Friday, May 29, 2009

GKC's Birthday: the Proclamation of Liberty

This is Chesterton's 135th birthday. It is a day for founding institutions, for making rules, for being in high spirits, for having picnics on the roof, for luncheons on the floor...

All next day at Beacon House there was a crazy sense that it was everybody's birthday. It is the fashion to talk of institutions as cold and cramping things. The truth is that when people are in exceptionally high spirits, really wild with freedom and invention, they always must, and they always do, create institutions. When men are weary they fall into anarchy; but while they are gay and vigorous they invariably make rules. This, which is true of all the churches and republics of history, is also true of the most trivial parlour game or the most unsophisticated meadow romp. We are never free until some institution frees us, and liberty cannot exist till it is declared by authority.
[GKC, Manalive]

Alas for good reasons, I could not defer the foundation of the Duhem Society until now - and there is another project already nascent of which I am not yet at liberty to speak, for I am bound to others in the work, and its rules are only now being formulated... There's only so many hours in a day, after all.

But what about you? What institution are you establishing today? What rules are you going to devise - rules for worthy pursuits, be they for joy or for wisdom or for reverence?

You may claim Chesterton's own authority today... regardless of when your birthday is, he is glad to share his own with you. Come and join in the celebration!

And perhaps later this evening, we'll get together at Sunday's for refreshments:
"Cold pheasant is a good thing," said Syme reflectively, "and Burgundy is a spanking good thing."
and then discuss something really huge...
...perhaps I may leave in my will directions or (what is much more improbable) funds for the founding of a great university...
[GKC ILN Oct 30 1926 CW34:193]


At 31 May, 2009 23:29, Blogger Sheila said...

Ah, if only he had left funds ...

I spent GKC's birthday playing Gype Solitaire. Gype Solitaire looks like spending the day how I like, interspersed with giving an exam in the morning and eating fish in the evening.


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