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Artefakt: Chestertons Neuland

G.K. CHESTERTON_ Dieses Textfundstück aus G.K. Chestertons "Orthodoxy" verbindet ironisch den Zauber des Neuen und die Wiederentdeckung des Alten. Verhält es sich mit dem digitalen Neuland vielleicht ähnlich?

Published onOct 27, 2017
Artefakt: Chestertons Neuland

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“I have often had a fancy for writing a romance about an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas. I always find, however, that I am either too busy or too lazy to write this fine work, so I may as well give it away for the purposes of philosophical illustration.

There will probably be a general impression that the man who landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton, felt rather a fool. I am not here concerned to deny that he looked a fool. But if you imagine that he felt a fool, or at any rate that the sense of folly was his sole or his dominant emotion, then you have not studied with sufficient delicacy the rich romantic nature of the hero of this tale. His mistake was really a most enviable mistake; and he knew it, if he was the man I take him for.
What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again?
What could be better than to have all the fun of discovering South Africa without the disgusting necessity of landing there?
What could be more glorious than to brace one's self up to discover New South Wales and then realize, with a gush of happy tears, that it was really old South Wales. This at least seems to me the main problem for philosophers, and is in a manner the main problem of this book.
How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? How can this queer cosmic town, with its many-legged citizens, with its monstrous and ancient lamps, how can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town?

What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again?

To show that a faith or a philosophy is true from every standpoint would be too big an undertaking even for a much bigger book than this; it is necessary to follow one path of argument; and this is the path that I here propose to follow. I wish to set forth my faith as particularly answering this double spiritual need,

the need for that mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar which Christendom has rightly named romance. (…)
But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable. It is this achievement of my creed that I shall chiefly pursue in these pages.

We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.

But I have a peculiar reason for mentioning the man in a yacht, who discovered England. For I am that man in a yacht. I discovered England. (…) For if this book is a joke it is a joke against me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fancied I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious. No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne. I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century. I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it.”

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith, Orthodoxy, auf Projekt Gutenberg seit 2005:

Thomas Renkert:

Cynthia Ozick once wrote:

Nothing is so awesomely unfamiliar as the familiar that discloses itself at the end of a journey.

I read this as an eschatological and revelatory thought. But would it be a liberating moment of relief, or an embarrasing one of non-understanding?

Or maybe even a funny one? Similar to David Foster Wallace’s final sentences in “Laughing with Kafka”:

[…] the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and pushing and kicking, etc. That, finally, the door opens ... and it opens outward: we've been inside what we wanted all along.

Das ist komisch.

And maybe that’s just it: the “awesomely unfamiliar” in the end will be what we’ll come to realize that we’ve always known, somewhere deep inside of us, as something profoundly familiar. And maybe this realization will amaze us and embarrass us a little - and will make us laugh at the end of the journey. Because maybe it is kind of funny when creation and revelation coincide.

Arne-Florian Bachmann:

Der Chesterton Twitter Account verkündet heute: “I am firmly convinced that the Reformation of the 16th century was as near as any mortal thing can come to unmixed evil.”

Ich frage mich bei solchen Statements wie auch bei dem Text: ist er eigentlich Reaktionär? Ist er Postmodern? Er sagt ja nicht: nichts Neues unter der Sonne! Sondern spricht sich für den Reiz des Neuen IM vermeintlich Bekannten aus. Damit wäre er aber auch gegen das Altbewährte, das einfach seine Autorität durch das Altbewährtsein behauptet, oder? Oder aber man muss sagen: ja, vielleicht ist er ein furchtbarer Antimodernist. Weiß nicht.

Hanna Reichel:

Wir behaupten ja immer, wir würden gern etwas Neues entdecken. Aber mal ehrlich, wer will das wirklich?
Das ist für mich ein echt denkenswerter Reflexionsimpuls. Was wirklich Neues ist doch eigentlich schrecklich… Oder nicht?

Hanna Reichel:

Und dann noch mal gewendet: Wie ist es bei diesem unserem Projekt - theologische open access Zeitschrift, soll schrecklich partizipativ, interaktiv sein, soll zwischen verschiedenen theologischen Schulen, zwischen theologischen Fächern, zwischen Theologinnen und Nichttheologen, zwischen Theorie und Praxis, zwischen Uni und Kirche ganz neue Diskussionen und Brückenschläge ermöglichen, soll “explorativ” Theologie betreiben, ohne Geländer, ins Ungewisse, nicht nur schon vorgefertigte Gedanken, soll social media integrieren und citizen science… alles ganz ganz neu und ganz ganz anders? … und nach sehr langem navigieren und nachdenken kommen wir dann ungefähr beim konventionellen wieder raus?

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Arne-Florian Bachmann:

Orthodoxy ist Chestertons Versuch einer autobiographisch angehauchten Verteidigungsschrift für das Christentum. Dabei konzentriert er sich nicht so sehr auf die gelehrsame Ausbreitung von Dogmen, vielmehr will er zeigen, wie sich die christliche Lehre im Leben bewährt. Dabei ist sein humorvoller Tonfall und seine phantasievollen Beispiele die stets Teil einer rationalen Beweisführung sind, besonders hervorzuheben.

C.S. Lewis schreibt zu seinem Humor:
“His humour was of the kind I like best – not “jokes” imbedded in the page like currants in a cake, still less (what I cannot endure), a general tone of flippancy and jocularity, but the humour which is not in any way separable from the argument but is rather (as Aristotle would say) the “bloom” on dialectic itself. The sword glitters not because the swordsman set out to make it glitter but because he is fighting for his life and therefore moving it very quickly. For the critics who think Chesterton frivolous or “paradoxical” I have to work hard to feel even pity; sympathy is out of the question.”