Page:American Anthropologist NS vol. 1.djvu/21

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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 con-