A Christmas Garland/I and Matter
I AND MATTER
By J*hn D*v*ds*n
Christmas is Mattermas. It is the seal and cypher that Matter has shaped, graven, and stamped on Space. It is her intaglio, authentic, inobtundible, a thing very high and overweening; the first and, the sole token she has given that what she has wrought she has wrought aright. Let this be understood clearly. Let this be heard, whispered, mumbled, gasped, sung, spoken, screamed, roared, bellowed, and accepted, the world over. I have said it. I mean it. With all the collective force of the census-defying molecules that are I, I will you not to forget it.
Matter is acosmolabic. Only three men of our planet—Anaxagoras, Descartes, Darwin—have had scent of this truth; snuffing it as a stag snuffs distant water. Strong thinkers and gallant, they quested it, but did not win near to it; tripped and fell in damnable thickets, idiom antic or peritheurgic, wherein they presently bled to death, Of them nothing is left but their bones, white and dry: a warning to me, J*hn D*v*ds*n. I, however, need no warning. I possess the key, the password, the shield impenetrable, the sword irresistible. How I came by these things, honestly came by them, I will tell you.
The human brain, at its best has one thousand and sixty-five convolutions. Have it then that Darwin, Descartes, Anaxagoras, could have mustered between them three thousand one hundred and ninety-five such convolutions. Now, in one speck of ether, invisible and imponderable, are trillions on unnumbered trillions of interplications, sedimentary excretions and incretions, abrasions, indentations obsessive and excessive, bumps, twists, querks, irrosions, and perispheric apodomies. Therefore, as an instrument for extorting from one speck of ether its secret, all the brains of all the world's sages welded together, smelted and tempered, ground to one point, would be useless utterly; would snap and splinter at the first experiment. Stark brain is nothing, save in that it contains in itself these twin germs: the Will to Imagine, the Will to Deny; germs that the sages have never developed, never divined; undeveloped and undivined beginnings of two disparate yet parallel powers, anabolic and catabolic, diathennatous, wholly physical, a part of the brute in us. These are my panoply, and therein accoutred I boast myself able to range over Hell and Heaven, able to grip Matter by the gizzard, pluck out its feathers, one by one, and having roasted it and basted it, carve, devour and digest it. No idle boast this. It is a fact proven in the pages that follow.
Christmas being Mattermas, a harIequinade seemed to me the rightest vehicle for my message. In default of an universal and interplanetary theatre, Drury Lane Theatre seemed to me the rightest venue for my harIequinade. Therefore I made an appointment with Mr. Arthur Collins, and to him, naught omitting or extenuating, read the script. When I hall done, Mr. Collins said that the closing scene was not wholly what his audiences would expect. He objected, in fact, to the death of the clown. Here is the passage:-
Mark them again. (Eats several of them.)
They are not thus transmuted
Into my substance. I, digesting them,
Do but digest myself, none other,
In ananthropic anthropophagy
Most high-magnifical. Or have it they
Are digirent of me. What matter? Equally
We spring from either—are but calcium,
Phosphorus, iron, lead, magnesium,
Fluorine, copper, sulphur, natrium,
Silicon, manganese, et cetera,
Et cetera. (Stabs himself with red-hot poker.)
This is the freedom of
The Universe. (Dies.)
I, in counterstroke to Mr. Collins, showed that the clown’s death—voluntary commersion of himself with the elements composing him—was the rosiest, most sun-shotten apex to which my drama could be uplifted. Mr. Collins agreed with me in principle; but, shifting his ground, said his audiences never would stand my concept of the Policeman as incarnate Sin. I said there was no other way (since Sin is belief in the existence of Sin); and on that rock we split, in all friendliness.
Thus it is that I now give forth my play between the covers of a book. As I have said, I wanted an universal and interplanetary theatre. That one clinging burr of error I have shaken off. I do not want an universal and interplanetary publisher. For what happens here happens by the same token throughout Infinity. Infinity, measurable only by the gauge of Infinity, is itself a speck, imperceptible; so that this my book, published in London, is on sale not only in the meanest stars, orbits, meteorites, moons, and suns of the most remote and recondite systems, but also throughout all the spaces interplanetary and interstellar, nebular or incandescent. More than this. Eternity, measurable only by the gauge of Eternity, is itself a moment, indivisible by time. My book, then, has been published perpetually for myriads on myriads of aeons. It needs no preface.
- Preface to Hell: A Harlequinade. J*hn D*v*ds*n. 1907.
⁂ The contributors to the Christmas Garland next week will be R*dy*rd K*pl*ng and G**rge M**re.