December 04, 2003
Quotation Of The Day

Oxblog today has a quotation from Douglas Adams that reminded me of one of my favorite Chesterton quotations:

It really is more natural to believe a preternatural story, that deals with things we don't understand, than a natural story that contradicts things we do understand. Tell me that the great Mr Gladstone, in his last hours, was haunted by the ghost of Parnell, and I will be agnostic about it. But tell me that Mr Gladstone, when first presented to Queen Victoria, wore his hat in her drawing-room and slapped her on the back and offered her a cigar, and I am not agnostic at all. That is not impossible; it's only incredible. But I'm much more certain it didn't happen than that Parnell's ghost didn't appear; because it violates the laws of the world I do understand.

This is from "The Curse of the Golden Cross" in the third collection, entitled (appropriately enough) The Incredulity of Father Brown. Thanks to the University of Adelaide, the whole story is on the web here: search for 'Gladstone' to locate the passage quoted.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 04, 2003 07:24 PM

Hmm. This would appear to be the same phenomenon as what fiction writers and movie directors call "willing suspension of disbelief." We'll put up with the most amazing fantasies--androids from the future, witches casting spells, time travel--and we'll go along for the ride.

But let a normal 105 pound waif of a woman punch (I said punch, not kick) a 250 pound man in the jaw and send him flying, and I just laugh. I know enough about martial arts to know that's not possible. Or let's say you saw a scene where, in the middle of a pitched battle, the the captain of a ship grabs a frightened ensign and cuddles him to reassure him that everything would be okay. That ship could be a starship somewhere out on the far reaches of the Milky Way, or a fantasy Viking ship sailing through a magical bubble down to ancient Atlantis, but what's the part that's going to make you back off and wonder what the director was smoking?

Posted by: Dean Esmay on December 8, 2003 06:39 AM