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The Drama of Love and Death

by Edward Carpenter

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“In November 1885, M. Maupas isolated an infusorian (Stylonichia pustulata), and observed its generations till March 1886. By that time there had been 215 generations produced by ordinary division, and since these lowly organisms do not conjugate with near relatives, there had of course been no sexual union.—What was the result? At the date referred to, the family was observed to have exhausted itself. The members, though not exactly old, were being born old. The sexual division came to a standstill, and the powers of nutrition were also lost? (Evolution of Sex, Geddes and Thomson, 1901, p. 177).

See, however, Evolution of Sex, p. 178, where a case is recorded of 458 generations of another infusorian apparently without degeneration. See also The Cell, by Dr. Oscar Hertwig (Sonnenschein, 1909), p. 292.

The exchange of life-elements between two individuals is well illustrated in the case of the infusorian Noctiluca. Two Noctilucas, A and B, diagram of A and B coalesce; and then later divide again along a plane (indicated by dotted line) at right angles to the plane of contact. Two new individuals are thus formed, and each Noctiluca has absorbed half of the other. Their activities are regenerated and they begin a new life.

As in Volvox; see Evolution of Sex, p. 138.

And we may say also here that it is even supposable that the special differentiation which we call male and female is only one out of many possible sex-differentiations—the important and main condition being that the differentiations, whatever they are, should be complementary to each other, and should together make up the total qualities and character of the race.

As sixteen for a human being, twelve for a grasshopper, twenty-four for a lily, and so forth.

For diagram and illustration of this whole process, see Appendix, infra, p. 289. Also see August Forel’s The Sexual Question (English translation; Rebman, 1908), pp. 6 and 11; The World of Life, by A. R. Wallace, ch. xvii, p. 343; The Plant Cell, by H. A. Haig (Griffin, 1910), ch. viii; and other books.

Stephane Leduc, in his Théorie Physico-chémique de la vie (Paris, 1910), endeavors to trace all the above phenomena to the simple action of diffusion and osmose (see ch. viii, on Karyokinesis) but though the resemblance of some of the forms above described to diffusion-figures is interesting—as also is their resemblance to the forms of magnetic fields—this does not prove their genesis either from diffusion or magnetism. It only makes probable that some of the phenomena in question are related to the very obscure forces of diffusion or magnetism—a thing which, of course, is already admitted and recognized. With regard to all this the reader should study the astonishing resurrection of the mature blow-fly from the mere milky pap which is all that the pupa at a certain stage consists of. (See The Biology of the Seasons, by J. Arthur Thomson, 1911.)

“In every known case an essential phenomenon of fertilization is the union of a sperm nucleus of paternal origin with an egg nucleus of maternal origin, to form the primary nucleus of the embryo. This nucleus ... gives rise by division to all the nuclei of the body, and hence every nucleus of the child may contain nuclear substance derived from both parents? (The Cell in Development and Inheritance, by E. B. Wilson, Macmillan Co., 1904, p. 182).

The latter, of course, being just discernible by the naked eye.

Parallel Paths, by T. W. Rolleston (Duckworth, 1908), p. 53.

Parallel Paths, p. 52. See also, for further accounts, The Evolution of Sex, pp. 112–14; The Plant Cell, by H. A. Haig, pp. 121, 123 et seq.; Die Vererbung, by Dr. E. Teichmann (Stuttgart, 1908), pp. 39, 40, &c. Throughout it must be remembered that these ‘maturation’ processes in the generative cells are not only exceedingly complex, but also very various in the various plants and animals; and the reader should be warned against too easily accepting ready-made descriptions and generalizations supposed to fit all cases.

Here and elsewhere in his book Professor Wilson uses “germ-cells? to include “sperm-cells?; and I have indicated this by the bracket.

The Cell, p. 285.

It appears that in the ordinary conjugation of Protozoa a quite similar process is observable.

“Nowhere in the history of the cell do we find so unmistakable and striking an adaptation of means to ends or one of so marked a prophetic character, since maturation looks not to the present but to the future of the germ [and sperm] cells? (The Cell, p. 233).

It might be said that, notwithstanding this, the female obviously has the greater sway, on account of the conjunction taking place within the body of the mother, and subject to all her influences. But there is a curious compensation to this in the fact that while after conjugation the centrosome of the germ-cell disappears, the male centrosome is retained and becomes the organ of division for the new cell, and consequently for the whole future body. (See Parallel Paths, p. 56; also Professor E. B. Wilson in The Cell, p. 171.)

“That a cell can carry with it the sum total of the heritage of the species, that it can in the course of a few days or weeks give rise to a mollusk or a man, is the greatest marvel of biological science? (The Cell, p. 396).

For summary of the conclusions of this chapter, see Appendix, infra, p. 289.

Havelock Ellis’s very fine essay on “The Art of Love? (see his Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. vi, ch. xi) must also be mentioned, as including much of the subject matter of the above treatises, but having a very much wider scope and outlook.

See The Cell, by E. B. Wilson, p. 391; Das Leben, by Jacques Loeb (Leipzig, 1911), pp. 10–20, &c. It seems also to be thought that gall-formations on plants, tumors on animal bodies, &c., are instances of such chemical or indirect fertilization.

Translation by J. Wright, M.A., Golden Treasury Series, p. 57.

Psychology of Sex, vol. vi. p. 517.

Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. i.

Ars. Am. iii. 605.

Psychology of Sex, vol. vi. p. 542.

Ibid., p. 544.

“The disgrace which has overtaken the sexual act, and rendered it a deed of darkness, is doubtless largely responsible for the fact that the chief time for its consummation among modern civilized peoples is the darkness of the early night in stuffy bedrooms when the fatigue of the day’s labors is struggling with the artificial stimulation produced by heavy meals and alcoholic drinks. This habit is partly responsible for the indifference or even disgust with which women sometimes view coitus? (H. Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. vi. p. 558).

See H. Ellis, vol. v. pp. 11 and 12.

See also Kraft-Ebing, Psychopathia sexualis, 7th edition, p. 165.

Modern Woman: Her Intentions, p. 30.

English edition; Heinemann, 1906.

Fischer, Berlin, p. 192.

Berlin, 1910, p. 290.

Berlin, 1905, p. 332. English translation, Love and Marriage; Putnam’s, 1911.

See chapter on “Visions of the Dying? in Death: its Causes and Phenomena, by Carrington and Meader (1911); also infra, ch. vi. p. 103.

See H. Pieron, “Contribution à la Psychologie des Mourants,? in Revue Philosophique, Dec., 1902.

See Civilization: its Cause and Cure (George Allen, 2s. 6d.), pp. 11–21.

See Carrington and Meader on Death: its Causes and Phenomena, p. 300.

Reference may be made to the Upanishads (“Sacred books of the East,? vols. i. and xv.); to the Bhagavat Gita; to R. M. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness (Purdy Publishing Co., Chicago); to the Raja Yoga Lectures, by Vivekananda (New York, 1899); to the Ancient Wisdom, by Annie Besant; The Art of Creation, and A Visit to a Gnani, by E. Carpenter; and to many other works, of course.

If I seem here to personify unduly these psychic elements and to ascribe to them too much in the way of consciousness and intelligence, I must refer for explanation to the Note at the end of this chapter.

See ch. vii., infra, p. 119.

See The Art of Creation, ch, xii. pp. 209, 210.

Human Personality, &c., ch. vi.

Ibid. p. 196, edition 1909, edited by L. H. Myers.

For evidence on the subject of Phantasms, Wraiths, Haunted Houses, and so forth, see Phantoms of the Living, by Gurney, Myers, and Podmore; and The Report on the Census of Hallucinations, Proceedings of the Psychical Research Society, vol. x.; also L’inconnu et les problems psychiques, by Camille Flammarion; and Lombroso’s chapter on Haunted Houses, in his book Fenomeni Ipnotici e Spiritici (Turin, 1909), ch. xii.; also ch. viii. of the present book, infra.

See Carrington and Meader, op. cit. pp. 318–27.

Dr. Morton Prince’s study, The Dissolution of a Personality (Longmans, 1906), should be read, as going deeply into the whole subject. He suggests (p. 530) the use of the word “co-consciousness,? to indicate the secondary chains of mental operation which coexist side by side with or beneath the primary. Dr. R. Assagioli, in his pamphlet Il Subcosciente (Florence, 1911), also follows the same line.

De Rerum Natura, iii. 890, translated by Mr. H. S. Salt.

See Geddes and Thomson, Evolution of Sex (1901), p. 275.

See ch. ii. p. 18, supra; also, for amplification of this view, Myers’s Human Personality, op. cit., edition 1909, pp. 90, 91.

The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller (1908), p. 17.

For a further account of the subliminal or underlying self, see next chapter.

The only alternative to this seems to be to suppose that the “soul? comes into association with the body, not at the very first inception of the latter, but at some later pre-natal or post-natal stage, when the body is already partially or wholly built up by the primitive process of cell-division—that the soul then takes possession of the organism so formed, and makes use of it for self-expression; and finally at death discards it. This theory—though it seems a possible one, and in accordance with the apparent “possession? and control of the bodies of trance mediums by independent spirits—presents some difficulties. One difficulty is the absence of any obvious or acknowledged period when such entry of the soul takes place; another is the difficulty of seeing how a real and effective harmony could be permanently established between a body already formed and organized on hereditary lines, and an independent soul entering on its own errand at a later date. These (and other) difficulties, however, are not insuperable, and it may well be, in the great variety of Nature, that the process of incarnation actually does take place in both ways—i.e. in the way outlined in this note, as well as (more generally) in the way mentioned in the text.

See The Art of Creation, 1908, p. 82 et seq. Compare also Bergson’s “elan vital,? in L’Évolution Créatrice, p. 100 et seq.

The Upanishads, whose authority on these subjects is surely great, seem often to try to express the other-dimensional nature of the soul by a paradox of opposites. “The self, smaller than small (or more subtle than subtle), greater than great, is hidden in the heart of each creature? (Katha-Up. I. Adh. 2 valli. 20; also Svetasvatara-Up. III. Adh. 20)—or again, “The embodied soul is to be thought like the hundredth part of the point of a hair, divided into a hundred parts; he is to be thought infinite? (Svet.-Up. v. 9). And the last quoted passage continues: “He is not woman, he is not man, nor hermaphrodite; whatever body he assumes, with that he is joined (only); and as by the use of food and drink the body grows, so the individual soul, by means of thoughts, touching, seeing and the passions, assumes successively in various places various forms in accordance with his deeds.?

See Myers, op. cit. p. 233, on Clairvoyance of the Dying.

Even on the battlefield, after the battle, faces of the dead have been observed with this expression upon them.

It is, of course, quite possible that our ordinary consciousness is discontinuous, even down to its minutest elements, and that it is only made up of successive and separate sensations which, as in a cinematograph, follow each with lightning speed. But even this almost compels us to the assumption of another and profounder and more continuous consciousness beneath, which is the means of the synthesis and comparison of these sensations.

Human Personality, op. cit. p. 29.

See The Art of Creation, pp. 105–8.

This well-known case, given by Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria, is amply confirmed by scores of similar cases which have been carefully examined into and described by modern research.

See Proceedings S.P.R. vol. xii, pp. 176–203; quoted by Frederick Myers, Human Personality, ch. v.

This is contested by H. Ellis in his World of Dreams, p. 215, but not very successfully, I think.

See Myers, op. cit. ch. iii. p. 66; also T. J. Hudson’s interesting account of Zerah Colburn, in Psychic Phenomena (1893), p. 64.

Op. cit. p. 100. De Quincey, it will be remembered, in a well-known passage of his Confessions, says: “Of this at least I feel assured, that there is no such thing as forgetting possible to the mind; a thousand accidents may and will interpose a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind; accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but alike, whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains forever.?

See Journal S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 100; also T. J. Hudson, op. cit., p. 153.

New York, 1903, p. 64.

See Lombroso, Fenomeni ipnotici e spiritici, Turin, 1909, pp. 28–31.

I leave the question of the possibility of the latter open for the present. See Note at end of this chapter.

This was no doubt, for instance, the case with Eusapia Paladino—as admitted by her warmest supporters. But it does not contravene the fact, proved by most abundant evidence and experiment, of the astounding physical phenomena which from her early childhood accompanied her, and in some strange way exhaled from her.

It is impossible, for instance, to read slowly and in detail such works as A. R. Wallace’s Miracles and Modern Spiritualism, William Crookes’ Researches into Spiritualism, C. Lombroso’s Fenomeni ipnotici e spiritici, and to note the care and exactness with which in each case experiments were conducted, tests devised, and results recorded, without being persuaded that in the mass the conclusions (confirmed in the first two instances by the authors themselves after an interval of twenty or thirty years) are correct. Already a long list of scientific and responsible men, like Charles Richet (professor of physiology at Paris), Camille Flammarion (the well-known astronomer), Professor Zöllner of the Observatory at Leipzig, C. F. Varley the electrician, Sir Oliver Lodge of Birmingham, have made important contributions to the evidence; while others, like Professor De Morgan the mathematician, Professor Challis the astronomer, Sergeant Cox the lawyer, and Professor William James the psychologist, have signified their general adhesion.

For references see supra, ch. vi. p. 92, footnote.

See Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 289, also the experience of Mrs. A., given in Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, by R. Dale Owen, 1881, p. 256 et seq. This latter book, which is a mine of well-authenticated information, has suffered somewhat from its rather sensational title. The author, however, was an able, distinguished, and reliable man, son of Robert Owen of Lanark, Member of Congress in the United States, and U. S. Minister at Naples.

See R. Dale Owen, The Debatable Land (1871), pp. 385–400.

See Crookes’ Researches in Spiritualism, pp. 104 et seq. See also the book New Light on Immortality, by Fournier d’Albe, pp. 218 et seq., where the evidence is given in great detail.

See Phénomènes de la Ville Carmen, avec documents nouveaux; Paris, 1902.

C. Lombroso, Fenomeni ipnotici e spiritici, p. 193.

See Shadow-land (1906).

See pamphlet Materializations, by Mme. D’Espérance (Light Publishing Co.).

See, for instance, the account of the haunted mill at Willington, given at some length by Mr. W. T. Stead in the Review of Reviews for Jan., 1892; also the Memoirs of the Wesley Family, vol. i, pp. 253–60; and Whitehead’s Lives of the Wesleys, vol. ii, pp. 120–66; also Footfalls, b; R. Dale Owen, book iii, ch. ii.

See Myers, op cit., p. 154. As many writers have remarked, the term “superconscious? might often be more applicable than “subconscious.?

With regard to this question of hypnotism and crime, T. J. Hudson says (Psychic Phenomena, p. 129) that it is almost impossible to persuade a hypnotic to do what he firmly believes to be wrong. And Myers maintains that whatever the subliminal being may be, it is never malignant. “In dealing with automatic script, for instance, we shall have to wonder whence come the occasional vulgar jokes or silly mystifications. We shall discuss whether they are a kind of dream of the automatist’s own, or whether they indicate the existence of unembodied intelligences on the level of the dog or the ape. But, on the other hand, all that world-old conception of Evil Spirits, of malevolent powers, which has been the basis of so much of actual devil-worship and so much more of vague supernatural fear—all this insensibly melts from the mind as we study the evidence before us.? (Op. cit., p. 252.)

See Mediumship, by James B. Tetlow (Keighley, 1910), price 6d.

Op cit., pp. 168–69.

See a long chapter on “Manifestations de Mourants? in C. Flammarion’s L’Inconnu.

As in the case of a man drowning in a storm off the island of Tristan d’Acunha, who was seen at the same hour in a Norfolk farmhouse. Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 52.

See further on this subject ch. xi. infra, p. 211.

Towards Democracy, p. 490.

For a discussion of this question, see Myers, op. cit., ch. vii. on Phantasms of the Dead.

See supra, ch. ii. p. 15; also The World of Life, by A. R. Wallace, ch. xvii. “The Mystery of the Cell.?

Of the conditions which may cause the invisible cloud to become visible we shall speak farther on.

See, for a list of these, Flammarion’s L’Inconnu, pp. 565–69; also Lombroso’s Fenomeni ipnotici, &c., p. 199. The numerous quasi-historical records of the appearance after death of the saints (generally in a cloud-like form) must also not be passed over; though, on account of these records being connected with the various churches, they are necessarily subject to suspicion!

We may mention Death: Its Causes and Phenomena, Carrington & Meader (London, 1911); and the list of works quoted in the same book, p. 540 et seq.

Longmans, 1908.

“At the end of three hours and forty minutes he expired, and suddenly, coincident with death, the beam end of the scale dropped with an audible stroke, hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce.? See reference given by Carrington and Meader, op. cit., p. 373. The reports of the experiments are apparently given in the annals of the American Society for Psychical Research for June, 1907.

See a long account in the Spiritualist for 15th May, 1873; also given by F. d’Albe, op. cit., p. 220, et seq.

See R. J. Thompson’s Proofs of Life after Death (1906).

See Phénomènes de la Villa Carmen, by Charles Richet, Paris, 1902; also Lombroso, op. cit., pp. 194–96.

Mr. H. Carrington, in his Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, has described in detail fraudulent methods of photography with which he is well acquainted. Nevertheless he seems to believe that some cases of “spirit photography? are genuine, and gives instances; see his book already quoted Death, &c., pp. 359, et seq. See also Mr. E. T. Bennett’s book on Spiritualism, with introduction by Sir Oliver Lodge, pp. 113–20.

See The Art of Creation, ch. vi.

The World of Dreams (Constable, 1911), p. 107.

The World of Dreams, p. 190.

See Electrons, by Sir Oliver Lodge (George Bell, 1910).

Say, in millionths of an inch, fifteen millionths for the violet (at the dark line A), and twenty-seven millionths for the red (at B).

See, for examples, ch. x. pp. 186–7, supra.

See document signed by five responsible witnesses and published in the Spiritualist of 15th May, 1873.

See Materializations, by Mme. D’Espérance, a lecture given in 1903 in London (Light Publishing Co.).

See illustrations in Shadowland, passim.

The cobwebby sensation alluded to above is often mentioned by other writers. Dr. J. Maxwell, in his Metaphysical Phenomena (Duckworth, 1905), p. 329, describes a case in which the radiation of force from the fingers of a medium was great enough to move a small statuette five or six inches distant, and absolutely without contact; but the phenomenon was accompanied by a “Spider-web or cobwebby sensation in the hands.? The author of that interesting book Interwoven (Boston, 1905, copyright by S. L. Ford), speaks of “the protoplasmic vapor of the inner man,? and says (p. 15): “It is this frail vapor which comes out at death and tries to form into spiritual body?; and again (p. 19): “I notice at death that nature draws or relieves the fire of the ganglia first and all the lines of sensation in light which were running down the nerves. It looks like white seaweed, very light and airy and fragile ... a veil of shining which is scarcely substance because of its white fire.?

Fenomeni ipnotici, &c., p. 195.

Namely, the highly charged electrostatic condition of mediums, the luminous clouds floating near them, the stars and rays of light in their vicinity, the photographic activity of their emanations, and so forth.

So much smaller than the atom that “if the earth represented an electron, an atom would occupy a sphere with the sun as centre and four times the distance of the earth as radius.? See Electrons, by Oliver Lodge, p. 98.

Ibid., pp. 82, 83.

Immortality, p. 148.

Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism (Burns, 1874), p. 86.

Materializations, p. 12.

R. Dale Owen, The Debatable Land, p. 399.

See Annals of Psychical Science, Report 1910–11.

See Gustave Le Bon’s Evolution of Matter (Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1907).

See Le Bon, p. 45.

For cases of hypnotic trance induced in one person by the telepathic action of another person at a distance, see Myers, op. cit., p. 160.

Revue Philosophique, August, 1887.

Myers, op. cit., p. 149.

Ibid., p. 144. See also Henri Bergson’s L’Évolution Créatrice, p. 102, on the canalization of the senses.

See chapter xiii. p. 243.

It seems probable, from many considerations, that at a certain depth within us—in the region of what has been called the cosmic consciousness—memory does in nowise fade, and the past is always present, but, as Bergson says, the ordinary conscious intellect tends to only select from this mass what is needed for impending action, and has consequently become limited by this tendency.

See the work of Richard Semon on the mneme as a main factor of organic life (Die Mneme als erhaltendes Prinzip im Wechsel des organischen Geschehens, Leipzig, 1904); also quoted by Auguste Forel, The Sexual Question (English edition, Rebman, 1908), pp. 14–17.

See An Adventure, Macmillan & Co., 1911.

See infra, ch. xiv. p. 255; also E. B. Wilson, The Cell, p. 433.

Though this process, it would appear, requires practice, and is not learned at once.

See the frequent description of the unusual beauty and radiancy of the forms seen in connection with trance-mediums and circles.

It may easily be understood, I think, that the process by which the distinct soul is thus built up may last several lifetimes. That is, there may be a long period during which the budding soul still entangled in the race-life may be reincarnated jointly with the race-soul in a kind of mixed way—family and race-characteristics mingling with and obscuring its expression—though these incarnations would become ever less mixed and more individual in character till the day of the soul’s final disentanglement.

In the Symposium—Shelley’s translation.

Shelley’s translation.

What the physical medium of this transmission may be—whether the germ-plasm of Weismann, or some subtle aura which connects the members of a race together, or anything else—is a question to which the answer at present is not very clear.

And not only out of the abysmal deeps of Man, but also out of the hidden soul of the Earth, and other cosmic beings.

See supra, ch. vii. p. 122.

See note at end of chapter vi.

See, for instance, Homer’s Odyssey, bk. xi., lines 601 et seq., where Odysseus speaks with the ghost of Hercules in Hades; but it is explained that Hercules himself is in Heaven:

“Then in his might I beheld huge Hercules, phantom terrific,

Phantom I say, for the hero himself is among the immortals.?

In this case, described by Dr. Morton Prince in his Dissociation of a Personality (see note to ch. vi., supra), at least four or five distinct personalities were recognizable in the one woman.

See The Art of Creation, pp. 80, 81.

See Bergson’s L’Évolution Créatrice throughout.

“Der Beginn des erneuten seraphischen Lebens und Einbeziehung alles dessen, was ausser der Gegenwartsenge liegt.?

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