Friday, January 16, 2009

Welcome to the Silly Season

Today, I saw a headline in the Omaha World-Herald that read "Let this be a lesson to all you 6-year olds." The article was about a child who stuck his tongue to a lamp-post on purpose. Why are our newspapers printing this inconsequentialism?

Chesterton provides an answer. Somewhere (I can't remember where), he speaks of the "Silly Season" the time of year between political campaigns. Journalists, he says, call it the silly season because there is nothing to write about, so they turn to less-covered subjects. But it is the journalists who are the silly ones, Chesterton argues, for this is the time when they are actually freest to write about the issues that really matter: things like whether or not Christianity is winning or losing the culture war and what we can do about it.

Whoever wrote the tongue article was wasting their time. Let's hope they are not Chestertonain yet.


Ancient Greek Philosopher said...

Obviously, the media doesn't like
to say anything about Christianity.
Why? Because they're controled!!!

Dr. Thursday said...

In case anyone is wondering, the "Silly Season" that GKC refers to in his first ILN essay (Oct 14, 1905) and two later ones (Aug 31 1907, Aug 27, 1921) in England is "August and September, as the season when newspapers start trivial discussions for lack of news." [Concise Oxford Dictionary] But trivia (as the Latin dictionary will tell you) is a cross-roads! (Latin: tri+via = "three ways") Very significant...

The trick, as GKC points out in many places, is to write about something profound even when you start with something silly. This frozen tongue story would make a GREAT starting point for a Chestertonian-style ILN essay... in fact - say - what a great idea!

How about a contest? Simply, to write a GKC-style essay (limited to 1500 words, as per his ILN contract) based on this story. Time limit: one week (which is how long GKC had to do his next essay.)

It could be fun.

AGP: I'd suggest they are un-controlled. Self-control is the hallmark of Christianity, which is why we have the media at all. It weren't pagans who made the radio: "The Eastern says fate governs everything and he sits and looks pretty; we believe in Free-will and Predestination and we invent Babbage's Calculating Machine." [GKC quoted in Ward's biography 268]

Ancient Greek Philosopher said...

It's true; perhaps they didn't
invent it. But just because it
started as an expression of free
will doesn't necessarily mean that
it will stay that way. But of
course, someone used their free
will to control it!!

Old Fashioned Liberal said...

The idea about the essay is great! I'm guessing that the Omaha world-herald didn't follow the idea, though.

RoseinFaith said...

Dr. Thursday, would you make your contest challenge a separate post on the blog, so that potentially more of the members will see it and respond to it, please? I don't know if my schedule this week will allow me to participate, but I certainly would like to see the entries! :)
God Bless!

Dr. Thursday said...

AGP: Granted. Such is true of many great inventions. But then we know: "If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post." [GKC Orthodoxy CW1:320] Which perhaps is why St. Paul is the patron saint of the media - he had a very black post but ended up with a very white one.

RoseInFaith: I have done so; I hope it will be a great time. I said "a week" but then I would rather have more entries. Please do try, as your schedule may permit.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Dr. Thursday - thanks much for your quote about the torrent of change! It applies perfectly to a project I'm working right now.

Thanks everyone else for your patience in my neglect to comment. I'm loving the activity here - will be a little more active after the end of the month.

God Bless All! :)

Dr. Thursday said...

Well, I had a little time, and so I did a ballade. It felt more like a ballade to me. Lots of fun.