Russell and Duenes

G.K. Chesterton on the Sheer Pleasure of Existing

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g-k-chesterton1One very cool thing about Chesterton, a thing often missing from our lives today, is that he greatly enjoyed the sheer wonder and pleasure of existing.  For him, having life at all was almost too good to be true.  He writes,

It seemed to me that existence was itself so very eccentric a legacy that I could not complain of not understanding the limitations of the vision when I did not understand the vision they limited…I give one ethical instance to show my meaning.  I could never mix in the common murmur of that rising generation against monogamy, because no restriction on sex seemed so odd and unexpected as sex itself.  To be allowed, like Endymion, to make love to the moon and then to complain that Jupiter kept his own moons in a harem seemed to me (bred on fairytales like Endymion’s) a vulgar anti-climax.  Keeping one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman.  To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once.  It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking.  It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it.  A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once…The fairy-tale philosopher (i.e., Chesterton) is glad that the leaf is green precisely because it might have been scarlet.  He is pleased that snow is white on the strictly reasonable ground that it might have been black.  Every colour has in it a bold quality as of choice; the red of garden roses is not only decisive but dramatic, like suddenly spilt blood.  He feels that something has been done.



Written by Michael Duenes

February 6, 2013 at 7:43 am

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