Monday, January 02, 2006

Chesterton on Your iPod

The Scandal of Father Brown (Unabridged) 5:28:45 G.K. Chesterton $15.95

You can purchase the Scandal audio file for $15.95 and the run time is listed above. Put that on your iPod and beebop around town!

Go here and then click on Launch Music Store, and then search on Chesterton.

There are tons of titles available, including The Man Who Was Thursday (unabridged) which was just published in 2006.
Our Mr. Chesterton moves into the 21st Century!


  1. I think Uncle Gilbert may potentially have approved of the iPod, in a limited capacity. If every man must have his own newspaper, why not his own bandstand as well?

    The closest I've ever come to something this cool was listening to an old recording of Yeats intoning some of his poetry. It was creepy, in an awesome sort of way.

  2. Through the ACS, you can actually purchase a recording of Chesterton's voice (I have it and it is VERY COOL) and hear him give a talk about architecture, and even hear his funny laughter. Well worth the price.

  3. Have you guys heard of LibriVox? They call it "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain" Here's how it works:
    "LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then we release the audio files back onto the net (podcast and catalog). Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project."

    We Chesterton fans should volunteer and work with Librivox to acoustically liberate the writer's works that are in public domain. (There are several e-texts over at at

    Aesop's Fables; a new translation (as Commentator)
    Alarms and Discursions
    All Things Considered
    The Appetite of Tyranny
    Including Letters to an Old Garibaldian
    The Ballad of the White Horse
    The Ball and the Cross
    The Barbarism of Berlin
    The Club of Queer Trades
    The Crimes of England
    The Defendant
    Greybeards at Play
    The Innocence of Father Brown
    The Man Who Knew Too Much
    The Man Who Was Thursday, a nightmare
    A Miscellany of Men
    The New Jerusalem
    Robert Browning
    The Trees of Pride
    Tremendous Trifles
    Twelve Types
    Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays
    Varied Types
    What's Wrong with the World
    The Wild Knight and Other Poems
    The Wisdom of Father Brown

    You don't have to do a whole book. Librivox asks only for a chapter at a time. We should gang up and put free podcastable versions of Orthodoxy and Heretics on the web!!

    I've just started listening to the Ahlquist/Chalberg series on GKC called The Apostle of Common Sense and I've been wondering: Does Chalberg really sound like GKC? How does he compare to the recordings of GKC which you have?

  4. Hmm... I'm not sure GKC would have liked the iPod unless the hardware itself and not just the content could be made at home.

  5. Kevin:
    Chesterton was a journalist. I am quite sure he did not have the printing presses in his own home, right?!

    Keith: I agree! This guy on iTunes is actually trying to make MONEY with Chesterton, something we true, devout Chestertonians know CAN'T be done (even if you try)!! :-)

    Yes, podcasting was my next intention...we need to be there, because that's where the young people are, and we need to "catch" them where they are. And they all seem to love these little devices.

    As to Chesterton's voice compared to Chalberg's: Chuck does a good job with the vocal parts of his imitation, the inflections, etc. HOWEVER, I don't think there really is ANYONE who can imitate Chesterton's funny, wheezy laughter! I've heard it described many times, but when I first heard it on the tape, I thought OH! That's it! That's the funny laughter people have been describing! And I watched the whole series of tapes (season one, I should say) and did not hear Chalberg do that, but then I didn't really expect him to. Remember how Tom Hulce did that incredibly distinct laughter for Mozart in Amadeus? For years, people associated him with that laugh (and maybe still do!) But was that Mozart's laugh? I think it was Hulce's and a fine job he did. Chalberg does a fine job as Chesterton (except for that wig!) and I've love to see him do that in person some time.

  6. Regarding the production of technology, I think a distinction is necessary: what Chesterton would have desired in respect to the machinery which makes our modern toys is that individuals OWN it - individually... not impersonally. (See What's Wrong With the World or The Outline of Sanity for more on such matters.)

    GKC was not as much concerned about its location as its ownership - clearly, one cannot keep his farm or his cows in his home!

    And he was far from being a Luddite, and truly delighted in the technical advances he was seeing - while still warning of the philosophical dangers which lurked therein:

    "The wrong is not that engines are too much admired, but that they are not admired enough. The sin is not that engines are
    mechanical, but that men are mechanical." [GKC, Heretics CW1:113]

    Actually, except for things like the IRS, OSHA, EPA and the Bin Laden rules and such, I wonder whether there could ever be a "cottage industry" of chip design... Sure, it could annoy the big boys, and maybe instead of toys we'd see some real computing tools for once - but it would take some doing. The mistake so often made here is that people are not willing to actually work together... even the guilds and the unions only go so far in this regard... the Popes, from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI have been hinting around - when will we take them up on their ideas? It's not just for Catholics, you know.

  7. Chesterton did vigorously protest the developments in media such as movies and radio, seeing them as one-way media for plutocrats to praise and glorify themselves before a pacified populace. (In the Outline of Sanity, I think?)

    So he would probably be more favorable towards the shift towards two-way media. But I'm pretty sure he would claim any "internet community" to be an illusory one that keeps us from our neighbors.

  8. Kevin:

    You're quite right about that last bit. The Internet Community has been created in much the same way as things like Modern Hygiene and Modern Culture were invented to get people away from their neighbourhoods, whether they ended up in Margate or Florence (Heretics).

    Anyhow, you do make a good point. Things like iPods and so forth cut us off from the world by insulating us against the sound of the People In The Street. I enjoy my little iPod because I enjoy music, but perhaps I am wrong for doing this. What has it wrought for me? It cuts me off, as I said. It actually serves to *diminish* my appreciation of music, available as it is to me now at all times, and in all places. There is no sense of expectation; I no longer have to wait until I get home to listen to the Requiem Mass. It discourages me from seeking out real, live music, peformed by real, live people. Why settle for the mediocrity of a live band when I can just listen to anything Glenn Miller ever did? And I don't even have to go out to do it. Finally, when listening to music, I'm not *really* thinking; not like I would be without it. It is ruining my rumination, and it is ruining my memory. Before I got it, I had to actually memorise music if I wanted to listen to it away from home; it was this skill that got me through four months of truly awful factory work. Even apart from that, it's quite pleasant to be able to sing a song for someone from memory, even if that song is "When the Levee Breaks."

    The worst part, however, is this:

    Having made this case against the iPod - and without even addressing the issues of corporatist economics and division of manufacture and so on - I will continue to use the thing until it breaks. I am so very petty and small.

  9. Something similar might be claimed for Chesterton's own books, or even for those of Aquinas... but that is not the point.

    Chesterton knew it was not (and in fact could never be) a problem with the "technology". We're not talking about some imaginary Sauron's Ring here! The problem is in the use (or abuse): hence the old epigram Abusus non tollit usum (Abuse does not take away use) which we proudly displayed on the cable TV monitoring screens where I used to work.

    Here is how Chesterton put it:

    ...the only spiritual or philosophical objection to steam-engines is not that men pay for them or work at them, or make them very ugly, or even that men are killed by them; but merely that men do not play at them. The evil is that the childish poetry of clockwork does not remain. The wrong is not that engines are too much admired, but that they are not admired enough. The sin is not that engines are mechanical, but that men are mechanical.
    [GKC, Heretics CW1:112-113]

    And I think that Chesterton would have had a rather different take on the "media" - given that he was a journalist, but even more that he was a major media star of the BBC. Certainly he warned against the abuse of these things. Radio is rather one-way, and it is true that he had to have his wife come when he did his shows, so that he had someone to speak to! Also, the newspaper industry was just as one-way as radio - though of course there were letters to the editor. Too bad the current media don't like them!

    And of course there is no such thing as an "internet community" - one might as well speak of a "newspaper" community or a "postal" community! Neither are many of the things labelled "community" nowadays - or else the word means nothing more than simple adjacency.

    But there is such a thing as the Communion of Saints.

    And that is the height of technology: after all, it uses leitourgika - which is the modern term used by Greek universities on their transcripts for classes in "Operating Systems". (An operating system is the singular neverending program which makes a computer useful for all other programs, which are called "applications".)

    Maybe it's only because I perceive it differently (having spent so much on its inside where there is neither e-mail nor web pages), but every once in a while, the INTERNET does indeed suggest the Communion of Saints.

    For every once in a while even this silly, poorly designed junk built for greed and for power is a paradox - it does indeed
    unite and act for good by serving generously - yes, for out of its evil there can come good: Abusus non tollit usum.

  10. Sorry I forgot I already quoted the "engine" bit form Heretics. How about another in the same vein, and some thirty years closer to now?

    It is admitted, even by the official mind, that in this sense man is born for trouble as the electric sparks fly upward, or wherever the electric sparks may fly; it is even hinted, though perhaps mystically and indirectly, that a life of peace, perfect peace, would be one in which the telephone ceased from troubling and the subscribers were at rest. But the truth goes deeper than any incidental irritations that might arise from the mismanagement of the instrument; it implies some degree of indifference even in the management of it. We are incessantly told, indeed, that the modern scientific appliances, even those like the telephone, which are now universally applied, are the miracles of man, and the marvels of science, and the wonders of the new world. But though the inventions are talked of in this way, they are not treated in this way. Or, rather, if they are so talked of in theory, they are not so talked of in practice. There has certainly been a rush of discovery, a rapid series of inventions; and, in one sense, the activity is marvellous and the rapidity might well look like magic. But it has been a rapidity in things going stale; a rush downhill to the flat and dreary world of the prosaic; a haste of marvellous things to lose their marvellous character; a deluge of wonders to destroy wonder. This may be the improvement of machinery, but it cannot possibly be the improvement of man. And since it is not the improvement of man, it cannot possibly be progress. Man is the creature that progress professes to improve; it is not a race of wheels against wheels or a wrestling match of engines against engines.
    [GKC, ILN Jan 19, 1935, reprinted in As I Was Saying]

  11. I've noticed that both Lighthouse Media/St Joseph Communications and Faith Database have put out compilations that include the ENTIRE works of Chesterton as well as other public domain works, but as far as I can tell some of the works they've included are NOT public domain. Who has the rights, and are they granting them so liberally now?

  12. Chesterton had no heirs. In England, the rights are reserved until the author is dead for 70 years, if no one renews it. Since Chesterton died in 1936, in 2006 that time had passed.

    In the USA, it is 70 years after the work was written, so much of Chesterton's work was considered public domain here for some time.

    If you want to get picky, there are ways to check rights, but in general, Chesterton's work is mostly public domain now.


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