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Invocations: In Praise of Folly

In seeking inspiration for Odd Salon FOLLY, we looked to the words of Desiderius Erasmus and the intimate link between folly to happiness and to wisdom, and to the very “play of life”.


The text of the actual invocation comes from Desidirous Erasmus’ book In Praise of Folly, first published in 1511:

“Just as nothing is more foolish than misplaced wisdom, so too, nothing is more imprudent than perverse prudence.  And surely it is perverse not to adapt yourself to the prevailing circumstances, to refuse ‘to do as the Romans do,’ to ignore the party-goer’s maxium ‘take a drink or take your leave,’ to insist that the play should not be a play.  True prudence, on the other hand, recognizes human limitations and does not strive to leap beyond them; it is willing to run with the herd, to overlook faults tolerantly or to share them in a friendly spirit.  But, they say, that is exactly what we mean by folly. (I will hardly deny it — as long as they will reciprocate by admitting that this is exactly what is means to perform the play of life.)”

The first edition of “In Praise of Folly” was illustrated by Erasmus’ contemporary and friend, Hans Holbein.

Perhaps inspired by his friend Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, In Praise of Folly was originally written as a work of satire, poking fun at the Catholic Church and excesses of society. Somewhat to his dismay, this seemingly trivial essay went on to become Erasmus’ most famous creation, one of the key works of the Renaissance, and inspired many imitations and followers.

Further Reading:

In Praise of Folly – Project Gutenberg

Images of various antiquarian editions of In Praise of Folly -University of Missouri Libraries Blog