July 01, 2009

Let's Play....

...why's my bookbag so heavy? -- a monthly feature in which I cut and/or paste various quotes from current reading material:

Doubtless, it is unnatural to be drunk. But then in a real sense it is unnatural to be human. Doubtless, the intemperate workman wastes his tissues in drinking; but no one knows how much the sober workman wastes his tissues by working. No one knows how much the wealthy philanthropist wastes his tissues by talking; or, in much rarer conditions, by thinking. All the human things are more dangerous than anything that affects the beasts--sex, poetry, property, religion. The real case against drunkenness is not that it calls up the beast, but that it calls up the Devil. It does not call up the beast, and if it did it would not matter much, as a rule; the beast is a harmless and rather amiable creature, as anybody can see by watching cattle. There is nothing bestial about intoxication; and certainly there is nothing intoxicating or even particularly lively about beasts. Man is always something worse or something better than an animal; and a mere argument from animal perfection never touches him at all. Thus, in sex no animal is either chivalrous or obscene. And thus no animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkenness--or so good as drink. - GK Chesterton


The reason the world doesn't fill us completely is not that it is flawed. The point is simply that the world's perfection is designed to manifest God, in whom alone man's heart finds rest. This suggests a crucial aspect of original solitude: the capacity to find God in the midst of the world. Let us put together the two conclusions we just reached. First, man is aware of himself only in his encounter with the world. Second, this encounter with the world is open toward an infinite horizon, toward the encounter with God. It follows from this that man is aware of himself when he is in dialogue with God, when God addresses him and talks with him, as he spoke with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden. This connection allows us to complete the image of the body as a home. Since man's openness to the world reaches into the infinite, we can think of the body, not just as a home, but also as a temple. - Called to Love, Jose Granados and Carl Anderson


While in Germany, for example, he remarks that the Germans, like other purer races, seem “to pay for the distinctness of the type which they preserve by missing some of the ordinary attributes of humanity,” and he then goes on to say that “the Germans, as far as I know, have no capacity for being bored. Else I think the race would have become extinct long ago through self-torture.” The Germans’ ignorance of boredom, of course, explains their love of the Ring cycle, Goethe’s Faust, Hegel, lengthy pedantic scholarly works, interminable novels, and so many other homegrown, insuperable Teutonic cultural products. - Joseph Epstein in The New Criterion


A similar grime builds up over our attitude toward life. As children, we live close to the original experiences of Adam and Eve, but as we grow up their freshness is progressively polluted by layers of routine and mechanization. The French philosopher Gabriel Marcel once said that we are the bureaucrats of our own existence, who have buried our original contact with life under mountains of paperwork and procedures that impair our capacity to discern the human drama lying beneath them.4 If Marcel is right, then the child is closer to man's original experiences, but the adult has almost forgotten them (but not quite). - Called to Love, Jose Granados and Carl Anderson


Enbrethiliel said...


The version I play is "Why is My Bookbag Still Heavy?" and the list I make is of excuses. =P

By the way, is that first Chesterton passage from Heretics?

TS said...

Not sure where that Chesterton quote comes from! I like to search aimlessly through his complete works on my Kindle, but the really annoying thing is that I haven't found out how to tell which of the works you're actually in without a lot of trouble. Whine, I know...