Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/139

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Psychology and Etkfiology. 129

thing is always uppermost. When he is at business, or playing, or marrying, he is intensely keen on what he is about. What he is primarily about, however, is to control the process from first to last by bacterio-medical means, so as to be master of health for all time. Just as a dog lives in a world of smells that we cannot perceive, so the White Man lives in a world of bacterio-medical infection and con- tagion that we cannot perceive. ^^

" Everywhere he sees microbes, and germs, and bacilli, disease-bringing agents. He is not even allowed to spit about freely, lest he communicate tuberculosis, as they call it. Our custom of chewing kava is abhorrent to him, and he makes laws to forbid us doing it, thinking it will cause disease. As he will not touch his food with his hands, he has to undergo great inconvenience, using forks and spoons, thus detracting much from the enjoyment of a meal, which is obviously the reason why he eats less than we do. It may be truly said that Fear and Contagion dog him throughout life, and control all his actions. If he but cough, he must cough off the table. Living in such a perpetual state of fear, the community cannot allow the individual to expose himself to contagion that might en- danger the existence of all. Hence that extraordinary tyranny of custom we note among them, under which individuality cannot develop. I will give an instance how far this is carried : to convey food to the mouth with a knife is certain ostracism from high society ; for the more careful a man is in avoiding contagion the more power he is sup- posed to have over the bacilli and the greater his prestige and rank ; now to touch the lips with a knife is to run the risk of transferring to them any pollution that may be on the knife. Of course, this is most inconsequent, since the same objection applies to a fork. But the White Man does not think logically as we do; he is post-logical. Thus you may see a White Man hold a loaf with his hand to cut it,

'-With apologies to Notes and Queries of the British Association, p. 252.