a synchronicity

I don’t think I’ve written about this in my journal or even noted it on my site, but I’m really interested in the phenomena of coincidence and synchronicity.

At dinner recently, I’ve been reading a few pages each day of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, by John Clute and John Grant. Last night, I left off two-thirds of the way through the page that begins with EMBLETON, RON(ALD SYDNEY).

This evening, just before dinner, I was catching up with Neil Gaiman’s journal, which I hadn’t looked at since Friday. Over the weekend, he had responded to a note that linked a Honda ad, Caractacus Potts’s breakfast-making machine in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the children’s game Mouse Trap, to Rube Goldberg, by responding that the English had their equivalent of Goldberg in William Heath Robinson, of whom I’d never before heard.

A short while later, at the dinner table, I started in on the next unread entry in the Encyclopedia–EMMET, ROWLAND–another unknown to me. Here are the first two paragraphs:

UK artist and inventor. A fine cartoonist, he was also a draughtsman and engineer. He became known for his succession of large, incredibly intricate “Gothic-Kinetic” inventions. Unlike William Heath ROBINSON [emphasis mine], who merely drew his eccentric contraptions, RE regularly created three-dimensional working models.

The amazing success of his Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway at the Festival of Britain in 1951 led to many more commissions, including permanent constructions like “The Rhythmical Time Fountain” at Nottingham, UK, and models built for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG [emphasis again mine] (1968)…

3 thoughts on “a synchronicity

  1. I’ve always loved Rowland Emmet’s work, ever since I was a kid and visited the Air & Space Museum in 1976. There, tucked away in the corner of a remote gallery, was the S.S. Pussywillow II, a whimsical spaceship powered by butterflies and featuring an alien visitor being fed teacakes by the fire.
    The Pussywillow II disappeared years ago, and I haven’t been back to the museum since. According to the museum:

    Pussy Willow II is very fragile and currently in storage. The electric motors and other mechanisms need to be replaced. It is difficult to keep it up and running.

  2. Gene,
    I really wish I’d seen the Pussywillow II. I know that we visited DC in the early to mid 70s as well, but I don’t recall visiting Air and Space (though I’m not sure why we wouldn’t, as I was /so/ into astronomy and space travel then, and my dad was interested in those subjects as well) or seeing the Pussy Willow. I do remember seeing an early model of an ATM in the American History museum, and museum staff gave every kid visitor an ATM card to use in the machine, which then spit out some kind of paper souvenir (I don’t remember the souvenir, but I remember being fascinated by the closest thing to a computer I’d ever seen in person at that point… I kept insisting that my parents take me back to that exhibit over and over.
    It would be nice if the museum could at least get some video or even still images of the S. S. Pussywillow II online.
    Oh, in Neil’s posting where he printed my comments about the information on Rowland Emmett, he also mentioned giant puffballs ( http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal_archives/2003_04_01_archive.asp#200182496 ), so I wrote back and told him about the 2,000+ acre mushroom that I’d seen in both the Style Invitational and then in your blog, too… and pointed him to your blog entry for more information.

  3. I thought you’d like to see what I came up with as far as a piture for the S.S. (Space Ship) Pussiewillow II at the Air & Space Museum. A month ago I thought of this sculpture again, as I do every 6 months or so, and I stumbled upon your entry in your blog on Google. Anyhow, thru that, I learned that the artist was Rowland Emett, and thru two friends who have formerly worked for the Smithsonian, we came up with probably the only picture online of the sculpture (it’s tiny, but it’s something!)Click on the link:
    S.S. Pussiewillow II. It’s the photo in the middle.
    Thanks for unknowingly helping me with my search! Next search is for Rowland Emett’s Book Alarms and Excursions: and other transports transfixed by Emett

Comments are closed.