Sunday, July 23, 2006

Something To Keep You Busy This Week

I am taking the bar exam this week. We will not speak of it. But obviously I won’t be posting during the week, and then after that I’ve got so much going on that I don’t know when I’ll be posting after that. So I thought I would leave you with a bit of philosophy for you to ponder. I’ve actually been meaning to post this for quite some time, but Bobby (Jive to the Monkey) posted something last week that reminded me that I still hadn’t done it yet (I think—if I have, then just read it again) [if I didn't link properly, go here, and scroll down to "Philisophical Implications in Poetry"].

This is an excerpt from The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton. I won’t try to describe the book to you, and I wouldn’t dare recommend you read it--I don't do book recommendations because book choices are too personal. I find it to be beyond description. I loved it. It’s certainly beautifully written; Chesterton could turn a phrase. But it’s a strange story, a farce, a mystery, a social commentary, too many things wrapped into one for me to tell you for sure that you’d like it if you read it. You can learn more about it here.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the beginning of the book. Read it and see what you think:

Gregory resumed in high oratorical good-humour.
‘An artist is identical with an anarchist,’ he cried. ‘You might transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything. He sees how much more valuable is one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thunder, than the mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen. An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway.’
‘So it is,’ said Mr. Syme.
‘Nonsense!’ said Gregory, who was very rational when anyone else attempted paradox. ‘Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because they know that whatever place they have a ticket for, that place they will reach. It is because after they have passed Sloane Square they know that the next station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. Oh, their wild rapture! oh, their eyes like stars and their souls like Eden, if the next station were unaccountably Baker Street!’
‘It is you who are unpoetical,’ replied the poet Syme. ‘If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street, or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. Take your Byron, who commemorates the defeats of man; give me Bradshaw who commemorates his victories . . . .’
‘I tell you,’ went on Syme with passion, ‘that every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a battle against chaos. You say contemptuously that when one has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I come there I have the sense of a hair-breadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word “Victoria,” it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed “Victoria”; it is the victory of Adam.’

So this is my question for you—who do you agree with, Lucien Gregory or Gabriel Syme? For me—and I’ve put a lot of thought into this—I’m with Syme all the way. If you really stop and look around at the world around you—the fact that you can get in this metal box with wheels and go somewhere, and that it gets you where you actually are trying to go—all the wondrous things around us everyday that we take for granted, it really is something of a victory. And I think we should never stop being in awe of the world around us—never take things for granted. Because that’s when life stops being an adventure and starts being dull. Lots of people feel like they have to create adventure because life isn’t exciting enough for them. I say, they’re not looking in the right places, and they take too much for granted. Everyday has exciting possibilities. You might think your life is boring because you know exactly what's going to happen from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to bed. But the truth is, you don't have any idea! A thousand things could go wrong. If your day does in fact go exactly as planned, it's really something to marvel at.

But what do you think?


James said...

Yo...good luck on the bar, and thanks for dropping by my blog!

RR said...

A-ha! I thought I saw you flipping through the Man Who Was Thursday instead of studying.

And I also agree with Syme. I'm always amazed when things go the way they're supposed to, especially considering how often they don't go the way they're supposed to. I mean, every day I get in my car (my little box with wheels), and everytime it gets to where it's supposed to go without incident, well, that's certainly something to marvel at.

Katie said...

L.O.V.E. Chesterton, he's not a read for the fluff seekers. I love the way he crafts a thought.

Ok, I'm going to read the selection now.

Katie said...

oh and


(I should tell you that in typing the above well wishes I mistyped it a few times and had the following possibilities: God Luck, Good Lunch, and Food Luch; all of which I wish you also)

Amstaff Mom said...

Ha Ha Ha! I just read Katie's last comment.

I'm too tired to read the excerpt. I'm just being honest. I left my home at 6:30 am and just got home at 9:30 pm. I almost fell asleep in class, so much so, where I can't even read my notes.

So, I will read the rest of the post another time.

Meanwhile, I'm praying for you while you take the Bar.

jes said...

JLR, you have prepared and prepared and prepared for this. Good luck! Is it too late to say good luck?

steve said...

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Amstaff Mom said...

are you all finished now? The Bar is done, right? yea!

JLR said...

Thanks for the well-wishes everyone! And Katie, you were crackng me up. I wish God Luck, Good Lunch, Food Luch for you, too!