Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/224

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ucts and vehicles of natural energy, and their operation counts. But their conscious will, in its moral assertiveness, is merely a sign of that energy and of that will’s eventual fortunes. Dramatic terror and dramatic humour both depend on contrasting the natural pregnancy of a passion with its conscious intent. Everything in human life is ominous, even the voluntary acts. We cannot, by taking thought, add a cubit to our stature, but we may build up a world without meaning it. Man is as full of potentiality as he is of impotence. A will that represents many active forces, and is skilful in divination and augury, may long boast to be almighty without being contradicted by the event.

That thought is not self-directive appears best in the most immaterial processes. In strife against external forces men, being ignorant of their deeper selves, attribute the obvious effects of their action to their chance ideas; but when the process is wholly internal the real factors are more evenly represented in consciousness and the magical, involuntary nature of life is better perceived. My hand, guided by I know not what machinery, is at this moment adding syllable to syllable upon this paper, to the general fulfilment, perhaps, of my felt intent, yet giving that intent an articulation wholly unforeseen, and often disappointing. The thoughts to be expressed simmer half-consciously in my brain. I feel their burden and