Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Round and Round at the Turn of a New Year
Luna Park, or what everyone who lives in Venice refers to as simply "le giostre" (or, "the rides"), has returned to the Riva dei Sette Martiri for its annual stay until 1 February. There's a ride I don't recall from prior years that's quaintly retro even by the not-exactly-cutting-edge-standards of the other giostre, consisting of small chairs suspended from chains that, as you can see above, spin around a broad two-colored base beneath fluorescent tubes.
Because being swung around the same circular route doesn't seem to be an adequately goal-oriented activity for children--not even in Italy, whose notorious bureaucracy regularly sets its adult citizens on just such endless circuits--there's something to grab for. On the equestrian-themed carousels of America a kid reaches--as the character of Phoebe famously does at the end of The Catcher in the Rye--for a gold ring. ("The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it is bad to say anything to them.")
Here, the child in the spinning chair is encouraged to reach for a stuffed plush serpent suspended from a rather make-shift stand just outside the ride's path.
Additionally, while the American child, alone on his or her mount, is encouraged to rise high and solitary in his or her stirrups and grasp for the shiny ring, on the ride here a child can't even get within grabbing distance of the dangling snake without the aid of a friend seated in the chair behind him or her.
That is, Sandro's friend "C" only had a chance to reach the snake if Sandro, seated behind him, pushed C's chair a bit further out of the chair's typical centripetal orbit. (Successfully, as you can see in the image above of C flourishing his captured snake.)
Now, I suspect there are any number of social, cultural, anthropological, philosophical, and religious reflections likely to be inspired by such differences between the carousel Sandro knew as a toddler in Brooklyn and the spinning chairs of this year's Luna Park, but I leave them to be worked out by those readers so inclined and, for my own part, settle instead for wishing you all a Happy New Year.