Thursday, February 09, 2006

Chesterton Snacks

Warning: this posting contains VERY FUNNY things. Please do not eat or drink while reading it!

As a quick break from my usual long postings, I will just give you a few short, and rather funny Chesterton snacks.

This is one of the funniest sentences in all of GKC's writing:
"Why aren't I a chair?"
But I think you need to see the context, which amplifies the idea:
The modern mind is no a donkey which wants kicking to make it go on. The modern mind is more like a motor-car on a lonely road which two amateur motorists have been just clever enough to take to pieces, but are not quite clever enough to put together again. Under these circumstances kicking the car has never been found by the best experts to be effective. No one, therefore, does any good to our age merely by asking questions - unless he can answer the questions. Asking questions is already the fashionable and aristocratic sport which has brought most of us into the bankruptcy court. The note of our age is a note of interrogation. And the final point is so plain; no sceptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon. "Am I a boy? - Why am I a boy? - Why aren't I a chair? - What is a chair?" A child will sometimes ask these sort of questions for two hours. And the philosophers of Protestant Europe have asked them for two hundred years.
[GKC George Bernard Shaw CW11:483-484]
And since I have mentioned this very funny word, I will have to quote the other fuinny line which uses it, which is where GKC is rebutting his other friend and worthy oppponent, H. G. Wells:
Then there is the opposite attack on thought: that urged by
Mr. H. G. Wells when he insists that every separate thing is "unique," and there are no categories at all. This also is merely destructive. Thinking means connecting things, and stops if they cannot be connected. It need hardly be said that this scepticism forbidding thought necessarily forbids speech; a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr. Wells says (as he did somewhere), "All chairs are quite different," he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them "all chairs."
[GKC, Orthodoxy CW1:238]
Which of course leads to this, perhaps even funnier:
If the two moralities are entirely different, why do you
call them both moralities? It is as if a man said, "Camels in various places are totally diverse; some have six legs, some have none, some have scales, some have
feathers, some have horns, some have wings, some are green, some are triangular. There is no point which they have in common." The ordinary man of sense would reply, "Then what makes you call them all camels? What do you mean by a camel? How do you know a camel when you see one?"
[GKC, Heretics CW1:234]
I have posted these because they are very funny, but also because they support my friend the Curt Jester in his use of humor to remind his readers of absolute truths.


At 17 February, 2006 00:09, Blogger Brent said...

Great stuff! Thanks!


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