Friday, January 11, 2008

"Make Facts Wonders”

> An unsettling image says Chesterton, is the whole
> purpose of the imagination: “The function of
> imagination is not to make strange things settled,
> so much as to make settled things strange; not so
> much to make wonders facts as to make facts
> wonders.”
> The wonder begins with existence itself. Existence,
> he says, “has a value wholly inexpressible”. But
> the artist tries to express it. That is the duty of
> the artist: to express the inexpressible.
> Chesterton tries to get us to feel what he calls
> “the intoxication of existence” and the invaluable,
> incomparable gift of life. In a prophetic poem he
> wrote over a hundred years ago, a poem entitled “By
> the Babe Unborn”, he portrays a baby, lying in the
> dark womb, trying to imagine a world of blue skies
> and green grassy hills, which to him in the darkness
> is just a dream. But if he could actually attain
> it, and see such a world and live in it, his
> gratitude would be unending.
> They should not hear a word from me
> Of selfishness or scorn,
> If only I could find the door,
> If only I were born.
> Consequently, babies remind us to be in awe of the
> world. We should never stop being in awe of babies.
> As Chesterton says, each time a baby is born, it is
> as if a whole new world has been created, because
> the world is being seen for the first time by a new
> soul as if it were the first day of creation; inside
> that little head, there is a new system of stars,
> new grass, new cities, a new sea.
> A literary man who cannot see that a baby is
> marvelous could not see that anything was marvelous.
> He has certainly no earthly logical reason for
> regarding a movie vamp as marvelous. The movie vamp
> is only what happens to the baby when it goes wrong.
> We don’t recognize that babies are marvelous because
> we refuse to see basic, obvious things. Chesterton
> says that it is only the obvious things that are
> never seen, the things that we have been seeing all
> along without seeing them. And one of those obvious
> things is the strangely elusive thing called
> happiness. All the true things about happiness have
> been said and are always being said, and yet we have
> managed to ignore them.
> It is another example of us not knowing how to enjoy
> enjoyment. We put so much emphasis on the pursuit
> of happiness rather than on the happiness itself.
> All the things that we need to make us reasonably
> happy lie within our grasp. If we pause in our
> frantic pursuit of happiness, if we stop and try to
> picture happiness, it is something different from
> the fuss and frustration that fills our pursuit.
> Happiness is something simple and basic. And
> everyone knows this, if they would only stop and
> consider it. It is common sense.
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