Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Chesterton Experiment

Before doing this exercise, please be sure to read Alan's article for the day, which appears just below this one on the screen.

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Anyway.

I'm posting this today because I've noticed that our traffic has grown significantly since the great Chesterton Express rolled into the station, and I think it would be a good idea to make sure that there's more content than usual around here at key points during the week. Wednesday - "humpday" - is one such time. Weekends are another, but we'll address that in times to come.

So, I was reading an old article by Mark Shea lampooning revisionist biblicism and modernity, and found myself thereafter wondering just what I would do if Gilbert suddenly walked through my front door. What would it mean for the world? For me? For history? It's an enormous concept.

So, in lightning fashion, I distilled the essence of this universe-spanning conundrum into a five-point questionnaire. My own answers will be provided below, but I invite any who are interested to respond in the combox with their own ideas.

If you could spend a day with Gilbert, here and now...

1. What would be the first thing you'd say to him on his arrival? What would you talk about thereafter?

2. You need some way to pass the morning before lunchtime; what do you do?

3. What media would you attempt to expose him to in the time you had? Or would you?

4. It's time for dinner; where do you do about it? What do you have?

5. What would be your valediction when the time comes to part?

My own answers to these are:

1. The first thing I would say would be, "Oh God! The surprise!" The time spent thereafter would be devoted to just seeing what he's been up to, what has occasioned his presence, that sort of thing. More intense and self-serving questions can wait for the afternoon.

2. As is traditional (or at least expected), the time before lunch would be spent on a light walk around town to expose Gilbert to the modern feeling, and it, likewise, to him. This could be an occasion for glee as well as sadness, on both our parts, so I should be sure to direct us to a bar for lunch. I would make certain to take him to St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica, in the heart of downtown London (Ontario; it's where I live), to show him that though the main streets may be lost, some medieval virtues live on.

3. I should like to take him to the movies, just for the sheer absurd novelty of the thing, but I don't know if I could bring myself to do it. There are certainly films that I would pay great sums to hear his commentary upon, but the agony of choice here has paralysed me. Let us settle upon showing him What Dreams May Come, then, which in both ethos and delivery has much that he would find familiar, or even pleasant. I would also be certain to demonstrate the Internet to him, and see what he thinks of blogging.

4. The dinner arrangements are something that I simply can not crack. I am no great cook, for my own part, but I feel it would be almost unacceptable to take Gilbert out to a restaurant. In any case, something would certainly be done, and it would certainly involve meat and beer, in the old high way. His opinion on pizza could also be sought.

5. As much as I should like to deliver an oratory of parting that would shake the world, only a simple "thank you" would be appropriate. What else, indeed, can be said?

So, there you go. As I say, be sure to reply to this below with your own ideas. Even if you don't, however, this is still something to meditate upon.

3 comments:

Dr. Thursday said...

A great little game... OK here is my answer.

1. "I know you - you're Uncle Gilbert! How's Aunt Frances? What's your next book going to be?"

2 and 3. Since we are imagining this, I would take him to the company where I used to work, with the 48 little TVs and the four BIG screens monitoring the cable TV machinery, with the eyes going back-and-forth, and the ever-changing Latin quotes in the corners...

[The really funny thing is that one day a man named Chesterton actually came there, and I shook his hand, beside myself in awe, for he looked like GKC and was indeed a distant cousin!]

Then, trying hard not to laugh myself into insanity, I would take him over to a terminal with the usual INTERNET access and with all the solemnity I can muster, quote Ward's biography and say:

"I am going to take you to see the Bloggs."

Hee hee.

4. Food! Drink! Does it matter? We'll be busy talking, and as long as the food is edible, and there's plenty of something drinkable, neither of us will notice. No cocoa, of course. Preferably, bacon, beer, and cheese. And some paper napkins to write poems on.

5. "Please pray for me and my family, and ask your dear wife to do the same."

Alan Capasso said...

1. What would be the first thing you'd say to him on his arrival? What would you talk about thereafter?

The first thing I would say – after hello- is “the place doesn’t always look like this. Just step over the naked Barbie’s” That should lead us in an interesting discussion about children, how they see the world and what we need to do to apply that vision to the adult world.

2. You need some way to pass the morning before lunchtime; what do you do?

I would invite him to my studio and ask if he would let me sculpt his head. Of course he would say yes and then we could chat about aethitics.

3. What media would you attempt to expose him to in the time you had? Or would you?

I would not expose him to media for any long duration. Watching a movie is something you do together yet apart so I would take him to one my high school girl’s softball game.
4. It's time for dinner; where do you do about it? What do you have?

Grilled chicken with fixings and then Cherry pie. All stuff from my backyard to show what a good distributionist I am.
5. What would be your valediction when the time comes to part?

I’d have one more friend.

Chestertonian said...

"4. It's time for dinner; where do you do about it? What do you have?"

Chesterton, when asked what his favorite food is, replied, "Bacon and eggs."

Beer is the appropriate accompaniment for such a delectible dish. For complete arrangements and side dishes, see "The Feast" section from Belloc's The Four Men.