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By HALLAM HAWKSWORTH Author of “The Machinery of the Sea,” “The Busy Fingers of the Roots,” etc.
THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE MIND
YoU know what a big thing a dictionary is, don't you? Even an elementary-school dictionary has 45,000 words or so, while a high-school dictionary has 100,000; and the Century Dictionary has over 500,000 and it takes 12 thick volumes of the size of a school geography and 24 times as many pages to hold them all. And yet they say the whole twelve volumes could be tucked away in a certain little package or compartment made for the purpose that 's no bigger than a hazelnut. Yes, and leave plenty of room for more! Shakespere, it seems, carried all his works about with him in this way, just above his left eye. Gibbon's famous story of the Roman Empire declined and fell and tucked itself away, ready to hand, in the same kind of a little package; and in similar packages, Scott carried about all his stories, and Dickens, his—whole libraries in themselves. But it seems—and this may appear to be the strangest part of it all to you, as it is certainly the most important—we all do this, more or less. And so with musicians and their music, and artists and their works of art, not only those they have already produced, but the material for others; and so with wonder-working machinery and devices like Stephenson's locomotive and Edison's phonograph. So with the chef's best dishes, —the best part of them I mean, the taste and the smell,—all are tucked away in these little compartments, packages, libraries, cabinets. It does n’t matter what you call them. The important fact is that we all have them and do similar things with them ourselves. As I said, we do these things “more or less”; and because it is a question of “more or less,” according to our own efforts, I want to make these little visits to the workshop of the mind not only as entertaining as possible, but useful to you. “Know thyself,” said the Greeks; that is the most important of all things to know. And don't you think that was why the Greeks made the most remarkable record of any people who ever lived, and had such a jolly good time doing it? I do. Stevenson said it is more fun to write stories, even, than to read them.
Suppose you wanted to be a writer of stories, would n’t it be interesting to know how these story wizards—Stevenson and others—did their work? And so with the work and methods of eminent men in all lines, inventors, artists, merchants, doctors, lawyers, men of affairs, they had ways of doing things which it is very profitable as well as very interesting to know. Such facts, I think, are the very quintessence of biography. And that's what I'm going to tell you about in this series of articles.
I. THE LONG SEARCH FOR THE LAND OF MIND
WELL, to start with, before we begin to talk about how these minds of ours can be used to the best advantage, would n’t it be a good thing to have a look through and get the run of the place, as the saying goes? Of course, I won’t be so foolish as to waste your time by asking you where are the headquarters of the mind. Everybody knows they're in the head. But I want to ask you another question that may not be so easy to answer. Suppose you just forget what your physiology has told you about the head and its business, and carry yourself back in imagination a few thousand years or so to the days of old Rameses of Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Hippocrates of Greece and such ancient worthies. I 'll warrant that you and I would argue much as did the wise men of their days. The earliest attempt to determine the location of the mind was made by the priests of Babylon, and they concluded that it was in the liver. As many at this day know only too well,— and as must have been known to the high livers of those days, the state of this organ has a lot to do with the state of the mind. As one unfortunate of our own day expressed it, when one is bilious and depressed, “the grass does n’t look green any more.” When, on the other hand, the liver is doing its duty, the world looks bright, ideas flow, and ambition mounts. Because, no doubt, of this evident relation between mental states and the state of the liver, and so of men's good or bad fortunes, omens were based on the appearance of the livers of sacrificed animals. I can show you in the British Museum a Babylonian diviner's model of a sheep's liver that was used along in 2100 B.C. to predict the future. It is all divided into sections, and on each section is a lot of lettering. They did n’t tell the future from the model itself, but used it as a guide for reading the signs in real livers. The Babylonians thought these markings were a kind of sign language placed there by the god at the time the sheep was sacrificed, and the reading in the different sections of the model told what these signs meant; much as the arrows in the different parts of the weather-man's map guide him in figuring out what kind of a day it 's going to be. But even after men began to know something more of human anatomy and to look into the purpose of the brain, they did n’t at first suspect that it was the seat of the mind. Aristotle, the great philosopher, naturalist, literary critic, and I don't know what all— one of the greatest minds the world has ever seen—does n’t seem even to have suspected where his own mind was. He dissected the body, as students of medicine do now, his own father was a physician,—and came to the conclusion that the function of the brain was to cool the blood. The brain apparently did n’t get excited—it was the heart that was always set to beating faster when any one was worked up over anything. The various appetites and emotions—love, hate, fear, joy, depression—were looked upon as things, and they were thought to be manufactured by different organs of the body out of the blood. One emotion—let us say hunger—was made out of blood by the stomach; and all sorts of things came from the spleen— anger, malice, melancholy, freakish whims of all sorts. Some of these ideas were held pretty well up into modern times. As when Shakespere says, “A thousand spleens bear him a thousand ways.” That courage was one of the attributes of the mind and therefore located in the liver, we see from the tradition that cowards have “white livers.” Alcmaeon, another Greek who had made a study of anatomy, gave it out as his opinion— this was along about 500 B.C.—that the brain was the seat of mind and the source of feeling and movement and that all sensations came to the brain by means of nerves. This, as you can see, was coming exceedingly close to the facts in the case, but not so close as it looks on the surface, for a part of this theory was that the brain secreted thoughts, sensations, and emotions and sent them out over the body—the old liver idea, in another
form, don't you see? Yet of course it was a very important advance to transfer the headquarters of the mind from the liver—which seems always to have enough to do, and often more than enough to do, in minding its own business. “Animal spirits” was one of the supposed brain secretions. As late as 1824, a medical writer of standing taught that the brain secreted energy and nervous power, which was distributed by the nerves. And does n’t it really seem so, when you remember how fine you feel after a good night's sleep— how ready to tackle the new day?
II. THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE LAND OF MIND
BUT to go on, with the story. When in course of time it was all settled beyond a doubt that the brain is the headquarters of the mind, along came the phrenologists and undertook to show in just what part of the brain different “faculties” had their offices. A little above the temple, for example, and northeast of the ear was “constructiveness,” the faculty that renders you able to make things with your hands, or design things for other people to make; or, in the world of ideas, to put two and two together and plan a railroad system, say, or a selling campaign to put a new kind of breakfast-food on the market. This faculty of constructiveness had for a neighbor to the southwest, and extending clear up to the ear, the faculty that boys find particularly useful at Christmas dinners—“alimentiveness,” the love of good things to eat. Away to the northwest of the ear and clear up on the northern frontier of the skull, was a spot that made you sorry when you did something you ought n’t to—invaded somebody's orchard without permission, or told a fib. Another place in the head, if you had a good bump of it, made you eager to beard all sorts of the very hardest examples in arithmetic in their dens; and where a boy without this bump would have an awful time, the properly “bumped” lad would find them “as easy as pie!” Another bump, if properly represented at the top of your forehead straight above the eye, kept you saying funny things all the time, and you were always the life of the evening party and much sought for socially; for this bump was devoted to wit. And so on and so on!
Men went round the country lecturing on this elaborate philosophy of the wonderworld of mind, and telling people what they were best fitted to do in life, by feeling the shape of their heads and selling them charts in which the geography of their brains was all mapped out and explained on an ideal head, such as you can see, with the numbers of all the thirty-four faculties indicated, in the dictionary under the word “Phrenology.” The idea that you could have your future read in this way was very popular, but the theory would n’t work out because, as the dictionary definition of phrenology tells you, “it was based on the erroneous supposition that the brain exactly conforms to the shape of the skull.” And for another equally good reason which the dictionary does n’t tell you, namely, that the brain is n’t parceled out in these faculty sections. So the shape of the skull could n’t show any such regions, even if it fitted the brain like a glove. And I'm mighty glad of it, for one; and so will you be before we reach the last page of this article or I'll miss my guess! For, let me tell you something: We build our brains ourselves, in the sense that we determine what goes into them and what comes out of them and what they become capable of. And I say all this without meaning to imply that everyone can become what he pleases. It 's everybody's business to please to do whatever he can do best; and that is as it should be, for you know it takes all kinds of people to make a world. Neither do I want you to understand me as saying that the pioneer phrenologists did no good; even though in their enthusiasm they went so far that Gall, the brilliant Frenchman who organized the science, found la bosse de l'orgueil (French for “bump of pride”) in goats, and one of his disciples traced the organ of “veneration” in the sheep! They did a great deal of good, these phrenologists, by setting science to investigating, with the result that we now know a great deal about this mysterious thing called mind that is not only of the most curious interest but of the greatest practical value. Suppose they thought wrong. That does n’t matter so very much; the great thing is that they thought. And the same kind of credit should be given to those old Babylon priests and the rest. You know, when you ’re looking for anything in a room, say in some hiding game, nine tenths of the work consists in finding where it is n’t! The ancients not only did that in the case of the location of the mind, but they came very close, as we said, to some of the great truths about it that we know to-day. It was because men were set to thinking, and because these conundrums about the
mind,+where and what it is and how it works,—having been started, were passed down the generations from age to age, that finally an eminent French surgeon named Broca—this was in 1861—said in a paper that he read before a learned society in Paris that he had discovered the location of the wordcompartment in the brain—that little lobe no bigger than a hazelnut just over the left eye. But now notice how important nature must consider words in the business of life, if rightly chosen, rightly used, and kept so that you can lay your hands on them when wanted; for she not only has a shelf in this incredibly little compartment of the brain for keeping words, but several such shelves; and, as in a well-arranged library, each shelf is devoted to a particular class of words—or word “books,” let us say. The shelf which has immortalized itself and its discoverer by being named “Broca's convolution,” is devoted exclusively to words as spoken— what Homer calls “wingéd words.” So when I said that Shakespere carried his works in this hazelnut library over his left eye, I meant his plays as they would sound when given on the stage—a kind of talking book. Emerson says it is a rule of etiquette among books that they only speak when spoken to; meaning that it 's of no use owning books if you don't make friends with them. And it 's the same way with these books in the land of mind. They speak when spoken to; when you ask them, “What's the word I want?” or “How shall I say it?”— things like that. But these little mind-books actually do speak, although they use your tongue for the purpose. That is, they 'll speak for you if you are neat and industrious in putting things to rights and keeping things in order in your brain library, as Mother Nature does her best to have you do by setting you a good example. For just notice again: not only is there a place for these words that wing their way to other people's ears, the words you speak, the “pieces” you learn to say on Friday afternoons, but there is another separate place for other people's winged words that fly into your brain to roost, the words spoken to you or in your hearing and which you understand and are interested in. Then there is still another place for words received through the eye—the words that come to you from the printed pages of ST. NICHOLAS, for example. Yet even this is by no means all of this dividing and sub-dividing, this classifying prepositions and adverbs, and, last of all, the nouns. And although nobody ever saw these “word-books” on their little shelves, and it 's safe to say nobody ever will, no matter how powerful a microscope he may use, for there are, of course, no real books there and no shelves, it is known that the words are there in some mysterious form, in the order stated! I'll tell you how they know this later on in the series. And don’t suppose that all sounds—spoken words and music and the bark of dogs—are mixed up together on the shelves devoted to the books of sound. There is a place for music records as well as for records of other sounds, and if the screaming of the parrot disturbs you when you want to play on the “mind-piano,” by running over to yourself how a tune goes, or the dog rushes in and begins barking at the parrot, that's because you will hang the parrot in the wrong place, and have n’t taught the dog and his bark to stay out of the music-room of the brain. So picture-books, engravings, and paintings are kept in the art gallery of the mind, separate from the books of printed words, and there is classification and reclassification of these, just as you find in big city art galleries, where there's one room devoted to one class of painting, or collection of paintings, and another room to another, others to works of sculpture, others to pottery and jewelry. By 1870, within ten years after Broca's great discovery, it was shown that each separate sense—seeing, touch, taste, hearing, and smelling—has a compartment in the brain. But from the standpoint of the advance of science, the later discoveries were relatively unimportant. The key is the main thing when you want to get into a place; finding the various things that are there is comparatively easy after that. Broca supplied the key.
III. THE BUILDING OF THE BRAIN
How we can help in building the brain and in keeping it in order, we shall see more fully in the article in the series on “Sending the Mind to School,” but I want to tell you a little something about it here. As to the advantage of keeping the mind neat and in order, is n’t it obvious that you can thus more easily find things when you want them, and that the mind will contain more in proportion as its contents are properly arranged? Don't you know how it is when you are packing your bag or your trunk to go somewhere—
say on your Christmas vacation—and you want to take so many things and you wonder at first how you're ever going to get them in? By packing in a careful, orderly way, it turns out there is plenty of room and you can find just what you want in your bag or your trunk without trouble when you have occasion to get into it. The same principle applies in putting things away in the mind. What an important part the brain is intended to play in our lives is evident from the amount of space Mother Nature has set apart for it in the body in which the mind is to live and the rapid rate at which she enlarges its headquarters. Every mother notices, and you notice and tell the other boys and girls about it, how fast baby brother grows, but probably you never have noticed how fast his head grows. Baby's head is actually bigger when he wakes on this wonderful new world in the morning than it was when he went to sleep the night before! During the greater part of the first year, the growth of his brain averages a cubic centimeter—or three fiftieths of a cubic inch— every day. During the second and third years, the growth slows up, although it goes on pretty fast until he is about seven. Then, between seven and fourteen, growth is slower. Then, between fourteen and eighteen, the brain begins growing rapidly again, although never so fast as in infancy and childhood. After, say, the eighteenth year, this rate of growth slows down again and increase in size is slow until about thirty, when the average man or woman has a fullgrown brain. But Mother Nature does n’t stop simply with this building of a home for the mind; she proceeds to furnish it. Never in after life do we learn so much and so fast in proportion to what we already know as during the years when Nature does most of the teaching. When the baby cuts his first tooth, it 's a great event in the household, but it's a much greater event when he says his first word; for that is the beginning of his knowledge of his mother tongue, of furnishing with words, and the ideas for which they stand, that compartment of the brain in which are kept the words we learn through the ear. It 's an old and true proverb that “little pitchers have big ears.” How they do take things in! At first, the little child gets comparatively few words from the printed page, of course; but in the compartment where the speaking words are kept, what a busy fluttering of