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The World's First ARG and Down The Rabbit Hole to QAnon

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Alice in Wonderland, Sgt. Peppers, and QAnon all have one thing in common; they are all alternate reality games.

Alice in Wonderland, dead babies on a Beatles album, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Walt Disney. These are unlikely connections, I know. But trust me, there are connections. They prove nothing. They mean nothing. Until, that is, they do. And there’s a noose around democracy’s head and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are fighting each other. But let’s not jump to conclusions now. Let’s cannonball to conclusions, all the way down the rabbit hole.

The World's First ARG was a Book

Well, it didn’t actually begin as a book. Picture yourself on a boat on a river with a talented storyteller adlibbing as you went along. If something like this happened today, it would likely be described as an interactive, immersive theater experience. The story meandered, much like the stretch of Thames they rowed upon, called the Isis.

The story characters were like alternate reality doppelgangers of the listeners. The storyteller himself was a character. When he introduced himself he had a terrible stutter. His surname was Dodgson, which came out; Do.. Do.. Dodgson. Thus, he appeared in this alternate reality as the Dodo.

Inspired by The Isis

The only other adult on the boat was a teacher who worked with Dodgson named Robinson Duckworth. He asked Dodgson where these ideas came from and where they were going.

He was making it up on the spot. He let the Isis inspire him. For example, as they passed the Treacle Well, a sacred well at a small chapel, Dodgson invented a story within the story about three sisters who lived in a well. Though Alice Liddell was the hero of the story, she also appeared in this little story narrated by the Dormouse.

“Once upon a time there were three little sisters,” the Dormouse began in a great hurry; “and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well--”

“What did they live on?” said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

“They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after thinking for a minute or two.”

Elsie, Lacie and Tillie. Tillie was the nickname for Alice’s youngest sister, Elsie stands for L.C, Lorena Charlotte, Alice’s older sister, and Lacie is an anagram for Alice herself.

Anagrams, hidden meaning, secret doppelgangers, even math puzzles filled his stories. Alice Liddell thought it far too wonderful not to share. So Dodgson reluctantly brought Alice’s Adventures Under Ground into the world under the pen name Lewis Carroll. The world was reluctant as well. The book was largely ignored.

What is an ARG?

An ARG is an alternate reality game, best described as a game you pretend you’re not playing. It’s an interactive story driven by player decisions. It takes place in the real world in real time. Though no ARG is all these things at once, the best ARGs are the ones that tick the most boxes. Lewis Carroll ticked a lot of boxes when Alice Liddell and her sisters floated down that river. The book is merely a record of the story. Much like The Institute or Dispatches from Elsewhere are accounts of the ARG The Jejune Institute.

The Mysterious Missing Pages of Carroll’s Diary

Lewis Carroll's Diaries: The Private Journals of Charles Ludwig Dodgson can be bought with a few clicks on Amazon. All nine volumes of them. Yet it is the five missing pages, pages that Dodgson tore out himself, that are the most interesting. Everyone loves a good connect-the-dots and if the lines are somewhat perverted, all the better. The pages explain why he and the Liddell family had a falling out.

The documentary, The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, is an investigation into these five pages and Carroll’s and Alice’s estrangement. It includes first hand interviews with the Liddell children as well as letters between Alice and her older sister Lorena. The letter suggests the possibility that the family hoped Dodgson would be wed to the oldest daughter who had reached the age of consent. His refusal led to an irreconcilable dispute.

Was Lewis Carroll a Creep?

The most well known theory for the estrangement, however, was that Dodgson had behaved untoward. That’s a fancy way of saying he was a creep ass pedophile. Much has been speculated of the nude photos he’d taken and much has been explained away by the weird Victorian era ideas of art.

Whatever caused the rift it was not so grave that Carroll became a pariah. He remained in contact with the Liddell children and other children into their adulthoods. One of them, Julia Arnold, wrote Judge not too much and love in a deathbed note. Perhaps we should heed this advice when evaluating the contributions Carroll has made to English literature.

Afterall, why should we judge Dodgson's private life together with the poems and stories that have left so many children wide eyed in wonder? Speculation on his personal life can’t change this fact. Right? Not right. You can have your facts, but the… ah, the alternative facts, make a much more interesting picture. Because if he was a pedophile, then Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not a children’s classic, it’s a sinister sex slave handbook. All aboard! The next stop on the Rabbit Hole Express will be in a Brave New World.

Alice Inspires a Philosopher that Ushers in the Psychedelic Era

The recipient of Julia Arnold’s deathbed note was her son. Julia was a teacher and by the time she read her dear friend’s stories to him, they had grown popular. They were now titled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Her son’s wide eyed wonder left a deep impact that would be reflected in his own stories.

One of the earliest of her son’s stories was a screenplay that was bought but never filmed. It blended fact and fiction, live action and animation. It was trippy. It was meta. It was about a famous author who used a pen name to protect his reputation. The author in this story befriended a little girl and invited her to a performance of Romeo and Juliet. But the girl’s governess forbade it, seeing the relationship and the stories as entirely inappropriate. She locked the girl in the garden shed. The traumatized girl began to dissociate. She imagined the rope hanging from the roof was a caterpillar. She dealt with her pain by retreating to a wonderful, surreal, kind of twin of the world.

Can you Guess the Author, Guess Who Commissioned the Screenplay?

The screenplay was called Alice and the Mysterious Mr. Carroll, commissioned by an American by the name of Walt Disney. The author of the screenplay would later write a story about a future where the human spirit is subjected to conditioning and control called A Brave New World. That’s right, Aldous Huxley was the son of Carroll’s good friend, Julia.

The Beatles Made an ARG

If the World's First ARG was a Children’s Book - The Second is a Rock and Roll Album. Long after both Carroll and Huxley died they were pulled from the ether to appear in a photo with a rock and roll band. Huxley and Carroll were cardboard cutouts as were the actual real life band. The only non cutouts were the doppelgangers, members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The real life band was called the Beatles. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re worth a listen.

A member of this band, John, once gave an interview in which he talked about the influence Lewis Carroll had on the songs he wrote. Though the publication he spoke with has a white rabbit for its logo, there seems to be no direct connection with the rabbit of Wonderland.

PLAYBOY: "Where did 'Lucy in the Sky' come from?"

LENNON: "My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,' Simple."

PLAYBOY: "The other images in the song weren't drug-inspired?"

LENNON: "The images were from 'Alice in Wonderland. I was passionate about Alice in Wonderland and drew all the characters. I did poems in the style of Jabberwocky. I used to love Alice. (The song) was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky.”

Beatles I Am the Walrus lyrics fed into AI
I Am the Walrus lyrics fed into Midjourney

Playboy also asked about another of Lennon’s songs famous for enigmatic lyrics combed through by puzzle hunting fans - I am the Walrus.

LENNON: "It's from 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.' 'Alice in Wonderland.' To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it? (singing) 'I am the carpenter....'"

Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll and the Beatles imagined by AI
The AI prompt for this image was, "Picture yourself on a boat on a river with Tangerine Skies, Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell."

In an ARG You Never Admit That You’re Playing

A defining characteristic of an ARG is the belief that you are not playing a game at all. When Dodgson rowed down the Thames, his listeners were immersed in two realities. Huxley tried to capture this in his screenplay. This is why I argue Alice was an ARG. But how can a Sgt. Pepper’s be an ARG? There is no player agency. How do you even have players in a Rock and Roll album?

Paul is dead Sgt. Pepper's album art secret message.
Paul is Dead ARG

The World’s Second ARG - Paul is Dead

PLAYBOY: What about the line in 'I am the Walrus'... (correction: Strawberry Fields Forever) ...'I buried Paul'?"

LENNON: "I said 'Cranberry sauce.' That's all I said. Some people like ping-pong, other people like digging over graves. Some people will do anything rather than be here now."

If I had been hanging out with him after that interview, smoking a joint, staring at the ceiling at the Dakota, I’d say, “But John, I’d dig a grave any day over ping pong. Digging is in our DNA. Whether it’s our nose or a grave, the fun is in the mystery of what we might pull out. Oh by the way, if some dude in shades and an overcoat wants you to sign an album…”

And this is why we love ARGs. We want to be the one to solve the mystery. Not Sherlock Holmes. Not some kid in a Choose Your Own Adventure that looks nothing like me. Me, my mystery, an experience that is mine. I, me, mine. Being here now means getting off the sofa and using the skills coded in our DNA even if we have to invent games to fool ourselves.

Beatle's Yesterday and Today cover art and Paul is dead conspiracy.
Hey, why is Paul in a box? Just a sec. Let's rotate this.

Beatle's Yesterday and Today cover art and Paul is in a coffin.
Oh my gawd, Paul is in a coffin!

Did he blow his mind out in a car? Maybe he didn’t notice that the lights had changed. He’s been replaced by a phony, the one and only Billy Shears.

I know what you’re thinking. Sticking Paul in a trunk like that just invites conspiracy theorists. Edgy you say? Well imagine peeling back that image to reveal the smiling mugs of John, Paul, George and Ringo dressed as butchers with decapitated baby dolls and slabs of bloody flesh. That’s what Beatles memorabilia treasure hunters dream of. One of these albums signed by John fetched $234,000 at an auction in 2019.

Original album cover for The Beatle's Yesterday and Today.
Original album cover.

Why were the Beatles butchering babies? Let’s look at some more photos from the shoot.

Beatle's Yesterday and Today album art with sausages and someone that looks like Hillary Clinton.
Yup actual album art. Hey that haircut seems familiar.

Oh no! They made sausages!

When making a batshit sandwich it’s best to use real bread and butter. Here’s some truth butter we can lather on so people don’t focus on the shit in the middle. Aldous Huxley really did experiment with hallucinogens and wrote about it in his non-fiction book The Doors of Perception.

Aldous Huxley Door of Perception book cover and adrenochrome conspiracy origin.

The Doors rock band and Huxley's Doors of Perception.
The Doors named themselves after Huxley's book.

Huxley wrote, “Adrenochrome, which is a product of the decomposition of adrenalin, can produce many of the symptoms observed in mescaline intoxication.” It is true that Adrenochrome is the decomposition of adrenalin. According to Wikipedia, it was studied in the 50s and 60s as a possible cause of schizophrenia. However, Huxley never actually wrote that he consumed it.

A Doctor Joins Us Down the Rabbit Hole

Though the bread that holds all this shit together was baked by a doctor, the doctor himself was baked. He was not a doctor of medicine. His title was an honorary one from the Universal Life Church. That’s right, I’m talking about Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. He wrote in a style with himself as the protagonist that jumps between truth and fiction. In one scene of the Terry Gilliam film adaptation of his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas he does what Huxley never did.

Dr. Gonzo’s lawyer Duke lit on every drug known to man and asks Hunter to throw a tape recorder into the tub just as Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit is peaking. Later in an effort to come down, Duke finds Dr. Gonzo’s adrenochrome and tries it.

Add a Splash of Adrenochrome

"There's only one source for this stuff... the adrenaline glands from a living human body. It's no good if you get it out of a corpse."

What happens next is a surreal journey in which the fictional Dr. Gonzo, played by Johnny Depp, meets the real life Hunter S. Thompson. The surreal blurring of the lines between fact and fiction is part of the trip. Drugs and Wonderland seemed made for each other.

Indulge me a moment while I have a peak between these slices of bread.

My friend Hilary and I were having a drink at the 33 Club over at Disneyland. She ordered a glass of adrenochrome and I, a glass of Moloka.

“You know,” she continued saying, “If everyone tries to be Alice there’ll be no one whose gonna take the blue pill anymore.”

“There you go mixing metaphors again,” I said.

“What are you talking about?” Hill said, poking at the pizza on the table.

“The pills are from the Matrix, not Alice.”

I told her to Google it. She did and then looked up from her phone and said, “Good God it’s a Mandela Effect! Must be. Should I call Joe and ask them if our friend’s at Cern are having problems with Alice again?”

AI imagines Walt Disney and Hillary Clinton in a conspiracy.

“It’s from The Matrix.”

“I mean we can sit here and talk about whatever this so-called matrix is until the cows turn blue but in my reality Wonderland had pills.”



“Cows don’t turn blue. They come home. You mixed metaphors again.”

“Smurf cows are blue.”

From Dr. Thompson to Q - the Batshit Hits the Fan

In the latest incarnation of the brooding bat the anonymous puppet-master, The Riddler, says, “I mean, I had all the pieces, I had the answers. But I didn’t know how to make them listen… Together, we’ve unmasked it. Its corruption, its perversion masquerading under the guise of renewal… But unmasking is not enough.”

Read this again and spot the differences

In the latest incarnation of stranger than fiction the anonymous deep state mole, Q, says, “I have all the pieces. I have all the answers. But you need to do your own research. Together we’ll unmask it. Its corruption. Its perversion masquerading under the guise of Change you can count on. But unmasking is not enough.”

QAnon followers believe adrenochrome is a powerful drug harvested from tortured children and consumed by Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and others. A mole only known as Q is embedded in the Deep State. He or she has been releasing information called drops.

Huxley’s Alice is Scrapped and Stoner Alice Enters

The screenplay that Huxley wrote, Alice and the Mysterious Mr. Carroll, was never made into a film. After the United entered World War 2, many Disney animators left to fight in the war and the animation department scaled back. Song of the South became the first live action/animation hybrid. The Alice project became the Alice in Wonderland we all know and love. But the film was poorly received. But then LSD happened.

Thanks, in part, to Huxley’s Doors of Perception, stoners watched Alice in Wonderland from a different perspective. A baked perspective. Apparently it improved the movie. What would Aldous think? We’ll never know. But for some, adding hallucinogens to the handbook of abuse written by a pedophile was a blueprint for mind control. A blueprint used by the CIA for a project called MKUltra.

MKUltra - When Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Conspiracy theories have become synonymous with post truth wacko birds. But a conspiracy theory is simply a belief, possibly rational, that a covert, influential association is responsible for an unexplained, usually impactful, event.

Frank Olson hit the sidewalk in front of New York’s Pennsylvania Hotel after sailing from the 10th floor. I’d say that’s an impactful event. He worked for and was a guinea pig for the CIA. I’d say that’s a covert and influential association. Damn isn’t that what they’re named after?

Actually the CIA means Central Intelligence Agency and its very definition asks us to trust them as an information gathering resource. When they lie it undermines the struggle against post truthers.

Project MKUltra is the code name given to a program of experiments on human subjects that were designed and undertaken by the CIA, some of which were illegal. Experiments on humans were intended to develop procedures and identify drugs such as LSD to be used in interrogations in order to weaken the individual and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture. The project was organized through the Office of Scientific Intelligence of the CIA and coordinated with the United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories. Other code names for drug-related experiments were Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke.

That’s almost word for word, the first sentence in the Wikipedia entry for MkUltra. I poop you not. Here’s more: In December 2018, declassified documents included a letter to an unidentified doctor discussing work on six dogs made to run, turn and stop via remote control and brain implants.

The CIA already used LSD to augment hypnosis and undermine memory of the experiments so plugging in the secret history of Alice in Wonderland feels like a natural fit. Substitute adult subjects with children. Next, extrapolate a little and assume the CIA tortured them until their psyches fractured. Then these children created doubles for themselves to cope with the pain and alternate realities. This is much like Alice did when locked in the garden shed when she created Wonderland in Huxley’s screenplay. Huxley, after all, wrote the book on government behavior control in A Brave New World. Pedophile Lewis Carroll, druggie Aldous Huxley, mind controllers at the CIA, of course there’s a deep state of pedophiles torturing children to produce adrenochrome to ensure youth and eternal life.

In her 1995 book, Trance Formation of America, author Cathy O’Brien claims she was forced by the CIA to participate in Project MKUltra. According to O'Brien, under hypnosis she was able to recall memories of sexual abuse — of both herself and her daughter — by international pedophile rings, drug barons, and satanists, who allegedly used a form of "trauma based mind control programming" to make her a sex slave.

When YouTube gained popularity channels picking apart the satanic child abuse symbolism in Disney films became wildly popular. Online forums picked apart every detail from Hollywood celebs from Lindsay Lohan's cries for help to Beyonce’s flashing illuminati symbols.

When Do Your Own Research is Really Just a Choose Your Own Reality ARG

Then during the 1916 presidential campaign WikiLeaks published John Podesta’s emails. Nothing in them hinted at anything unbecoming. They found things like, “Do you want pizza tonight.” Well the online forums decided pizza didn’t mean pizza. Pizza was code for a tortured child. And the pizza place was in D.C.

On December 4, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch arrived at Comet Ping Pong and fired three shots from an AR-15 into Comet Ping Pong, the supposed location where pedophiles hung out. He told police he was self-investigating the torturing of children and harvesting adrenochrome in the basement. He expected to find a mass grave in the basement. Instead he found pizza and ping pong. John Lennon was right. Some people wanna dig graves and some just wanna play ping pong.

Pizzagate, as it came to be known, was a phenomenal success. Someone actually drove over to the Pizza place with a gun. It was proven that this game could have a call to action the people heed. What was needed was a clear protagonist and villain. Enter Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And clear call to actions, get out the vote, raise money. And if the protagonist loses, it will be Pizzagate times a hundred. Except it wasn’t times a hundred. It was 2500. And it wasn’t no pizza joint. It was the Capitol Building. They didn’t go to rescue children, they went to hang Mike Pence.

We live in a post truth world in a war to control the narrative. We fight little battles with TikTok and Instagram memes. We want to participate in, shape the directions of, stories that are bigger than ourselves. If we don’t make the games that let us do this, unseen puppet masters will build the games for us. We might not like the way they write the endings.

Now that you’ve read about the first ARG, have a look at a modern ARG in our post about the best ARG, Year Zero.

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