“Orthodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton is on sale at Audible.com and you know me, who cannot resist a discount, which is the reason why my shelf is filled with books I don’t feel like reading and my closet full of clothes I hardly ever wear.
And Chesterton is rambling and rambling, but despite his apparently lack of organization, the writing is so beautiful that I can find quotes in every paragraph. The book is not quite as funny as “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis, but it is a worthy rival.
Even if one is not a Christian, one can find entertainment in Chesterton’s quirky presentation and whimsical reasoning. I just love this book. Right now I am half way through chapter three and the following are quotes from the first two chapters.
…this book explains how I fancied I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious. No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne.
I am not sure I completely agree with the author, but I like his way of saying things.
…oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people. This is why ordinary people have a much more exciting time; while odd people are always complaining of the dullness of life. This is also why the new novels die so quickly, and why the old fairy tales endure for ever.
I partially agree with the author on the following quotes. Living in New Jersey and surrounded by all the Asian scientists and engineers, I heard the deafening loud praise of human reasoning all the time but I just don’t agree. It is not reasoning’s fault, but rather when people say they are reasoning, they often mistake custom and habit as good reasoning, or consider fashionable notion as reasoning.
There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable… Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.
These are all Chesterton’s speculations. Mathematicians are probably no more prone to insanity than poets; poetry and reason can probably cause the same amount of exhaustion.
The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion… To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
Yes, I totally agree. Incessant calculation can drive people crazy. I personally know several people who went half insane due to inexhaustible calculation on petty concerns.
…a cynical man of the world, a sceptic, a diplomatist, a great practical politician. Such men are indeed to madness near allied. Their incessant calculation of their own brains and other people’s brains is a dangerous trade. … And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners.
Love the last quote.
…if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them…. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.