|Esthetology, or the science of activities designed to give pleasure
|The Calchaqui: An Archeological Problem→|
|American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January, 1899), pp. 1-40.|
Qualities arise out of the properties of bodies when they are considered in relation to human purposes. To understand this declaration it is necessary to consider the essentials of properties and qualities and carefully to note the distinction between them. The essentials of the properties are unity, extension, speed, persistence, and consciousness, which, under relations, give rise to properties that can be measured. These properties are number, space, motion, time, and judgment.
Number is many in one, and the enumeration of the many is the measuring of the number contained in the sum which is a unity. Number, therefore, is many in one.
The second property is space; its essential is extension, but many extensions give rise to relative position, and the positions can be measured. Hence extension and position constitute space, and space is a property that can be measured.
Speed is the essential of motion, but the same particle in motion traverses a path. Motion, therefore, is speed and path, and can be measured in terms of space. Speed and path constitute motion.
The essential of time is persistence, but the relation of time is change; change may be measured in terms of motion. Persistence and change constitute time, and time is a property.
The essential of judgment is consciousness of self. Its relation to others is inference about another. This inference about a property can be measured in terms of that property. Consciousness and inference produce judgment. It is always the relational element of a property that can be measured.
As the essentials are developed into mathematical properties, so again the mathematical properties are developed by incorporation into classific properties through another degree of relativity. In the development of number into class, unity becomes kind and plurality becomes series. In the development of space into form, extension becomes figure and position becomes structure. In the development of motion into force, speeds becomes velocity and path becomes inertia. In the development of time into causation, persistence becomes state and change becomes event. In the development of judgment into conception, consciousness becomes recollection and inference becomes conception. Hence the classific properties are class, form, force, causation, and conception.
There are thus five essentials, and each one produces two reciprocal properties: Unity produces number and class, extension produces space and form, speed produces motion and force, persistence produces time and causation, consciousness produces judgment and conception. The mathematical properties and the classific properties are reciprocal in this: that they are two aspects of the same thing, each one postulating the other. These are the properties found in all bodies of the universe—molecular, molar, and stellar alike.
For the doctrine of properties here set forth the reader is referred to a previous publication bearing the title Truth and Error, or the Science of Intellection, where he will find these propositions demonstrated.
There are still other relations which bodies bear to one another. All the bodies of the universe have relation to human beings which are good or evil. These relations constitute another grade of relativity and are qualities. The properties give rise to qualities, for every property may produce a quality when it is considered in relation to human purposes. A number may be few or many for a purpose. Ten cents may be few if we desire to purchase a dozen oranges, but ten cents may be many when we desire to purchase but two; yet the property remains the same. A thousand dollars may be few if we desire to purchase a farm, or many if we desire to purchase a coat; but the property remains the same. A pane of glass may be small if we desire to use it in an exhibition window, or it may be large if we desire to use it in a carriage; but the property remains the same. A stone may be small if we use it in the foundation of a house, and it may be large if we wish to throw it as a missile; but the property remains the same. An hour seems a short time when I am thinking about a journey to California, but seems a long time to endure pain; yet the property remains the same. The fall of a spark from a passing engine seems but a trivial cause when I consider the soiling of my garment, but it seems to be an important cause when I consider it as igniting a forest fire; yet the property remains the same. An earthquake seems to produce but a slight effect when I observe it simply as a tremor, but when I consider it in the ruin of a city it appears to have a stupendous effect, though the property remains the same. I see a man slyly approaching a wall, and believe him to be a thief, and I, have a judgment of evil; if I know that he intends to scale the wall in defense of his country, I believe him to be patriotic and brave: thus the same act may be cowardly and vile or patriotic and brave from different points of view.
Properties belong to things in themselves, but qualities exist in the mind as properties are viewed in relation to human designs. Qualities are relations, and the terms of the relation are properties on the one hand and purposes on the other. Now, we cannot expunge either of these terms without expunging the relation. We may not overtly consider the terms, but consider only the relation as an abstraction. Then the terms must be implied, for there is no quality unless there is an external property and an internal purpose. When properties are considered as qualities in their relation to human purposes, the judgments formed are judgments of good and evil. The judgments which men form of good and evil give rise to a multitude of human activities which are known as the arts. Those activities which are put forth to secure pleasure and to avoid pain are esthetic arts, and the science of the esthetic arts is Esthetology.
We discover the properties of things as causes through our senses, and we discover the effect of these properties on ourselves through our feelings. One term of the relation, therefore, is discovered by making intellectual judgments; the other term is discovered by making emotional judgments.
Of the judgments of truth and error I have treated in the work previously cited; the judgments of good and evil constitute the theme of the present article. In order that we may set forth the characteristics of these judgments, it becomes necessary to set forth the characteristics of the art activities in which men engage for the purpose of securing good and avoiding evil.
Pleasures arise as demotic arts when they are designed to please others—the people. A lad may play ball for his own pleasure; but the professional ballplayer plays for others, his own immediate purpose being gain or welfare. This distinction must be kept in view: Pleasures are first egoistic, but soon become altruistic. When they become altruistic as pleasures they become egoistic as industries. The metabolic sense is the sense of taste and smell, these being varieties of one sense. While yet in the animal state, man learns to enjoy the ambrosial senses in partaking of food and drink and in inhaling the air laden with many particles given off by natural bodies; but in passing into the human state, man invents a multiplicity of devices for making his food, drink, and the air which he breathes pleasurable. All ambrosial pleasures are developed by experience, but the process of enhancing pleasures has its antithesis in the evolution of pain; hence many pleasures and their antitheses, pains, have been evolved during the historic period. Without entering into a systematic treatment of the subject, it may be well to illustrate this statement as the facts are shown in individual experience and in the history of peoples.
When the uninitiated person first attempts to use tobacco in any form, it is unpleasant or even loathsome; but gradually by experience he learns to tolerate it and finally to enjoy it. If its use was universal with men, women, and children, it cannot be doubted that an hereditary love of tobacco would be developed, and thus the taste of tobacco would become innate and the judgment of its pleasant effects would be intuitive. Its extensive use seems to indicate a tendency to an hereditary love of tobacco used in one or another of the customary methods, although the period for which it has been used dates no farther back than the discovery of America. That which we wish to emphasize in this place is that the pleasure derived from the usage is artificial and is developed by experience, and that while new pleasures originate, antithetic pains arise by the development of an appetite which, ungratified, is pain.
If we contemplate the use of intoxicant beverages, like facts appear, for it is found that pleasures of the inebriating beverage must be developed by experience, and again it is found that the love of these bacchanalian pleasures has a tendency to become hereditary and to engender an appetite that produces pain. In the case of alcoholic beverages the tendency to inherit the taste is more fully developed than in the case of tobacco, and the taste has thus certainly become intuitive.
The love of the taste of some kinds of food of which man partakes and with which he has had experience for untold generations, seems to be hereditary and hence intuitive. The pleasure derived from the sipidity of honey, sugar, and juices of fruits is innate from experience dating back to primordial life, for the evidence is at hand that all of these ambrosial pleasures are derived and can easily be lost.
Pleasure may easily be transformed into pain. The attar of rose is a pleasant odor intuitive from hereditary experience, yet it is within the experience of the writer that it may become loathsome. Once on a time an epidemic of cholera was carrying off its victims, and he attended many men, women, and children in the last sad office of life. It was midsummer, and raging heat prevailed, so rosewater was freely used until at last it became disgusting to him and has remained so, although gradually wearing away in later years.
Thus, when we consider that hereditary and innate pleasures may be transmitted into pains, and that new pleasures may be derived from old pains, the argument for the derivation of pain is in such cases made plain. Ambrosial pleasures and pains are artificial, and no insignificant portion of human activity is occupied in catering thereto.
The nature of ambrosial pleasures and pains and the activities which arise therefrom have been sufficiently set forth for the purpose of recognizing the group.
In science antithetic meanings are sometimes embraced in one term; thus degrees of plus or minus from a particular datum point are combined and their sum is expressed in one term. This practice will be found convenient in the science of psychology and in all of the sciences of human activities. I shall therefore sometimes speak of pleasure and pain in terms of pleasure implying the antithetic term pain. Sometimes we have a word which has the force of its etymologic significance and also of its antithesis. “Welfare” is a word of this character.
Pleasures are teleologic; that is, they are potent motives for human activities. There is a group of activities produced by forms which result from pleasures. These may be denominated the pleasures of form from the standpoint of motive, or the arts of decoration from the standpoint of activities. Because there are pleasures of form there are activities of decoration, and hence there are arts of decoration.
Many activities produce objects solely to gratify the feelings of pleasure. Many activities are induced primarily by other motives and secondarily by pleasure. In the production of these objects, thought and labor are expended over and above the amount necessary to produce the object for utility in order that it may give pleasure, and if it does not give this additional pleasure it gives pain. Decorative activities are often of this character. An ornament may be designed wholly for decoration, as when jewels are worn; but a garment may have its chief purpose in utility, though a secondary purpose in ornamentation, and the form and color of the garment may be considered as having an importance almost equal to that derived from its utility.
Man is rarely content with utility, but he also desires pleasure from the objects which are produced through his activities. In both classes of endeavor the decorative arts are involved. The decorative arts are arts of form.
Architectural structures are designed primarily for a utilitarian purpose, but they are decorated. Vehicles have utilitarian purposes, yet many devices of decoration are used in their construction in order that they may be pleasing. Such illustrations serve to show the general nature of the decorative arts.
Primordially form is discovered by the sense of touch; but with the development of vision, form is interpreted from symbols of color expressed in hue and tint. The form learned by vision is the form which is first learned by touch, but subsequently interpreted by vision, which assumes, through the agency of experience, that certain arrangements of light imply that the object must have certain adjustment of figure. The light reflected from the object impinges upon the eye and becomes a mark or symbol of the figure as primarily learned by touch—not that the particular object seen is first touched, but that the elements of form which it presents were first discovered by touch. Thus, vision becomes a vicarious sense for touch. Vision is deft, performing not only its fundamental function in the discernment of color, but instantaneously and skilfully it performs all the offices of touch in the discovery of form.
Here we have abundant evidence of the derivative nature of the decorative pleasures. By a course of experience, that which in infancy is unattractive, in maturer years becomes pleasurable; but more, that which is beautiful in childhood may become ugly in age, and that which was ugly in childhood may become beautiful in age. If the appeal is made to individual experience, all will testify to the derivative or evolutional nature of pleasures and pains. The history of decoration is loaded with lessons. That which is beautiful in savagery is unattractive or positively ugly in modern culture, while that which is unattractive among the lower races of mankind may often appear as exquisitely beautiful in higher culture. That which we especially wish to note is that decorative pleasures and pains become intuitive by hereditary transmission, and these intuitive pleasures and pains may be transformed in the individual and the race. Our judgments of pleasure and pain depend on the point of view from which properties are contemplated. There is nothing in form itself to make it beautiful or ugly, but the form becomes beautiful or ugly through the agency of experience, by which certain forms are found to be desirable or undesirable as the case may be. A constant cognition of such forms will produce a habit of forming judgments of beauty about them which ultimately become intuitive. Color becomes the symbol of form because color is on the surface and is indicative of surface and thus expresses figure; but there is nothing in colors themselves which makes them either beautiful or ugly. Every color is beautiful when it seems appropriate; every color is ugly when it seems inappropriate. Particular colors seem to be particularly beautiful because we have associated them with particularly beautiful things, while the very same colors will be considered particularly ugly when they recall things which we conceive to be ugly. Form or the symbol of form is beautiful or ugly only when it produces in the mind that effect by reason of the standpoint of the perceiver; that is, properties have not qualities in themselves, but qualities arise when we consider properties in relation to purposes.
With the sense of vision, the human mind having come to a knowledge of its power in transforming the environment by minute increments, gradually so transforms it for the pleasures of decoration. Exercising activities in making artificial transformations, human beings develop the sense of the beautiful and the ugly in qualities of art and transfer them to the properties of nature. In the evolution of decoration everywhere we find that it proceeds by degree of organization, that is, by the differentiation and integration of its elements. This is beautifully illustrated in architecture, where a monotonous multiplication of like elements is replaced by figures of differentiated elements. No longer is a uniform facade recognized as beautiful, but a variety of features in a variety of elements must be presented in order that a temple, a mart, an executive building, or a business structure may be considered as a pleasing example of architecture. Variety is now considered one of the essential elements of beauty.
In the esthetic arts we have to consider the pleasure derived from physical activity. In these arts appeal is made to the muscular sense. The new-born beast and the new-born babe inherit more activity than is demanded for bare existence. Subject to the care of its elders, the infant is not called on for industrial activity, for its physical wants are supplied by others. While it is yet gaining its powers for utility, they are trained and expanded for pleasure. So the whelps of the lion play in the jungle, the fawns of the stag are gleeful in the glade, and lads and lassies are merry when they join in the dance.
A controversy has grown up in relation to those athletic plays which are here called sports, for we distinguish sports from another group of plays of which we are to treat hereafter as games. Sports are athletic activities, games are intellectual activities; sports develop from mimicry to rivalry, games develop from dependence on sorcery for success to dependence on skill for success. Now, if we understand the distinction between sports and games we are better prepared to understand the nature of sports themselves. Sports and games alike are activities, and the distinction which we draw between energy and activity has been set forth in the work to which reference has already been given; but an additional remark has now to be made.
Activity is that form of force which is controlled or directed by the mind, while energy is a form of force which is controlled or directed by another form of force, which is also energy. Energy involves action and passion as well as action and reaction. Action and passion are phenomena of force; action and reaction are phenomena of causation, action being cause and reaction being effect. In energy two or more bodies external to one another impinge upon one another and produce changes in one another. In activity one body has its path directed by the internal collision of its particles; activity is thus inherent only in animal bodies in which metabolism is controlled by the mind in such manner that the body itself may change its own path. The body itself has a degree of freedom to move to and fro in its hierarchal path by its own initiative. A stone cannot move from the hill to the valley unless it is acted on by some other external force, when both the external body and the stone itself will have their paths changed; but the animal body may pass from the hill to the valley and back again by its own initiative, not that it can add energy to itself or subtract energy from itself; it cannot create or annihilate motion, but it can direct this motion in a path at will; it can pursue the path of its own choice. All this has been set forth fully in the former work.
All activities are controlled by motives, and the motive for sport is pleasure; but it is a pleasure of a particular kind—it is a pleasure in physical activity. Now, we must notice that it is the pleasure of the body whose structure and metabolism are inherited from its ancestors; hence it must be some kind of an activity consistent with the inherited structure. So far, then, the activity is fixed by inheritance, but within these fixed limits there is still great variety of activities from which to choose. What activity will the infant choose? Manifestly it will choose that activity which is suggested by its acts of psychosis as they are developed immediately after birth, and perhaps to some extent from prenatal activities which we may not here stop to consider. The first activities which the infant animal observes, if he belongs to any of the higher groups, is the activity of parents. Thus, the infant child makes judgments about parental activities, and by the law of genesis first strives to engage in the activities which it sees in the parents. Having supplied its wants for food, this food itself produces metabolic processes which ramify through its organ in excess of the amount necessary for digestion. With its inheritance of organization and superabundance of metabolic activity, it is ready to engage in other activities which are first taught by the parent as activities of nurture, and the infant is thus led to engage in mimetic activities. Connate with these are the activities of metabolism itself, the seizing, swallowing, and digestion of food; but the additional activities in which it engages are mimetic. Hence it is that a long succession of great scholars have fully appreciated that sports depend on a superabundance of activity.
The plays of childhood are organized gradually to mimic the activities of elders. Kittens are trained by their mothers to play at catching mice, and puppies are trained by their mothers to play in mimic battle. Puppy wolves play at prowling, and kitten panthers play at fisticuffs. Kids play in racing, and nestling birds play in mimic flight. This universal instinct for play is exhibited in man through many years, in childhood on well into adult life. Athletic sports are universal alike in tribal and in national society. So sports of mimicry gradually develop into sports of rivalry.
Is the pleasure of sports a property of the activity, or is it a quality which depends on the point of view of the person engaged as well as the looker-on? It is within the experience of every normal human being that these pleasures grow and decay; but some are ephemeral and pass away in childhood, others pass away in youth, and still others pass away in adult age, while some undeveloped in childhood scarcely develop in youth, continue and grow in old age. Appealing to history, we discover that ephemeral pleasures become more ephemeral with advancing culture, while others become more intense by demotic development. The antitheses of pleasures, which are pains, pass through a like history in the individual and in the race. In all this field of activital pleasures it is discovered that they become intuitive by inherited experience, and that pleasures and pains alike are such from the point of view. We are therefore justified in affirming that pleasures and pains are qualities derived from natural properties.
This may be a stumbling-block, and hence it requires more elaborate consideration. I refer to the pain produced in the body by injury, as in cutting, tearing, concussion, compression, pinching, the stresses and strains produced by inflammation, the lesions of disease, and all the pains known as physical discomforts. Is the pain in the tooth a quality or a property? Is pain in the head a quality or a property? Is the pain from a bullet wound a quality or a property? We have already seen that all other pleasures and pains are derivative in the individual and in the race, and appear from the point of view. Is this true of physical pain?
First, we must consider whether pain is an essential or a relational element.
Is pain, like pleasure, the product of judgment? Am I conscious of a pain, or do I infer it by an habitual judgment when the signs of pain appear in the body? Is the animal body endowed with pain as an essential, or is pain also the child of experience? In order that we may examine this subject somewhat critically, it becomes necessary to repeat briefly that which has been set forth more elaborately in a former work. There we begin with the definition of consciousness, inference, and verification. Consciousness is awareness of self, inference is awareness of the cause of the change in self, and verification is proof of the inference by experience. Now, we must especially call attention to the fact that the term consciousness is used only to signify awareness of self, and that it is not used to signify cognition. With this understanding we are prepared to proceed with the exposition. If we are conscious of physical pain, instead of cognitive, then pain itself is an essential; but if we are only cognitive of pain, it arises from inference and verification.
It is a well attested fact that a soldier receiving a musket-ball wound in battle may be so occupied with other occurring events,—so intent upon the progress of the battle,—that the wound itself may be unobserved and no pain for the time experienced. Then pain is not an essential inherent in animate matter itself, but something which arises from the point of view. It is within the experience of many men, perhaps all, that various injuries may be experienced without at once arising in consciousness, and that pain supervenes only on the cognition of the evil.
Again, physical pain grows with the experience of the individual. That which was a slight pain in childhood becomes an intense pain in adult life. In the history of races, bestial and human, pain becomes greater with culture. The pains of lesions and bruises grow with developing culture; the pains of parturition increase as society becomes more refined, more highly developed in culture. From these and a multitude of considerations which the contemplating mind will recall, it is made plain that physical pains, like all our pains, are derivative; that we have no consciousness of pain when that term is strictly used, but we have cognition of pain.
We have seen how cognition becomes intuitive by hereditary transmission. From the earliest tribal life to the highest state of culture the way is long and the years are counted by millions. Every animate individual in all this time has experienced the effects of lesions and bruises until the concept has been woven into the constitution of mankind by experience, and the intuition is perfected through verified judgments. It is unnecessary for the man to pass through a complex ratiocination for the purpose of discovering this variety. A trivial accident may befall a soldier in line of battle which he interprets as a wound; he hears the coming of the shell from a piece of field artillery, it strikes the ground and scatters its fragments broadcast together with chips and gravel. A bit of wood strikes the soldier; he interprets it as a fragment of shell, has the illusion of being wounded, and feels the pain and expresses all the agony which a real wound may actually produce. Animate body is not endowed with an essential of physical pain, but it develops pain by cognition of effects.
In the evolution of sports we discover a development from individual and unorganized multiple activities in many individuals to organized activities, in which special activities are assumed for special purposes, all so differentiated and integrated as to accomplish a desired end. A hundred savages, men, women, and children, will join in a dance to revolve in a circle by uniform and rhythmic steps, and every one moves like every other one. But a game of baseball is organized so that every player has a particular function to perform which differs from the functions of all the others. This law of the organization of sports is universal.
We now reach the fourth group of activital pleasures; these are games played in rivalry of skill and chance. Games have their root in sorcery as it is practiced by wildwood man. It seems at first that arrows or arrowheads are the pieces played—the pawns, knights, castles, kings, and queens of the game, or the cards upon which the actors are painted. In the wide geographical realm of tribal man many of these games are discovered; but they have common elements, that is, they are founded on universal concepts, and everywhere in this stage of society they are rooted in divination or the universal longing of mankind to know the causes of things and how effects may be controlled. In savagery men play for effects and control the causes, as they suppose, by necromantic figures which they carve or paint upon the pieces of the game; thus they try to win by sorcery. In later stages of culture the sorcery to a greater or less extent is abandoned, and skill is recognized as the true cause; but there yet remains an element of chance. With primal man chance and sorcery are the elements of all games, while with civilized man chance and skill are its elements.
There is a secondary though potent motive in games which inheres in the desire to take advantage for individual profit. For this reason gaming is universal among tribal men as gambling, and it is common among civilized men.
I have witnessed these games of sorcery among the aboriginal tribes of North America and have seen groups of men or women wager their ornaments and all their personal goods, even to their articles of clothing until their bodies were nude. As the game proceeds the villagers gather about and comment on the incidents of the game and recommend a variety of necromantic feats which they suppose will bring luck to their friends. Sometimes the play does not stop for refreshment or sleep, until one or the other of the parties have lost all; yet will the play proceed with hilarity and end with a feast and a revelry of intoxication. I have heard that civilized men gamble with the same assiduity.
Hunting and fishing are primeval industries by which wildwood men obtain no small portion of their food. To some extent in civilized society they still remain as industries. In fact, fishing is yet a fundamental industry. But hunting and fishing are now games, and the fruit of the play is called game. Although these activities are often called sports, in science we must call them games, as for success they depend on elements of chance and skill, and the real gamester or sportsman looks with some degree of contempt on the man who hunts or fishes for food.
The fifth group of activital pleasures is that of the fine arts. We have already seen that there is a group arising from a cognition of the pleasures which are derived from metabolism; a second group, called the arts of decoration, which arise from the cognition of the pleasures of form; a third group, called the athletic arts or the arts of sport, which arise from the cognition of the pleasures of force; a fourth group, called the arts of amusement, or games, which arise from the cognition of the pleasures of causation. Here we have a fifth group, which we call psychic arts, or the fine arts, and which arise from the cognition of the pleasures of mind expressed in fine-art works.
In order that we may adequately set forth the nature of the fine arts, it becomes necessary to make a fundamental classification of them.
In a former work we set forth the vicarious nature of the senses of muscular effort—hearing and vision. These are the senses to which appeal is made. These arts have played an important role in the evolution of mankind as demotic bodies, and hence they require more elaborate treatment. When we desire to classify the fine arts, we find well demarcated groups from the standpoint of the properties of matter in the order in which these properties logically appear, from the simple to the most complex. We have, first, music; second, graphic art; third, drama; fourth, romance; fifth, poetry. That this is the logical order will appear when the subject is more thoroughly presented.
Music is the most fundamental of the fine arts in that it more fully expresses the emotions than any of the others, while it is but a feeble method of expressing the intellections. This characteristic is well known, and music has been called the art of expressing the emotions. It further appears that few persons ever learn to read the intellectual character of music when it is made by others or even when made by themselves. I do not mean that they fail to read the staff in which music is written, but I do mean that they fail to read the argument or story of the musical composition, but rest satisfied with the emotional effects produced. Very few persons read music as an intellectual art, and there are but few critics of the art who survey these intellectual elements. Indeed, the intellectual thread of a musical composition is very slender, and much of it in the folk song of the world is unconsciously developed, like the meaning of words in folk speech. It is a growth by minute increments found to be beautiful in experience.
Rhythm—Music has its germ in the dance, for it begins with the effort to control the rhythm of the lilting folk. Rhythm, therefore, is the first structural element of music, but new elements are added from time to time in the history of man as he proceeds along the way of life from wildwood time to the higher civilization in representative time—a time long indeed.
Melody—Passing from the hunter stage to the shepherd stage we find that a new element is added to music; then melody appears fully fledged. As the more complicated dancing steps become more pleasing than the primeval monotonous step, the melodic chant becomes more pleasing than the simple rhythmic chant; that is, a rhythm of rhythms is developed which makes melody. So music was endowed first with rhythm and then with melody.
Melody is a pleasing succession of sounds, or notes as they are called in written music, having a different pitch, and we have to consider how such notes come to obtain that quality which we call melody and which is so delightful to the hearer.
The dance is a sport in which usually many persons simultaneously engage. In primitive dancing the time is marked by the voice, and the shouts of the dancers constitute a chant in which oftentimes they all take part, but at other times there is a leader and only one marks the time. As the dance develops from the simple monotonous recognition of the same step to a combination of two or more differentiated steps, they are marked by differences in the pitch of the voice. To fully understand the ultimate effect of this device, we must appreciate the universality of dancing and that it continued in the first stage of society through thousands of years.
Harmony—In a succeeding stage of society, which we call the monarchical stage, or the tyrant stage, when tribal society was developed into national society, music made another advance by the introduction of a new element of pleasure. As these new elements appear from time to time in the course of human culture, it must be remembered that they do not come into view fully fledged, but that germs planted in primordial music slowly develop until they become recognized as elements of such importance that they receive designed development in the purpose of music makers. Now, there existed in primitive music the germ of harmony which, in the progress of the centuries, came to be considered by men of such importance that special efforts were made to improve that fully recognized element itself. The new element added to music in this stage of culture is harmony. When music was but rhythm, there was a germ of harmony in it, for the waning sound would blend with the waxing sound, and the succession of sounds that become melodious also become harmonious; but more than this: in folk chant the voices of men and women differ in pitch, and still other differences arise in the commingling of children’s voices. When music became melody, the bonds which held music to the dance were broken and melody was married to song as chant was married to dance; but song music was especially adapted to the development of harmony, because it became choral music; doubtless songs were sung by individuals for their amusement and as solos for the amusement of others, but when many join in the song we have choral music. Thus the blending of tones in melody becomes at last the blending of tones in harmony. The pleasure derived from harmony does not inhere in sounds themselves; sounds are colorless to the ear. The spoken word is but sound until it is informed with a meaning; so sound as sound has no power to create emotion until it is informed with an emotional meaning, and harmony is developed as a pleasure only by long experience. Perfect evidence of this is furnished through the modern and scientific investigation of folk music. Both the melody and the harmony of different races differ in the intervals of pitch exhibited in their music. This is proof that all men may read, and it clearly teaches that the pleasures of music are derivative.
Here let us pause for a remark about the attitude of idealism and materialism toward this question. Idealism affirms that not only is pleasure as a quality created by the mind, but that even the properties of sound itself are created by the mind. Materialism affirms that the property inheres in the sounding body and the quality also in the sounding body. What we affirm is that the property inheres in the sounding body and the quality in the body pleased.
Symphony—In modern time, or the time of representative government, which also may be considered as the time of science par excellence, symphony has been added to music. The development of symphonic music is dependent on the development of musical instruments. Musical instruments themselves have their germ in the hunter stage of society. A tree overthrown by a tempest may be cross-cut into sections with a stone ax, reënforced by fire. Such a section may then be hollowed out with a stone adz and living coals. A vessel thus wrought serves many purposes. At night, when the tribe dances in glee, this mortar or tub for soaking skins becomes a drum. A wild gourd holding pebbles becomes a timbrel. A staff cut with notches is played upon with another and smaller one with rhythmic rasping thrum, and becomes a viol. A reed or a section of bark or the hollow bone of a bird makes a flute. A tablet two fingers wide and a span in length, suspended from a staff with sinew, becomes a roarer which is whipped through the air—the first trumpet of primitive man.
A group of such implements (and there are many others in primitive life) constitutes the first orchestra. When science comes and the nature of sound itself is understood as a property, instruments are invented and improved by the husbandry of mind until a great variety of musical instruments are developed; thus symphony grows from the soil of time. What, then, is symphony? It is a succession of melodies, every one of which is produced by a group of instruments, one of which may be that of the human voice. Now, as these instruments play in unison, one or another is selected to play the leading melody, and the other instruments are made to play subsidiary melodies in harmony with the leading melody. As the melodies pass in succession, a new theme is chosen for the leading melody, and thus there is a succession of themes.
This elementary statement seems to be necessary that we may properly understand the evolution of music and the derivative character of the pleasures which it produces; for symphonic music is pleasing because harmonic music is pleasing, but in a higher degree; harmonic music is pleasing because melodic music is pleasing, but in a higher degree; melodic music is pleasing because rhythmic music is pleasing, but in a higher degree.
In music, as in architecture, the pleasure is developed by differentiating and integrating the elements, that is, by higher and higher organization.
We must now consider the nature of graphic art and its evolution through the four stages of culture which we have denominated the hunter stage, the shepherd stage, the tyrant stage, and the freedom stage.
Sculpture—Hunter man carves images of various objects in wood, shell, bone, and stone; he also molds such forms in clay. This is the first form of graphic art as discovered in ethnology, which is the science of tribal culture. Now, there is a special motive in this stage of society urging men to excellence in primitive sculpture. Much of the time of wildwood men, or men of the hunter stage, is devoted to the pursuit of religious activities. Dancing is always a religious activity with primitive men, and it is the primeval system of worship. But to this element another is added, that of representing to the gods the desires of men; for this purpose an elaborate system of representation is developed. The gods worshiped are the animals, but all things known to wildwood men are animals. The celestial bodies are animals traveling in a path along the firmament, from east to west, where they turn again to find their way underground to the east. All rocks are animals fixed to the earth by magic or scattered loosely upon the earth because, being asleep, their ghosts have departed, for that is the theory of sylvan life. Trees and smaller plants are animals fixed to the earth by necromancy. Clouds are animals, streams are animals, seas are animals, and the clouds are ever descending upon the earth and migrating by streams to the sea, for every drop of water is an animal. This theory of animate life is universal in tribal society. In this stage, when men carve in earnest, they are engaged in producing the instruments of worship. These objects are not themselves worshiped in the true sense, they are only the emblems of worship which are displayed before the gods that they may comprehend the wishes of the worshipers. The emblems displayed upon the altar are of two kinds: first, they are the emblems of the gods worshiped; and, second, they are emblems of the good things which the worshipers desire. Thus a savage altar is adorned with the images of the gods and the emblems of the blessings for which the savage man makes request. The altar is the table on which these emblems are displayed. The things desired may be represented by images, as when game is asked or when fruits are besought. But there may be many accessory objects placed upon the holy table, as when in prayer for corn that it may ripen and become hard the thought is conveyed by fragments of crystal that lie beside it on the table. The crystal is an adjective that qualifies the corn. Savage men always believe that they have lost the language of the gods, and thus they eke out the meaning of their words by the illustrations which they assemble upon the altar. That prayer may be understood is the primitive motive for excellence in carving.
Relief—The next step in the evolution of graphic art is taken in the shepherd stage. Wildwood men etched crude pictures on rocks, or scratched them on bones, horns, bark of trees, and on the tanned skins of animals. Such etchings are mere flats; they always fail to express relief. In barbarism they are made to show a truer form, and man learns to express in painting the meaning of tints and hues as they are reflected from bodies. The motive which urges to excellence is the desire for clearer expression in altar symbolism.
Perspective—In the succeeding stage a third step is taken. Here the emblems of the altar are painted also upon temple walls; but the themes of mythology are mainly the themes of painting, and with this same motive the master works of art are produced. All along the course of the history of painting, religious zeal is the potent motive for excellence.
This advance consists in the acquisition of perspective, when objects are placed in the painting in such manner as to show their relative position, and the three dimensions of space are recognized in the production of the work. Now conventional signs are no longer needed. In the stage anterior to this, perspective is conventional, as if a man should say, “I have painted two horses on the canvas, but this one must be considered as far away because it is put on the right side of the picture; things on the left must be considered as near by.” A great many devices for conventional perspective were invented by tribal men before they acquired the concept of true perspective.
We must here call attention to an important law of demotic evolution. Growth is made usually by minute increments. Rarely indeed is there a sudden outgrowth, but the increments of development are all made by men with a genius for the activity. Such a man is a leader in the arts. A multitude is led by one, so that demotic evolution is dependent very largely for its initiative on the few which the many learn by imitation. This law is observed not only in all the esthetic arts, but it rules throughout the whole realm of human activities. But initiative through the individual becomes demotic, because the many steps in advance which leaders make as minute increments of progress are consolidated through their adoption by the many. A leader must have a following or his leadership is in vain.
Chiaroscuro—In the fourth stage of culture still another element is added to painting. This is chiaroscuro, or the delicate recognition in painting of the effects of light and shade in the several hues of the work. This is the highest characteristic of art as conceived by the modern painter. The artist may succeed in all else, but if he fails in this it is failure indeed. It is the difference between the artist and the artisan. The intellectual characteristics of works of graphic art are more pronounced than those of musical art, while the emotional characteristics are less vividly expressed, A painting may be excellent, though the theme may be trivial; but a great painting must have a great theme, and the picture must be judged by its successful presentation of the theme. We cannot here stop to treat of the evolution of themes, but will reserve the subject for a future occasion. Here we will be content with the simple expression of the judgment that no great and enduring work of art can be wrought which has not also a great theme.
We must not fail to call attention to a branch of graphic art which has taken root for itself and thus become independent. I refer to the development of picture-writings for the purpose of communicating the thoughts of men to other men. The origin of alphabets in picture-writing is now an accepted conclusion of science. When graphic art was not under the dominion of the religious motive, but was impelled by utilitarian designs, it worked out a very different result, becoming more and more conventional while painting itself comes to be more and more realistic.
Drama constitutes the third group of fine-art activities in logical order.
Dance—Again we have to seek for primal motives in religion. Already we have affirmed that dancing is the primeval activity of pleasure. It is the first activity which has joy for its motive. The dance is deeply imbedded in the constitution of animal life. The various scientific works and essays on play which have been produced in scientific time clearly set forth this doctrine, though some phases of it are yet in controversy.
That the dance is a religious activity is revealed by a study of the lower races of mankind. Dance is a play; not imitative, but religious play. Here the play motive and the religious motive are differentiated, so that we can separate sport from drama but religion and drama are one in their tribal life. Dancing is the first primeval expression of joy as praise, and is the fundamental element of worship.
Sacrifice—In the second stage there is found an element of religion, and hence of drama, which has its beginning in the first stage, but is fully developed only in the second. In the first stage, in order that men may express their wants, they display them either by placing the things themselves or their symbols upon the altar. In the second stage the objects desired are sacrificed. When a deity is worshiped, the things desired are poured out upon the ground as oblations, or consumed in the fire as offerings, that the ghosts of the things desired may be possessed by the ghostly deity.
When human beings are buried, whether in the earth, the air, or the fire, the same worship is accorded them and the sacrifice made at the grave. So the second stage of drama or worship is sacrificial, while there yet remains the element of praise in the dance. We are most familiar with the characteristics of this stage of the drama in the writings of Homer; however, there is a vast body of literature on the subject from other sources. The science of ethnology reveals its nature and characteristics in a manner which is clear and forcible. All the tribes which are investigated by ethnologists present examples for consideration.
Ceremony—The third stage of the drama, which is fully developed in the imperial stage, also has roots, more or less obscure, in the earlier stages; for shamans, in instructing the people in mythology, devise curious and interesting methods to enforce their teaching by representing the scenes in a more or less dramatic manner, in which the neophytes of the shamanistic order take part, and, to some extent, other members of the tribe are assistants.
This difference in the nature of the drama of tribal society and of national society must be understood. The drama is not designed as a language by which men may talk with the gods, but it is designed as a language by which men may be instructed. In savagery, the language by which the gods are addressed is sign language; in barbarism, it is gesture speech; in monarchy, the national god is the only true god,—all others are devils,—and this true god understands and employs the national language, and religious drama is a gesture speech designed to instruct men in divine lore. This new element appears in one form in the more highly developed savage society, in another form in barbaric society, but in tyrannic society it is fully fledged as ceremony. It is shown in the account which we have of the Eleusinian mysteries; it appears also in the dramatic performance of many nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa, where the drama becomes an institution promoted and regulated by the ruler, and drama is the principal system of worship in the national religion, while local worship is restricted largely to tribal methods. This new element of worship is developed by transmuting the actual sacrifice into ceremonial sacrifice. No longer are hecatombs slain; no longer are wines poured upon the ground; no longer are cereals burned in the fire; but a ceremony representing these things is instituted and held to be sacred, and especially efficacious, while praise is not only terpsichorean as in savagery, not only athletic as in barbarism, but it is pageantry. Thus, in the tyrannic stage, we have ceremony.
Toward the close of this stage religion and drama are partially divorced, so that there is a drama more or less distinct from religion.
Histrionic Art—We have now to consider drama as an esthetic art in the fourth stage of culture. This stage is brought about as a revolution in society fundamentally through the agencies of science; not that there is no science anterior to this stage of culture, but that its power has not attained that potency necessary to the transmutation. Science is only simple knowledge, which is but a verified inference, and in all ages men have known something. A few simple facts known in savagery become germs that develop and multiply through the centuries until science becomes a controlling element in civilization.
The time of science is marked by events, but the time of science as a stage of culture may be considered as beginning with the discovery of the new world and the invention of printing, together with scientific principles that had been developed up to that time. Research is born of the love of truth, and the truth discovered breeds more research, so the child becomes the parent that new children may be born; and when these generations have multiplied until they become a host, the multitude of scientific motives extant in the world constitute a power over society ever more and more efficacious in the regeneration of mankind.
Heretofore we have sought a motive for drama in religion; now we must seek it in the desire to truthfully express life—the life of man in society. The promoter of drama as entrepreneur or undertaker of dramatic enterprise, may have a motive of gain. The artist may have a motive of ambition, but it is soon found that these motives may be gratified to the highest degree only by a most deft expression of the truth; so the motive for evolution is now the desire to express the truth in the action which is designed to represent a trait of character, and the artist, be he dramatic writer or actor, strives to express the emotions of the scene in the most vivid and truthful manner. Columbus discovered America that Jefferson might portray Rip Van Winkle.
He who hath ears to hear, then let him hear
And sage become that he may come a seer.
Romance is the fine art next in logical order. The first form of romance is myth. We cannot understand its nature without understanding the cosmology with which it is associated. All tribes, savage and barbaric alike, have a cosmology based on a notion of seven worlds. This notion is developed through that phase of the evolution of language which Max Müller has called a disease. Müller’s characterization, though more poetic than scientific, is yet a legitimate trope. In the evolution of language old words are used with new meanings, and often the old meanings fade while the new meanings become standard, which seems to be at variance with the etymological signification of the terms. Primitive languages absorb the entire assertion in one word; their words are holophrastic; a single word performs the offices of all the parts of speech, for parts of speech are yet undifferentiated; therefore, a word is a complete sentence. When words are sentence words, the phenomena which men attempt to describe with them are expressed in such terms that linguistic development leads to a cosmology of space.
In this manner primitive man is led to speak of seven elements of space. There are the here, the center, the midworld; the zenith, the above, the heaven world; the down, the lower world, the nadir, the hell. The apparent rising of the sun in the east and its apparent course to the west seem to divide the plane of the earth into two parts. In speaking about the east, the eastern direction, the eastern land gradually becomes an eastern world; and in speaking about the west, the western direction, the western land, it gradually becomes the western world. Then, as men must still talk about the north and the south as distinct from the east and the west, they also become worlds. Thus we have the cardinal worlds; these with the midworld, the zenith world, and the nadir world constitute the seven worlds of the cosmology of savagery.
The seven worlds are universal; every savage and every barbaric tribe recognizes and believes in them, as they are inexorably developed as notions in the mind through the power of the language used to express thought about relations of space, especially as it refers to commonplace geography. Every day the savage man has to tell of his wandering or the wanderings of others over the surface of the earth, or to give directions to others how to find places and objects, so that in this use of holophrastic terms he unconsciously reifies the relations of space and makes them seven distinct worlds. In tribal life the notions of seven worlds are intuitive as a habit of judgment.
If a man habitually speaks of an object in terms which involve erroneous notions, the habit of forming the judgments involved becomes intuitive. Persuade him that eating parsnips on Wednesday is a taboo and may lead to bad consequences; a constant avoidance of this habit will lead him to habitual judgments of evil, and he will believe that such judgments are intuitive. It is thus that qualities are generated in the mind from the point of view of the individual.
Beast Fable—Wildwood man worships the beasts as gods. As we have already seen, he believes that all bodies have animate life; that is, he interprets the phenomena of the world from the standpoint of the belief that all bodies, like human bodies, are endowed with mind and that they have motives and enjoy pleasures and feel pains and exercise will as men do. The savage man interprets the environment of bodies as if they were human bodies. This is what has been called anthropomorphism.
With this view of the world savage man develops a vast body of story lore which reveals his thoughts of the nature of things with the causes and effects of events that constitute the history of life and change. This lore is myth. But more; by agencies which are now well recognized in science, he believes that every body has a dual existence, as gross body and attenuated body, and that the attenuated body may enter the gross body or depart from the gross body, and that the attenuated body may sojourn in one gross body or another at will.
The attenuated body is known in our language as ghost, but every primitive language has a name of its own, as manitu in the Algonquian languages, and pokunt in the Shoshonean languages, and wakanda in the Siouan languages. This ghost is held to be the cause of things. All events are caused by ghosts. Every distinct linguistic stock of the world has a body of myth consisting of stories related about the doings of human beings and mythic personages, which always assume that the ghosts of the other personages influence the ghosts of men, or that the ghosts of men influence the ghosts of other personages. This is the essence of barbaric myth or romance, for myth and romance are one in this stage of culture.
Power Myth—In the second stage of myth or romance we discover a radical development in the personages of the story. A new class of deities is found. From the same linguistic cause which we have set forth, the conspicuous phenomena of nature are personified as gods. The powers of the universe as they are known in that stage of society become the heroes of myth. The animal gods remain, and with them the human beings; but all the gods of savagery are assigned minor parts, and the new gods constitute a superior order of beings.
This stage is popularly known through the writings of Max Müller and others who have devoted much time to the study of Sanskrit literature. It is set forth in the popular accounts of Norse mythology and also in Germanic mythology. Again we find it well recorded in Homer and Hesiod. In fact, there is now a large body of literature gathered from various lands which is being carefully studied for the purpose of discovering the characteristics of this stage of myth.
While romance is beast fable in savagery, romance is power myth in barbarism. To understand this transmutation we must see the change which is wrought in the concepts of worlds or in cosmology. It is a change which begins in savagery, but is more highly developed in barbarism. The concepts of space worlds control the concepts of the savage mind to such an extent that all of the attributes of bodies are referred to the worlds as properly belonging to them. Thus colors originally come to be classified as seven, for the act of expressing concepts in words is more potent than the sense of vision in controlling the judgment of the color of objects. The prismatic colors, as such, are unrecognized; but hues, tints, shades, and even patterns are classified, and there is a tendency to classify them as hues. The scheme of colors, perhaps, differs from tribe to tribe; of this I am not sure, but this I do find among some tribes: blue is the color of the zenith, and things are said to have sky color. It is a very natural mistake for man to reach the conclusion that sky color is made by the sky or that it comes from the sky by the habit of language which already has been set forth. Color is thus reified and assigned to a world. Darkness, or black, seems to primitive man to come from below, and as darkness is reified, it is believed to come from the nadir world. Green is held to belong properly to the midworld, for it is the color of plant bodies and is seen nowhere else.
In tribal society the colors seem to be variously assigned to the cardinal worlds as hues, tints, shades, and patterns. In the cases which I have especially investigated, red belongs to the west, white to the east, yellow to the south, and gray to the north.
When the chains which hold drama to religion are dirempt and they can go forth to lead a free life, both start on new careers. Drama becomes histrionic art indeed, and the stage becomes the mirror in which are reflected the causes and consequences of the deeds of life. Religion soars on wings of aspiration into the empyrean of hope—hope for a purer and better life which bears fruit in purer and better conduct.
The germ of dramatic art is the dance, which in its first stage is religion. Of course religion must be distinguished from theology. Theology is a system of opinions, while religion is a system of worship. Religious motives become the seed of graphic motives and also the seed of musical motives. We see that both musical art and graphic art are founded on religion. We shall proceed to show that the other esthetic arts are based on religion.
The intellectual and emotional elements of drama are pretty evenly balanced in the last histrionic stage; but if we consider its growth from the beginning I think we shall find a steady development from emotional to intellectual art.
We have yet to note that the pleasures obtained from dramatic activities are derived. There is no essential in nature as a distinct property on which pleasure is founded, but it is founded on the relative element of consciousness which is inference and which produces judgments. All our knowledge of the pleasures of dramatic entertainment are founded on judgments and are good or evil from the point of view which we have attained in the progress of culture. It needs but a single illustration to make this fact evident: The drama of the savage, dancing about the firelight which glints the trees of the surrounding forest, does not constitute an entertainment for which the civilized man longs and which he would sedulously promote. That which brings gladness in one stage, brings contempt in another. True, the ethnologist may be delighted to witness the wildwood scene and even to engage in its revelry; but his purpose would be not to dance for joy, but to dance for knowledge.
In a similar manner which we cannot stop to explain fully, all the attributes of bodies as properties or qualities are assigned to regions by wildwood men and shepherd men. The increasing knowledge of the world leads to a geographical knowledge of immense distances on the horizontal plane of the earth as it is then supposed to be; but the cardinal attributes still remain to be grouped about the one which seems to be the most conspicuous.
A survival of this classification of attributes in world schemes still remains in modern time when attributes of good are assigned to a world of space, as the heaven above, and attributes of evil are assigned to the world below—hell.
The attributes which were assigned to the cardinal worlds are grouped about the most conspicuous attribute, as the cardinal worlds are abandoned owing to an increasing knowledge of geography. Finally, they settle down into four elements; the cardinal worlds thus become elements—earth, air, fire, and water—and the bodies of the worlds are believed to be composed of these elements in varying proportions.
In Greek and Roman classics we find much about these four elements; but the development of four elements out of four worlds belongs largely to barbarism, though perhaps it is not fully completed until the stage of monarchy is reached.
Necromancy—In the monarchical stage of society the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—play a very important role. It is now the theory that bodies are composed of these elements, and it is a theory that the difference between bodies depends on the different proportions of these elements which they severally present. The cardinal worlds thus become cardinal elements, and a birthmark remains when they are put in antithetic pairs. Earth is opposed to air, and fire is opposed to water. This stage of society is the stage of alchemy in the philosophy of bodies. The wondrous transmutations that appear in nature are explained as alchemical changes in combining or freeing the elements. The stories now invented are stories of necromancy in which theories of ghosts and theories of alchemy are compounded. This is also the age of chivalry, and the stories told are tales of wars and wiles, and the heroes are kings, warriors, wizards, dwarfs, giants, and demons. They often wander about the world for the purpose of adventure or because they are engaged in wonderful enterprises. Thaumaturgy—not natural wonders, but invented wonders—now constitutes the principal theme of romance. Myth is transmuted into romance.
The three worlds remain as earth, hell, and heaven. We cannot stop to catalogue these medieval romances, but they constitute an extensive literature in themselves and there is an extensive body of literature about them. Often in the next stage they become the themes of poetry. The Victorian bard has used some of these medieval themes in the Idylls of the King.
Novels—It must constantly be borne in mind that romance in its various stages may have themes to a greater or less extent the same throughout, but that they differ in the method of treatment. Beast fables may yet be told, but merely as fables to teach a lesson. The nature myths may yet be used as illustrations and embellishments, and romances may yet be written with all the thaumaturgy of the middle ages to give literary amusement to people who are not supposed to believe in necromancy.
With this warning we may go on to describe the romance of the last stage. To the world’s store of romance new tales are added—fictitious histories in a series of events where causes conspire to produce effects that have an intellectual and emotional interest. In an especial manner modern tales are designed to teach a lesson of good and evil, and there are many romances that are doctrinaire in motive.
This is the transmutation brought by science upon the characteristics of romance. Tales are no longer told to be believed, but are told to teach lessons. Romance is fundamentally designed to give pleasure, but at the same time is made to teach wisdom in conduct. If the potion is but a coated pill, the medicine is refused; but if a dram of moral truth is deftly mixed with a pound of delightful representation of men and things, the moral becomes a luxury.
The fifth in order of the fine arts is poetry. All of the esthetic arts are activities designed to produce pleasure. This is their fundamental purpose. Poetry is an art of pleasure. Its fundamental purpose must be pleasure, although it sometimes may be a good method of presenting the truth; in fact it often serves this purpose in an admirable manner, but its philosophy must be veiled whether it be intellectual or moral wisdom.
That which makes poetry is the method of expression that is adopted by poetry. In music the method of expression is rhythmic sound and the combinations of rhythmic sound which appear also in melody, harmony, and symphony. Graphic art is expression of form which at first gives us form as molded in sculpture, then form as relief, then the combination of form in perspective, and finally the delicate expression of forms in values or chiaroscuro. In drama we have an art which employs gesture speech as its mode of expression. Its root is the dance, and the first stage of the drama is terpsichorean; its second stage is sacrificial, its third stage is ceremonial, its fourth stage is histrionic. Romance is expression by fictitious history. It appears first as beast fable, then as power myth, then as necromantic tale, and finally in the novel.
In poetry the method of expression is metaphor. We are yet to see the stages through which metaphor is developed. Again I must remind my reader that all of these stages have roots in the primitive stage, that they develop by minute increments, and that a characteristic of poetry is never developed in full panoply of action.
Personification—Personification is the germ of poetic expression. Personification is the fundamental error in the philosophy of savagery. Tylor called this belief animism; already we have set forth its nature. It arises from the mental necessity of making judgments and comparing them with the inferences which the mind draws from sense impressions. The savage interprets the world of bodies in the environment from the concepts of human bodies. From the standpoint of psychology this is anthropomorphism, while from the standpoint of philosophy it is animism. This animism or anthropomorphism is personification from the standpoint of poetry.
Wildwood man is of the opinion that all bodies are animate and that all the tribes of the lower animals, and all the tribes of stars, and all the tribes of clouds and streams, and all the tribes of plants, and all the tribe sof stones are tribes composed of clans like his own. The philosophy of savagery is the essence of poetry, but before it is recognized as such it must undergo wondrous development. This philosophy must first become a religion before it is etherealized as trope, which is the essence of modern poetry.
In the earliest poetry holopbrastic words are used as nouns or substantives with adjectives of quality in exclamatory sentences (remember the distinction between qualities and properties) to mark the time of a complement of steps in the dance of worship. In every clan or tribe in this stage of society there is a leader who is the master of the dance and who regulates it with rhythmic chant in which others may take part, when the solo of the shaman becomes the chorus of the people. The exuberance of dance and the inspiration of shout unite to produce emotion—wildly hilarious if it is a dance of praise, wildly vengeful if it is a dance of war, wildly wailing if it is a dance of mourning for the dead. Thus is produced an ecstasy of joy or hate or sorrow.
In the exclamatory phrases of song are named the personified objects that are supposed to be inspired with motives like those of men, and hence the adjective element of the song expresses the good or evil which is the theme of poetry. The earliest poetry in this manner involves a double expression, one of personification and another of qualification.
Similitude—In the second stage powers are personified as if they were bodies, and there is developed a new class of deities which are supposed to be superior to the old gods, and the old gods are called demons; not yet devils, mind you, but only demons. Now, there are many kinds of these demons, as elves, fairies, muses, sirens, and what not, while human beings are sometimes giants and pigmies. This is pertinent to the present exposition. Personification in this stage is the creation of invisible bodies out of pure forces that are supposed to exist independent of bodies: that is, properties can exist in some invisible state like that of ghosts. Man personifies not only bodies, but he also personifies qualities.
In this stage qualification is developed into similitude. That which is affirmed by the adjective element as great or small, as strong or weak, as beautiful or ugly, or any attribute expressed by a qualifying adjective, is reënforced by a poetic similitude. The attribute or the person acting in a specified capacity is always like something else, and the poetry in this stage is filled with elaborately developed similitudes. The best illustrations of this characteristic of poetry are found in Homer, but they may be found in all the poetry of the upper stage of tribal society. Opening at random a copy of Bryant’s Odyssey, on the first page I chance to see I find this passage:
. . . for sure
I never looked on one of mortal race,To clasp thy knees.
Woman or man, like thee, and as I gaze
I wonder. Like to thee I saw of late,
In Delos, a young palm-tree growing up
Beside Apollo’s altar ; for I sailed
To Delos, with much people following me,
On a disastrous voyage. Long I gazed
Upon it wonder-struck, as I am now,—
For never from the earth so fair a tree
Had sprung. So marvel I, and am amazed
At thee, O lady, and in awe forbear
In this stage of poetry qualification is used as a poetic element as in the first; then qualities are personified as well as bodies, and qualification is reenforced by similitude.
Allegory—In the third stage of society certain world attributes are explained as world elements: these are earth, air, fire, and water, and the proportion of these elements in bodies of the earth gives rise to their attributes. In philosophy this is alchemy; but it is only the alchemy of bodies, while the ghosts are psychic beings and only psychic attributes are personified.
A gulf now exists between ghost and body. The ghost is spirit or essence, something which can be distilled and which may pervade space like an aroma, or itself be wholly spaceless and hence formless. It may occupy any point of time present, past, or future, for it is timeless; hence it is the ghost of memory and prophecy. But the body is now gross matter—dead and subject to the manipulations of alchemy. With the development of personification and differentiation in theory between ghost and body there comes a development of similitude into something else; this we must now set forth.
The similitude is now elaborated into the foundation of an allegory upon which is erected an edifice of doctrine, or, if you will allow another illustration, the similitude becomes a warp into which a woof is woven with patterns which constitute a tapestry of doctrine.
I know of no better way of setting forth the nature of allegory than by directing the attention of the reader to Spenser’s Faerie Queene, in which he will find an allegory of allegories—a grand allegory made up of many adjuvant allegories. Six books of one allegory are composed, every one, of twelve allegories. The principal characters of the grand allegory are personified qualities. In the first book holiness is personified as “St. John the Red Crosse Knight”; in the second book temperance is personified as Sir Guyon; in the third book chastity is personified as Britomartis; in the fourth book friendship is personified in Cambel and Triamond; in the fifth book justice is personified in Artegall; in the sixth book courtesy is personified in Calidore; and throughout the poems many other qualities of good and evil are personified. These personifications are the heroes of a succession of necromantic tales relieved by many wild adventures.
The literature of romance and poetry alike which belongs to this stage of culture is very abundant, and I need but mention another instance or two to make it clear to the reader. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost are excellent examples.
Trope—In the fourth stage of culture chemistry has supplanted alchemy, medicine has supplanted sorcery, astronomy has supplanted astrology, and science has supplanted cosmology. All kinds of personifications appear, but in a new light with a distinct cognition that personification is poetic. All kinds of personification thus become tropes, and mind itself is clearly understood to belong only to animate beings. Qualification, similitude, and allegory still remain with a more or less clear cognition that qualities are but qualities, similitudes are but similitudes, and allegories are but allegories, and that they are legitimate only as metaphors and constitute only a poetical method of expression through which the wisdom of science may be expressed in such manner as to impress them deeply upon the heart. Trope, therefore, is the last and greatest acquisition to poetical art. Romance is poetry without rhythm. Poetry is romance with rhythm, but there is added to it a much higher element of metaphor—the special method of poetic expression.
There has grown up in the history of poetry a recognition of four classes of poetry, namely, the lyric, the epic, the dramatic, and the idyllic. These names pretty well express the characteristics of the four kinds of poetry herein enumerated. If poetry is to be classified under these terms, they require both some restriction and enlargement in their limits. Lyric poetry is pretty well defined when we call it song poetry. Epic poetry is pretty well defined when we call it similitude poetry; but many poems which have sometimes been called epics are excluded. Dramatic poetry is not well defined as allegoric poetry if it is held to mean that poetry which is constructed as dialogue; but it is well defined if we understand it as that poetry whose principal element is dramatic, for then it will be seen that every dramatic poem is an allegory of good and evil. Idyllic poetry is well characterized as poetry whose chief element of expression inheres in trope. Read again the Idylls of the King for the purpose of seeing how their dramatic characteristics are subordinated to tropical expression, and I think you will conceive that Tennyson was right in characterizing them as the Idylls of the King rather than as the Allegories of the King. There is a fact in history that here must be considered in order that we may not obtain an erroneous opinion about the argument set forth in this essay. The Roman and Hellenic peoples expanded prematurely into a degree of culture more than two thousand years ago, in classical times. The political institutions which they developed at that time, because they contained an element of hereditary rank and especially an element of slavery, did not furnish an enduring foundation to the highest culture of the age. History now proves that many of the elements of culture to which classical times had attained as a blossom of fine arts, were not sufficiently rooted in a soil of free institutions. That classical culture might firmly be founded, a greater liberty had yet to be given to men, and that there might be greater liberty there yet had to be greater scientific knowledge. So the superstitions of the dark ages constituted but a cloud under which mankind labored while it laid the foundations of representative government.
We need not review the history of poetry to show how its elements have been developed; manifestly all that is good or bad is derivative; all of the esthetic arts are found to be derivative.
Pleasures and pains arise from judgments, and do not arise from consciousness but from inference. All of the phenomena of pleasure and pain arise in the mind through the point of view; they are therefore qualities and not properties. All matter is not endowed with mind, but all matter is endowed with consciousness. The relative element is choice, which becomes inference in the formation of judgments. There can be no mind until there are organs of mind. Until this condition arises in the development of animate life there is no mind, but when it does arise this mind makes judgments. As the judgments are inferences only, until they are verified, there is no cognition until there is verification, and the cognition of pleasure or pain is reached only by inference and verification. This is what we have intended to express by saying that pleasure and pain are derivative.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.