Friday, 29 April 2011

Against the Proud Paralytics

“Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. . . . It may mean that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal; and that you are a paralytic.” 

G.K. Chesterton, “On Dialect and Decency”, Avowals and Denials (New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1935), pp.77-8.

Without Borders

One sometimes hears the following enthymeme: most of nature does not have borders, therefore, mankind should not have borders. [1] The enthymematic form leaves unspoken a premise which the argument must have in the logical form, to which a man who makes the argument is rationally committed, and which in this case stands as follows: mankind should not have that which most of nature does not have, wherefrom it follows that mankind should not have reason, thought, or speech, nor of course the fruits thereof: no philosophy, religion, science, mathematics, good books, half-witted arguments, clothing, tea-kettles, bank-holidays, and so on, given that most of nature does not have these things. Maybe here is the unspoken urge of those who appeal to the “freedom” of non-human nature as the model for human nature: to be lifted of the burden of rational nature and to live without thought or underpants; yet maybe still further, for most of nature is also without life.

[1] As one libertarian clown says: “I am anti borders. Most of nature has no borders. Explain to a European (not African) swallow that it may need a visa to visit the UK and it would laugh.” (Old Holborn, “What Elephant?”, Old Holborn (weblog), 14th April 2011.)

Fewtril no.285

Why shouldn’t novels have in them badly-drawn caricatures of real persons? The world is full of them.

Fewtril no.284

On the dusty and featureless plain of his soul, it is easy for the latter-day man to lose all sense of perspective and direction.

Fewtril no.283

In the fostering of culture and the forming of good taste and character, liberal democracy has been so great a failure that it is believed by most to have been a great success.