Saturday, December 1, 2012
Some more Chesterton / Eugenics and Other Evils
Yesterday, I had a chance to read some more G.K. Chesterton and have only a bit left in the "Eugenics and Other Evils." And I must say simply this: the man is so incredibly sane.
I love sane. I love clear and good. I don't need slant and sly. Slant and sly can be fun like those who want to sit forever and solve a puzzle. Not I. I don't do that.
There are different ways of being smart. There are different ways to think about thinking. There are different kinds of poetry with different applications. Chesterton does not fall short anywhere. He's got the vocabulary, yet he is also simple. He has imagery and examples galore. He is thinking extremely deeply about the thinking process and its fallacies. --It seems like he is one step further. He sees the fallacies of those who fancy themselves thinkers. He's got them by the tail. Yea! Fun!
He debunks the wrong thinking of an entire age. I've just become acquainted with this age and Chesterton is the antidote to this. I had suspected that Eugenics was intimately connected to some of the arrogant, Christless stuff I had come across. I had even said it at the time but no one agreed with me. (Instead it was my own biases, supposedly, which always made me say stupid things like that. This was someone's thinking about thinking.) Of course, I have my own framework, but it is the same same framework as Chesterton's. And he will point out the anarchy of the undogmatic age. The State becomes anarchic.
In some ways the English have an advantage. They sit on their nasty, little, windswept, rain-beaten island, somewhat removed from the convulsions of the continent. They have a kind of observer perch and status on some items. It's a little bit like living in this cold, northern place. We watch the hotheads in the United States and even try to talk with them, but we are truly removed from the center of all the mania, and for some several reasons we don't really get what is going on in some of the busy places and hothouses. But we can also comment on all that in some reasonable and detached fashion.
In as far as Chesterton sometimes mentions Prussian attitudes, I am guessing he is talking about a militaristic predeliction. In reading Simon Uwe Netto we also learned that this generalization by the English turned out to be very unfortunate. The existing distance did not lend itself, in the end, to aiding the German underground during Hitler's days. So this detachment can also be fatal. But then much of the thinking non-sense of the Enlightenment and I'd say also Idealism grew mostly on the continent. Not that there wasn't cross-fertilization. Recently I read how jubilantly Marx welcomed Darwin's book on the "Origin of the Species". (We should remember in this context that the full title of the book was: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.) So here we have the English coming up with some nutty idea of their own. Marx cannot resist commenting on the "crude English method" by which the world came to such a marvelous theory.
All of this brings me back to my recent ranting and raving about people calling people "imbecilic", as opposed to the genius status they hold for themselves, about calling people "shallow" while thinking themselves "complex", This is analogous to the calling of the poor and underprivileged and exploited-- the "feeble-minded", as in Chesterton's "Feeble-Minded-Bill" under discussion in England.
We've come to complete a circle here, and Chesterton has closed it for me. I wonder why he comes up so rarely in the talks of the enlightened. Chesterton reminds me of Luther, in some ways: lucid, picturesque, earthy, humble, loud, smart, knowledgeable, grounded, thoughtful, simple, honest, sane. Luther spoke to the Middle Ages and the depravities they had sunk to. Chesterton spoke to other centuries and their follies. How did they do it? How could they be so insightful? Luther and Chesterton drank from the same fountain and secret well. -- We know what it is. It is their deep joy in Jesus Christ.