Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Quickest Way On

Having so much enjoyed G.K.'s take on the topic yesterday, I today present C.S. Lewis on that favourite maxim of dullards and rogues: you can't turn back the clock.

Lest the reader feel alarmed, it is not that I think, after Chesterton, a second opinion is needed. On the contrary, one is not, and most particularly the opinion of a confirmed heretic is not.

But neither should the reader interpret this caveat as meaning that I hold Mr. Lewis but in the highest esteem. Let us not forget ourselves; the man may have been a heretic, but he was a civilized heretic and it isn't like he was a Jesuit or anything really horrible like that.

Besides, I'm feeling ecumenical.

My point, returning to it, is to create a sort of tiny series: What People Smarter than You Say About Turning Back the Clock.

With G.K. and C.S. both saying the same thing, perhaps we can all now just agree that you can, in fact, turn back the clock. And once agreed, we can right the clock and begin to rid ourselves of all the really crappy developments, like car alarms, Paris Hilton, and the new Mass.

To C.S. Lewis then, from Mere Christianity:

First, as to putting the clock back. Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

1 comment:

hilary said...

Peter Kreeft loves to quote or paraphrase Lewis on this one.

Also, Evelyn Waugh, when asked why he was not voting Tory, responded, that those bastards were useless because "they have not turned the clock back a single minute in all the time I have been voting for them."