cleaning up so well (jones_casey) wrote,
cleaning up so well

  • Music:

"and it is for such rubbish as this that you neglect your lessons?!"

at this moment we were sitting together on an old oak-stump, and after a few minutes' reflection, louis said to me:

"if the landscape did not come to me—which it is absurd to imagine—i must have come here. if i was here while i was asleep in my cubicle, does not that constitute a complete severance of my body and my inner being? does it not prove some inscrutable locomotive faculty in the spirit with effects resembling those of locomotion in the body? well, then, if my spirit and my body can be severed during sleep, why should i not insist on their separating in the same way while i am awake? i see no half-way mean between the two propositions.

"but if we go further into details: either the facts are due to the action of a faculty which brings out a second being to whom my body is merely a husk, since i was in my cell, and yet i saw the landscape—and this upsets many systems; or the facts took place either in some nerve centre, of which the name is yet to be discovered, where our feelings dwell and move; or else in the cerebral centre, where ideas are formed. this last hypothesis gives rise to some strange questions. i walked, i saw, i heard. motion is inconceivable but in space, sound acts only at certain angles or on surfaces, color is caused only by light. if, in the dark, with my eyes shut, i saw, in myself, colored objects; if i heard sounds in the most perfect silence and without the conditions requisite for the production of sound; if without stirring i traversed wide tracts of space, there must be inner faculties independent of the external laws of physics. material nature must be penetrable by the spirit.

"how is it that men have hitherto given so little thought to the phenomena of sleep, which seem to prove that man has a double life? may there not be a new science lying beneath them?" he added, striking his brow with his hand. "if not the elements of a science, at any rate the revelation of stupendous powers in man; at least they prove a frequent severance of our two natures, the fact i have been thinking out for a very long time. at last, then, i have hit on evidence to show the superiority that distinguishes our latent senses from our corporeal senses! homo duplex!

"and yet," he went on, after a pause, with a doubtful shrug, "perhaps we have not two natures; perhaps we are merely gifted with personal and perfectible qualities, of which the development within us produces certain unobserved phenomena of activity, penetration, and vision. in our love of the marvelous, a passion begotten of our pride, we have translated these effects into poetical inventions, because we did not understand them. it is so convenient to deify the incomprehensible!

"i should, i own, lament over the loss of my illusions. i so much wished to believe in our twofold nature and in swedenborg's angels. must this new science destroy them? yes; for the study of our unknown properties involves us in a science that appears to be materialistic, for the spirit uses, divides, and animates the substance; but it does not destroy it."

he remained pensive, almost sad. perhaps he saw the dreams of his youth as swaddling clothes that he must soon shake off.

"sight and hearing are, no doubt, the sheaths for a very marvelous instrument," said he, laughing at his own figure of speech.

always when he was talking to me of heaven and hell, he was wont to treat of nature as being master; but now, as he pronounced these last words, big with prescience, he seemed to soar more boldly than ever above the landscape, and his forehead seemed ready to burst with the afflatus of genius. his powers—mental powers we must call them till some new term is found—seemed to flash from the organs intended to express them. his eyes shot out thoughts; his uplifted hand, his silent but tremulous lips were eloquent; his burning glance was radiant; at last his head, as though too heavy, or exhausted by too eager a flight, fell on his breast. this boy—this giant—bent his head, took my hand and clasped it in his own, which was damp, so fevered was he for the search for truth; then, after a pause, he said:

"i shall be famous!—and you, too," he added after a pause. "we will both study the chemistry of the will."

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