Thursday, March 27, 2008

Father Brown Friday

We would have given you a discussion on the Queer Feet, but feeling you are wise, witty, and responsible to concoct your own, we defer to your creativity. Here are a few scatterbrained thoughts to mangle, and if you manage to spark a whatsit, we'd be frightfully bucked.

1. To begin on a light note: has anyone ever been able to fathom, conjure or imagine the pose in which Flambeau
"contrived to lean against the wall just round the corner in such a way that for that important instant the waiters thought him a gentleman, while the gentlemen thought him a waiter"?

2. More erudite: What is the "invisible thread" by which FB can pull F back from the ends of the earth. Any ideas of what GK was thinking of? Does it perhaps make more sense from an allegorical standing? Is it anything?:)

"Odd, isn't it," he said, "that a thief and a vagabond should repent, when so many who are rich and secure remain hard and frivolous, and without fruit for God or man? "

If you're feeling patient:

"A crime," he said slowly, "is like any other work of art. Don't look surprised; crimes are by no means the only works of art that come from an infernal workshop. But every work of art, divine or diabolic, has one indispensable mark--I mean, that the centre of it is simple, however much the fulfilment may be complicated. Thus, in Hamlet, let us say, the grotesqueness of the grave-digger, the flowers of the mad girl, the fantastic finery of Osric, the pallor of the ghost and the grin of the skull are all oddities in a sort of tangled wreath round one plain tragic figure of a man in black. Well, this also," he said, getting slowly down from his seat with a smile, "this also is the plain tragedy of a man in black. Yes," he went on, seeing the colonel look up in some wonder, "the whole of this tale turns on a black coat. In this, as in Hamlet, there are the rococo excrescences--yourselves, let us say. There is the dead waiter, who was there when he could not be there. There is the invisible hand that swept your table clear of silver and melted into air. But every clever crime is founded ultimately on some one quite simple fact--some fact that is not itself mysterious. The mystification comes in covering it up, in leading men's thoughts away from it. This large and subtle and (in the ordinary course) most profitable crime, was built on the plain fact that a gentleman's evening dress is the same as a waiter's. All the rest was acting, and thundering good acting, too."


Ria, Algernon and Gilbertgirl


Algernon said...


Ria said...

Dr. Thursday commented! Hurray!!


Dear ChesterTeens:

Alas I have no time to spend, but shall just make some quick comments
between chores:

1. How to appear at once a gentleman and a servant: That's easy. If
stands at attention then leans back against a wall - from the side one
may appear as a gentleman relaxing, but from the front, an alert
servant. (I have not tried it, but it seems possible. This is one of
those acting things we need to consult the experts on. I shall ask.)

2. What is the thread: That's a delightful homeage to George
The Princess and the Goblin - but of course is nothing more than
an extended metaphor deriving from our Lord: "And he saith to them:
Come ye after me, and I willmake you to be fishers of men." [Mt 4:19]
This is bolstered by the quote much later in the story where Father
Brown says, "You are The Twelve True Fishers, and there are all your
silver fish. But He has made me a fisher of men."

I assume you meant those other two paragraphs as questions; at least I
have something to say about them:

3. Odd that a thief should repent: Of course, that ought to be obvious
having just gone through Holy Week. Someone else, bothered by this
elicits this reaction: "Yes," said Father Brown, "and only a convicted
thief has ever in this world heard that assurance: 'This night shalt
thou be with Me in
Paradise.' " ["The Man With Two Beards" in The Secret of Father
, cf. Lk 23:43]

4. work of art: Yes, though of course only God creates (and Man
subcreates); the devil can do no more than damage. There is an allusion
to this in Tolkien which I cannot look up just now; something about how
the Dark Power cannot create, but only deface, or deform. (This relates
to the forming of orcs.) But for now I think it important to
contemplate another line from another Father Brown story:
"I am never surprised," said Father Brown, "at any work of hell."
["The God of the Gongs" in The Wisdom of Father Brown]

Real Art DOES surprise - and God gives us such things, and Man (to the
extent that He remains true to Art) can cooperate in such surprises.
Dark Powers might shock but can by no means surprise. But Art MUST be
"simple" - that is what makes it Art. It is a principle of Scholastic
Philosophy that "Any work is more perfect as it is more perfectly one."
.... but here I find I am out of time... and I leave you to continue

--Dr. Thursday

Hans Lundahl said...

sorry, the devil has as much subcreative power as man

neither can do other than damage by genetic manipulation

neither can create life

Hans Lundahl said...

look at books of Mormon and Quraan ... neither Mormons nor Muslims will agree that both works of arts came from Heaven, nor will either the ones nor the others concede theirs is from a merely human author

Ria said...

I think man can do more than damage. Not on his own obviously, but with God's help he can subcreate something good. But the devil can only damage or destroy something, and make it seem as though he had created it. If he succesfully tempts someone to constantly act in evil ways, he did not create the villian, he seriously damaged the man. But men, cooperating with God, can make something better than it was. A blank page into a work of art or a book, a stone into a sculpture, a child into a good man... all to glorify God. Men obviously can follow the way of the devil and "create" by distorting, damaging and destroying. But if they follow God, their subcreations will be God-given and thus they will be good.