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VI. THE MYSTERIES OF THE LIFE-SIGN GEMINI1 Inthis vision the conception of our human duality was presented to me in a manner more striking than ever before. Hitherto it had been more a suggestion than a proof; now it appeared in the light of an intuition. A wonderful field of questions is opened by such an experience , and I am constrained to sketch a few of them as they have occurred to myself. 1st. Are the animal and spiritual conjoint parts of the same life, or two different lives which intensely interact, yet are not altogether dependent upon each other for their continuance? That the soul is dependent upon aught that we call material for the preservation of its highest functions, very few men will feel disposed to assert. Yet we are all exceedingly loth to concede that the animal has a distinct life of its own, which, for some time after the dissolution of the ties which bind it to the spiritual, might continue to throb on unimpaired. Your critic, who aims altogether at uses comprehended in bread, meat, and broad-cloth, may ask, “If it be so, of what practical utility would it be to discover it?” A sufficient answer lies in the fact that men would know one more truth. A truth tested and established may lie for centuries, mildewed and rusted, in the armory of knowledge, until some great soul comes along, draws it out of the rubbish, buckles it on, rushes into the conflict, and with it pries open the portals of one more promised land of blessing for the human race. Gunpowder is a truth; wise men sneer at the monk’s obstreperous plaything. The years float calmly on; that plaything strikes the cliffs of Dover, and as they go toppling down to leave a 020 c5-c11 (48-116) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 59 highway for the nations, contemned truth vindicates her uses with a triumphant voice of thunder. But there is also a tangible utility in this discovery of an independent animal life (supposing it to be made) which arises out of the fact that we should thus possess much higher notions of the spiritual than we have at present. In the desire to make the body entirely dependent on the soul for all its processes, we have linked the two in so close a marriage that the soul itself has become materialized by contact in our conceptions. What we call spirit is, after all, when its vague and variable boundaries are somewhat accurately drawn, nothing but an exceedingly rarefied mist, capable, to be sure, of selfconscious phenomena, but nevertheless subject to most of the conditions of matter. We grant, indeed, that after death the interior eyes may see without the mediation of our present lens and retina, but scout2 the idea that those eyes, in this world, ever employ a power which, after a few years, they shall keep in constant activity forever. Now, if we can more definitely mark the line between the spiritual and the animal as between two independent lives hinged on each other, yet not interpenetrating, we shall have done much to glorify the soul and reinstate it in its proper reverence. Not to assert the separate existence of the animal life as proven, let us look at some singular phenomena which, by such an hypothesis, would be explained, and (as it seems to me) by such a one only. 1st. In surgical operations performed while the patient lay under the influence of an anæsthetic, as chloroform or ether, I have witnessed contortions of the whole muscular system, and heard outcries so fearful that it was impossible to persuade the lookers-on that the application of the instrument was not causing the severest agony. Upon one occasion I myself stood by a man who was to suffer a difficult dental operation, and with my own hands administered chloroform to him. All the usual symptoms of complete anæsthesia ensuing, I signaled the dentist to begin his work. The moment that the instrument came into successful operation, the patient uttered a harrowing cry of pain and struggled convulsively, at the same time entreating the operator to stop. I was persuaded, from former cases of a similar, nature, that the man had no consciousness of pain, and 60 THE HASHEESH EATER 020 c5-c11 (48-116) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 60 so advised the dentist. From motives of humanity, however, the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813541143
Related ISBN
9780813538686
MARC Record
OCLC
78583948
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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