The silence last week was quite accidental. We’re approaching the end of the orchestra season (concert on Saturday! Anyone want to come?) and I’ve actually worked a little bit, and am not too far behind on Camp NaNo, although the stats only record progress on The Two-Legged League and I’ve got four or five things to work on in total. . .
I’m reading The Man Who Was Thursday, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone as their first taste of Chesterton, because it is rightly subtitled A Nightmare, and the plot’s a little hard to grasp. But it’s well worth reading, of course, at some point. And the opening poem is — well. He writes to E. C. Bentley “who shall understand but you?” but the things he recounts, the horrors they faced together, have persisted, and the reader can say “I understand”: things like “Science announced nonentity and art admired decay”. Here’s Chesterton writing this to his best friend, and they aren’t alone.
I’m also reading Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment, and it’s kind of fun seeing the arguments I’ve given and received for the past three years set down in tidy scholarly form. I’d recommend it to anyone curious what the important differences between Rome and the rest (minus the East) are. Although if you’re looking for a book which will triumphantly confirm your opinion that Catholics are all wrong all the time, you will be disappointed.
Since I’m running short on time again, have a little scene from the TLL.
“Is there a reason we’re putting these [poems] up on lightposts out here?” Thew asked, struggling to get out of a length of tape which had wound itself around his fingers.
“No prejudice against the poorer classes having recourse to the same joys as us,” Blair returned. “I wouldn’t chew it if I were you.”
“Help me!” Thew turned to Rosamund and held out his pinioned fingers to her. She laughed and unstuck him.
“I’m going to come back with chocolates,” he declared. “I’ve seen so many kids around. Food will go far where letters can’t.”
“Speaking of which, we should go see Peter again soon,” Poppy told them. “I haven’t been since a little after Epiphany; have any of you?”
“Food,” continued Thew, “hath charms to soothe a savage beast. I believe it is so written. We should do some baking.”
“What,” Rosamund inquired, “do you like to bake?”
“Muffins. Except I can’t when we’re in school, you know. They don’t like it if you set things on fire in your digs.”
Blair methodically cut tape and hung poems, watching them flutter from the telegraph poles when a small breeze passed through, but his mind was on something else.
Crocuses were beautiful. Purple, gold, or white, they were beautiful. One comes back from war, from days on end of unutterable dullness, or else of mortal danger — little in between — from a place where there used to be trees growing, now trees splintered, trees broken, mute casualties only noticeable because they were bigger than the animals and smaller plants which had gone down together into the mud, and one finds flowers growing uncrushed and animals devotedly tended. It seems as if, in an honest universe, a world which contained so much of waste and evil could not be the same place where crocuses bloomed every spring. But they did. Pointless beauty, unless one believed the scientists that it was all for generation — pointless beauty, not like a woman’s delicate attention to her hair and clothes and what not — the crocuses didn’t care what people thought of them. They just went on being beautiful while they lasted. And they would come back next spring. God would say ‘do it again’ to the sun and the moon and the dandelions, and they at least could be called ‘very good’. This is what the phrase ‘the bad still exists, but so does the good, and the one doesn’t render meaningless the other’ I put in all those letters meant all this time, he realized. He had a fleeting feeling that a war to defend crocuses would be the only kind of defensible war.