Beyond Reason

On Poets and Madmen

Posted in Faith,Philosophy,Writing/Reading by Abigail on February 11, 2011

Now, if we are to glance at the philosophy of sanity, the first thing to do in the matter is to blot out one big and common mistake. There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain. Poe, for instance, really was morbid; not because he was poetical, but because he was specially analytical. Even chess was too poetical for him; he disliked chess because it was full of knights and castles, like a poem. He avowedly preferred the black discs of draughts, because they were more like the mere black dots on a diagram. Perhaps the strongest case of all is this: that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. He could sometimes forget the red and thirsty hell to which his hideous necessitarianism dragged him among the wide waters and the white flat lilies of the Ouse. He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin. Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

G.K. Chesterton, in “Orthodoxy”

Text here:


Roger/Rafa Final, London, Tomorrow

Posted in Uncategorized by Abigail on November 27, 2010
Tags: ,

I have no words. There is a Roger/Rafa final tomorrow, the last match of the last tournament of the year. This is the match everyone’s been hoping for, the dream final – the greatest player in history versus his only real rival.

One of the better things is that it’s at the WTF tournament. Yes, you heard me right – World Tour Finals.

Anyway, how do I post a screaming/happy emoticon? Emphasis on the screaming? Not sure.

Dear Google

Posted in Technology,Web by Abigail on October 8, 2010

Dear Google,

Thanks to you my email is free, my nearly obsessive-compulsive self is perfectly facilitated by 12 Google Calendars, friends and family can oogle over my pictures in the “picture house” (Picasa), my thoughts are stored in Google Notebook, my various web sites are tracked by Google Analytics, I absorb thoughts and ideas from over 20 blogs which pour into Google Reader, I rarely get lost as Google Maps is one handy-dandy-accurate-easy-to-use tool (in which you can create and save your own maps – did you know that?!), and, to top this Google cake, I now have a Droid which connects directly to my Google account. Guess what my favorite possession is? My Droid. Dear Droid – you are next. I will next dedicate a blog post to you. Your moment to shine in the sun is coming.

I have been googleized. This is made most clear by the fact that I just wrote this blog post.

And I love it.

Once, I applied to work at Google, and they didn’t accept me. Apparently sheer enthusiasm isn’t enough. They have a comedy department. Did you know that?! Apparently they weren’t aware of my comedic skill either.

Google, it appears you may own my soul. Don’t be evil!

One of the greatest sports rivalrys in history, caught in a fit of giggles

Posted in Sports by Abigail on September 28, 2010

Truly awesome:

How long have I been saying Golf is not a sport?

Posted in Sports by Abigail on December 20, 2009

Good article. Good point.

I’m a Fed fan, and golf is not a sport.


Posted in Uncategorized,Writing/Reading by Abigail on November 21, 2009

Word of the Day: evanescence
Means: to disappear gradually; vanish; fade away.


Posted in Personal,Writing/Reading by Abigail on November 3, 2009

I have realized that I close almost all my eHarmony matches based on the individual’s interest in books. Hmm.

I skip to that part of the profile. If “books? I can’t remember the last time I read a book…” then close match. Very simple.

I am clearly prejudiced.

Word of the Day: fete
a festive celebration or entertainment


Posted in Uncategorized by Abigail on October 24, 2009

I’m starting The Agony and the Ecstasy. A biography of Michelangelo, it looks pretty impressive. Why? Besides the subject matter itself, it is not “biography” so to speak. The book describes itself as “biographical novel.” Hmmm. This is my first one in this new uncharted genre. So far (first page has been read) this is the way biographies should be written: as if novels. It is delicious.

Spock Rocks

Posted in Movies,Personal by Abigail on May 20, 2009

So I saw Star Trek tonight. And it is a movie worth seeing. Not thoroughly thought provoking, but thought provoking enough, fast, but not lacking a worthwhile plot line, and funny. Serious movies get 10,000 points from me if they’re funny, and this movie has its scenes. It should be noted I’m not a trekkie, and I thought this movie was excellent. It also had that little guy from Shawn of the Dead. He’s great.

It was Spock who I found most compelling. He’s my new hero.

I don’t really have any great analysis to offer. I usually miss too much of a movie (various details, often important) the first time around.

But, there’s my short recommendation. Spock rocks!

Isn’t that Gorgeous

Posted in Sports by Abigail on March 26, 2009

I think tennis is gorgeous no matter what. But just in case you don’t, here’s a picture I took in Indian Well, CA.

Indian Wells

This pro level tournament wrapped up on Sunday with another Rafa Nadal win. For reference, this is a 1000 level tournament which means, if you’ve heard of Wimbledon, well, Indian Wells is one tier beneath that.

But forget the tiers and the points and the players (momentarily)! It seems, with beauty like this, all tournaments should be held in CA. And someone should volunteer to relocate me there.


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