Saturday, September 01, 2012

Belloc and me: Birds of a tar and feather?

This morning while showering a thought occurred to me.

Thoughts often occur to me while showering. I usually grow frustrated because I can't immediately write them down, and always feel that by the time I get to pen and paper I've lost that perfect wording that had come to me as water poured down upon my head. And, of course, shower-inspired ideas are open to being described as all wet.

Be that as it may, today something occurred to me about Hilaire Belloc.

Belloc is, of course, linked with G. K. Chesterton. I am a great fan of GKC. I own dozens of his books and collections of his newspaper essays. I read him regularly, often in sips, getting interrupted and having to mark my spot in whatever book or essay I'm reading. But I always come back, and eventually finish whatever I'm reading, enjoying the experience.

Not so with Belloc. I have tried to read him, but I can't seem to warm up to him, nor have I been able to finish many of his essays and books (except his poetry). As with Chesterton, I am often pulled away while sipping Belloc's prose. But unlike Chesterton, I often do not return to finish, or even feel a desire to do so.

I've wondered about that. Is there something amiss in me. (Okay, that's a given.) People I respect swear by Belloc. Why do I feel I'm more likely to swear at Belloc?

But as the water washed away the shampoo in my eyes this morning, that thought I alluded to earlier struck me.

Maybe I have a hard time warming up to Belloc because he reminds too much of me.

Belloc earned the nickname "Old Thunder" because of his combative style. Chesterton could argue, then make friends with his foes. I can imagine him heading off to the pub after a debate and tossing back a few  with whomever he had recently been arguing. Belloc seemed more likely to argue and turn friends into foes. If he showed up in a pub where his foe was drinking, I could imagine Belloc getting a drink tossed in his face.

When if comes to arguing, I am like Belloc. I fight well, fiercely, unrelentingly. I'm like a dog that clamps my jaws on my opponent's argument and refuses to let go until my opponent gives up, flees, or dies. Along the way I antagonize, I enrage, I create bad blood with whomever I'm battling.

As a result, I've alienated friends. I've kept other people from becoming friends. I've ended up wearing out my welcome in many places.

And I get sworn at. (So far no drinks tossed in my face, though.)

I am not happy about this.

So when I read Belloc, maybe I see too much that reminds me of things I don't like about myself.


Or maybe that idea really is all wet.

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