12 July 2007

G.K. Chesterton & Imperfectionism (Distributism, Part The Next)

A follow-up thought to Andrew Keen's recent critique of the distributist Web 2.0 phenomenon, from none other than the 20th century's greatest rotund British journalist, writer and thinker, G.K. Chesterton (and an echo of my own commitment to imperfectionism)

"It is a good sign in a nation when things are done badly. It shows that all the people are doing them. And it is bad sign in a nation when such things are done very well, for it shows that only a few experts and eccentrics are doing them, and that the nation is merely looking on." (from Patriotism and Sport, in All Things Considered)

And now for an interesting counterpoint, also from Chesterton. During Prohibition, GKC was so impressed by the quality of American homebrew (and it's superiority over the then-outlawed mass produced, big name factory beer) that he made a tongue-in-cheek proposal to outlaw commercial production of bread and clothing as a means of improving the quality of both (because people would then make their own).

Have you ever made your own bread or brewed your own beer? Have you ever put homemade bread next to a slice of Wonderbread(tm)? Or homebrew next to a Bud? Or one of French Toast Girl's artprints next to the mass-produced "art" available at your local Walmart?


As Chesterton explained, distributism doesn't mean we should all be chicken farmers... just that most of us should have a few chickens. We don't all need to be artists, brewers or bakers, but we should each occasionally do some painting, brewing and baking. And yes, that means for every wonderfully talented French Toast Girl, there will be dozens of moderately talented artists like myself trying to put color on paper. So be it.

With all this production, some of us will undoubtedly do it badly. But even when we do it badly, we will have done it - and there's something beautiful about that.

1 comment:

Kim said...

I'm eagerly waiting for my prints from FTG -- I have a spot on my wall already for them. :)