Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doing Everything at Memorandum

Cross-posted from my WordPress.

Sometimes the odd encounters in Oz books are so brief as to only cover a few pages, sometimes making a reader wonder why they were even included. Sometimes, however, the mysterious nature of such episodes makes them more interesting. One such case is the appearance in Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Royal Book of Oz of the twins Memo and Randum, or as they call each other for short, Mem and Ran. The two of them look pretty much identical, but their personalities are opposite. Memo is very neat and organized, and Randum quite untidy. The latter does everything at random, and the former at memorandum, meaning he has to act according to his book and take notes on anything he encounters. This makes both of them pretty ineffective at getting anything done. When Dorothy falls into the Winkie River, Memo refuses to save her because he only saves lives on Mondays. Randum does his best to help, but because he's random, he jumps into the river downstream from where Dorothy is. Memo leaves after being told off by his brother, and Randum runs away when he sees the Cowardly Lion, and that's the last we see of them. They do both merit brief mentions in Jack Snow's Who's Who in Oz, though. In the entry for Randum, Snow writes, "Randum has a brother named Memo, and we wouldn't be surprised if father was named Paddy Scratch," a joke I've never gotten. Anyone care to explain it to me?

Since one brother thinks without acting and the other acts without thinking, they bring to mind the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus from Greek mythology, whose names mean "forethought" and "afterthought." Not that Prometheus doesn't act, but they still fit the roles of thinker and non-thinker. Not necessarily close enough for Thompson to have had the Titans in mind when coming up with these characters, but she was familiar with Greek mythology, so I guess it's possible. That's more likely just how my mind works, however, rather than Thompson's.

Next week, Blufferroo, Grand Counter of the Imperial Spoons of Samandra!

1 comment:

Bill Campbell said...

I think Paddy Scratch would refer to a scratch pad, something you'd write a memorandum on : )