Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/140

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128 Reviews.

Now man, it may be assumed, is bound to wear anthropomorphic spectacles, and to project into his surroundings the likeness of himself. Given, then, a stimulus, say, the sight of blood, that excites curiosity and fear together, that is, awe, how will he tend to interpret its effect on his nerves ? According to our assumption, it will be interpreted on the analogy of the mysterious activity he feels and knows in himself. Casting a spell is one form of such activity, which he may have become aware of pretty early in his career. But there are others, and it is the great merit of Dr. Preuss' work that he points them out. The power of procreation is a wonder-working which must in very early days have been perceived to be such. Then there is the experience of exaltation as produced by dancing or what not, such excitement directly causing the subject to feel wonderfully active, and in many cases to be so in the sight of all men. Once more, life as such is a wonderful thing, if only because death — the not being alive and active — is so awful. Hence breath and vital warmth, as signs and supposed vehicles of the mysterious life-force, will soon come to furnish typical modes of representing the idea of indwelling orenda. And so on. Dr. Preuss has, I think, made out at least a prttna fade case for holding that magic is the wonder-working mood and experience in all those forms in which early man perceives it in himself; which mood and experience he then projects into all objects that cause him awe, so that their inwardness becomes for him just the echo of his own. Why the mysteriously-active object should display a capacity for " multi- presence " Dr. Preuss does not explain. Probably he would account for it in the usual way, namely, as the effect of association of ideas called into play by the strong interest which the object of awe awakens.

The applications of Dr. Preuss' general theory are on their own account of great value. Perhaps the two most novel of the detailed explanations are the account of the part played by the idea of vital warmth in various scatological rites, and the theory of the life-giving procreative breath as the reason for the custom of knocking out a tooth at puberty.

R. R. Marett.