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Lo!

CHAPTER 1.

 

     A NAKED man in a city street - the track of a horse in volcanic mud - the mystery of the reindeer's ears - a huge, black form, like a whale, in the sky, and it drips red drops as if attacked by celestial swordfishes - an appalling cherub appears in the sea -

     Confusions.

     Showers of frogs and blizzards of snails - gushes of periwinkles down from the sky -

     The preposterous, the grotesque, the incredible - and why, if I am going to tell of hundreds of these, is the quite ordinary so regarded?

     An unclothed man shocks a crowd - a moment later, if nobody is generous with an overcoat, somebody is collecting handkerchiefs to knot around him.

     A naked fact startles a meeting of a scientific society - and whatever it has for loins is soon diapered with conventional explanations.

     Chaos and muck and filth - the indeterminable and the unrecordable and the unknowable - and all men are liars - and yet -

     Wigwams on an island - sparks in their columns of smoke.

     Centuries later - the uncertain columns are towers. What once were fluttering sparks are the motionless lights of windows. According to critics of Tammany Hall, there has been monstrous corruption upon this island: nevertheless, in the midst of it, this regularization has occurred. A woodland sprawl has sprung to stony attention.

     The Princess Cariboo tells, of herself, a story, in an unknown language, and persons who were themselves liars, have said that she lied, though nobody has ever known what she told. The story of Dorothy Arnold has been told thousands of times, but the story of Dorothy Arnold and the swan has not been told before. A city turns to a crater, and casts out eruptions, as lurid as fire, of living things - and where Cagliostro came from, and where he went, are so mysterious that only historians say they know - venomous snakes crawl on the sidewalks of London - and a star twinkles -

 

1.

Read the full text of Lo! at the website of Mr X - website

The Illustrated Lo! by Alexander King

 

Alexander King (1899-1965); born Alexander Koenig in Vienna, he and his family emigrated to the United States in 1913. As well as being an artist and accomplished illustrator he was also a bestselling humorist, memoirist and media personality of the early television era.

 

He illustrated numerous editions of classics in the early 20th century, including a series of illustrations for Charles Fort's book 'Lo!', published by Claude Kendall in 1931. He was also the author of several books, including 'May This House Be Safe from Tigers', 'Mine Enemy Grows Older', (an account of his addiction to morphine, and his recovery), and 'I Should Have Kissed Her More'. King's easy conversational recollections of the first part of the 20th century are informative and often hilariously funny.

 

In his late fifties, after becoming a frequent guest on the Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar, King emerged as an incongruous presence in the realm of national celebrity: an aging, irascible raconteur, with elegant mannerisms and trademark bow-tie, who spoke frankly and disarmingly about his bohemian lifestyle, multiple marriages, and years-long struggle with drug addiction. He counted among his friends such notables as Tanaquil Le Clerq Balanchine, wife of George Balanchine, E. E. Cummings, Isak Dinesen, R. Buckminster Fuller, Moss Hart, Lena Horne, Walter Matthau, Marianne Moore, J. Perelman, Billy Rose, and Gloria Vanderbilt. His checkered past led TIME magazine to describe him as:

 

"an ex-illustrator, ex-cartoonist, ex-adman, ex-editor, ex-playwright, ex-dope addict. For a quarter-century he was an ex-painter, and by his own bizarre account qualifies as an ex-midwife. He is also an ex-husband to three wives and an ex-Viennese of sufficient age (60) to remember muttonchopped Emperor Franz Joseph. When doctors told him a few years ago that he might soon be an ex-patient (two strokes, serious kidney disease, peptic ulcer, high blood pressure), he sat down to tell gay stories of the life of all these earlier Kings."