By Michael Moorcock
A delusion satirizing Spenser's "The Fairie Queen" and reflecting the true lifetime of Elizabeth I, tells of a girl who ascends to the throne upon the loss of life of her debauched and corrupted father, King Hern. Gloriana's reign brings the Empire of Albion right into a Golden Age, yet her oppressive tasks choke her, prohibiting any type of sexual pride, it doesn't matter what fetish she attempts. Her challenge is in truth symbolic of the hypocrisy of her whole courtroom. whereas her existence is intended to reflect that of her country - a picture of purity, advantage, enlightenment and prosperity - actually that her peaceable empire is stored safe by means of her depraved chancellor Monfallcon and his corrupt community of spies and murderers, the main sinister of whom is Captain Quire, who's commissioned to seduce Gloriana and therefore carry down Albion and the total empire.
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They announce, for instance, their decision to begin this Anthology of Bad Verse with Cowley, for it turns out that when earlier producers of Bad Verse are bad, "they are tiresome to a degree. " 3 Let us rewrite that sentence. " Something happened late in the seventeenth century which made possible strikingly, ____________________ 3 Lewis and Lee, The Stuffed Owl, N. , Capricorn Books, 1962, xix. -48- comically, transcendentally bad verse. One would like to be able to say what this was. We are concerned not with semi-literacy but with the unaccountable lapses of serious poets: poets, let us say, sufficiently professional to look Buster Keaton in the face, who can yet address for instance an apostrophe to the "Spade!
Yet whatever quality it is in Keaton's stoical descent that calls to mind so great a poet, both his habitual grandeur and his lapses, is a quality that has become available to the mind within the past three centuries, to be brought to apotheosis in the silent motion picture of the 1920's. Kinesis was the rhetoric of that decade, when Americans did with pure motion what the English did about 1600 with language, and the French about 1880 with color. For those few years, before American eyes, the Newtonian universe flowered like a languid rose, disclosing, before its petals dropped away, all its intricate repertory of action, reaction, equilibrium.
Ancients" could join with "moderns" in reprobating such uses of the long words ending in -tas, since they do not correspond to classical ways of thinking. They became technical terms in that tract of time the enlightened had learned to call Gothic, and many of them do not occur in classical writers at all. The famous Equinitas, horseness, whose implications Swift was to find so suggestive, seems to have been coined by the late twelfth century Latin translators of Avicenna and put into circulation by Duns Scotus, the Augustans' archetypal Dunce.