642: What a Piece of Work I Am
Dedication and Epigraphs
Let not the reader be scandalized by this gravity amid the frivolous; let him rather recall that there is a grandeur in all follies, an energy in all excess.
— Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” (translated by Jonathan Mayne)
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat; . . .
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows; . . .
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
— Edward Lear, “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”
Each cell is an island:—the inhabitants, shipwrecked mariners, cast ashore upon it by the adverse blasts of fortune: partners in affliction, indebted to each other for whatever share they are permitted to enjoy of society, the greatest of all comforts.
— Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon; or, the Inspection-house; Postscript, Part I
The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.
— Emily Dickinson
Here I inhale profounder strength
And as I am, I speak and move
And things are as I think they are
And say they are on the blue guitar.
— Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar”
[to be continued]
Have you missed an episode or two or several?
You can begin reading at the beginning or you can catch up by visiting the archive or consulting the index to the Topical Guide. The Substack serialization of Little Follies begins here; Herb ’n’ Lorna begins here; Reservations Recommended begins here; Where Do You Stop? begins here.
You can listen to the episodes on the Personal History podcast. Begin at the beginning or scroll through the episodes to find what you’ve missed. The Substack podcast reading of Little Follies begins here; Herb ’n’ Lorna begins here; Reservations Recommended begins here; Where Do You Stop? begins here.
You can ensure that you never miss a future issue by getting a free subscription. (You can help support the work by choosing a paid subscription instead.)
You’ll find overviews of the entire work in An Introduction to The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy (a pdf document), The Origin Story (here on substack), Between the Lines (a video, here on Substack), and at Encyclopedia.com.