Dr. Mengelfauci: Pinocchio, Puppeteer, or Both?
– by Margaret Anna Alice –
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people recovering their true sight, restoring their government to its true principles. It is true, that in the meantime, we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war, and long oppressions of enormous public debt.”
—Thomas Jefferson, 1798, after the passage of the Sedition Act
It’s easy to imagine Dr. Mengelfauci as the prototypical Pinocchio, his dimpled nose jutting out another inch every time he spouts a new lie, but really he’s more like Mangiafuoco, the waffling puppet-master of the Great Marionette Theatre in Carlo Collodi’s 1883 The Adventures of Pinocchio.1 Or maybe he’s both, as no doubt his strings are being pulled by shadow puppet-masters whose names we may never know.
Pinocchio is a pathological prevaricator who is not only implausibly dense but an incompetent liar to boot. His lies are so transparent and contradictory as to be laughable. On those counts, Dr. Mengelfauci is a match.
Where he doesn’t align with both the original Italian and Disney versions is in the marionette’s genuine remorse for his wicked deeds and his ardent desire to reform, ultimately leading to his redemptive transformation into a human being—a metamorphosis unlikely to befall today’s wooden fabulist. more