gratuitous image
8 February 1996

Folly Art Follies

I asked my driver what the large structure atop the hill was. (From a distance, it appeared to be an inverted pyramid some 171 meters tall supported in each corner by a spiral staircase.)

"It seems we are in the land of follies," she replied. I was confused until I realized she was using an unfamiliar definition of the word "folly." I was only aware of the usual definitions: "the state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense ... a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity ... a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure."

After consulting a rudimentary dictionary, I discovered that a folly was also "a whimsical or extravagant and often useless structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, etc." My short semantic excursion ultimately led to wonder whether "art" might serve as a three-character definition of folly. Or perhaps the reverse.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart