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