August 20, 2009

"All the mills of the world labour swiftly because..."

For there is nothing that is really cut off from man or really independent of him in the whole human world. All tools are, as it were, his extra limbs. The chair he sits on is only a system of wooden legs. When he lies on a bed he does not turn himself into a quadruped which (like the elephant) sleeps standing up. If any of these limbs or props of man were to fail him it would be a failure of man. When he invents the most fantastic monstrosities of mechanism, he is only turning himself, as it were, into a monstrosity, into a Briareus, or a centipede. The wooden railway signals are only the wild arms of man waving warnings to his children. The lamps of gas or electricity are only the innumerable eyes of man peering into every dark place and every corner of crime. His passionate pulse is throbbing in the pulse of every passionless machine; his nerves are tingling in the last faint filaments of thread or wire. All the mills of the world labour swiftly because the swiftest thing of all is the ancient desire of the heart. If ever man is to die, these things will die long before him. So long as man lives and has human faith and hope, these things will in innumerable forms continually go forth from him.

      -- GK Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, 4 August 1906

(Thanks to The Hebdomadol Chesterton)

Posted by John Weidner at August 20, 2009 3:27 PM
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