July 22nd, 2006

... and the Bookman

Northern theory of courage

W.P.Ker. The Dark Ages (quoted by J.R.R.Tolkien, in Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics).
The Northern Gods have an exultant extravagance in their warfare which makes them more like Titans than Olympians; only they are on the right side, though it is not the side that wins. The winning side is Chaos and Unreason, but the gods, who are defeated, think that defeat no refutation.

G.K.Chesterton. The Ballad of the White Horse.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told.
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"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"


Winston Churchill.
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

J.R.R.Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings.
...and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat...
Do you not see now wherefore your coming is to us as the footstep of Doom? For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the Enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlorien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.'
(and passim)

J.K.Rowling. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Nevertheless, Harry, while you may only have delayed his return to power, it will merely take someone else who is prepared to fight what seems a losing battle next time - and if he is delayed again, and again, why, he may never return to power.

Прибавим к этому, что "Белый Конь" был любимым стихотворением Черчилля; что Толкин в молодости тоже любил эту поэму, а в зрелые годы поругивал (как и всех, кто на него повлиял, от Кюневульфа до Макдональда, не говоря уж о Вагнере).
Но культурная преемственность важнее прямых генетических связей.
"Северная теория мужества" предполагает уверенность в том, что you are on the right side. При отсутствии смысла борьбы – ущербная героика Сарториса, Эшли и Баттлера; при отсутствии смысла в мироздании – бесцельные усилия Сизифа.
"When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth."
Just Homsa

Some more Chesterton; or, Another Dying of the Light

Lady, the light is dying in the skies,
Lady, and let us die when honour dies.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lady, the stars are falling pale and small,
Lady, we will not live if life be all,
Forgetting those good stars in heaven hung
When all the world was young.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(GKC, The Flying Inn)