Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Visitor From Another Blogg

Yes, it's Tuesday - so it's time for a picture. (You'll understand if you have the very wonderful CW14. If not, too bad.) Maybe you know who this is?

It's somebody who has a lot of books, and he seems to be holding the famous Greek Lexicon of Liddell and Scott. Is he laughing? I wonder why. It almost sounds like a story.

Today is September 30, the last day of the longest month - you knew that, didn't you? Computer scientists have to know such odd things. If you are not quite sure how "September" is the longest, you "May" have spend a short time in thought. Hee hee.

There's lots of things I might talk about, but (speaking of pictures) I think the best is to try to draw into a more Chestertonian vein something you've been doing here on your blogg - your very interesting "game" of translating a famous GKC quote into English. It's the kind of thing he would find most amusing, as well as paradoxical, since he often had to do that himself.... of course I am overwhelmed with examples as usual, so I cannot give you one just now... I will find one for next time.

OK, Games. You must already know about GKC's very own game, the game of Gype. He invented it with H. G. Wells:
I also remember that it was we who invented the well-known and widespread national game of Gype. All sorts of variations and complications were invented in connection with Gype. There was Land Gype and Water Gype. I myself cut out and coloured pieces of cardboard of mysterious and significant shapes, the instruments of Table Gype; a game for the little ones. It was even duly settled what disease threatened the over-assiduous player; he tended to suffer from Gype's Ear. My friends and I introduced allusions to the fashionable sport in our articles; Bentley successfully passed one through the Daily News and I through some other paper. Everything was in order and going forward; except the game itself, which has not yet been invented.
[GKC Autobiography CW16:211-2]
As you already know, it is the only sport for which Chesterton University has a varsity team - they have been undefeated ever since its founding, since no other school on Earth has a varsity Gype team. Another day I will tell you more, and perhaps discuss its relation to "Calvinball" - but for today I wish to merely give you my entry in your GKC translation game, and see if you wish to guess what famous quote I have munged:
All of the individual simple supernatural beings: that is, those which have no material extension, which dwell in the presence of God, and which are often assigned the office of messenger, possess individually the ability to perform translation of position within three-space it occupies at present, without regard for the gravitational forces acting at that position. This possession by these beings is a logical result of their simultaneous possession of the potential of judging their individual intrinsic worth in the scheme of being as comparatively less than it actually is.
See what you can do with it.

OK, that's all for now. Maybe next time maybe I will have a story and not just a picture.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chesterton's Mind Readers....Ha!

I suppose that during his life, Chesterton prayed the Hail Holy Queen many times. Here's something that may very well have passed thru his head:

"To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears....hmm...I wonder what the prayer would mean if they were tears of joy....does that make sense? Well, if we were mourning and weeping there, what motherly patience she must have with us, we mourners-when-we should be laughers. What a horrible sin that would be! That's why she needs to be our "most gracious advocate" and the exile we are in is a self-imposed one from joy. And in our world of joy, she is our sweetness because not only is she sweet, but our modern, drab spiritual tongues are too dull to feel the flavor in anything but the Sweetest one of All. Yes, that will do quite nicely. I must write an essay about that."

Why he didn't, I will never know...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated.
-- From Autobiography (1936)

And Today's Winner Is...

Just in case you hadn't thought of it already, the most important conventions to break are the intellectual ones. Examples of mental conventions: "Democracy is the best form of government," "The Civil War was fought to free the slaves," "It is a sin to not allow woman sufferage."

Not that all these mentioned mental conventions are necessarily wrong, but we have to be able to at least question them. If you so much as questioned any of these out loud (regardless of the answer you gave yourself), you'd probably get told you were an ignoramus or an elitist or a racist or a chauvinist or an extremist or a fanatic or an absolutist or a Chestertonian or a....

Anyway, isn't that sort of response exactly what we expect to get eventually?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aristotle vs. Innocent Smith

Here is a quote from Aristotle's "Poetics"

As for Comedy, it is (as has been observed) an imitation of men worse than the average; worse, however, not as regards any and every sort offault, but only as regards one particular kind, the Ridiculous, whichis a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistakeor deformity not productive of pain or harm to others; the mask, forinstance, that excites laughter, is something ugly and distortedwithout causing pain.

Would you not call Innocent Smith ridiculous in one way or another? It cannot be denied that his Aristotelian "fault" is a virtue. Innocent Smith is ridiculous on purpose because he enjoys it. The characters in "The Birds" (an ancient Greek Comedy) are ridiculous because they are extremely lazy and decadent (although they do tell a few very clean, very funny, not specifically lazy jokes). I don't think we have to be ridiculous to love life as much as Smith does, but if we enjoy it (as I do) why not?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cavemen in Victorian England

Some of you may have heard rumors (whether nasty or not) from literary critics that Dracula by Bram Stoker contains touches of feminism. Well, compare the passage where they kill the lady vampire with this passage from The Everlasting Man:

"But others have conjectured that what is called matriarchy was simply moral anarchy, in which the mother alone remained fixed because all the fathers were fugitive and irresponsible. Then came the moment when the man decided to guard and guide what he had created. So he became the head of the family, not as a bully with a big club to beat women with, but rather as a respectable person trying to be a responsible person. Now all that might be perfectly true, and might even have been the first family act, and it would still be true that man is for the first time acted like a man, and therefore for the first time became fully a man."

You see, I have seen a criticism that compared the actions of the men in this particular scene from Dracula with things that the actions are obviously not supposed to represent. I saw this action as something immensely good. Upon reflection, this Chestertonian thing is what it seemed to resemble. This interpretation has none of the evil aspects of feminism.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Crash and Burn? Or not?

There were two people at the first meeting of the UNL Chesterton society, myself and "Pulchritudo Musicae" (we hope to add Jennifer Overkamp next week). Not exactly auspicious.


We discovered that living like Paul in "Tremendous Trifles" is a habit one gets through reading Chesterton and doing Chesterton-style meditations. We also decided to give away free brown paper bags with chalk and copies of the essay "A Piece of Chalk" on campus. I hope people laugh at us....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Odyssey Follow-up

I saw this on Yahoo!, and I felt that I had to link to it. It is more about the Odyssey, and the discovery of the location of Ithaca, Odysseus' home. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/ithaca.html

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

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Good News!

Next Monday (September 8th) will be the first meeting of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chesterton Society. Pray for our success in bringing some sanity to this "zoo."