Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Quoting the Baron

I have to be away all day in DC, so I’ll leave you with this little snippet about my avatar, the “real” Baron Bodissey. This may be the first of a series of quotes on the Baron from the works of Jack Vance.

Since I’m up at the crack of dawn to drive to our Nation’s Capital, this one seems particularly appropriate:

Wayness said mildly, “Good morning, Uncle Pirie. I hope I haven’t disturbed you by jumping out of bed so early.”

“Of course not,” declared Pirie Tamm. “Early rising is a virtue to which I have subscribed every day of my life.” He came forward, seated himself and unfolded his napkin. “Mathematics tells the tale. One hour of oversleeping each day destroys a year of life each twenty-four years. Across the span of a hundred years, an extra hour of sloth will excise four years of existence. Think of it! When already I fear that my life will be far too short to fulfill even my minimal ambitions. Who was it who said: ‘Sleep when you are dead’?”

“Baron Bodissey, most likely. He seems to have said most everything.”

“Clever girl!” Pirie Tamm gave his napkin a flap and tucked the corner into his shirt.

— from Ecce and Old Earth, by Jack Vance, Tor edition, p. 120

[Nothing follows]

2 comments:

Super-Electro-Magnetic Midget Launcher said...

I still recall how delighted I was the first time I saw your nick on a blog comment somewhere, two or three years ago. Vance is a national treasure.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Virtually every major SF author has invented a "source of wisdom" into whose mouth he's put his own opinions, but none have ever had the charm or drollery of Unspiek, Baron Bodissey.

My favorite Baron citation is from Araminta Station:

"Is democracy impractical? Is that what you are saying?"

Glawen said, "As I recall, Baron Bodissey had something to say on the subject."

"Oh? Was he pro or con?"

"Neither. He pointed out that democracy could only function in a relatively homogeneous society of equivalent individuals. He described a district dedicated to democracy where the citizenry consisted of two hundred wolves and nine hundred squirrels. When zoning ordinances and public health laws were put into effect, the wolves were obliged to live in trees and eat nuts."

"Bah," said Julian. "Baron Bodissey was a man from the Eocene."