Santiago Zorzopulos:

    n cyberspace, nothing that was cool yesterday can compare with what we have today. Following this logic, we must surmise that the things we'll have tomorrow are going to junk our current standards of quality. Think of when the web started making some steam, a couple of years back. Everyone was gawking at simple pages, and every new advancement pushed the limits. Now, it's not hard at all to find web pages that incorporate sound, animation, music, and all kinds of other cool toys that we dream up. However, like most special-effect-driven movies, sometimes these advances just give us a warm feeling on the first viewing, and shortly the novelty wears off.
    The question I've asked myself when searching for possible candidates for "site of the week" was what makes a good web page? Sure, there are fancy tricks that dazzle the eye, but they tend to die out shortly after a bigger, meaner, sparklier page moves up on the block. Some pages keep people coming back again all the time. Some pages are always fresh. It doesn't have to gleam like a Christmas tree to be a good web page, it has to have content that grips you somewhere that counts and holds your eyes glued to the screen.
    For some of my friends, sites of bands they like or activities they perform is just the medicine they're looking for. For me, it had to be something more universally enjoyable.
    After much surfing, and much coffee, I present to you the Daily Illini's Site of the Week, Forever Babbingtonian.
    This page is designed, written, and maintained by Eric Kraft, the author of six incredible novels, which take place in the fictional city of Babbington. This New England clamming community provides an incredible setting from which Peter Leroy writes his own adventures (and sometimes the adventures of the people around him).
    While the page doesn't have the glitz of a Planet Hollywood opening, it contains enough content to satisfy even the most discriminating of web connoisseurs. The basic premise of the page is to provide information, and hopefully some fun, to its readers. Included are excerpts from the books, personal biographies of some characters, relevant information about the author, and a host of other details from Eric Kraft's universe.
    I've personally spent far more time than I ever intended reading bits and pieces from this site. Even if you think you'd be turned off by a page that doesn't exude technology, I recommend that you give this page a try; you could be pleasantly surprised. Besides, it is mostly text, so don't worry about spending ten minutes downloading information only to have it blink an annoying message that your browser is too antiquated to view the page properly.
    In a world where the computers are getting faster, the modems are getting faster, the cars are getting faster, and even the food is getting faster, perhaps taking this off ramp from the information superhighway into scenic Babbington is exactly what the busy web surfer needs to relax.

    The Daily Illini Online, November 10, 1996

Oliver Edwards:

    I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.

    quoted by James Boswell in the entry for April 17, 1778
    in Life of Samuel Johnson

    (My thanks to Alan Wachtel for discovering the source of this remark.)

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    It is to be hoped that, by patience and the Muses' aid, we may attain that inward view . . . which shall describe a truth ever young and beautiful, so central that it shall commend itself to the eye, at whatever angle beholden. And the first condition is, that we must leave a too close and lingering adherence to the facts, and study the sentiment as it appeared in hope and not in history. . . . In the actual world -- the painful kingdom of time and place -- dwell care, and canker, and fear. With thought, with the ideal, is immortal hilarity, the rose of joy. Round it all the muses sing.

from "Love"

Dawn Powell:

I . . . cannot exist without the oxygen of laughter.

diary entry, January 1, 1961

Friedrich Schlegel :

There are ancient and modern poems which breathe, in their entirety and in every detail, the divine breath of irony. In such poems there lives a real transcendental buffoonery. Their interior is permeated by the mood which surveys everything and rises infinitely above everything limited, even above the poet's own art, virtue, and genius; and their exterior form by the histrionic style of an ordinary good Italian buffo.

Aphorisms from the Lyceum


Foolish sage, please count up for me all the nights and days when your soul is tortured by anxieties -- heap all your life's troubles in one pile, and then at last you'll realize what the evils are from which I've saved my fools. Add the fact that they're always cheerful, playing, singing, and laughing themselves, and bring pleasure and merriment, fun and laughter to everyone else wherever they go as well, as if the gods had granted them the gift of relieving the sadness of human life.

in Erasmus of Rotterdam's Praise of Folly (1509)

Braden Michaels:

WOW! Actual CONTENT on the web -- I'm way impressed (and heartened).

Kevin Lauderdale:

Don't let the silly name fool you.

Painter Jay DeFeo:

Only by chancing the ridiculous can I hope for the sublime.

in her artist's statement,
catalogue for the "Sixteen Americans" exhibition,
Museum of Modern Art, 1959

Bassist Christian McBride:

Someone got on me for smiling too much on stage. I say, get out of my face, I'm having fun. I'm not going to frown because it looks hipper in your eyes. He certainly wouldn't have said that to Dizzy Gillespie. I guess when the music got more serious and searching in the 6o's, to look gleeful probably wouldn't match. But we're playing happy music, so why not look like it? I didn't watch James Brown all those years for nothing.

quoted by Joseph Hooper in "Godson of Soul,"
The New York Times Magazine, June 25, 1995

Friedrich Schlegel:

Socratic irony is the only entirely involuntary and nevertheless completely conscious dissimulation. It is equally impossible to attain it artificially or to betray it. For him who does not possess it, it will remain an enigma even after the frankest avowal. It will deceive only those who consider it an illusion, who either enjoy its delightful archness of mocking at everybody or who become angry when they suspect that they too are meant. In it, everything must be jest and yet seriousness, artless openness and yet deep dissimulation. It originates in the union of a sense of an art of living and a scientific intellect, in the meeting of accomplished natural philosophy and accomplished philosophy of art. It contains and incites a feeling of the insoluble conflict of the absolute and the relative, of the impossibility and necessity of total communication. It is the freest of all liberties, for it enables us to rise above our own self; and still the most legitimate, for it is absolutely necessary. It is a good sign if the harmonious dullards fail to understand this constant self-parody, if over and over again they believe and disbelieve until they become giddy and consider jest to be seriousness and seriousness to be jest.

Friedrich Schlegel, Aphorisms from the Lyceum, 1797 (translated by Ernst Behler and Roman Struc)

Victor F. Weisskopf:

One can imagine what atmosphere, what life, what intellectual activity reigned in Copenhagen at that time [1922-1930]. Here was Bohr's influence at its best. Here it was that he created his style, the Kopenhagener Geist, a style of a very special character that he imposed upon physics. He could be seen, the greatest among his colleagues, acting, talking, living as an equal in a group of young, optimistic, jocular, enthusiastic people, approaching the deepest riddles of nature with a spirit of joy that can hardly be described. As a very young man, when I had the privilege of working there, I remember that I was taken a little aback by some of the jokes that crept into the discussion--they seemed to me to indicate a lack of respect. I communicated my feelings to Bohr, and he gave me the following answer:

There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.

Victor F. Weisskopf,
"Niels Bohr, the Quantum, and the World,"
in Niels Bohr: A Centennial Volume

AUDIO TAPE of Eric Kraft reading selections from LITTLE Follies, The Passionate Spectator, At Home with the Glynns, Reservations Recommended, and Making My Self . . . and Dinner. One cassette, approximately 90 minutes running time. NOTE: this is not a professional recording. The master was produced by the author himself on a handheld recorder, and the copies are made on home audio equipment. $8.00, postpaid. Send check or money order (payable to Eric Kraft) to: Babbington by Mail, Post Office Box 1830, Sag Harbor, New York 11963.

IDEAL ANNIVERSARY GIFT: A signed copy of Herb 'n' Lorna, inscribed to the anniversary couple and signed by the author. Paperback, 328 pages, just $16.00 postpaid (cover price of $13.00 plus $3.00 for postage and packaging). Send check or money order (payable to Eric Kraft) to: Babbington by Mail, Post Office Box 1830, Sag Harbor, New York 11963.

EARLY PUBLICATIONS of Peter Leroy. Package includes Larry Peters Is Missing; Larry Peters, Child No More; and Large and Unsolicited Fiction, the original manifesto for the Very Large Fiction movement. While supplies last, $6.00, postpaid. Send check or money order (payable to Eric Kraft) to: Babbington by Mail, Post Office Box 1830, Sag Harbor, New York 11963.