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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 81 pages of information about The Defendant.
one, in which we think it is summed up in the words ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’  Even the vulgarest melodrama or detective story can be good if it expresses something of the delight in sinister possibilities—­the healthy lust for darkness and terror which may come on us any night in walking down a dark lane.  If, therefore, nonsense is really to be the literature of the future, it must have its own version of the Cosmos to offer; the world must not only be the tragic, romantic, and religious, it must be nonsensical also.  And here we fancy that nonsense will, in a very unexpected way, come to the aid of the spiritual view of things.  Religion has for centuries been trying to make men exult in the ‘wonders’ of creation, but it has forgotten that a thing cannot be completely wonderful so long as it remains sensible.  So long as we regard a tree as an obvious thing, naturally and reasonably created for a giraffe to eat, we cannot properly wonder at it.  It is when we consider it as a prodigious wave of the living soil sprawling up to the skies for no reason in particular that we take off our hats, to the astonishment of the park-keeper.  Everything has in fact another side to it, like the moon, the patroness of nonsense.  Viewed from that other side, a bird is a blossom broken loose from its chain of stalk, a man a quadruped begging on its hind legs, a house a gigantesque hat to cover a man from the sun, a chair an apparatus of four wooden legs for a cripple with only two.

This is the side of things which tends most truly to spiritual wonder.  It is significant that in the greatest religious poem existent, the Book of Job, the argument which convinces the infidel is not (as has been represented by the merely rational religionism of the eighteenth century) a picture of the ordered beneficence of the Creation; but, on the contrary, a picture of the huge and undecipherable unreason of it.  ‘Hast Thou sent the rain upon the desert where no man is?’ This simple sense of wonder at the shapes of things, and at their exuberant independence of our intellectual standards and our trivial definitions, is the basis of spirituality as it is the basis of nonsense.  Nonsense and faith (strange as the conjunction may seem) are the two supreme symbolic assertions of the truth that to draw out the soul of things with a syllogism is as impossible as to draw out Leviathan with a hook.  The well-meaning person who, by merely studying the logical side of things, has decided that ‘faith is nonsense,’ does not know how truly he speaks; later it may come back to him in the form that nonsense is faith.

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A DEFENCE OF PLANETS

A book has at one time come under my notice called ’Terra Firma:  the Earth not a Planet.’  The author was a Mr. D. Wardlaw Scott, and he quoted very seriously the opinions of a large number of other persons, of whom we have never heard, but who are evidently very important.  Mr. Beach of Southsea, for example, thinks that the world is flat; and in Southsea perhaps it is.  It is no part of my present intention, however, to follow Mr. Scott’s arguments in detail.  On the lines of such arguments it may be shown that the earth is flat, and, for the matter of that, that it is triangular.  A few examples will suffice: 

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