My Notes on The Magical Carousel by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, sixth chapter, Virgo.1
The children land with a “thunk” in Virgoland, and not just a little discombobulated for having plunged down the chimney stack. Immediately we notice how personal picadilloes and peevishness quickly come to the surface. They seem easily irritated over minuscule things. Each takes a turn annoying the other, easily upset by bothersome behaviors. But the dialog is quite funny in the way that situational comedy makes us laugh. Small, and petty actions that at a distance can be hilarious in a wry sort of way.
No time is wasted opening the chapter to a highly efficient introduction of Virgo themes: sensitivity, upset, irritation, feeling put out, worry, feeling limited, and fearful, just to name a few attributes. ALL these descriptors land on the first page of the chapter. The children also display how easy it is to be error prone in a time and space that will be asking them for more accuracy, precision, and deliberate consideration. For example, Pom-pom thinks he’s lost his ability to “see” but it’s only because his crown has fallen cockeyed, covering his eyes like a mask. But Val offers an example of her own when she seems certain that she’s found the symbol and number on the gate to indicate which key will help them out of their predicament and onto the next leg of their journey. She is head over tea kettle and reading the glyph and number upside down, but assumes she is perfectly upright on this point with her analysis. She asks Pom-pom for the number 9 key in error, and they get into an argument about which is the “right” key, until Val sees for herself that the correct key is the number 6 key as she turns herself the right way round in the process of arguing her point. Disregarding her embarrassment for being wrong and swallowing her pride she pushes forward. The children enter a tidy and clean room. (One of the most extraordinary insights reading TMC is how each utterance contained in each chapter signifies specific meanings that correspond to the Sign of the zodiac represented by that chapter. The work here in chapter 6 is subtle, and impeccable.)
There is noise abuzz outside the room, but inside is a quaint and organized space that is inviting. The setting exudes a place of sustenance and recuperation. There is a bed, bread, and milk on the table. Just as they are about to help themselves to a glass of milk the children are startled by a ruckus of screams and shouts, the noise comes rolling into the room like thunderous storm cloud, but it is in fact a group of women in obvious panic. They hurl names and insults at the children for their dirty and foul appearance, encouraging them to “shoo away,” waving their brooms, and dust mops in hand. But there is no turning back for the children. Bamboozled by the strict harshness expressed by the women, the children look at each other momentarily, seeking some clue as to who might have the best idea for an escape route. But when they see the sight of themselves in each other’s eyes they start to laugh uncontrollably. Never have they seen each other in such disarray.
Developments continue but not before the women first produce a plan, which is to take the children by the scruff of their pants and walk them down to a waiting room that leads to the washroom. There is an ornery middle-aged woman doing her clerking at the desk, who’s tasked to discern what brings the children in for their appointment… The women ushering the children along relay the ‘nature’ of their business in private to the clerk. The clerk then rises, opens the door, and announces: “DUBIOUS ARRIVALS IN A STATE OF EXTREME UNCLEANLINESS ARE BROUGHT TO ASCERTAIN THE NATURE OF THEIR STATUS.”
Inside they meet Miss Lily Spotless, the award-winning servant who interviews the children. But first she must shush the gaggle of women competing to explain the situation. Finally, she hears the children out and presumes their predicament is the fault of a too comfortable living in Leo, “all that pleasure”, is how she put it. Then she continues to lecture the children and explains in detail how Virgo will be different because there is an extensive list of rules to follow, duties that pertain to cleanliness and nutrition and constant vigilance over maintaining an optimum level of well-being, and most importantly, exercise, to get the head right.
When Miss Lily discovers that she is in the presence of a future king, Val unexpectedly shares the part of their story where the King of Day proclaimed Pompon his heir. Immediately upon hearing this news, Miss Lily urgently orders a laundry list of tasks that need doing. The children are soaked and scrubbed clean, until they reemerge from their baths looking like “newborn” babies. The primping and preening continue. Their cleanliness is checked, their health is checked, and finally they have a discussion with Miss Lily about their future responsibilities in Virgo and how an extended grooming and training period will be necessary to make the prince worthy of his future title. Another list, and a long one, that boils down to Service and Work. Miss Lily seems genuinely pleased with herself, having accomplished the preparatory phase for getting the children ready for their training. So, she didn’t anticipate Pompom’s reaction when he said, “But I don’t want to be King. I don’t want to work all day…”
Miss Lily is perplexed, Pompom has just renounced the crown, and at the same time Val announces that it’s time for them to leave Virgo. This is unfamiliar territory for Miss Lily, and she is forced to think extremely hard, she’s jittery and nervous, and imagines all kinds of consequences about possibilities that might befall her as events unfold in the future, even though those things haven’t happened yet, but by imagining the worst possibilities she only adds to her anxiousness in the moment. This part reminded me of the adage that says, “worrying is like praying for bad shit to happen.”
She resolves the situation by saying to herself, “I will get rid of these creatures somehow, without causing offense to anyone, and put my institution back in order. Then maybe my mind will be straightened out again!” She turns what’s happening all around and upside down by ingeniously reframing the happenings. Instead of accepting that things are falling apart under her watch, she makes a big to do about the children being promoted, that their actions are about being called “for higher service, a service to benefit all and not just one realm. Remarkable!” she exclaims. Meetings are called. Speeches are made, and awards are given out. Medals are pinned on the children for their service and “honorable gesture” suggesting that the sacrifice they are about to make is a service to mankind. They are then summarily ushered into a “finely wrought elevator” where they begin their ascent. As they gain altitude, they see far below them people applauding, and the children become puzzled again. Where are they going next? And what was the real purpose behind their being cleaned so immaculately, purified in a sense, so that they might look and feel like newborns? What was all the fuss over them for?
1 Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2017). The Magical Carousel and Commentaries: A Zodiacal Odyssey (2017th ed.). Notion Press, Inc.
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