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Re: Christopher Hitchens on G.K.C.

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  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
    [I posted this this morning, but for some reason, it didn t show up. If it shows up twice, my apologies.] ... Mike -- I agree that Chesterton s casual attitude
    Message 1 of 22 , Mar 4, 2012
      [I posted this this morning, but for some reason, it didn't show up.
      If it shows up twice, my apologies.]

      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...> wrote:
      >
      > But I agree with Tolkien: GKC doesn't hold up to re-reading in
      > many cases.
      >
      > And as a recovering newspaper reporter, editor, adviser, GKC's
      > flippant attitude towards factuality miffs me. His Dickens book
      > is a sterling example.

      Mike --

      I agree that Chesterton's casual attitude toward facts can be
      irritating. But as a Dickens fan -- even as a fan whose taste in
      Dickens is just about the opposite of Chesterton's; Little Dorrit is
      one of my favorites, while Pickwick is the only one of the novels I
      really had to force myself to finish --- I very much value
      and enjoy Chesterton's book on Dickens, and I highly recommend it,
      and I often reread it. (And the same is true of "The Victorian Age
      in Literature") Chesterton often says things that he knows aren't
      true just because they sound good, but he often says things that
      hit the nail on the head in a perfectly apt phrase in a way that
      no one else does. Dickens himself, of course, is also a tremendously
      uneven writer.

      -- Ernie
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      You re misusing the term ad hominem. An ad hominem attack is one where you question the character of the person you re arguing with. I never discussed
      Message 2 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
        You're misusing the term "ad hominem."  An ad hominem attack is one where you question the character of the person you're arguing with.  I never discussed Travis Buck's character.  I may disagree with his argumentation or the facts he cites, but I have nothing to say about his character.
         
        Wendell Wagner
         
        In a message dated 3/2/2012 9:44:25 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, jef.murray@... writes:
        And, regarding Wendell, I won't dignify his wild ad hominem attacks
        on people he doesn't even know with any further response.
      • WendellWag@aol.com
        In every other conversation, E-mail exchange, online discussion, etc. about Chesterton I ve ever had, I have always been the one defending Chesterton. (O.K.,
        Message 3 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
          In every other conversation, E-mail exchange, online discussion, etc. about Chesterton I've ever had,  I have always been the one defending Chesterton.  (O.K., that's only about a half a dozen instances, but Chesterton doesn't come up in conversation very often.)  Someone else will find some problem with Chesterton, and I will rise to defend him.  I consider The Man Who Was Thursday to be one of the best novels of the twentieth century.  I think that his writings are full of interesting analogies, well-stated arguments, and great writing.  I also think that he sometimes gets his facts wrong, that he sometimes fails to follow out his arguments as well as he should, and that he sometimes starts from odd assumptions.
           
          I just don't meet anyone who think that he's an absolutely wonderful writer.  The people who I talk to who have read Chesterton at all (or who have read someone else's skewed comments on Chesterton which they think are representative of all of Chesterton) get hung up on the wrong facts, arguments, and assumptions in Chesterton.  I tell them that they should read more of Chesterton (or that they should read him and not content themselves with second-hand accounts, if they're merely relying on someone else's comments).  I tell them that there are wonderful things in Chesterton's writings, and that their picky oo-I-found-something-I disagree-with-so-I-can-forget-reading-anything-else-by-him attitude is not a useful way to appreciate any writer.  If I were to praise Chesterton in your exaggerated way, I would actually drive these people off.  By being willing to admit he's a flawed writer, I can get them to go back and read more of Chesterton.
           
          Wendell Wagner
           
          In a message dated 3/1/2012 12:11:51 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, travisbuck7@... writes:
          I never claimed GKC's writings were 'perfect and unchallengable'. That's your non sequitur interpretation of what I said. I did claim that Chesterton's work is noble and he is one of the best re-enchanters of the modern disenchanted universe I am aware of. I think this statement not out of step with the opinions of many others--scholarly and popular--on him and his work.

          As for your second comment, a non sequitur ad hominem, I'm mystified that you would take my disagreement with Mike Foster about GKC and my affirmation of what Foster did say (that GKC was a great writer) and my pronouncement that 'based on the sheer output and variety that poured forth from GKC's learned mind and prodigious pen' that a 'person is a fool and not worth listening to on any subject' if he would disagree with Foster's comment that GKC is 'a great writer in many ways' as evidence of narrow reading on my part, of confining myself to only authors whom I have beforehand 'already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. GKC as every man was imperfect and not beyond criticism. He would have been the first to admit this. This is a point I clearly expressed before. It appears, Wendell, you are drawing unfounded conclusions based on my comments. If one (in this case, Mike Foster) challenges the worth of an author, may another not defend it?
        • Travis Buchanan
          Wendell, I never said GKC wasn t flawed! He never said that either! I said he was a great writer and his work nobly representative of re-enchantment which
          Message 4 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
            Wendell,

            I never said GKC wasn't flawed! He never said that either! I said he was a 'great writer' and his work nobly representative of re-enchantment which the world needs more of, not less. How is this still not clear to you?

            Travis



            Not all those who wander are lost.
                                    - J. R. R. Tolkien



            On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
             

            In every other conversation, E-mail exchange, online discussion, etc. about Chesterton I've ever had,  I have always been the one defending Chesterton.  (O.K., that's only about a half a dozen instances, but Chesterton doesn't come up in conversation very often.)  Someone else will find some problem with Chesterton, and I will rise to defend him.  I consider The Man Who Was Thursday to be one of the best novels of the twentieth century.  I think that his writings are full of interesting analogies, well-stated arguments, and great writing.  I also think that he sometimes gets his facts wrong, that he sometimes fails to follow out his arguments as well as he should, and that he sometimes starts from odd assumptions.
             
            I just don't meet anyone who think that he's an absolutely wonderful writer.  The people who I talk to who have read Chesterton at all (or who have read someone else's skewed comments on Chesterton which they think are representative of all of Chesterton) get hung up on the wrong facts, arguments, and assumptions in Chesterton.  I tell them that they should read more of Chesterton (or that they should read him and not content themselves with second-hand accounts, if they're merely relying on someone else's comments).  I tell them that there are wonderful things in Chesterton's writings, and that their picky oo-I-found-something-I disagree-with-so-I-can-forget-reading-anything-else-by-him attitude is not a useful way to appreciate any writer.  If I were to praise Chesterton in your exaggerated way, I would actually drive these people off.  By being willing to admit he's a flawed writer, I can get them to go back and read more of Chesterton.
             
            Wendell Wagner
             
            In a message dated 3/1/2012 12:11:51 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, travisbuck7@... writes:
            I never claimed GKC's writings were 'perfect and unchallengable'. That's your non sequitur interpretation of what I said. I did claim that Chesterton's work is noble and he is one of the best re-enchanters of the modern disenchanted universe I am aware of. I think this statement not out of step with the opinions of many others--scholarly and popular--on him and his work.

            As for your second comment, a non sequitur ad hominem, I'm mystified that you would take my disagreement with Mike Foster about GKC and my affirmation of what Foster did say (that GKC was a great writer) and my pronouncement that 'based on the sheer output and variety that poured forth from GKC's learned mind and prodigious pen' that a 'person is a fool and not worth listening to on any subject' if he would disagree with Foster's comment that GKC is 'a great writer in many ways' as evidence of narrow reading on my part, of confining myself to only authors whom I have beforehand 'already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. GKC as every man was imperfect and not beyond criticism. He would have been the first to admit this. This is a point I clearly expressed before. It appears, Wendell, you are drawing unfounded conclusions based on my comments. If one (in this case, Mike Foster) challenges the worth of an author, may another not defend it?


          • Zachary Bos
            [Disclosure: I appreciate GKC as a writer, though I feel no urge to modify that opinion with superlatives.] Speaking of the world s need for re-enchantment, I
            Message 5 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
              [Disclosure: I appreciate GKC as a writer, though I feel no urge to modify that opinion with superlatives.] 

              Speaking of the world's need for re-enchantment, I noticed recently that the GKC is widely quoted by the organized religious right, e.g. "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders", at http://www.nationalchristian.com/1266. The National Christian Foundation is a major sponsor of the Discovery Institute and Focus on the Family, among other causes.

              Musingly,

              Zachary

              PS: My copy of "As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality" just arrived by post.
              PPS, wanting to change the record: Has anyone else on the list read the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles?


              On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 9:29 AM, Travis Buchanan <travisbuck7@...> wrote:

              Wendell,

              I never said GKC wasn't flawed! He never said that either! I said he was a 'great writer' and his work nobly representative of re-enchantment which the world needs more of, not less. How is this still not clear to you?

              Travis
            • Travis Buchanan
              Wendell, I disagree that I was misusing the term ad hominem . You wrote that I think you ought to read the writings of more authors and not confine yourself
              Message 6 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
                Wendell,

                I disagree that I was misusing the term 'ad hominem'. You wrote that 'I think you ought to read the writings of more authors and not confine yourself to just ones you've already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. You impugn my character when you accuse me of narrow reading, of confining myself to only authors whom I have 'already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. Based on a few scant comments on GKC, how could you derive such conclusive knowledge of my reading habits? How is that comment based on my argumentation? To my mind, a person who does that--reads only authors they have beforehand decided are 'perfect and unchallengeable'--lacks certain desirable qualities one would wish in a whole reader and thinker, that is, in a whole person. I took offense at the personal implication which went well beyond any argumentation offered by me to a speculative assumption presented as fact by you and broadcasted to the entire list about my reading and thinking habits, which are not incidental to my character. Please don't misunderstand: I am not upset about it--I haven't even thought since about it until your e-mail today. But please do me the courtesy of calling a spade a spade. I would appreciate it more if you would own up to what you said instead of giving me a lesson on the meaning of 'ad hominem'.

                Travis





                On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
                 

                You're misusing the term "ad hominem."  An ad hominem attack is one where you question the character of the person you're arguing with.  I never discussed Travis Buck's character.  I may disagree with his argumentation or the facts he cites, but I have nothing to say about his character.
                 
                Wendell Wagner
                 
                In a message dated 3/2/2012 9:44:25 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, jef.murray@... writes:
                And, regarding Wendell, I won't dignify his wild ad hominem attacks
                on people he doesn't even know with any further response.


              • Mike Foster
                Chesterton: “An argument is ruined by turning it into a quarrel.” That said, Travis makes good points. There’s more any and each of us than a single
                Message 7 of 22 , Mar 14, 2012
                  Chesterton: “An argument is ruined by turning it into a quarrel.”
                   
                  That said, Travis makes good points.  There’s more any and each of us than a single page can hold.
                   
                  Mike
                   
                  Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:43 AM
                  Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Christopher Hitchens on G.K.C.
                   
                   

                  Wendell,


                  I disagree that I was misusing the term 'ad hominem'. You wrote that 'I think you ought to read the writings of more authors and not confine yourself to just ones you've already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. You impugn my character when you accuse me of narrow reading, of confining myself to only authors whom I have 'already decided are perfect and unchallengeable'. Based on a few scant comments on GKC, how could you derive such conclusive knowledge of my reading habits? How is that comment based on my argumentation? To my mind, a person who does that--reads only authors they have beforehand decided are 'perfect and unchallengeable'--lacks certain desirable qualities one would wish in a whole reader and thinker, that is, in a whole person. I took offense at the personal implication which went well beyond any argumentation offered by me to a speculative assumption presented as fact by you and broadcasted to the entire list about my reading and thinking habits, which are not incidental to my character. Please don't misunderstand: I am not upset about it--I haven't even thought since about it until your e-mail today. But please do me the courtesy of calling a spade a spade. I would appreciate it more if you would own up to what you said instead of giving me a lesson on the meaning of 'ad hominem'.

                  Travis





                  On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
                   

                  You're misusing the term "ad hominem."  An ad hominem attack is one where you question the character of the person you're arguing with.  I never discussed Travis Buck's character.  I may disagree with his argumentation or the facts he cites, but I have nothing to say about his character.
                   
                  Wendell Wagner
                   
                  In a message dated 3/2/2012 9:44:25 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, jef.murray@... writes:
                  And, regarding Wendell, I won't dignify his wild ad hominem attacks
                  on people he doesn't even know with any further response.
                   
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