“I am weakness itself.”

A Chesterton thread on facebook, which I have no immediate coherent thoughts on, but on which I intend to meditate and muse over:

  • “INDIVIDUALLY, men may present a more or less rational appearance, eating, sleeping, and scheming. But humanity as a whole is changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful. Men are men, but Man is a woman.” ~GKC: ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill.’
  • I don’t get it..
  • Loz
  • I mean ‘lolz’
  • he’s saying humanity is like a woman.
  • Its beautiful and attractive like a woman?
  • He’s saying humanity is human!
  • I thought it humorous that the “more or less rational appearance” of “individual men” involves their “eating, sleeping, and scheming.”
  • he’s saying that, a individual man, by himself is rational and can be reasoned with. But when they are in a group, a mob, a situation of peer pressure they are easily influenced. It could be written “Men are men, but Man is week.”
  • Extended quote:

“The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called “Keep to-morrow dark,” and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) “Cheat the Prophet.” The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.

“For human beings, being children, have the childish wilfulness and the childish secrecy. And they never have from the beginning of the[Pg 14] world done what the wise men have seen to be inevitable. They stoned the false prophets, it is said; but they could have stoned true prophets with a greater and juster enjoyment. Individually, men may present a more or less rational appearance, eating, sleeping, and scheming. But humanity as a whole is changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful. Men are men, but Man is a woman.”

~from Book I, Chapter I: Introductory Remarks on the Art of Prophecy

Read more online. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20058/20058-h/20058-h.htm

  • Interesting that some think he was equating femininity with weakness. Was he? I don’t know that he necessarily held rationality above being “changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful.” I suppose there are flaws on both sides.
  • Not weakness — fickleness and/or caprice. As Shakespeare observed: Frailty, thy name is woman.” (“Hamlet”) I think Gilbert was echoing that.
  • Not sure weakness is synonymous with changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful. Of course, this is an older perception of femininity, and I don’t know that I agree entirely with it; in part, though, perhaps.
  • “In her autobiography, St. Therese of Lisieux writes: “I am weakness itself.” It is precisely this awareness that made her heroic in her holiness.” ~ from “In Praise of Weakness” by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
  • you do have to remember this book was written in 1904, language has changed some since then.
  • A St.Therese reference is a good way to end any disagreement from me. I will concede my weakness. :)
  • I admit my weakness, but I still disagree that weakness is what is meant by “changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful.”
  • While GK does not use the expression “weaker sex” in the text quoted above, he has used it elsewhere, which has been the occasion for his critics to label him as a misogynist, or claim that he devalues women, or that he thinks women are inferior to men. These critics speak so much pure, unadulterated nonsense. While some of them may simultaneously praise the majority of GK’s writings, they exhibit only a superficial understanding of Chesterton. Alice von Hildebrand provides some clear thinking on the “weaker sex”, and on “feminism and feminity”, all of which aids a correct understanding of the subject, an understanding that exposes the fallacies of the modern, politically-correct view.

Two things that my mind continually returns to; “I am weakness itself,” and the nobody-gets-it-these-days phenomenon of feminism vs. genuine femininity. It puts me in mind of last week’s Scripture Study discussion concerning humility, and how people wrongly and negatively associate “humility” with “humiliation.” What is weakness? is the question. What does it mean to be weak? in the same way that what it means to be humble does not have anything to do with being humiliated. More thoughts when there’s more time…


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