Friday, December 14, 2007

Readings: Chesterton's HERETICS

It had not been my intention to put up any more posts on G.K. Chesterton in the near future, even though I borrowed Heretics from the library immediately upon having finished Orthodoxy. But when I came upon the passage below, from the chapter in Heretics entitled “On Mr. Rudyard Kipling”, it seemed so appropriate to our current national dilemma that I was forced to modify my game plan:

The truth is that exploration and enlargement make the world smaller. The telegraph and the steamboat make the world smaller. The telescope makes the world smaller; it is only the microscope that makes it larger. Before long the world will be cloven with a war between the telescopists and the microscopists. The first study large things and live in a small world; the second study small things and live in a large world. It is inspiriting without a doubt to whizz in a motor-car round the earth, to feel Arabia as a whirl of sand or China as a flash of rice-fields. But Arabia is not a whirl of sand and China is not a flash of rice-fields. They are ancient civilizations with strange virtues buried like treasures. If we wish to understand them it must not be as tourists or inquirers, it must be with the loyalty of children and the great patience of poets. To conquer these places is to lose them. [emphasis mine]


Readers might find it interesting to compare the above to Kyle R. Cupp’s take on Interpreting Nations on his blog, Postmodern Papist.