About Me

I am a Christian and a conservative, a Midwesterner born and bred, and (fortunately or unfortunately) a lawyer.

Why Enjoyment and Contemplation?

Well, to be honest, I have no more ambitious goals for this blog than those; I plan to post whatever thoughts cross my mind, whenever it seems amusing or enjoyable to me to do so.

The words “enjoyment” and “contemplation”, as it happens, also relate to one of the turning points in C. S. Lewis’s journey toward God.  He happened to read (which is to say, Providence provided) a philosopher, Samuel Alexander, who analyzed human thought and experience in terms of what he termed “enjoyment” and “contemplation”:  According to his usage, at any given moment, whatever you are thinking about is the thing you are “contemplating”, but whatever you are actually thinking or experiencing is the thing you are “enjoying”.  You cannot both contemplate and enjoy the same thing at the same time.  Perhaps some examples will make this clearer:

When you see a table you “enjoy” the act of seeing and “contemplate” the table.  Later, if you took up Optics and thought about Seeing itself, you would be contemplating the seeing and enjoying the thought.  In bereavement you contemplate the beloved and the beloved’s death and, in Alexander’s sense, “enjoy” the loneliness and grief, but a psychologist, if he were considering you as a case of melancholia, would be contemplating your grief and enjoying psychology.  We do not “think a thought” in the same sense in which we “think that Herodotus is unreliable.”  When we think a thought, “thought” is a cognate accusative (like “blow” in “strike a blow”).  We enjoy the thought (that Herodotus is unreliable) and, in so doing, contemplate the unreliability of Herodotus. (Surprised by Joy, chapter 14)

Lewis realized that if he made God his first and highest end, the main object of his life—in short, if he “contemplated” God—then the ineffable foretastes of eternity that God sprinkles throughout our lives would abound; he realized, in other words, that he would enjoy Joy.  If, on the other hand, he mostly disregarded God, but obsessed over those occasional glimpses of heavenly light, and pursued them as an end in themselves, he would in the end get neither God nor Joy; for determinedly contemplating a feeling, regardless of whether it was originally a good or a bad one, kills the feeling.

If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s probably better just to read the whole book, Surprised by Joy; Lewis can explain it a lot better than I can.  It might also help to read his Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters first.

The runner-up name for this blog was Erudite Limpets, but I’m not even going to try to explain that one; so I’ll just recommend Lewis’s Miracles as well.

Why Chillingworth?

Roger Chillingworth is the villain (more or less) of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  Like me, he has one shoulder lower than the other, which, my high-school English teacher explained, is symbolic of his Satanic character.  By choosing this alias, I’m not trying to embrace or flirt with evil, but, like Mel Gibson driving the nail, I figure we’re all essentially the same—that is, fallen.

I did consider at least one alternative to Chillingworth, but as a certain college classmate of mine would put it (you know who you are), “if you didn’t know anything about them, if you didn’t know anything about them!—just based on their names,” Chillingworth is (warning, language) clearly the more strictly “bad-ass”.

Finally, I didn’t even remember this until I started looking back through the novel, but Chillingworth is an assumed name for him too.  So it’s a perfect fit.

Why Light Text on a Dark Background?

I think all Web sites should be light text on a dark background.  It uses less energy and, more importantly, it’s easier on the eyes; it just makes sense.  My best guess is that the reason it doesn’t make sense to most people is that we’re used to reading black text on a white page, and people transfer that familiarity to the computer screen without thinking much about it.  As Maddox (warning, language) says, “Staring at a white background while you read is like staring at a light bulb”.

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