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Tremendous Trifles Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton
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“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Lying in bed would be an altogether supreme experience if one only had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Our civilization has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted to trained men. It wishes for light upon that awful matter, it asks men who know no more law than I know, but who can feel the thing that I felt in that jury box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up its specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the Founder of Christianity.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pockets. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“To hurry through one’s leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Of a sane man there is only one safe definition. He is the man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“[T]he horrible thing about all legal officials, even the best, about all judges, magistrates, barristers, detectives, and policeman, is not that they are wicked (some of them are good), not that they are stupid (several of them are quite intelligent), it is simply that they have got used to it. Strictly they do not see the prisoner in the dock; all they see is the usual man in the usual place. They do not see the awful court of judgment; they only see their own workshop.”
G.K. Chesterton, On Tremendous Trifles
“For my friend said that he opened his intellect as the sun opens the fans of a palm tree, opening for opening's sake, opening infinitely for ever. But I said that I opened my intellect as I opened my mouth, in order to shut it again on something solid. I was doing it at the moment. And as I truly pointed out, it would look uncommonly silly if I went on opening my mouth infinitely, for ever and ever.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“The more a man looks at a thing, the less he can see it, and the more a man learns a thing, the less he knows it.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“My best friends are all either bottomless skeptics or quite uncontrollable believers . . . .”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“I have my doubts about all this real value in mountaineering, in getting to the top of everything and overlooking everything. Satan was the most celebrated of Alpine guides, when he took Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth. But the joy of Satan in standing on a peak is not a joy in largeness, but a joy in beholding smallness, in the fact that all men look like insects at his feet. It is from the valley that things look large; it is from the level that things look high; I am a child of the level and have no need of that celebrated Alpine guide. I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help; but I will not lift up my carcass to the hills, unless it is absolutely necessary. Everything is in an attitude of mind; and at this moment I am in a comfortable attitude. I will sit still and let the marvels and the adventures settle on me like flies. There are plenty of them, I assure you. The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“But trivial as are the topics they are not utterly without a connecting thread of motive. As the reader's eye strays, with hearty relief, from these pages, it probably alights on something, a bed-post or a lamp-post, a window blind or a wall. It is a thousand to one that the reader is looking at something that he has never seen: that is, never realised. He could not write an essay on such a post or wall: he does not know what the post or wall mean. He could not even write the synopsis of an essay; as "The Bed-Post; Its Significance—Security Essential to Idea of Sleep—Night Felt as Infinite—Need of Monumental Architecture," and so on. He could not sketch in outline his theoretic attitude towards window-blinds, even in the form of a summary. "The Window-Blind—Its Analogy to the Curtain and Veil—Is Modesty Natural?—Worship of and Avoidance of the Sun, etc., etc." None of us think enough of these things on which the eye rests. But don't let us let the eye rest. Why should the eye be so lazy? Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see startling facts that run across the landscape as plain as a painted fence. Let us be ocular athletes. Let us learn to write essays on a stray cat or a coloured cloud. I have attempted some such thing in what follows; but anyone else may do it better, if anyone else will only try.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“I feel grateful for the slight sprain which has introduced this mysterious and fascinating division between one of my feet and the other. The way to love anything is to realise that it might be lost. In one of my feet I can feel how strong and splendid a foot is; in the other I can realise how very much otherwise it might have been. The moral of the thing is wholly exhilarating. This world and all our powers in it are far more awful and beautiful than even we know until some accident reminds us. If you wish to perceive that limitless felicity, limit yourself if only for a moment. If you wish to realise how fearfully and wonderfully God's image is made, stand on one leg. If you want to realise the splendid vision of all visible things-- wink the other eye.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“For the perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them; what we call its triviality is really the tag-ends of numberless tales; ordinary and unmeaning existence is like ten thousand thrilling detective stories mixed up with a spoon.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“. . . . metaphysics is the only thoroughly emotional thing.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“There are some refusals which, though they may be done what is called conscientiously, yet carry so much of their whole horror in the very act of them, that a man must in doing them not only harden but slightly corrupt his heart. One of them was the refusal of milk to young mothers when their husbands were in the field against us. Another is the refusal of fairy tales to children.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“I believe in preaching to the converted; for I have generally found that the converted do not understand their own religion.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Before any modern man talks with authority about loving men, I insist (I insist with violence) that he shall always be very much pleased when his barber tries to talk to him. His barber is humanity: let him love that. If he is not pleased at this, I will not accept any substitute in the way of interest in the Congo or the future of Japan. If a man cannot love his barber whom he has seen, how shall he love the Japanese whom he has not seen? It”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“It is the same with the voters. The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or with a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“A man's minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. But with us the reverse is true; our views change constantly; but our lunch does not change.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is—what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is—what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“For my part, I think brightness more important than cleanliness; since the first is of the soul, and the second of the body.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“I can imagine no more successful and productive form of manufacture than that of making mountains out of molehills.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“The perplexity of life arises from their being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them; what we call it's triviality is really the tag-ends of numberless tales; ordinary and unmeaning existence is like ten thousand thrilling detective stories mixed up with a spoon.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“I should like men to have strong and rooted conceptions, but as for their lunch, let them have it sometimes in the garden, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the roof, sometimes in the top of a tree.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
“People always brag about their vices; it is when they begin to brag about their virtues that they become insufferable.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

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