Monday, February 07, 2011

In spite of defects such as dragons

Huh? Who said that?

Do you really have to ask? Er... no, it wasn't Tolkien. Nor Hagrid.

This is an awesome phrase, and it ought to be a blogg-name, except I have the Best Blogg name, at least from Gilbert Chesterton's perspective. Hee hee.

Anyway, I mentioned dragons because the dragon has shown up again, in a very strange place, and I was wondering just how many tmes GKC uses the word. According to AMBER, "dragon" or "dragons" appear nearly 500 times, which is a healthy number. There are some great quotes, and some which I may decide to use elsewhere.

One of my favorites, which I based a story upon, is this:

"A man cannot deserve adventures; he cannot earn dragons and hippogriffs."
[GKC Heretics CW1:72]

But here are some more, just to delight you:

If there was a dragon, he had a grandmother. [Tremendous Trifles]

The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. [Ibid]

[While GKC was making cutouts for his toy theater, he noted:] Plato, who liked definite ideas, would like my cardboard dragon; for though the creature has few other artistic merits he is at least dragonish. The modern philosopher, who likes infinity, is quite welcome to a sheet of the plain cardboard.

A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales - because they find them romantic.
[Orthodoxy CW1:257] was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstacy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity. The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale. The test of all happiness is gratitude...
[Orthodoxy CW1:258]

And, finally, this mighty excerpt, GKC's miniature summary of his philosophy:
I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false. Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.
[Orthodoxy CW1:268]
And I for one, am grateful to find such a close and Chestertonian link between dragons and drinking beer.


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