The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare – G.K. Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

‘Humanity crushed once again’. ‘50 dead, 120 injured’. ‘Grave face of terror strikes again’. Familiar headlines scream through the pages of the newspapers each time a bomb goes off annihilating blameless lives. Through teeth gritting resilience, public outcry resonates through the deafened ears of failed intelligence and faith in the state’s law and order hangs by a thin string. As the weeks pass by rapid sketches of the alleged bombers, email links, forensic reports, collected evidence from the attacked ground and pictures of rehabilitating victims are splashed across the dailies. If by any chance the investigation comes through, anonymous visages covered with black rags are photographed outside the courtroom, readied for trial procedures, which may go on for months, maybe even years. As the days go by, life returns to normalcy (yes! It is a tricky word); everything is forgotten and the news fade until once again “humanity is crushed” by another dastardly attack. The analytical carnival starts once again. This is the time I dearly wish we had ‘philosophical policemen’ just like Chesterton describes in his book. Policemen- (officers of law), who would discover the book of sonnets and verses from where the crimes will be committed; those that recognize the intricate web of intellectual crimes. The derivation of dreadful thoughts- the human mind, so malicious and calculating camouflaged within an affluent, composed and erudite exterior. It is that very egocentric brainpower which churns out sadistic alterations from harmless verses and then picks vulnerable actors to craft that design into realism.


“Evil philosopher is not trying to alter things but to annihilate them”.

This book is more than a mere plot of undercover detectives and their clandestine exploration of the Secret anarchist Councilmen. Chesterton pens that a small time criminal is more of a good person. His aim is to eradicated only a certain obstacle and not annihilate the edifice. What caught my eye in one of the chapters was the elucidation of stereotyping poverty to rebellious festering.

“You’ve got that eternal idiotic ides that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats are always anarchists; as you can see from the baron’s wars”.

When a bomber or an active terrorist is caught, he mostly turns out to be from an impoverished background, where his ravenous mind and mislaid faith is manipulated to find refuge in an illusionary godly abode. These are mere actors for crying out loud, chosen by the scheming selfish elements who are coward enough to remain behind the backstage curtains. The affluent as elucidated in this narration are the ones to be feared. They have an abundance of monetary resources, have sheltering capacity in far away lands, if need be and have a mind that concocts the unexpected. Where do you think the enormous funds come for fertilizing terror? I do not want elucidate detailed reports of various pathways of monetary funds wired to definite cults or “charitable” institutions that ultimately fund the immoral actions. But, the currency sure is not a bequest from the poor or some excise complements from our paychecks. The respective courtesy comes from those societal fundamentals that remain unscathed or unfazed by decree. Who do you suppose manages the advanced scientific technologies in various bombing devices? The knowledgeable elite, isn’t it? The erudite or should I say the crème de la crème of religious preachers who instead of spreading peace and equality manipulates vulnerable populace digging their raw wounds every time through words that revolt in their bleeding wounds? I could go on and on, as it angers me to see such naivety among the elements of law and order or purposefully turning a blind eye on the so-called modernists who may be responsible in concocting the ongoing mayhem of lawlessness. Why couldn’t there be some ‘philosophical policemen’ here in India or any place that incessantly plays the role of a powerless victim?

Chapter 4- The Tale of the Detective is the deciding chapter that outlines infinitesimal details of who Gabriel Syme really is. Syme sneaks his way into a clandestine council of seven men, each named after a day of the week. Syme becomes the inevitable Thursday though a pact he made with Lucian Gregory ,a poet and a true anarchist. Fear catches with Syme as his path deepens into the sinister world of the other six council men; the President being the most feared of all. Chesterton throws a light on various aspects of fear that thrives within and outside us. We rebel against the only side that corrupts us. What makes a mutineer and destroy the very notion of survival? We try and run from fear and pain, until one eventually catches up and makes us susceptible to uncouth rudiments that shelter our mental nakedness. It is the most treacherous survival, if every time we need proof of familiarity to feel safe. When fear caught up with Syme suffocating his senses, he would feel protected only if a blue card ( a source of identification given to every policemen in England) was shown to him. How vulnerable was Syme to live in a world of treachery and deceit? Makes me think of all the trepidation we feel every time we walk outside our homes or travel; the security checks, the sense of familiarity that we seek in bloodcurdling situations, the proof of safety that we search or reveal; spins a web of utter vulnerability that looms within the safest corners of our thoughts. The Man Who Was Thursday is a treasure that needs to be dug up by reading between the lines of a puzzling narrative to know what Chesterton is really saying.


“Revolt in its abstract can be revolting. It is like vomiting.”

Lastly, if everything leads to God and when nature if dissected reveals the face of God, then should I assume that evil is illusionary? Is malevolence the creation of couple menacing minds? If God means endurance then why is such mutinous extermination carried in God’s name after all?

4/5****

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