Getting Out at Gower Street
Nine years ago, I formed an LLC called Gower Street. “Is that where you live?” people often ask. Sort of. It’s where I once lived. Gower Street has for me a personal and literary significance, and as I’m retiring the company name I thought I’d devote a few words to all things Gower.
Gower Street is a street in London near the campus of the University of London. I lived in this house in 1990, just a block from the most glorious 3-story Waterstones bookstore in the history of ever.
Gower Street also has a literary significance for me. John Gower (d. 1408), a contemporary of Chaucer, wrote poetry in Latin, French, and English—a still nascent language not often used in formal writing at the time. Some call him the first English-language poet. He’s interred in London’s Southwark Cathedral on the South Bank, and you can visit him there. I have.
And here’s the kicker—Gower Street is also a reference to a line from G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy, in which he writes the following:
Nothing can save [the madman] but a blind hunger for normality, like that of a beast. A man cannot think himself out of mental evil; for it is actually the organ of thought that has become diseased, ungovernable, and, as it were, independent. He can only be saved by will or faith. The moment his mere reason moves, it moves in the old circular rut; he will go round and round his logical circle, just as a man in a third-class carriage on the Inner Circle will go round and round the Inner Circle unless he performs the voluntary, vigorous, and mystical act of getting out at Gower Street.
How to break the “circular rut”? Perform “the voluntary, vigorous, and mystical act of getting out at Gower Street.” Now how awesome is that?