Chesterton On Democratic Civilization, Human Nature, and Telegraph Poles

Frequent contributor Mr. Chesterton here again, this time with a little story and rumination combination. What’s it about? Well, as my post title suggests, Democratic Civilization, Human Nature, and the titular Telegraph Poles. I’ve decided not to enclose the text in WordPress’ “block quotes,” because that narrows the margins and italicizes the text, making a piece even this long that much harder to read. Nonetheless, all that comes after Chesterton’s name below is his (but for one edit I made in brackets). Enjoy and ponder, please:


The Telegraph Poles

by G.K. Chesterton

My friend and I were walking in one of those wastes of pine-wood which make inland seas of solitude in every part of Western Europe; which have the true terror of a desert, since they are uniform, and so one may lose one’s way in them. Stiff, straight, and similar, stood up all around us the pines of the wood, like the pikes of a silent mutiny. There is a truth in talking of the variety of Nature; but I think that Nature often shows her chief strangeness in her sameness. There is weird rhythm in this very repetition; it is as if the earth were resolved to repeat a single shape until the shape shall turn terrible.

Have you ever tried the experiment of saying some plain word, such as “dog,” thirty times? By the thirtieth time it has become a word like “snark” or “pobble.” It does not become tame, it becomes wild, by repetition. In the end a dog [looks] about as startling and undecipherable as Leviathan or Croquemitaine. Read more