in its search for concealed abuses in state procurement, including unauthorised public expenditure (mostly by the multiple issue of direct orders).

This makes us conscious of our plight when we witness the growing number of low-wage families who strive to survive the mad rush to remain solvent till the end of the month’s cycle. The imaginative story written by Carroll depicts Victorian-age Britain in its convoluted absurdity and in doing so, reminds us of a negligent attitude of our resolve to fight climate change, maintain ecological balances, hail sustainability, halt the rise of congested air during our daily commutes caused by chaotic “bumper to bumper” traffic. It is a reality check which shows the futility of trying to impose order and meaning onto an island, which is attracting three million plus of low-value tourists (mostly renting Airbnb).

The nonsensical antics underscore the absurdity of our human endeavours and the ultimately futile quest for understanding ourselves in a demographic that was advised to recruit low-wage TCNs. Housing is now too expensive for them, and hospitals are brimming with patients who for lack of space, wait long hours in emergency halls on temporary stretchers.

Back to the Alice in Wonderland story, one relates to the nonsensical conversations and riddles exchanged by the characters. Observers explore the human quest for meaning and purpose in a seemingly meaningless world with a full scale war in Ukraine and expanding hostilities in the Middle East. This challenges our sanity with endless repetition and lack of progress to end such wars, symbolises the existential ennui that arises from the search for meaning in an absurd universe. Invited tea imbibers reflect humanity’s struggle to find purpose in a world that often defies rational explanation. How can we partake of the surreal setting of this tea party scene when politicians assure us that we are living in a land of milk and honey with low unemployment, controlled prices due to a hushed “Stabbilta” scheme and a high economic performance of superlative GDP growth.

Banks are reporting bumper profits yet sadly no regulator defends depositors being deprived of recent rate increases advised by the ECB. Nobody stops the party and questions how our artificial existence can be interpreted as a critique of social conformity and the oppressive nature of societal norms.

The propaganda machine churns news from two exclusive TV stations hoodwinking islanders by proclaiming that we are living in a bubble of perpetual bliss. Regular issue of cheque payments whet the appetite of party loyalists who reminisce the golden years of L-Aqwa Zmien during the Joseph Muscat’s brief interregnum. Now with only 15 weeks to the highly contested MEP elections, both parties are beating the drums reminding one and all to vote.

Try to forget how the weekly COLA payments, hailed by MCSED, allegedly tackle all woes of rising cost of living problems, yet the state refuses to exempt from tax, such welfare cheques. But party apologists jettisons this absurdity, harken us all to join the tea party and celebrate the power of the omnipresent partisan umbrella which for plebs transcends logic and reason. Castille encourages the populace to embrace the whimsical and fantastical aspects of life, suggesting that adhering to party alliances offers a pathway to liberation from the limitations of rational thinking. Returning, to the Mad Hatter tea party, we cannot turn a blind eye that a paid piper (a young economist paid by the Tourism Ministry) made us believe how the funding of €145m to international film crews is beneficial to enhance our GDP – returning a miraculous multiple of three. Any serious economist challenges this fake conclusion (as expected, such a study is strongly barred from publication). 

In conclusion, the Mad Hatter tea party represents extremist figures on both the right and left ends of the political spectrum who both exhibit irrational and chaotic behaviour. These individuals often engage in surreal rhetoric that disrupts reasoned discourse and perpetuates divisiveness.

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