Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron

“VERY few people ever state properly the strong argument in favour of marrying for love or against marrying for money. The argument is not that all lovers are heroes and heroines, nor is it that all dukes are profligates or all millionaires cads. The argument is this, that the differences between a man and a woman are at the best so obstinate and exasperating that they practically cannot be got over unless there is an atmosphere of exaggerated tenderness and mutual interest. To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot. Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the beast while they are both still in the story of “Beauty and the Beast”. Every man has to find out that his wife is cross—that is to say, sensitive to the point of madness: for every woman is mad by the masculine standard. But let him find out that she is mad while her madness is more worth considering than anyone else’s sanity.”

~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron.’

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What Ought to Be

“THE really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be. And for my present purpose I specially insist on this abstract independence. If I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible. There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, “You can’t put the clock back.” The simple and obvious answer is “You can.” A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.”

~G.K. Chesterton: “What’s Wrong with the World,” Part One, Chap. IV─Fear of the Past.

History Repeats Itself?

“HE MUST have been a man with a very dim and strange mind who said, “History repeats itself.” Of course, there is a grain of veracity in it, but surely the correct way of stating the matter would be, “The Universe repeats itself, with the possible exception of history.” Of all earthly studies history is the only one that does not repeat itself. This is the very definition of the divinity of man. Astronomy repeats itself; botany repeats itself; trigonometry repeats itself; mechanics repeats itself; compound long division repeats itself. Every sum if worked out in the same way at any time will bring out the same answer. But it is the peculiarity and fascination of the sums of history that with the most perfect calculation the sum comes out with a slight mysterious difference every time.”

~G.K. Chesterton: “A Much Repeated Repetition.” (Daily News, March 26, 1904.)

Real Life

– on logic & reality – from Chesterton; collected works xxvii, 11/04/1905;

“Sherlock Holmes could only exist in fiction, he is too logical for real life.” (But this is not a compliment- he is not balanced enough by other things to really be a man.)

“Practical men always act on imagination, they have no time to act on worldly wisdom. When a man receives a clerk for employment, what does he do? Does he measure his skull? Does he look up his heredity? No. He guesses.” (The human mind is more sophisticated than to merely work out a problem by logic alone. It has other powers at its command.)

Slavery of the Mind

What I mean by the slavery of the mind is that state in which men do not know of the alternative. It is something which clogs the imagination, like a drug or a mesmeric sleep, so that a person cannot possibly think of certain things at all. It is not the state in which he says, “I see what you mean; but I cannot think that because I sincerely think this” (which is simply rational): it is one in which he has never thought of the other view; and therefore does not even know that he has never thought of it… The thing I mean is a man’s inability to state his opponent’s view; and often his inability even to state his own.

–GK Chesterton

The Coming Peril

The coming peril is the intellectual, educational, psychological and artistic overproduction, which, equally with economic overproduction, threatens the well-being of contemporary civilization. People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralyzed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Turning Inside Out

“WE cannot insist that the first years of infancy are of supreme importance, and that mothers are not of supreme importance; or that motherhood is a topic of sufficient interest for men, but not of sufficient interest for mothers. Every word that is said about the tremendous importance of trivial nursery habits goes to prove that being a nurse is not trivial. All tends to the return of the simple truth that the private work is the great one and the public work the small. The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out.”

~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Turning Inside Out’ (Fancies vs. Fad)