Month: August 2013

G.K. Wednesday

Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.


Chesterton Short(s)

In a 1989 interview reported in the Norwegian periodical magazine litteraire, author Umberto Eco revealed that he had built his 1989 novel Foucault’s Pendulum upon a statement by G. K. Chesterton that “Those who cease to believe in God do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything!” [September 6, 1989, p. 46]

Also: G.K. VideoRead the rest

Stark Young

“[T]he core of our humanity lies in the belief that the essence of the soul is its mockery of death.” Stark Young, “Not in Memoriam, But in Defense,” I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition.

I’ll Take My Stand is one of the greatest collection of essays of all time, and that quote is one of the best quotes from that collection.

I even think it’s accurate. The soul is the essence of our being, and the essence of the soul is immortality. Hence, it is a mockery of death. Because it mocks death, it gives dignity to our existence. It gives us our humanity.

Young’s essay proceeds to touch on a lot of truths that emanate from that core truth: the importance of leisure, the goodness of local attachment, the need to detach oneself from conventional opinion and money. I don’t think he talked about the goodness of ale and wine, but he easily could’ve slipped it in. It would’ve been a natural off-shoot of the things he writes about.

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Monday

Autobiographical Corner and Random

Well, my vermicomposting isn’t going well. I’ve now killed three batches of worms. The first batch of worms was pretty sickly, so I don’t really fault myself for that one, but the next two batches that came from the nationally-acclaimed Worm Woman were fine . . . until I got my mitts on ’em. I (think) I killed one batch with too much moisture, and the next batch died of starvation. The Worm Woman spent twenty minutes with me on the phone. I’m optimistic that I have the Worm Factory system tweaked and ready. My next batch will arrive Wednesday. * * * * * * * Funny story about the Worm Woman: After my batch of sickly worm arrived from NY, I went online to find a better source. A discussion board based in Seattle said, “Get your worms local, but if you can’t, order from the Worm Woman in Portage, Michigan.” Portage is about 45 minutes from my house, so I went from New York to Seattle to home to find what I needed. Maybe things are like that more often than I think. * * * * * * * One of the better passages from weekend cyber reading: “Even as evidence piles up that the economy has changed in fundamental ways such that even advanced degrees no longer inoculate the owner against financial insecurity, millions of young … Read the rest

Friday

BYCU

I heard of a local establishment charging $8 for a Tanqueray and tonic. It struck me as outrageous, but I don’t have a long history with hard liquor, so I looked into it a bit.

If I buy the big bottle (1.75 liters), the liquor costs me a shade under 80 cents per ounce. Then there’s probably about twenty cents worth of tonic, so my cost-of-goods-sold price is about $1.00 even, meaning the local establishment is getting a 800% mark-up. Such a mark-up strikes me as practically quasi-Prohibitionist (“Make it so expensive that nobody drinks!”), but I know virtually nothing about running a bar, so I went out and found this nifty article from the Houston Chronicle: How to Price Bar Drinks.

I say the article is “nifty” because it’s authoritative and concise. If you want to establish a reasonable drink price, “[m]ultiply the liquor cost by four or five to establish the price of the drink,” then round up to the nearest quarter. So, for gin and tonic, the price should be $3.25 to $4.00, if the bar is paying retail for its inventory, which, of course it isn’t. In Michigan, bar owners pay approximately 15% less than retail (according to a client of mine in the business), so the cost per ounce is about 68 cents. So the price should be $2.75 to $3.50.

The article also points out that … Read the rest

Ralph McInerny

I went to Mass once with Ralph McInerny. Well, that’s an exaggeration. My family and I were sitting in Sacred Heart Basilica at Notre Dame, just as Mass was starting. An older man slipped into the empty spot next to one of my kids. After about twenty minutes, I leaned over to Marie and said, “I’m pretty sure that’s Ralph McInerny.” After Mass, I caught up with him and introduced myself. He was gracious, but unimpressed. I then asked him if I could borrow $100. He was even more unimpressed and tad bit less gracious.

That last sentence was a joke, but the rest of the paragraph is a true recount of another of my brushes with contemporary Catholic greatness. (I trust the reader senses my self-deprecating sarcasm.)

My favorite McInerny book is his St. Thomas Aquinas. I think it’s a masterpiece (whereas his First Glance at Thomas Aquinas is pretty bad, though I can’t remember why I disliked it so much). Unfortunately, St. Thomas Aquinas was hard to find in the past. It first came out in 1977 and had apparently fallen out of print periodically. It’s currently printed by University of Notre Dame Press, and has been for quite a few years now. I’m optimistic it’ll remain in print for a long time.

It’s a nifty little book, about 170 pages, divided into about 35 chapters and sub-sections, so it’s easy to … Read the rest

G.K. Wednesday

Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.


Chesterton Short(s)

In a letter to Amy Ronald, dated November 16, 1969, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “What a dreadful, fear-darkened, sorrow-laden world we live in—especially for those who have also the burden of age, whose friends and all they especially care for are afflicted in the same way. Chesterton once said that it is our duty to keep the Flag of This World flying: but it takes a sturdier and more sublime patriotism than it did then.” [Letters of Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, p. 402]

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On Deliberate Barbarism

We need myths. They’re irrational signposts in our strange spiritual land: they guide us even when we don’t know we’re being guided. We don’t even necessarily understand them, but only a shallow rationalism (a “defecated rationality” is how Russell Kirk might have referred to it) rejects them.

From de Lubac’s discussion on Nietzsche:

Nietzsche . . . noted that ‘it is impossible to found a civilization on knowledge.’ And immediately after a period in which man has intensively and exclusively cultivated his own conscious powers, and sought to rule the world solely by the laws of reason, there is bound to be a re-emergency, in full force, of those myths ‘which tend to lift the creature out of his solitude and reintegrate him in the general scheme of things.’ In any case the profoundly disturbing question arises which Nietzsche was not the only one to raise: as soon as man ceases to be in contact with great mystical or religious forces, does he not inevitably come under the yoke of a harsher and blinder force, which leads him to perdition? It is what Vico called the age of “deliberate barbarism,” and it is the age in which we live.”

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