Daring

Dept. of Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:

Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses to write a play or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange of compliments in Chelsea and Chiswick and a faint thrill in Streatham and Surbiton, is described as ‘daring’, though nobody on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course, of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in. To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened, and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead, does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had the strength to endure it.

—G. K. Chesterton, The Thing

Comments

  1. Carbonel says:

    Oh, good show.

    This is for future cutting-and-pasting purposes (long story)

    Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses to write a script or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange of compliments in L.A. and New York, and a faint thrill in Bellevue and Issaquah, is described as ‘daring’, though nobody on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course, of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in. To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened, and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead, does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had the strength to endure it.

  2. I wouldn’t say it is daring no, but who wouldn’t want to be lauded by those deemed praiseworthy?

    (An unrelated note: I have a bit of spare change for once and was wondering which of your own books is your favorite, my eye is on The Worm but I thought I’d might as well ask)

    • To be praised by the praiseworthy is an admirable thing; but the sort of people Chesterton is talking about (and they are even more common, I believe, nowadays) want to picture themselves as courageous rebels against authority at the same time that they seek the blessings of authority. It is a circle that cannot be squared. They want to stick it to ‘The Man’, and fail to notice that they have become ‘The Man’ themselves.

      As for my own books: If you can trust the advice of so biased and inexpert a judge as the author himself, I should say that Lord Talon’s Revenge is probably my best complete work of fiction. I would put in a plug for The End of Earth and Sky, but I want to wait until I am (at long last) ready to release the next few volumes in that series. The Worm of the Ages is certainly worth trying if you want a light sample of my stuff, but it does not fairly represent my best work. Short stories are not really my forte.

    • “Lord Talon’s Revenge” is fantastic, a classic decon/recon in the style of “The Princess Bride”.

      “The Worm of the Ages” is of generally high quality, though some stories are better than others. “A Taste for Vengeance” is excellent. Mr. Simon is extremely adept at humor writing that makes a serious point.

    • I found writing down the dragon to be extremely entertaining if not fiction. Lord talon is good fantasy.

  3. More daring to write that which will reveal things about yourself to the perceptive reader that you might have preferred to keep private.

  4. Stephen K says:

    We all recognise this phenomenon. I would be interested to know which plays/ poems etc GKC was thinking of.

    • Stephen J. says:

      I think Chesterton was thinking of Shaw in that quote, though I cannot point to a source that validates this impression at the moment.

  5. Was it you that gave me this quote?

    It was quite some time ago, but I had a reason to quote it recently when someone was “brave” enough to make a nuance of themselves seeking praise from everybody who knew them.

    It’s kind of reassuring that the concept of “freaking the norms” is waaaay older than the phrase.

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