My Notes on The Magical Carousel by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, second chapter, Gemini.1
As the story gains altitude and begins its sojourn into Gemini, we meet the creature representative of the sign which is described as a flighty and colorful bird. The trajectory of its flight is haphazard, the colors blue and yellow brighten the picture. The bird seems distracted.
We are introduced to a new land, or dimension, and the unfamiliar territory that is Gemini is described much as you might expect. The land is in the “clouds” and people are making their way hither and yon with great haste, in pairs, and with books under arm. Of course, it is well understood that everyone is chatting away as if there were no tomorrow.
The bird leaves the children on the cloud still stuck inside the cage and flies off. One gets the sense that the hustle and bustle mentioned is not only busy, but almost humorous in a way, in a Keystone Cops kind of way. Val finds the Key with the 3 on it and tries it on the lock. It works! They are free! And spring out of the cage with “joy.” Entraining with the pulse and pace of the land “the children rush out and are about to dash off when Val remembers her picture-book.” She reaches back and snatches it just in time.
Everyone is busy everywhere, noses in books, and bustling about. Most people are paying attention to their own thing and uninterested in the children but at the same time making a cacophony of sound “because all are reading to themselves out loud.” This again makes me laugh, not because the people are trying to be funny at all, but because their mannerisms are just funny to the point of silliness, yet not without losing a certain cute factor. There are many things to be curious about. People have the appearance that they are going somewhere but at the same time there are many changes of direction as if everyone were walking in circles. It becomes confusing so Val and PomPom decide to try and find out where the crowd is off to and what the destination happens to be.
Things began strange and suddenly get stranger when someone calls out to PomPom for him to explain where the “other half” of him is… PomPom runs to Val and “they cling to each other” afraid to make a move or upset the people walking around in twos. They can’t decide what to do, but quickly more of these creatures increasingly vie for their attention. That’s when two characters pop into the scene who might be played by the famous Abbot and Costello, or Laurel and Hardy. They speak in unison and are so coordinated that they act as if they share one mind. Once again, the dialogue has some excellent punchline material if it were to be put in a screenplay.
Geof and Frie try and reassure the children by telling them, “Have no fear. You have come a long way in ignorance but finally here in Geminiland your education begins.” The conversation then goes on to talk about “words” which are a mainstay of the dietary discourse, and rambling explanations to the point of everyone walking around as if they were in medical school, or law school, studying constantly. The twins respond that everyone was studying for the big Exam of course. The children are invited along to learn, and they approach a building where people are scurrying in like ants, racing to take their places. As it turns out, the building is home to a large lecture hall where they are to meet the Professors, who enter the hall as a pair, just like everyone else. There are housekeeping issues, roll call, and “a hundred things at once” to do but nothing distracts the professors or students from the business at hand. The testing begins and the questions cover every conceivable topic, with each student pair answering in perfect unison.
A wrinkle in the story appears when the professors stumble over Val and PomPom’s names last. First, the sound of their names doesn’t flow and secondly, they strain to see where these students with such strange names are hiding in the lecture hall. The interchange between the professors and the children confuses one more than the other and has a little bit of the “Who’s on First” cadence and vibe going on, taken from the skit Abbot and Costello made so famous. The class erupts in laughter.
Geof and Frie intervene at the last minute and the professors reluctantly agree to give the children one last try, at answering questions, which they had failed miserably at the first time. Val still has the picture book under her arm and the professors ask to see it. The professors are aghast at the pages when they open the book and see only pictures. The assumption made about the children is that they are “feeling beings” and not “thinking beings” since there are no words in their book. They are therefore given the equivalent of detention and assigned to stay back and finish their studies, to prepare for the exam again next year, which of course won’t do for the children because they are on a schedule. PomPom objects but the professors fail them for displaying SUPER EMOTION instead of SUPER INTELLECT, and they note that they are of opposite sex, instead of unisex.
The class murmurs in agreement and that matter seems to be settled. People are bored at this point with the goings on and want to be done with the matter. Distraught, the children are led out where the “winged messenger” appears who snatches them back up with a clever whisk and a whoosh and flies away with the children remounted on the bird’s back. They turn to wave goodbye to the twins, but the twins are already preoccupied with something else. They are planning a dance. The bird is merrily whistling a tune and then is overcome with attention and focus, hitting its stride, in course its descent becomes a plunge, “down and down they go and the father they descend the darker it becomes. Down they go into the unknown, down into the night.”
1 Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2017). The Magical Carousel and Commentaries: A Zodiacal Odyssey (2017th ed.). Notion Press, Inc.