“Incompatibility of temper”

I have always heard from my youth that in America it is possible to get a divorce for incompatibility of temper.  In my childhood I always thought it was a joke; but I thought it even more of a joke when I discovered that it was true. If married people are to be divorced for incompatibility of temper, I cannot imagine why all married people are not divorced. Any man and any woman must have incompatible tempers; it is the definition of sex. It is the whole point of being married. Nay, it is the whole fun of being engaged. You do not fall in love with a compatible person. You do not love somebody exactly like yourself. I am prepared to bet that no two people were ever betrothed for a week without discovering that they suffered from incompatibility of temper. As long as a marriage is founded on a good solid incompatibility, that marriage has a fair chance of continuing to be a happy marriage, and even a romance. Someone said, “As long as lovers can quarrel they are still lovers.”  Whoever said it had, at least, more wisdom and knowledge of human nature than some of the legislators in America.

The Illustrated London News, 19 September 1908.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 7:09 am  Leave a Comment  

“It made these things beautiful”

. . . no religion was quite so blasphemous as to pretend that it was scientifically investigating its god to see what he was made of. Bacchanals did not say, ‘Let us discover whether there is a god of wine.’ They enjoyed wine so much that they cried out naturally to the god of it. Christians did not say, ‘A few experiments will show us whether there is a god of goodness.’ They loved good so much that they knew that it was a god. Moreover, all the great religions always loved passionately and poetically the symbols and machinery by which they worked -– the temple, the coloured robes, the altar, the symbolic flowers, or the sacrificial fire. It made these things beautiful: it laid itself open to the charge of idolatry. And into these great ritual religions there has descended, whatever be the meaning of it, the thing of which Sophocles spoke, ‘The power of the gods, which is mighty and groweth not old.’

The Illustrated London News, 14 April 1906.

Published in: on September 17, 2008 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  

“In a lower form”

By this time it must be obvious that every single thing in the Catholic Church which was condemned by the modern world has been reintroduced by the modern world, and always in a lower form.  The Puritans rejected art and symbolism, and the decadents brought them back again, with all the old appeal to sense and an additional appeal to sensuality.  The rationalists rejected supernatural healing, and it was brought back by Yankee charlatans who not only proclaimed supernatural healing, but forbade natural healing.  Protestant moralists abolished the confessional, and the psychoanalysts have reestablished the confessional, with every one of its alleged dangers and not one of its admitted safeguards.  The Protestant patriots resented the intrusion of an international faith, and went on to found an empire entangled in international finance.  Having complained that the family was insulted by monasticism, they have lived to see the family broken in pieces by bureaucracy; having objected to fasts being appointed for anybody during any exceptional interval, they have survived to see teetotalers and vegetarians trying to impose a fast on everybody for ever.

– Where All Roads Lead (1922).

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 7:07 am  Comments (1)  

“It is darkness that is visible”

Much has been said, and said truly, of the monkish morbidity, of the hysteria which has often gone with the visions of hermits or nuns. But let us never forget that this visionary religion is, in one sense, necessarily more wholesome than our modern and reasonable morality. It is more wholesome for this reason, that it can contemplate the idea of success or triumph in the hopeless fight towards the ethical ideal, in what Stevenson called, with his usual startling felicity, ‘the lost fight of virtue’. A modern morality, on the other hand, can only point with absolute conviction to the horrors that follow breaches of law; its only certainty is a certainty of ill. It can only point to imperfection. It has no perfection to point to . . .

This omission, good or bad, does leave us face to face with the problem of a human consciousness filled with very definite images of evil, and with no definite image of good. To us light must be henceforward the dark thing -– the thing of which we cannot speak. To us, as to Milton’s devils in Pandemonium, it is darkness that is visible. The human race, according to religion, fell once, and in falling gained the knowledge of good and evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us.

Heretics (1905).

Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment