righteous rage. The color of one’s creed, neckties, eyes, thoughts, manners, speech, is sureto meet somewhere in time or space with a fatal objection from a mob that hates that particular tone. And the more brilliant, the more unusual the man, the nearer he is to thestake.
always rhymes with
The meek prophet, the enchanter in his cave,the indignant artist, the nonconforming little schoolboy, all share in the same sacreddanger. And this being so, let us bless them, let us bless the freak; for in the naturalevolution of things, the ape would perhaps never have become man had not a freak appeared in the family. Anybody whose mind is proud enough not to breed true, secretlycarries a bomb at the back of his brain; and so I suggest, just for the fun of the thing, takingthat private bomb and carefully dropping it upon the model city of commonsense. In the brilliant light of the ensuing explosion many curious things will appear; our rarer senseswill supplant for a brief spell the dominant vulgarian that squeezes Sindbad’s neck in thecatch-as-catch-can match between the adopted self and the inner one. I am triumphantlymixing metaphors because that is exactly what they are intended for when they follow thecourse of their secret connections—which from a writer’s point of view is the first positiveresult of the defeat of commonsense.The second result is that the irrational belief in the goodness of man (to which thosefarcical and fraudulent characters called Facts are so solemnly opposed) becomessomething much more than the wobbly basis of idealistic philosophies. It becomes a solidand iridescent truth. This means that goodness becomes a central and tangible part of one’sworld, which world at first sight seems hard to identify with the modern one of newspaper editors and other bright pessimists, who will tell you that it is, mildly speaking, illogical toapplaud the supremacy of good at a time when something called the police state, or communism, is trying to turn the globe into five million square miles of terror, stupidity,and barbed wire. And they may add that it is one thing to beam at one’s private universe inthe snuggest nook of an unshelled and well-fed country and quite another to try and keepsane among crashing buildings in the roaring and whining night. But within theemphatically and unshakably illogical world which I am advertising as a home for thespirit, war gods are unreal not because they are conveniently remote in physical space fromthe reality of a reading lamp and the solidity of a fountain pen, but because I cannotimagine (and that is saying a good deal) such circumstances as might impinge upon thelovely and lovable world which quietly persists, whereas I can very well imagine that myfellow dreamers, thousands of whom roam the earth, keep to these same irrational anddivine standards during the darkest and most dazzling hours of physical danger, pain, dust,death.What exactly do these irrational standards mean? They mean the supremacy of thedetail over the general, of the part that is more alive than the whole, of the little thing whicha man observes and greets with a friendly nod of the spirit while the crowd around him is being driven by some common impulse to some common goal. I take my hat off to the herowho dashes into a burning house and saves his neighbor’s child; but I shake his hand if hehas risked squandering a precious five seconds to find and save, together with the child, itsfavorite toy. I remember a cartoon depicting a chimney sweep falling from the roof of a tall building and noticing on the way that a sign-board had one word spelled wrong, andwondering in his headlong flight why nobody had thought of correcting it. In a sense, we2