Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Arcadian Habitat

For a change of pace, here’s an excerpt from the writings of the real Baron Bodissey.

As regular readers know, the real Baron is a creation of the acclaimed science-fiction writer Jack Vance. He exists solely as citations in footnotes and chapter headings in Mr. Vance’s novels.

Below is the introduction to Chapter 10 of The Killing Machine (pp. 119-120 in the DAW edition of 1979). It’s a quote from Baron Bodissey’s monumental work, Life, followed by the opinions of the critics:

There is a human quality that cannot be precisely named: possibly the most noble of all human qualities. It includes but is larger than candor, generosity, comprehension, niceness of distinction, intensity, steadiness of purpose, total commitment. It is participation in all human perceptions, recollection of all human history. It is characteristic of every great creative genius and can never be learned: learning in this regard is bathos — the dissection of a butterfly, a spectroscope turned to the sunset, the psychoanalysis of a laughing girl. The attempt to learn is self-destructive; when erudition comes in, poetry departs. How common the man of intellect who cannot feel! How trifling are his judgments against those of the peasant who derives his strength, like Antaeus, from the emotional sediment of the race! Essentially the tastes and preferences of the intellectual elite, derived from learning, are false, doctrinaire, artificial, shrill, shallow, uncertain, eclectic jejune, and insincere.

Life, Volume IV, by Unspiek, Baron Bodissey

The critics discuss Baron Bodissey’s Life:
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A monumental work if you like monuments… One is irresistibly put in mind of the Laocoön group: with the good baron contorted against the coils of common sense, and the more earnest of his readers likewise endeavoring to disengage themselves.

Pancretic Review, St. Stephen, Boniface

Ponderously the great machine ingests its bales of lore; grinding, groaning, shuddering, it brings forth its product: small puffs of acrid vari-colored vapor.

Excalibur, Patris, Krokinole

Six volumes of rhodomontade and piffle.

— Academia, London, Earth

Egregious, ranting, boorish, unacceptable —

The Rigellian, Avente, Alphanor

Sneers jealously at the careers of better men. Impossible not to feel honest anger.

Galactic Quarterly, Baltimore, Earth

Tempting to picture Baron Bodissey at work in the Arcadian habitat he promulgates, surrounded by admiring goat-herds.

El Orchide, Serle, Quantique

6 comments:

Czechmade said...

Everybody is a fictitious character to some extent. As soon as you start extracting the fictitious about every real character, you get a totally fictitious character which trumps all of us.

You might be Jára da Cimrman as well.
This is our national fictitious character. Entertaining us during the communist times in two competing theatres he is so much alive that he won some idiotic competition "the greatest Czech" along with Charles IV. Jára is about to get some mountain peak in Kyrgyzstan named after him. He is consistent in his pursue of power and happiness.

Compare that to the closely avoided Stalin - the greatest Russian, after some meddling to shift him to the 3rd place.

A fictitious character fully deserves our love and admiration.
He might be "ideal". And all the stories are "true". You cannot make a mistake creating him.

Cugel said...

Never cease to wonder at the miracle of conscious existence, for all too soon it comes to an end.

-- Vaidro Droad to his nephew Jubal
(paraphrased)

Robin Shadowes said...

I don't know if I'm fictional. However I googled my nick a few years ago. Turned out both the words robin and shadowes are in A Midsummernight's Dream. Since I concocted my pseudonym already as early as back in 1994, I didn't have a clue they actually spelled the word shadows like that back in the day of the great bard himself. I did only put in the e to make it more look like a name. I played between Shadowes and Shadowse. Today I'm glad I chose the right variation.

Czechmade said...

What I meant - a person remembered as such and such enters a fiction-mill.

Nothing can replace meeting each other. I did not meet Michelangelo.
He might be very different from his work. Charley Chaplin was a pedantic sour-ball within his family. Picasso was a real despot...

One cannot replace a specific cultural microclima by anything. Meeting and spending some time in a specific microclima - not a country, simply a circle of people does something to reduce our fiction.

Anonymous said...

I was 16 when first I discovered Jack Vance. I'm almost 60 now, and I periodically reread various Vance novels with great pleasure.

While the Baron may be a fictional character, what is written on this blog is great truth. I hope the West will wake up to the jihad threat, but until then I keep my rifle and ammo clean and ready.

I, for one, will not submit.

Slet Varthash

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"As regular readers know, the real Baron is a creation of the acclaimed science-fiction writer Jack Vance. He exists solely as citations in footnotes and chapter headings in Mr. Vance's novels."

Fictional? It's not that the good Baron is fictional. It's merely that he is yet to be born.

Jeffery Hodges

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