Detail of the center panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, by Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500. © Prado, Madrid / Bridgeman Images.


Volume IX, Number 4 | fall 2016


Seneca the Younger tells of Hostius Quadra, who installed mirrors in his bedroom to reflect distorted images. “He relished the exaggerated endowment of his own organ as much as if it were real,” Seneca complained. Quadra confirmed: “If I could,” he said, “I’d have that size in the flesh; since I can’t, I’ll feast on the fantasy.”

My face looks like a wedding cake left out in the rain.

—W.H. Auden, c. 1967