Thursday, May 01, 2014

Chesterton on Freedom

Immanuel Can recently posted on the subject of the meaning of freedom, which puts me in mind of a passage from Chesterton that I happened to read today:
     “It is impossible to be an artist and not care for laws and limits. Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end. Somebody wrote a work called ‘The Loves of the Triangles’; I never read it, but I am sure that if triangles ever were loved, they were loved for being triangular. This is certainly the case with all artistic creation, which is in some ways the most decisive example of pure will. The artist loves his limitations: they constitute the THING he is doing.”
 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Originally published in 1908. Entirely relevant.

That’s the funny thing about truth ...

1 comment :

  1. Reading my first Chesterton book, "The Everlasting Man" and find him to be a truly gifted writer. That to me means that he will use up two pages of flowery and poetic prose, being all over the place with it, to get across the same idea that I get across in two sentences. A very tedious read indeed.