Friday, February 11, 2011

Why I am writing my Saga (according to GKC)

In my search for dragons - eh? You can't envision me, wooden sword in hand and a stewpot on my head, stumbling through a forest looking for dragons? No? Ah well, how little you know of me. In fact, I've dealt with a variety of dragons - even some human ones - and... well, perhaps I ought not mention that here. Some of them are still alive, and some even read bloggs. It's amazing how annoying they find computer scientists, especially those who know how to spell DNA and work magic by satellites and read Chesterton and Jaki. But I have my attic and cellar sprayed every full moon with Dragon-B-Gon® and I run "Professor Norbert's Anti-Drag"® twice every nanosecond on all of my computers, so I am not too worried.

As I was saying, in my search for dragons, I came upon an excellent condensation - a sort of hand-held explanation, or miniature outline, explaining what is necessary in a Story. Yeah, I know it says "romance" but it means "adventure" and hence it really means "Story". It is a lot like what Glen Larson said in a commentary he made about his "Knight Rider" series, the need for humor, adventure, and heart. But here GKC specifies a different trio, and I think it is very interesting. What was startling to me was the hint that he had a clue about why I might be writing my great Saga... But read it for yourself, and then you decide.

In every pure romance there are three living and moving characters. For the sake of argument they may be called St. George and the Dragon and the Princess. In every romance there must be the twin elements of loving and fighting. In every romance there must be the three characters: there must be the Princess, who is a thing to be loved; there must be the Dragon, who is a thing to be fought; and there must be St. George, who is a thing that both loves and fights. There have been many symptoms of cynicism and decay in our modern civilisation. But of all the signs of modern feebleness, of lack of grasp on morals as they actually must be, there has been none quite so silly or so dangerous as this: that the philosophers of to-day have started to divide loving from fighting and to put them into opposite camps. There could be no worse sign than that a man, even Nietzsche, can be found to say that we should go in for fighting instead of loving. There can be no worse sign than that a man, even Tolstoi, can be found to tell us that we should go in for loving instead of fighting. The two things imply each other; they implied each other in the old romance and in the old religion, which were the two permanent things of humanity. You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it. You cannot fight without something to fight for. To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust. It may be an airy, philosophical, and disinterested lust; it may be, so to speak, a virgin lust; but it is lust, because it is wholly self-indulgent and invites no attack. On the other hand, fighting for a thing without loving it is not even fighting; it can only be called a kind of horse-play that is occasionally fatal. Wherever human nature is human and unspoilt by any special sophistry, there exists this natural kinship between war and wooing, and that natural kinship is called romance. It comes upon a man especially in the great hour of youth; and every man who has ever been young at all has felt, if only for a moment, this ultimate and poetic paradox. He knows that loving the world is the same thing as fighting the world. It was at the very moment when he offered to like everybody he also offered to hit everybody. To almost every man that can be called a man this especial moment of the romantic culmination has come. In the first resort the man wished to live a romance. In the second resort, in the last and worst resort, he was content to write one.
[GKC Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens CW15:255-6]


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