Monday, January 09, 2006

A Voyage to Discover the Earth

As you may know if you have been reading this Blogg, I do not generally follow the usual advertising of interesting Bloggs I have found... but sometimes there is one which excels in its Bloggishness - which means our Uncle Gilbert would take extra delight in it.

For a young person has decided (with his mother's approval and assistance) to go on a very exciting and very Chestertonian journey: the journey to discover the Earth.

You can read about it in the new Blogg called The Map Guy.

The reference I have in mind is one which Chesterton alludes to in several places. He makes a whole chapter of his Manalive out of it, and a whole story in his The Coloured Lands. He starts his very important book called The Everlasting Man with hinting about it:
There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place...[CW2:143]
But his funniest and perhaps most important exposition is this:
I have often had a fancy for writing a romance about an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas. I always find, however, that I am either too busy or too lazy to write this fine work, so I may as well give it away for the purposes of philosophical illustration. There will probably be a general impression that the man who landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton, felt rather a fool. I am not here concerned to deny that he looked a fool. But if you imagine that he felt a fool, or at any rate that the sense of folly was his sole or his dominant emotion, then you have not studied with sufficient delicacy the rich romantic nature of the hero of this tale. His mistake was really a most enviable mistake; and he knew it, if he was the man I take him for. What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again? What could be better than to have all the fun of discovering South Africa without the disgusting necessity of landing there? What could be more glorious than to brace one's self up to discover New South Wales and then realise, with a gush of happy tears, that it was really old South Wales. This at least seems to me the main problem for philosophers, and is in a manner the main problem of this book. How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? How can this queer cosmic town, with its many-legged citizens, with its monstrous and ancient lamps, how can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town? ... But I have a peculiar reason for mentioning the man in a yacht, who discovered England. For I am that man in a yacht. I discovered England.
[GKC Orthodoxy, CW1:211-212, 213]

So I wish our young friend a safe and happy voyage of discovery, and hope you will find his writing interesting...

Ahem. Now that I have introduced "The Map Guy", I wanted to add a further comment to his posting about the North Pole, which Mr. Chesterton often used as a point of reference, though not in the geographical way! I took a quick glance through the AMBER collection and found some quite hilarious things like this: "the Pope has three legs ... Rome is situated at the North Pole" [GKC, The Catholic Church and Conversion CW3;75] which is not what one would expect to find in such a book - but it shows how handy the North Pole can be. EVERYONE knows where it is!

GKC was writing his column for the Illustrated London News when Peary actually got there on April 6, 1909, and a little later wrote a column about it. As usual, GKC talks about everything, but it suffice for me to merely quote its beginning:
The finding of the North Pole is a really suitable subject for a column such as this, because it cannot possibly matter a rap to any reasonable human being whether it has been discovered or not. It is a safe and soothing subject; there is no heat about the North Pole. Certainly people have killed themselves trying to find the North Pole; but that does not make the matter particularly serious; they have killed themselves trying to find a fox. A fox is a much more solemn and sacred affair than the Pole; it is alive, and runs about, while the Pole (I think) keeps still; but I am not a scientist. What the people in question were really hunting was neither the Pole nor the fox, but fun...
[GKC, ILN Sept 25, 1909 CW28:396]

So go hunt some fun with the Map Guy, and help discover the Earth.


The Map Guy has been joined by his sister, the History Girl. It's about time! (Hee hee)


At 09 January, 2006 23:29, Blogger love2learnmom said...

Delightful! The kids are so tickled. They really enjoyed your (and GKC's) comments and thoughts.

Sharing their studies and interests with others is SO motivating.

At 09 January, 2006 23:31, Blogger love2learnmom said...

By the way, the two new bloggers are the older children in my profile photo (which is quite old). Your "voyage of discovery" title made me think of the photo.

God Bless!


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