The Undertaker may be reached at difformite[at]gmail[dot]com.
(For the Undertaker’s Note on the Text, read below; for more about the Author, see Thanks.)
ON THE TEXT*
[ excerpted from the book ]
I cannot permit this Catalogue to appear before the Publick, without returning my sincere Thanks to you, dear Subscriber of this Undertaking, and to the Artists, whose works are reproduced here in further Reproduction, as deformations of the Originals. It is therefore hoped that the Spectator will view these Pictures &c. with regard to this Prosimetric Enterprise.
Of the merits of the Artists employed in this Exhibition, I can with truth say that I have sought talents, wherever they were to be found, to carry into execution an undertaking based upon historical Taste and the subject of Deformity.
Upon the merits of the Pictures themselves, it is not for me to speak, except with the relation of each to Deformity. Suffice it to say, that these Works of Art have been chosen to Accompany and Rearrange my Exhibits (aforementioned in the Pre-face), to promulgate and promote this plan in General.
Though I believe it will be readily admitted, that no subjects seem so proper to form a School of Deformity in Art—This much, however, I will venture to say: that the Works collected for this Gallery—unlocked from Wundercammern & Mvsevms, culled from public & private Whatnot—bear something for you, Subscriber, to consider: the Nature of Deformity.
I must express my hopes, that the Subscriber will be satisfied with the progress made in this arduous undertaking, that Deformity has been redefined through the Arts, regarding the Nature of the Subject and the Subject of Nature. I trust upon inspection of what has been done, and is now doing, through this Deformation of Text, that the Subscriber will be satisfied with the exertions that have been made, and will think that confidence has not been misplaced.
If the object of uniting a certain degree of Beauty with Deformity, through Utility, has been attained, the merit is the Artists. —If not, the Undertaker is willing to bear the blame.***
* “Undertaker’s Note on the Text” first appeared in The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (Lake Forest, IL: &NOW Books, 2009) 330-1.
** “Undertaker’s Note on the Text” is heavily indebted to the “Preface,” “Advertisement,” “&c.” surrounding Alderman Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, a popular attraction in late-18th century London. See John Boydell, A Catalogue of the pictures, &c., in the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall-Mall (London: H. Baldwin, 1790).
***The Undertaker would like to thank students from Idyllwild Arts Academy, who deformedly addressed the “Undertaker” as “Caretaker.”