Friday, December 08, 2006

the ACS blogg game

December 8 is also the anniversary of the beginning of the ACS blogg, and before I have my dinner on the roof (or ceiling) I will play the game.

1. When did you first read a Chesterton book, story, or poem, and which was it?
I first heard my father recite "Lepanto" when I was about 4 or 5. If I recall correctly, my first complete GKC book was "The Fatber Brown Omnibus" probably in 7th or 8th grade, since in 9th or 10th we read "The Invisible Man" but I already knew it. Curiosity about "Lepanto" during a boring part of my master's work led me to the renowned Return To Tradition anthology (which includes "Lepanto" and excerpts from several books), which led me to begin an omnivorous and insatiable desire to read GKC. Twenty years later I am still busy...

2. What was the most recent of GKC's writings you read?
Er... the last complete reading of GKC was Nancy Brown's study guide to "The Blue Cross". But with the work I do, my dipping has begun to approach a continuum: when I am near AMBER or its tactile equivalent, I am attracted, and go forth with an increased charge. Hee hee. Or, to vary the metaphor, Gilbert is quite magnetic.

3. Which is your favorite book, poem - or quote?
Wow, hard. My favourite is usually the last one (book, poem, or quote) that I read. But I have to single out for mention The Everlasting Man which is without doubt the most important book I will ever see in my life (after the Bible). Elsewhere I have gone on record as saying my favourite quote is near the centre of that book, and it is the e ... - er, call it the "paragraph break" after this sentence: "There was no God; if there had been a God, surely this was the very moment when He would have moved and saved the world." (In automata theory, e is the string of zero length, the identity of the free monoid; but I am sure you already knew that. Amazing the technology one finds in GKC.)

4. Which would you recommend to a beginner?
I cheat, and give them 12 at once with Dale Ahlquist's The Apostle of Common Sense, or else the "Chesterton University Student Handbook" which has a nice handful of quotes from lots of books.

5. What is the most unusual fact or quirky detail you know about G.K.Chesterton?
You mean Doctor Chesterton? He also had a Ph.D. though it was honorary! The most unusual fact about him was that one day (in either 2000 or 2001) I was standing in the computer room at my previous employment, and a co-worker walked up to me and said, "Doc, I want you to meet Mr. Chesterton." There behind him was a vast-sized man, yes, really named Chesterton, who was actually a distant cousin of GKC; he worked for a customer of ours. (I think half the company was crowded around to see my reaction, which was as you might guess - a look of shock and awe!)


At 08 December, 2006 19:59, Blogger Nancy C. Brown said...

Wow, cool! A distant cousin of GKC's? Was he English (British accent?)? What did he do? Real estate? Journalism?

How amazing.

At 09 December, 2006 13:27, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

It's still amazing for me to recall that time, and know it was real, and not some kind of dream or ChesterCon skit! It was always unsettling to see "Chesterton" in the "To List" of e-mails from our Control Room.

As I recall, he sounded American (I think that branch had been here for some time). At that time he had an important role (I've forgotten just what it was) in a local cable TV channel in southern New Jersey - so strangely enough, he's in the media too.

Then again, so am I. Hee hee.

At 11 December, 2006 09:56, Blogger Sean P. Dailey said...

Dr. Thursday, I second your nomination of The Everlasting Man as the most important book, after the Bible. It was the first Chesterton book I ever read (putting me in the same class with Dale and all other TEM-firsters) and opened for me vistas I never new existed. I was compiling footnotes from my 2005 ChesterCon talk a couple of months ago, and more than half of them were from TEM.

My favorite quote also comes from that book: "The hands that made the sun and the stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle." A man could spend a lifetime meditating on that one quote. My favorite Chesterton paragraph also is in that book: the next-to-last paragraph in the chapter, "The Witness of the Heretics." ("So might rise from their graves the great heresiarchs to confound their comrades of to-day. There is nothing that the critics now affirm that we cannot call on these great witnesses to deny....")


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