Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chesterton and the Iliad, Part I

Ah, the Iliad. The myth that got it right before the historians. The original Tale of Two Cities. The only story that comes anywhere close to WWI for miscommunication and epic foolishness. Even as the single thread weaves its way throughout the cloth and makes a thing that can be known in short, yet when it is known in full it surpasseth the length of comprehension; even so does the Iliad go on and on and on and on, even to the point of boring Augustine but not Teresa Boever.
I am currently in the first third of the Iliad (hence part I) and I am not hating it yet. Chesterton seemed to be a big admirer of Homer and his masterpiece, as is evidenced from The Everlasting Man. The Iliad doesn't exactly scream Chesterton at me 24/7, but there are definitely some familiar elements.
Take for example this comment from Heretics: "Ritual is older than religion." This definitely comes up in the Iliad. Several times, Homer describes the sacrificial feasts of the Greeks. In these hetacombs (or something lke that), they will slaughter the animal, wrap its meat and internal organs in fat, and roast it on sticks before eating it. I don't know about you, but this reminds me of little boys roasting hot dogs (meat, fat and organs) around a campfire. I can see it now: in Athens or Corinth, on some small street, the boys build their little fort, perhaps a little comfortable spot surrounded by bushes, and call it the Little Warriors club (no girlz allowed). They roast around a campfire whenever they can. Eventually, they take to wearing the skins of manly animals, like the wild boars their fathers have caught on hunts.
It's not as implausible as it sounds. The worship of the pagan gods began in the imagination (see The Everlasting Man agian), and I don't see why the idea of a ritual priesthood and this particular method of sacrifice couldn't have grown out of these imaginative little rascalhoods when they grew old enough to care about their religion. On a slightly more serious note, the method of sacrifice is fairly similar to the methods of the Israelites, and the ritual could have come before the pagan religion.
The pagan religion of the Iliad itself is rather imaginative. It perfectly fits the Chestertonain picture of paganism as a faith in things that are imaginative and evocative, but utterly unworshippable. As Chesterton said, if he were to cease being Catholic, he would become a pagan, and worship particular trees. The gods are fickle, changing their allegiance with the tide of battle, and they can be injured (but not killed). They are utterly interesting, however.
More interesting still, however, is the question of with whom Homer's allegiance lies. Chesterton agrees with what he says is Homer's position, that not only is Troy to deserve our allegiance, but the fact that Troy does so is the ancestor of Mideaval chivalry. At first, I was puzzled by why Troy is the proper recipient of our sympathy, but gradually it dawned on me. First, and most importantly, Troy loses. Not only is it taken by the trechary of the horse (I haven't actually gotten to that part yet), but its heroes die in much greater frequency than the heroes of Greece, for no plausible reason other than the occasional interference of the gods. The common soldiers of Troy, even though their rulers are in the wrong for having stolen Helen and refusing to give her back, are fighting (in Homer's own words) for the most goodly and Chestertonain things to fight for, their city and their families; while the common soldiers of Greece have overreacted to Helen's abduction and fight merely for honor. By one-third thru the story, Troy has tried to make peace twice, and twice have their plans been brought to naught: once by the gods, and once by the Greeks.
Most important in the battle for our hearts, however, is Hector. Only Aneas, of all the Trojan heroes, shows any willingness to be a great and daring soldier. Hector is also beset with the greatest odds of any of the characters, for he is not invincible and has to deal with the fact that the Trojans are completely unwilling to cooperate with each other. He also has a beautiful scene where he talks with his wife that Chesterton would have loved.
One final note: This is labeled Chesterton beside himself because it is about Chestertonian elements in other authors.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Security Blogget

I suppose you need some evidence that I, a blogger, am really and truly old-fashioned. Well, here it is. I don't know the first thing about the person profiles that we all have. I see that I can "Edit Profile" and I am siezed with a mad desire to do so.
However, discretion is the better part of valor (sorry, that wasn't from Chesterton). I noticed that some of you, when I click on your interests, have links to other people. Are these people bloggers who have the same interests as the person concerned on blogs that said person enriches with their membership? Because if they are not, I deem it prudent to cease and desist. For me anyway.

And, just in case you don't like to write comments on boring but pracitical questions like that, I will give you some real food for thought so that you can comment on its more interesting nature. While you're at it, would you be so kind as to answer my first question?

The Ten Commandments of Algernon's Game
1. I am the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Thou shalt not translate the word "god," when it refers to a graven image so that the translation refers to me.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD, thy God, in vain. Thou shalt not translate so that any words referring to sacred things are degraded. Thou shalt not translate the names and words of sacred things so that they refer to something else.

3. Keep Holy the Sabbath day. Thou shalt not translate the Bible or the liturgical texts of any Christian religion.

4, Honor your father and your mother. Thou shalt not translate when your parents tell you to stop.

5. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not translate so often that the game gets boring.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not translate anything that is sexual or becomes so in the translation.

7. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not steal a definition from a definition by using the definition of the word as the translation and then translating the definition.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not plagarize. Thou shalt be unclear.

9-10. Thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not consciously imitate the translating style of another.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A New Way to Play Thou Art Translated

Here's a new way to play the game. Instead of translating simple into complex, I translated prose into poetry.

Letter of G.K. Chesterton to Mildred D’Avigdor
Translated into poetic format by Evan Winter

This morn, upon rising,
I poured out the water
And washed my boots, my face despising.
Well, What’s odder?

Then with graceful flourish
With tails trailing ‘fore me
I poured the drink on the canned fish
It was coffee.

Has my sane mind left me?
Is it absent merely?
Thinkers of my family
Think the second thingy.

The truth is, I’m engaged.
And you’re the first to know.
But to whom? I’ve enraged
With questions those who know.

They tell me (with a “stupid”)
The lady’s Francis Blogg
I cleared that up, I did
That minor mental fog

I feel very happy
Just remember your G.K
Both you and your dear Waldo hubby
I’m quite O.K.

Here's the real text:

Dear Mildred,
On rising this morning, I carefully washed my boots in hot water and blacked my face. Then assuming my coat with graceful ease and putting the tails in front, I descended to breakfast, where I gaily poured the coffee on the sardines and put my hat on the fire to boil. These activities will give you some idea of my frame of mind. My family, observing me leave the house by way of the chimney, adn take the fender with me under one arm, thought I must have something on my mind. So I had.
My friend, I am engaged. I am only telling it at present to my real friends, but there is no doubt about it. The next question that arisies is---whom am I engaged to? I have investigated the matter, and as far as I can make out, the best authorities point to Frances Blogg. There can be no reasonable doubt that she is the lady. It is as well to have these minor matters clear in one's mind.
I am very much too happy to write much, but I thought you might remember my existence sufficiently to be interested in the incident.
Waldo has been of so much help to me in this and in everything, and I am so much interested in you for his sake and your own that I am encouraged to hope that our friendship may subsist. If I have ever done anything rude or silly, it was quite inadvertent. I have always wished to please you.

Thou Art Translated! Part V & It has for to have been translated! Part II

Here's another version of Algernon's game and my side branch. The selection is from the book The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, a collection of stories written by Chesterton and published posthumously. This particular quote is from the story "When Doctors Agree ".

The Original

On the other side, he was admittedly honest in business and faithful to his wife and family; so that there was a general reaction in favor of his memory when he was found stabbed to the heart in the meager grass of the grim little churchyard that adjoined his favorite place of worship. It was impossible to imagine Mr. Haggis as involved in any romantic Highland feud falling for the dirk, or any romantic assignation interrupted with the stiletto; and it was generally felt that to be knifed and left unburied among the buried dead was an exaggerated penalty for being a rather narrow Scottish merchant of the old school.

Thou art translated!

On top of the supplementary elevation, he was acknowledged to be aboveboard in proprietorship and veracious to his uxor and ménage; accordingly there was a broad-spectrum retroaction in with great preference of his reminiscence in next to no time after he had been pinpointed perforated to the ticker within the exiguous greensward of the plutonian bantam necropolis that juxtaposed his fair-haired milieu of latria. It was chimerical to opine Mr. Haggis as drawn in whichever quixotic raised ground tiff nosediving on behalf of the sticker, or some mawkish tryst supervened by means of the bread knife; and it was by and large sensed that to be punctured and absent uninterred in the midst of the masked individuals was an blown up amercement for being a quite thin Scotch jobber of the not getting any younger train.
It has for to have been translated!
From the other side, it was evidently honest in the commerce and faithful to its moglie and family; so that there is a general reaction for its memory when it has been found stabbed to the heart in the lean grass of the churchyard small torvo that it has combined its place of the cult favorite. It was impossible to imagine the sig. Assigned Haggis like to all the feud romantico of the plateau that falls for the dirk, or any assignation romantico has interrupted with the stiletto; and it has been thought generally that to be knifed and on the left unburied between the buried dead men was one pain exaggerated for being a rather tightened Scottish trader than old school. – Italian

On the other side it was to its wife and reliable to family admittedly honestly in the business and; so that there was a general reaction in favor of its memory, when him erstochen to the heart in the lean grass of the grimmigen small Kirchhofs one found, which bordered its favourite place of the Anbetung. It was impossible to imagine gentleman. Haggis, as included into each romantic high land feud also, which falls for dirk, or assignation interrupted any romantic with the Stilett; and it was generally believed that to be knifed and under the buried dead ones was to the left an exaggerated punishment for its a rather narrow Scottish buyer of the old school unburied. – German

Other side, it was obviously honest in the businesses and faithful to his wife and family; so that it has y have a general reaction in favour of its memory when it was found stabbed in the middle in thin grass of small the sinister cemetery which touched its preferred place of worship. It was impossible to imagine Mr. Haggis as implied in any romantic enmity of mountain falling for the scraping-knife, or any romantic attribution stopped with the stylet; and it was generally estimated that to be knifed and unburied among deaths buried on the left was a penalty exaggerated to be a rather narrow Scottish trader of the old school. – French

For the other side, he had been confessed commonly honestly and religiously in matter to its woman and family; so that there was a general response in favour of its memory then he to the heart in the poor grass of unrelenting small churchyard stabbed was found which to its favoriete of worship grenste. It was impossible for M. to assume. Haggis such as involved in any romantic brawl which falls of the Hoogland for the sailor dagger, or any romantic assignation which is interrupted with stiletto; and one believed generally that knifed are and under buried kill exaggerated sanction for is a rather narrow Scottish trader of the old school unburied was left. – Dutch

On the other side, it was by the general acknowledgement honest in the matter and [vern] to its husband and to family; since there was the systemic reaction in favor of its memory when it was [schesn] [o] to the heart in the meager grass of gloomy small church court which it bordered its most favorite sacred thing. It is not possible to present Ghana Haggis as they included in any romantic of the feudal of mountainous country being reduced for any dirk, or romantic assignation interrupted with the pins; and generally it was felt, that there was knifed and left unburied among the buried dead persons was the exaggerated penalty for to be the sufficiently narrow Scottish merchants of old school. – Russian
Have a good weekend, everyone.

Math is the alphabet with which God wrote the universe - Galileo Galilei

Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit - There has been no great talent without an element of madness - Seneca

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm sorry about that blank post---I was trying to post a midi file, but it wouldn't let me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Testing out the possibilities of the comments box for discussion purposes...

Chestertonian Puzzler

Assuming that it is technologically feasible to develop a computer powerful enough to sustain a realistic illusory world (The Matrix, for example). and
Assuming that a society with such technology would test it, and
Assuming they would test it more than once, and
Assuming that the socety, like all societies, would become so decadent that things as stupid, immoral, pleasant, and morbid as that would become popular,
It seems that there would be far more imaginary universes than real ones, hence we are thousands of times more likely to be living in an imaginary universe than a real one.

The Puzzler:
1. Why is this not true, even if you believe all the assumptions? (Hint: If there was a chapter in Orthodoxy you really didn't like, you might have a more difficult time answering this question.)
2. Why does it not matter for the sake of most arts and sciences and the salvation of our souls?

This puzzler was told to me by a certain Tommy Swanson (whom some of you might know, though I don't think he's ever read Chesterton in his life). After I get five answers in the comments section, I'll post the answer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Theme of "The Sins of Prince Saradine"

You said that this month's topic was "The Sins of Prince Saradine." Well, here's my discussion of it. Please criticize and even contradict.

“But only slightly less well-known is ‘Never trust a Sicilian when life is on the line.’”
----------The Princess Bride
Despite the fact that The Princess Bride is incredibly Chestertonian, despite the fact that this quote is good advice, and despite the vengeful Sicilian, this quote is not the main theme of “The Sins of Prince Saradine.” What the story focuses on, however, is that sin requires punishment. And the unpunished sin is quite possibly the worst of all.
The very plot of the story brings out this theme. The Sicilian, whose sin (although it is not the smallest) is the most human, receives a relatively light punishment, the punishment of the state. The prince’s brother, whose sin is less sympathizable and less serious, dies as a result of his love of money. The prince, however goes unpunished for his sin of deception and double murder. Yet, he leads a miserable most of his life hiding from the vengeful Sicilian. Most importantly, the image of the sly double criminal smugly enjoying his own possessions when he should be enjoying the comforts of jail leaves the reader rightly puzzled, fascinated, and inebriated with a sense of the lack of justice. As a supplement to the plot, small details such as the prince’s psychologically crazy mirrors and the maid’s mysterious allusion to the fact that the good brother is not really the good one add to the sense that the real prince is a whitewashed tomb filled with unsettling decay. By the time Chesterton is finished with us, we want justice and realize its necessity. Hopefully, however, we will not go the route of the Sicilian--or Domingo Montoya.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Thou Art Translated" Part---VI?

O.k., I thought I'd try my hand at this. Or do I have to be initiated first?

""Affirmative," the teller of antiquated stories and traditions and official records detailed with absolute jelly-and-cream style precision, "the edifice of stone before you has the quality of being guessed by experts as a symbol of the deity of the place, Sul. The superlative members of the chattering classes who are informed on the subject place an equals sign between variable Sul and variable Minerva; burned-out cigarette this was clutched to circus that the equals sign had only one bar and was thus a minus sign."

Here's the real passage from the chapter "God and Comparative Religion" from "The Everlasting Man" I have done Martin Gardner's job and annotated it as well.

"'Yes," he [the ancient history professor] said with a certain delicate [see "The Horse and His Boy"] exactitude, 'that [a bearded statue] is supposed to represent the local god Sul. The best authorities identify Sul with Minerva, buth this has been held to show that the identification is not complete."
To the Chestertonian poets,
Some of us (well, me) aren't so familliar with Chesterton's poetry. I've read The Ballad of the White Horse, and that's about it. What do we need to read, and more importatntly, how?

P.S. I'm one of those creepy people who likes (horrors) Emily Dickinson :).

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Come my friends, leave your quarrels and cares and indulge in a mug of poetry!

The Napoleon of Notting Hill is my favorite GK book, but nothing beats The Flying Inn for verse!

* * * * *

The Logical Vegetarian

You will find me drinking rum,
Like a sailor in a slum,
You will find me drinking beer like a Bavarian
You will find me drinking gin
In the lowest kind of inn
Because I am a rigid Vegetarian.

So I cleared the inn of wine,
And I tried to climb the sign,
And I tried to hail the constable as "Marion."
But he said I couldn't speak,
And he bowled me to the Beak
Because I was a Happy Vegetarian.

Oh, I know a Doctor Gluck,
And his nose it had a hook,
And his attitudes were anything but Aryan;
So I gave him all the pork
That I had, upon a fork
Because I am myself a Vegetarian.

I am silent in the Club,
I am silent in the pub.,
I am silent on a bally peak in Darien;
For I stuff away for life
Shoving peas in with a knife,
Because I am at heart a Vegetarian.

No more the milk of cows
Shall pollute my private house
Than the milk of the wild mares of the Barbarian
I will stick to port and sherry,
For they are so very, very,
So very, very, very, Vegetarian.

Thou Art Translated! Part IV


Sorry that I haven't been able to post before; I had schoolwork to do. Anyway, here is another post on Algernon's game, with a little spin-off that I dreamed up.

He stayed put immobile in the hub of the granular wilds and tolerated the rest wend avant-garde of him; he sensed the hemoglobin scuttling through all his venules and the kinesthesia that is referred to as the chevelure becoming upright on its stopping point; and yet he was aware of an unprecedented and anomalistic rhathymia.

Translated: He stood still in the middle of the sandy waste and let the others go on in front of him; he felt the blood crawling through all his veins and the sensation that is called the hair standing on end; and yet he felt a new and unnatural happiness. - Chesterton, The Doom of the Darnaways.

Here is the spin off, which I call It has for to have been translated! I used the above quote, and translated it into a different language via Microsoft Word or Babelfish translation, and then translated it back to English. It will sometimes mess up the grammar, and it reads hilariously. Here are the goods; I will put which language it was translated into after each block of text.

It stood still in the middle in sandigen waste and let the others before it go on; he believed to the blood to creep by all his veins and the feeling which are called the hair, which stands at the end; and it believed a new and unnatural luck nevertheless. - German

It has been firm in means of the sabbioso waste and has left the others to continue he; it has thought the spirit to crawl with all its veins and the feeling that is called the hats that levano in feet on the extremity; but it has thought one new and artificial happiness. - Italian

It stood still in the middle of sandy waste and it left other to be continued front from him felt the blood that is drawn via all his veins and the sense that is called hair that stands in the end and however felt news and unnatural happiness. – Greek

This one is by far the wierdest. Sometimes some words will refuse to be translated, as you can see. But what managed to get translated was very entertaining.

É l todaví to it was stopped in means of the sandy sweepings and dejó the others to go ignition in front of é l; é l sentí to the blood crawling with all its veins and sensació n that is called the hair that está unemployed in end; but é l sentí to a new and artificial happiness. - Spanish

That's all for now,


Math is the alphabet with which God wrote the universe - Galileo Galilei
Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit - There has been no great talent without an element of madness - Seneca
I saw that the new members were supposed to introduce themselves. Very well. I will be happy to oblige.

My real name is Evan (Don't worry, I won't tell you how to reach me). I live in Lincoln, NE, and have six siblings. I just graduated from high school about one week after this last Chesterton conference in Saint Paul (Yes I was homeschooled; we used mostly Mother of Divine Grace). Although I love philosophy, literature, and Great Books, I am planning to be a Music Composition major at the University of Nebraska this fall.
I think I was always a Chestertonian, because I have always loved fairy tales, I write stories with improbable motives and characters sprinkled through like salt, I have always liked Lewis Carroll, and I have yet to read a modern psychological novel. I was introduced to Chesterton through The Ballad of the White Horse, which I read for Mideval History. The book that really got me interested, however, was Orthodoxy, which I read about a year later. My favorite Chesterton book is The Man who was Thursday.
One final note. Despite what people may say, The Lord of the Rings is for whimsy lovers and Alice-quoters.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I am pleased to see that we will be discussing "The Sins of Prince Saradine." I just read that a few days ago. What a marvelous providential coincidence!

In Further Defense of Belloc

I was grateful for Love2Learn Mom's earlier post about Belloc. He does seem to get a lot of negative press, which I think is very unfortunate. All men have faults, and Belloc's strengths seem to be largely overlooked. I particularly admire him for his absolutely extraordinary faith. Apparently his relationship with God was never charged with emotionalism. Rather, one could almost say that his whole life was a dark night of the soul. He said that if he weren't a Catholic he would be an atheist, but that he was a Catholic because Catholicism was real and true.

I can't even begin to express how awed I am by this faith of his. Through sheer will he kept to the Faith, and kept to it strongly, even when he felt nothing. Some people, particularly those who seem to put a huge emphasis on an emotional relationship with God, would take this to mean that he didn't love. Quite the contrary. Lack of emotion doesn't mean lack of love. Rather, I think, it is the great love of loyalty, of fidelity in the face of everything, of a strong fortitude.

That was a bit of a passionate sidetrack, so excuse me. My original intent was to give you a quote from A.N. Wilson's biography of Belloc, in an attempt to show Belloc's truly beautiful character. It's a tragic bit, concerning the death of his wife Elodie:

The next day, her body was carried down to the hall at King's Land where it lay surrounded by candles. Neighbours and friends came to pray beside it. Belloc wandered upstairs again and along the narrow corridor to her room. He glanced round once more at her dressing table, at her clothes, at her bed with its scarlet coverlet. It had always been a dark room, its small windows preventing it from getting much sunlight. He came out of the room and turned the key in its lock. From that moment, Elodie's bedroom was sealed up forever. So, too, was her little parlour downstairs. No one entered them again in Belloc's lifetime. Nor would he ever pass that bedroom door without pausing to kiss it or trace upon it the sign of the cross. And this he did for the next forty years.

--from Hilaire Belloc: A Biography by A.N. Wilson

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Path to San Francisco...

One of the things I like about the recent name change on this blog is that *I*, the quiet behind-the-scenes moderator, get to post interesting tidbits once in awhile. Here's my first - one I simply had to pass along the minute I saw it - especially given some slightly negative press that Belloc's had here in the past...

Anthony Esolen at Mere Comments tells this story about Chesterton’s friend Hillaire Belloc: “It seems that when Belloc was serving as a young man in the French army, he met an American woman with whom he fell passionately in love. Once discharged from the army, Belloc sold his beloved complete set of the works of Cardinal Newman to scramble up the money for boat fare across the Atlantic. He landed in New York, and walked across the continent to San Francisco, supporting himself by manual labor. When he arrived at the young lady’s door in California, he proposed to her on the spot. She agreed. It was a long engagement — they were married seven years later, when she was 25 and he was 26. Read those last sentences again, carefully. Unfortunately, their happy marriage was broken by the early death of Mrs. Belloc, at age 43; and Belloc had already lost a son in World War I, and would lose another in World War II. But whatever you may say about the man’s writings and his polemical opinions, Belloc lived.”
hat-tip Semicolon Blog