The Fallacy of Success

This piece dives right into it’s subject which is plainly stated in the title, Chesterton makes certain to give examples to other genres before seriously laying into the matter of point, but once doing so, doesn’t let up, giving specific reasons to support his side throughout the article.

Chesterton starts by describing different sides of the spectrum of the genre of focus, then lands on chivalry and religion at least being about their respective subjects whilst the genre of success is about “nothing”. He continues by relating these texts claim to tell of how men can succeed in anything, but the writers themselves not even being able to succeed in doing their job of writing about the subject correctly. Chesterton states the idea of success doesn’t exist, but then allows this is because success is in anything if one looks at the available examples given: “Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide.” , as well as listing a couple others. He goes on to explain how writers of success try to convince those who read their subject matter can be helped to succeed in their specific area of need, but how if it were any other person writing about a distinct subject and didn’t actually deliver in seeming to know about what they were writing of, the piece would certainly not be published.

Chesterton reiterates his argument of people who write of success and those who’ve obtained it don’t have the knowledge of why this is so. He then informs of two ways one is successful, one of which most (hopefully) would rather choose, but some would be satisfied with the underhanded way of procuring the desired gem. We learn by Chesterton’s deductions of how one would usually try to go about learning a specific subject, those including the seeker being a natural, a cheat or acquiring books on the various subjects relating to the talent wanted, but the idea of going straight for a book on success due to the general statements within such a text shouldn’t be at the forefront of one’s mind.

We get another couple of examples of how a book on success would go about giving “advice” on how to attain triumph over one’s various endeavors, but how empty they would seem since it would lack detailed strategies about how one could potentially go about this. Chesterton then shares an article title of success about Lord Rothschild which he found odd and entertaining going on to add some article excerpts after, including a description of Vanderbilt’s background, he having been a millionaire and his successes, this obvious selection was given due to its sober evaluation of how whilst one couldn’t necessarily find success the same way, it gave the optimism it was still possible for others, Chesterton listing this article as, “…the horrible mysticism of money.” He perceives the author was in awe of Vanderbilt’s ability to have been given such success, but was only giving a fanboy list of Vanderbilt’s achievements rather than truly knowing how he’d become one of the few and the sparkling and celebrating Vanderbilt’s mysterious wealth.

Chesterton then debunks another statement by the same author which brings to light his careful cover up of facts to support his theory on those who were able to succeed, showing some mentioned, didn’t stay successful. Chesterton then admits how whilst he’d read about the figures mentioned and knowing he might not be able to fall into success easily, he admitted to also having not tried, preferring to focus on other more attainable pleasures. He begins to wind down with statements of how he doesn’t deny others’ successes, but had felt they may have been keeping something hidden and hoping people would soon come to disdain these success books as they should (which people still struggle with today, obviously) since all it seems to do is educate people on how to be conceited and give a false sense of experience. Chesterton ends with how some qualities should be preferred over the ones made to seem important, for instance the want of doing good work for not the possibility of becoming rich, but for being good at one’s job, he ending with the question of what could happen to those who are encouraged to attain greatness through their indecency rather than morality.

I quite enjoyed Chesterton’s flow and giving entertaining examples as to the absurdity of what authors of success books try to do with their “work”. There didn’t seem to be any arguments on the subject since I can relate to his viewpoint on success or D.I.Y. books. Chesterton set out to describe the lack of facts to back up what success writers publish, and I believe he succeeded (gold star, Chesterton, already ahead of the game). He sets out his arguments with viable representations of the facts and regardless of how long ago it was written, it still holds up even by today’s standards. Whilst this is just one article from a collection, I may some day decide to read the rest, but for now I’ll be glad to continue my reading of him with Father Brown.



We begin with Wesley Smith and how his co-workers had enquired about a “gadget” he’d told them he was using to experiment “new technology” with, but wasn’t the truth, since he was referring to his newly purchased Kindle which was gotten with a feeling of maliciousness. We then learn Wesley is an English instructor at a college in Kentucky who had aspirations to write a novel. Then we are introduced to his only friend in the department whom makes a joke about his name with a now classic rock band’s name and says something I can’t help but agree with about realists. Then they talk of how people spoke of their school like it was a good school, but how it was actually mediocre due to it being small and not prestigious.

I have noticed already the style of King’s writing of this one is to repeatedly use a certain type of phrasing at least twice right next to each other, which I’m debating is supposed to be seen as sardonic, but discovering it being overused. We then get a description of what successes the school had and in what area of education, it not being hugely impressive and being in the sports department. Then we are told of Wesley’s ex who also worked at the same college, but different department and what may have gone wrong which then went into why he’d gotten his Kindle. We then get a flashback of when Wesley first sees a Kindle, which he pretended he didn’t know existed in front of his class, believing when he did eventually get one, it would be to deliver a witty remark to his ex whom would see it and have it spark their first conversation since the break-up. When he bought the Kindle and had received it in the mail, he had gotten one which was pink which didn’t occur to him as odd at the time.

After Wesley had told his buddy his break-up story and had gone home, he was starting to listen to his couple of messages left on his answering machine and was surprised to hear one from his ex who now apologized for her hasty reaction to his inattention and the cause of their fight which had ended their relationship, but could possibly be interested in rekindling after she’d finished an important away game with her team, which had gotten Wesley to believe the opposite of her supposition on the message of it being a bad idea. The second message is his ex continuing her message which went on to mention how she’d also heard about his getting an e-reader and how if it’s a Kindle he could go online, also believing he’d grown which had made her believe they could be ready to try again, but she’d call him and he should not call her first, since she wasn’t ready to talk to him about it yet. Wesley then goes online to see what discussions were going on about the Kindle, one being whether they’d ever come in different colors, which he then considers perhaps his was discolored in some way, then turning the e-reader on to discover whether it could go online, realizing it could, but was in the “experimental” section, also discovering another puzzling choice titled, UR Functions and clicking it to uncover what it meant, hesitating for a moment, but wanting to feel like a “modern man” and when he’d clicked the selection, the Kindle changes, having kolor and a black tower behind the welcome message.

After trying out it’s search capabilities, then becoming spooked by its return message which only accepted numerical entries, he deciding to put in his birthday, even though he also thought he should put the Kindle somewhere out of sight. When the screen gives him more information about the entry requested, he realized he didn’t recognize some of the works given by the author he knew so well, detecting a few plus his date of death being different from what he remembered. He decides to buy the book only to see if it’s a fluke after confirming his purchase with a puzzling description after the accept button. Wesley then calls his buddy up to confirm his idea the novel he’d bought couldn’t be one of the author’s work, he getting the confirmation needed with a slight oddity in knowing the name of the dog being the same as the title of the book he’d ordered. After hanging up with him, he observes his download had completed and reads some of the book, it shaking him in knowing what he was reading sounded exactly like the author’s work, but unbelieving since it had been released after his death. He then tries a couple other author’s, some showing up and some not. After trying to go to sleep and leave the e-reader alone, he gives up for lying there and realizing he hadn’t tried looking up Poe. After ascertaining novels, he read one until morning and then slept for two hours.

After trying to teach a class midway through the week, he realized he was close to losing his sanity with how many differences of works he’s been reading, his class realizing his odd behavior. One of his student’s confronts him after he’d dismissed the class for the day to enquire to how he was feeling, Wesley deciding to entrust to the young man what he’d been reading, asking him to accompany him to his office to show him what his e-reader was doing so he can decide whether he’s going mad. After showing Robbie, his student and his buddy Don what he’d been dealing with and how they each had a chance to read an author they knew well and being completely blown away with the results, Don suggests Wesley figure out who had sent the e-reader, to be sure it had come from Amazon by checking his credit card record online. Wesley learns he hadn’t been charged for the Kindle, but Don supposes wherever the Kindle actually came from, Wesley Smith was being charged.

They extend their study session of the Kindle after the college closes, Don leaving temporarily to help his wife with the kids and Robbie joining Wesley at his apartment. Robbie brings Wesley’s attention to the other options in the UR Functions and wondering what they were, Wesley not remembering and going back to check, one being for news, selecting it and having Robbie put in the selection of what to look up. Wesley opens the door for Don as Robbie reads the news, it being about newly appointed President Hilary Clinton and who she’d replaced. They search sports before Robbie suggests checking for the JFK assassination. Wesley then sticks to one particular UR dimension, but after perusing for hours, he was becoming too tired to continue, but not before Robbie tries one more, Wesley being plagued with dread by the possibility of what pops up and the only selection available in the timeline. After they read the few articles available and being depressed with the results, they stop and leave Wesley’s apartment. Don leaves with the advice to stop reading those stories for how it could addict him, Wesley already realizing this and looking forward to future discussions, he then walking along the street a bit more with Robbie who lived only a couple blocks down. Wesley then goes to sleep and it being a deep and long one, deciding not to read ur-Hemingway the rest of the night.

When Wesley wakes up, he goes to a local cafe where Robbie’s apartment was and gets some late breakfast. After taking out his e-reader and eating his breakfast as he read more Hemingway, he decides to check UR Local, it being a crappy local paper and the fees being much more expensive, Wesley compromising with the middle, slightly less expensive deal, then getting unsettling news after putting in the current date. The college school bus passes the cafe and Wesley gets to see his exes team cheering out the windows, he having his chance to wave at them everyone else, distracted by his eReader’s information, it giving him devastating news which Wesley immediately goes up to Robbie’s apartment to share. After trying to call his ex to warn her of the possible fate she and her team were in for and being interrupted and refused to be listened to, Robbie comes up with the idea to search for the lady who causes the bad news.

They discern where she stops and see it’s a dive bar, also seeing the vehicle she drove and it’s foretelling bumper stickers. Wesley believes what they plan to do should be waited out until her last stop whilst Robbie thinks the moment would be better, but are unable to do anything since her reemergence from the bar happens then and drives off, they following. They learn more about the woman from the future news articles, giving her sad history and what she’d possibly done before causing manslaughter. As they follow her and notice her close calls with other cars, Wesley and Robbie lose their pity and get angry at her recklessness. After she stops again, they both do what they’d planned on, with success and wait in the car to see what she’d do next. Wesley goes a bit overboard, deciding not to only watch her, but approaching her to physically harass her into the reality of her actions. Robbie stops him after Wesley doesn’t seem to be able to stop himself, also getting the attention of the patrons and bartender, who watch but don’t engage and one man only deciding to go after them as they leave.

As they depart, Wesley decides they should park near a cornfield rather than go home yet as he checks his e-reader for the UR Local which was now unavailable, but not worried about it and felt no guilt for breaking the rules the UR program had given, waiting to see if the school bus would return their way and when it does, they’re both happy to see it and join the already trailing cars behind the bus, parade-style deciding to join them, as well. They make it back to town, everyone in one piece, but Wesley is now wondering what repercussions he’s in for due to his dimensional violation, soon going home and spotting a car parked in his spot. Wesley is unnerved by the vehicle itself and touches it, feeling even more uneasy due to it’s strange warmth. When he goes to his apartment he’s greeted by an oddly not quite human voice, revealing two men inside of opposite ages. We are then given description of their attire which makes them obviously a part of the low men in yellow coats.

As one asks Wesley why he thought they were there and he not actually knowing even though he thought it was due to the laws he’d broken, one of them tells of the Tower and rose being affected by it. Wesley is then given a chance to explain why he’d knowingly broken the laws, he listing the reasons of those who would have died and the selfish drunk involved. The low man then tells Wesley of how ignorant he was to do such a thing since what he’d allowed to happen could change the course of history for someone who may have survived the crash who was meant to die for being an evil character and dealing death in the future. Wesley of course hadn’t thought of those possibilities and the low man continues they won’t know for certain since the ability to see the future only works in a six-month-radius after which there’s no clue. Wesley then confesses he hadn’t ordered the e-reader he’d received, the low men considering a mistake in shipping was most likely the reason, the older low man professing of everything in the end serving the Tower’s purpose. Wesley then gives up the e-reader upon request and the low men allow him his freedom, threatening worse what would happen if he ever got mixed up in a situation like this again. Wesley is visibly shaken by his encounter and he lies down to calm himself knowing he won’t be sleeping any time soon. He then hears his cell go off, but isn’t in time to get the call, listening to the message recently left. It was Don telling him to check the morning paper, he going out to uncover one and reading the head-line. He has a loud reaction and runs upstairs to make a phone call.

This story may have started off weak, but made a turn around pretty quickly, being exciting the rest of the way through; I enjoyed this indirect connection to the Dark Tower series and now can’t wait to read the follow-ups.