On this day in 1874 G.K. Chesterton was born. Throughout my life—ever since I heard his philosophy on magic from Orthodoxy—he has been one of my nearest and dearest companions. I know he’s dead, but his thoughts and words are very alive to me, and I feel more of a camaraderie towards him as a friend rather than respect and admiration as a great person who has died. He’s probably the person whom I quote the most—as I’m sure you’ve noticed—and my favourite author and hero. So happy birthday, Chesterton.
“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
“No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.”