Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gilbert got tagged

The Geography Guy started an interesting game, and Gilbert thought it was so interesting, that he sent his responses to me, via Dr. Thursday.

1. A Place You've Visited and Your Favorite Thing there


When I visited Poland, I was honoured by an invitation from the Government; but all the hospitality I received was far too much alive to remind me of anything official. There is a sort of underground tavern in Warsaw, where men drink Tokay, which would cure any official of officialism; and there they sang the marching songs of the Poles. Cracow is now even more the national city because it is not the capital... I was driving with a Polish lady, who was very witty and well-aquainted with the whole character of Europe, and also of England (as is the barbarous habit of the Slavs); and I only noticed that her tone changed, if anything to a sort of coolness, as we stopped outside an archway leading to a side-street, and she said, "We can't drive in here." I wondered; for the gateway was wide and the street apparently open. As we walked under the arch she said in the same colourless tone; "You take off your hat here." And then I saw the open street. It was filled with a vast crowd, all facing me; and all on their knees on the ground. It was as if someone were walking behind me; or some strange bird were hovering over my head. I faced around, and saw in the centre of the arch great windows standing open, unsealing a chamber full of gold and colours; there was a picture behind; but parts of the whole picture were moving like a puppet-show, stirring strange double memories like a dream of the bridge in the puppet-show of my childhood; and then I realised that from those shifting groups there shone and sounded the ancient magnificence of the Mass.
[Autobiography CW16:306-7]

2. A Country You'd Like to Visit and Why


There is one good test and one only of whether a man has travelled to any profit in Europe. An Englishman is, as such, a European, and as he approaches the central splendours of Europe he ought to feel that he is coming home. If he does not feel at home he had much better have stopped at home. England is a real home; London is a real home; and all the essential feelings of adventure or the picturesque can easily be gained by going out at night upon the flats of Essex or the cloven hills of Surrey. Your visit to Europe is useless unless it gives you the sense of an exile returning. Your first sight of Rome is futile unless you feel that you have seen it before.
[Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens CW15:372-3]

3. A Place From History You'd Like to Visit and Why

(the Dark Ages; England under the Plantagenets)

The whole object of history is to enlarge experience by imagination. And this sort of history would enlarge neither imagination nor experience. The whole object of history is to make us realize that humanity could be great and glorious, under conditions quite different and even contrary to our own. It is to teach us that men could achieve most profitable labour without our own division of labour. It is to teach us that men could be industrious without being industrial. It is to make us understand that there might be a world in which there was far less improvement in the transport for visiting various places, and there might still be a very great improvement in the places visited. The professor is perfectly right in saying that a history of the Plantagenet period ought not merely to record the presence of kings and armies. But what ought it to record? Is it to record only the absence of motors and electric lights? Should we say nothing of the Plantagenet period except that it did not have motor-bikes? I venture to suggest that we might record the presence of some things which the whole people had then and have not got now, such as the guilds, the great popular universities, the use of the common lands, the fraternity of the common creed. I fear the professor will not follow me into matters so disturbing to his perfect picture of progress. But, in conclusion, there is one little question I should like to ask him, and it is this. If you cannot see Man, divine and democratic, under the disguises of all the centuries, why on earth should you suppose you will be able to see him under the disguises of all the nations and tribes? If the Dark Ages most be as dark as they look, why are the black men not so black as they are painted? If I may feel supercilious towards a Chaldean, why not towards a Chinaman? If I may despise a Roman for not having a steam-plough, why not a Russian for not wanting a steam-plough? If scientific industry is the supreme historical test, it divides us as much from backward peoples as from bygone peoples. It divides even European peoples from each other.
["Much Too Modern History" in Fancies Versus Fads]

4. A Place You Know a Lot About


...the strangest country I ever visited was England; but I visited it at a very early age, and so became a little queer myself. England is extremely subtle; and about the best of it there is something almost secretive; it is amateur even more than aristocratic in tradition; it is never official. Among its very valuable and hardly visible oddities is this. There is one type of Englishman I have very frequently met in travel and never met in books of travel. He is the expiation for the English tripper; he may be called the English exile. He is a man of good English culture quite warmly and unaffectedly devoted to some particular foreign culture. ... Maurice Baring had exactly that attitude towards Russia and Professor Eccles towards France. But I have met a particularly charming Anglo-Irish academic gentleman doing exactly the same work of penetrating with sympathy the soul of Poland; I have met another searching out the secrets of Spanish music in Madrid; and everywhere they are dotted about on the map, doing not only something for Europe but very decidedly something for England; proving to Lithuanian antiquaries or Portuguese geographers that we are not all bounders and boosters; but come of the people that could interpret Plutarch and translate Rabelais. They are a microscopically small minority; like nearly every English group that really knows what is going on; but they are a seed and therefore a secret.
[Autobiography CW16:302-3]

5. A Place You'd Like to Learn More About

(my own home)

We have read of some celebrated philosopher who was so absent-minded that he paid a call at his own house. My own absentmindedness is extreme, and my philosophy, of course, is the marvel of men and angels. But I never quite managed to be so absent-minded as that. Some yards at least from my own door, something vaguely familiar has always caught my eye; and thus the joke has been spoiled. Of course I have quite constantly walked into another man's house, thinking it was my own house; my visits became almost monotonous. But walking into my own house and thinking it was another man's house is a flight of poetic detachment still beyond me. Something of the sensations that such an absent-minded man must feel I really felt the other day; and very pleasant sensations they were. The best parts of every proper romance are the first chapter and the last chapter; and to knock at a strange door and find a nice wife would be to concentrate the beginning and end of all romance.
["The Hypothetical Householder" in A Miscellany of Men]

6. A Fictional Place You'd Like to Visit

(the home of the Princess in George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin)

I am speaking of what may emphatically be called the presence of household gods - and household goblins. And the picture of life in this parable is not only truer than the image of a journey like that of the Pilgrim's Progress, it is even truer than the mere image of a siege like that of The Holy War. There is - something not only imaginative but intimately true about the idea of the goblins being below the house and capable of besieging it from the cellars. When the evil things besieging us do appear, they do not appear outside but inside. Anyhow, that simple image of a house that is our home, that is rightly loved as our home, but of which we hardly know the best or the worst, and must always wait for the one and watch against the other, has always remained in my mind as something singularly solid and unanswerable; and was more corroborated than corrected when I came to give a more definite name to the lady watching over us from the turret, and perhaps to take a more practical view of the goblins under the floor. Since I first read that story some five alternative philosophies of the universe have come to our colleges out of Germany, blowing through the world like the east wind. But for me that castle is still standing in the mountains and the light in its tower is not put out.
[GKC's introduction to George MacDonald and His Wife, by Greville M. MacDonald, collected in GKC as MC]


  1. Ok, I give up. What is a meme?

  2. According to
    A meme is a type of online chain letter where bloggers answer questions or participate in a quiz designed to give a quick overview of the author’s personality.Once the author completes the meme, it is customary to tag other bloggers to participate.

  3. The word "meme" was coined by Richard "I'm not a scientist, but I like to pretend I am" Dawkins, on analogy with genes--memes are ideas that get passed around. Of course, Dawkins, who knows nothing of logic, doesn't realize that memes, if they exist (they don't, exactly, any more than any other ideas), would disprove his monistic materialism.

    He also thinks he came up with the concept, but it was a fundamental doctrine of one of the Classical philosophical schools, I think the Epicureans.


Join our FaceBook fan page today!