The Prophetic Machine

Panamanian gold miners come to Rilao, bringing their folklore. One of their folktales, “Adelmo’s Magic Spectacles,” provides social commentary on materialism, a subject matter which the Panamanians are well-acquainted with. The tale is passed down verbally until it is documented in the late 19th-century. In 1919, during the Plague, the tale spreads more than ever before, as Rilaoans are losing their loved ones and want to remind themselves of the important things in life. Shortly following the plague, a group in the Laoguna district feels inspired to create a park about the story. They choose to build it on a pier, and call it “Festejo.” It serves as a place of comfort, spirituality, and national pride for many. Soon, it becomes one of Rilao’s most coveted attractions, leading it to become commercialized by the 21st century. In 2008, park officials decide to build an attraction that would appear to non-Rilaoans as a carousel. The carousel opens in 2014, and revolves around the original folktale.

Our story begins in The Thicket, a land only inhabited by animals. These animals are able to talk, work, and comprehend things, just like humans. Also similarly to humans, the animals of The Thicket have naturally segregated themselves into different groups, and have formed neighborhoods around these groups. Each neighborhood has its own place on the social ladder. The birds of Tourelo sit at the top. Below them are the sea creatures of Sinqlair. Following them are the jungle animals of Jezebel. And, finally, at the bottom of the social ladder, are the pests of Vermania. Adelmo is an aristocratic pigeon living in Tourelo. Despite having grown up as part of a large family in Vermania, he lives a comfortable, yet lonely life at the top, surrounded by nothing but his riches.

Adelmo has every gizmo and every gadget that a pigeon could dream of. But, one day, it comes to his attention that he does not own the latest and greatest accessory – the “Galatean Goggles,” which allow its wearers to become immersed in separate realities.

The goggles are costly. As Adelmo looks at his empty moneybags, he realizes that if he really wants these goggles, he must go back to his childhood home to break open his piggybank. Adelmo’s childhood home in Vermania is all the way across The Thicket from his upscale home in Tourelo.

With a broken wing, Adelmo must walk through all four of The Thicket’s neighborhoods in order to break open his piggybank. In each neighborhood, he experiences and learns something different about his lifestyle. He went into his journey with a negative attitude, but little did he know that he’d exit with an enlightened one.

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Curated by of University of Southern California.


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