QOTD: A Sunday stroll with Gilbert Keith

 

“It is customary to complain of the bustle and strenuousness of our epoch. But in truth the chief mark of our epoch is a profound laziness and fatigue; and the fact is that the real laziness is the cause of the apparent bustle. Take one quite external case; the streets are noisy with taxicabs and motor cars; but this is not due to human activity but to human repose. There would be less bustle if there were more activity, if people were simply walking about. Our world would be more silent if it were more strenuous. And this which is true of the apparent physical bustle is true also of the apparent bustle of the intellect. Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought. Scientific phrases are are used like scientific wheels and piston-rods to make swifter and smoother yet the path of the comfortable. Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves.”

– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

These words were published in 1908. I think it’s safe to say that the past 111 years have only added to the noise that our ancestors found so alarming. Yet with all the conversation (or screaming), and all the frenzied rushing, how much are we really saying, or accomplishing? Words like “oppression,” “narrative,” “misogyny,” “hypocrisy,” “fundamental,” are all used in a way which serves mostly to obfuscate and complicate. They retain an inkling of their traditional meaning but have become charged with an added, often contradictory purpose.

Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones. Unfortunately, even these are coming under attack: “men,” “women,” “health,” and “care,” for instance, have become victims to this confusion. The bustle can be overwhelming and downright disheartening at times, but I do have a calmative to offer: the words of Gilbert Keith. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find solace in Chesterton’s ability to display that there really is nothing new under the sun, and you may find yourself moving through his pages with the same permanent, stupefied grin that I’ve had ever since taking the advice of a Ricochet member to spend some time with G.K.

Happy Sunday!

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There are 17 comments.

  1. RightAngles Member

    So many of Chesterton’s quotes are as relevant as if he wrote them yesterday.

    • #1
    • September 22, 2019, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable –

    I know one guy who used a lot of those: Ernest Hemingway.

    • #2
    • September 22, 2019, at 10:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    So many of Chesterton’s quotes are as relevant as if he wrote them yesterday.

    It’s remarkable, isn’t it? Just page after page of eternal wisdom.

    • #3
    • September 22, 2019, at 10:10 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable –

    I know one guy who used a lot of those: Ernest Hemingway.

    His comments on Faulkner were something to the effect of: “Does he really believe he’s capturing big emotions by using big words?”

    • #4
    • September 22, 2019, at 10:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    So many of Chesterton’s quotes are as relevant as if he wrote them yesterday.

    It’s remarkable, isn’t it? Just page after page of eternal wisdom.

    Yeah. Human nature and eternal truths don’t change.

    • #5
    • September 22, 2019, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Vectorman Thatcher

    Samuel Block: Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones.

    He can suggest this because English has words from Germanic, Romance, Latin, Celtic, and British Colonial origins. In German, a military tank can be called Panzerbeobachtungswagen, Panzerbefehlswagen, etc., depending upon its usage.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #6
    • September 22, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. RightAngles Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones.

    He can suggest this because English has words from Germanic, Romance, Latin, Celtic, and British Colonial origins. In German, a military tank can be called Panzerbeobachtungswagen, Panzerbefehlswagen, etc., depending upon its usage.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    German words are hilarious.

    • #7
    • September 22, 2019, at 11:55 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones.

    He can suggest this because English has words from Germanic, Romance, Latin, Celtic, and British Colonial origins. In German, a military tank can be called Panzerbeobachtungswagen, Panzerbefehlswagen, etc., depending upon its usage.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    German words are hilarious.

    I wonder if, somewhere in there, we can get a sense of the roots of German haughtiness. Using amazing technology to murder millions is maybe a sign of too much “civilization”, rather than too little.

    • #8
    • September 22, 2019, at 12:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    What impresses me is your ability to limit yourself in a G.K. quote. I’ve found myself underlining his pithy passages only to give up when I realized I was just underlining everything. He’s so jolly and delightful.

    • #9
    • September 22, 2019, at 3:13 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    What impresses me is your ability to limit yourself in a G.K. quote. I’ve found myself underlining his pithy passages only to give up when I realized I was just underlining everything. He’s so jolly and delightful.

    Ha! That was a real challenge. At least a third of the time I spent on this post was to figure out where I’d cut him off.

    • #10
    • September 22, 2019, at 3:16 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. RightAngles Member

    When they made him learn to read as a little boy, he said something like, Oh all right I’ll do it, but once I know how to read, “I never, never shall.” (I only remember those last few words by heart)

    • #11
    • September 22, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    When they made him learn to read as a little boy, he said something like, Oh all right I’ll do it, but once I know how to read, “I never, never shall.” (I only remember those last few words by heart)

    I like that. I was about 20 the first time I actually read a whole book. In elementary school, I mastered the technique of being excused to go to the bathroom so the rotation of kids reading in front of the class would skip over me. The sitting still bit of reading is what makes it so hard for me, even to this day. But I did learn how!

    That also reminds me of Thomas Paine, who claimed he never really learned anything from books, and spent much of his post-Revolutionary years trying to build an iron bridge across the Schuylkill River.

    • #12
    • September 22, 2019, at 6:51 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. garyinabq Member

    Who today writes with the wisdom of GK? Please tell me if you know. Everlasting Man is the most profoundly intelligent book I’ve ever read.

    • #13
    • September 22, 2019, at 7:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Samuel Block Member
    Samuel Block Post author

    garyinabq (View Comment):

    Who today writes with the wisdom of GK? Please tell me if you know. Everlasting Man is the most profoundly intelligent book I’ve ever read.

    Maybe Joseph Epstein. He was the main event for me at The Weekly Standard, where I believe you might be able to find some of his work – also Commentary should have a good repository.

    To my knowledge he’s a secular Jew, which I think makes his sensibilities pretty different than G.K., but his writing has a buoyancy that reminds me of Chesterton. And though he’d be the first to deny it, he’s a very wise man. Narcissus Leaves the Pool is one of my favorite books (published in 1998, I believe.)

    • #14
    • September 22, 2019, at 8:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones.

    He can suggest this because English has words from Germanic, Romance, Latin, Celtic, and British Colonial origins. In German, a military tank can be called Panzerbeobachtungswagen, Panzerbefehlswagen, etc., depending upon its usage.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    German words are hilarious.

    Yes, searching YouTube for longest German word generates multiple humorous results.

    • #15
    • September 22, 2019, at 8:53 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    garyinabq (View Comment):

    Who today writes with the wisdom of GK? Please tell me if you know. Everlasting Man is the most profoundly intelligent book I’ve ever read.

    Father George Rutler. And sometimes he’s as funny. I receive a weekly email from him, which is a column he includes in his parish bulletin, and can be read here, along with his homilies, which are audio files.

    • #16
    • September 23, 2019, at 1:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: Chesterton goes on to pose a challenge: to try and express yourself using only words with one syllable – he deemed the small words to be the truly rigorous ones.

    He can suggest this because English has words from Germanic, Romance, Latin, Celtic, and British Colonial origins. In German, a military tank can be called Panzerbeobachtungswagen, Panzerbefehlswagen, etc., depending upon its usage.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    German words are hilarious.

    Yes, searching YouTube for longest German word generates multiple humorous results.

    Humorous? Germans? The Allies wrecked havoc on them.

    • #17
    • September 23, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 2 likes