Thursday, August 7, 2008

G. K. Chesterton

In my July 7 & 14 New Yorker, in an article by Adam Gopnik about the writer G. K. Chesterton, subtitled, 'The troubling genius of G. K. Chesterton', I found this:

'Mercantile capitalist societies profess values that their own appetites destroy; calls for public morality come from the same people who use prostitutes. Meanwhile, the workings of capital turn the local artisan into a maker of mass-produced objects and every high street into an identical strip mall….Chesterton is the great critic of...homogenization, the levelling of difference in the pursuit of cash. He is the grandfather of Slow Food, of local eating...''

I wasn't sure whether to post this; I liked it so much, but Chesterton was such a disgusting filthy old rascist bastard. I agonised over it for a while.

Later in the article, Gopnik writes, 'if obviously great writers were allowed onto the reading list only when they conform to the current consensus of liberal good will - voices of tolerance and liberal democracy - we would be down to George Eliot.'

So here it is.


  1. Nice post, Writerbee. It flows like the Mole Creek after a downpour. The point is that there's good and bad - or good and not-so-good - in each of us. And we can't, and shouldn't, ignore the latter at the expense of the former. xx

  2. it's true that capitalism flattens out a lot of creativity; stopping, for example, books being published because they are not considered to be marketable enough. but i just moved to brooklyn. and even in the ugliest industrial streets here there is beauty: a careful stencil on a rubbish bin, a tree growing out of the concrete, a hipster riding by on a beloved bicycle, a couple of old polish men shooting the shit on somebody's stoop. so, too, i think about the contemporary books that i have read and adored.

    the status of the publishing industry is dire. i have good friends who have brilliant books stored on their hard drives - books that are brave/smart/irreverent/challenging and thus terrifying to the marketing departments of publishing houses. but some beauty does push itself up through the shit; through all the mass produced objects that get touted on the front tables at chain book stores. so i try to take solace from that.

    the forces of capitalist societies are stronger than the forces of the likes of us. but i'd still rather be on our side. plus, someone's paying me to move to brooklyn and write. today i'm taking that as proof that it can't all be all bad.