Part 7 out of 9
love; in brief, it will be lacking in love.
"Then," I said, "I have found in the shoulder the agent, the centre of
the manifestations of love."
Yes, if in pressing a friend's hand I raise my shoulders, I shall
thereby eloquently demonstrate all the affection with which he inspires
If in looking at a woman I clasp my hands and at the same time raise my
shoulders, there is no longer any doubt as to the feeling that attaches
me to her, and instinctively every one will say: "He loves her truly;"
but if, preserving the same attitude in the same situation, the same
facial expression, the same movement of the head, I happen to withhold
the action of the shoulder, instantly all love will disappear from my
expression and nothing will be left to that attitude but a sentiment
vague and cold as falsehood.
Once more, then, the inclinations of the head whose law I have
previously determined, seem, to owe to the shoulder alone the
affectionate meaning that they express; but the head--as I have
said,--in its double inclination, characterizes two kinds of love (or
rather two sources of love) which are not to be confounded: _sensuality_
What part, then, does the shoulder play in regard to this distinction?
It will be curious to determine this point. Let us see!
The part played by the shoulder is considerable in tenderness; that is
not to be doubted. But its role seems to be less in sensuality. Thus the
shoulder generally rises less when the head retroacts than when it
advances toward the object of its contemplation. Why is this? Is it
because sensuality pertains less to love than tenderness? Has it not the
same title to rank as one of the aspects of love? In a word, why is less
demand made upon the shoulder in one instance than in the other?
If I do not mistake, the reason is this: love gives more than it lays
claim to receive, while sensuality asks continually and seeks merely the
possession of its object. Love understands and loves sacrifice; it
pervades the whole being; it inspires it to bestow its entire self, and
that gift admits of no reserve.
Sensuality, on the contrary, is essentially selfish; far from giving
itself, it pretends to appropriate and absorb in itself the object of
its desires. Sensuality is, so to speak, but a distorted, narrow and
localized love; the body is the object of its contemplation, and it
[sensuality] sees nothing beyond the possession of the object.
But love does not stop at the body--that would be its tomb; it crosses
the limits of it, to rise to the soul in which it is utterly absorbed.
Thus love transfigures the being by consuming its personality, whence it
comes that he who loves, no longer lives his own life, but the life of
the being whom he contemplates.
Let the vulgar continually confound these two things in their
manifestations; let lovers themselves fail to distinguish accurately
between tenderness and sensuality; for me this confusion is henceforth
forbidden, and I can from the first glance boldly separate them, thanks
to the lessons taught me by the inflections of the head.
But let us return to the shoulder. Am I not right in saying that in this
agent I possess the organic criterion of love? Yes, I maintain it. But
let us follow the action of this organ in its various manifestations.
One thing at first amazed me, in view of the part which I felt I must
assign to the shoulder. Whence comes, if the designation of that role be
in conformity with truth,--whence comes the activity so apparent, so
vehement indeed, which the shoulder displays in a movement of anger or
of mere impatience? Whence comes its perfect concomitance or relations
with moral or physical pain? Lastly, whence comes that universal
application which I just now perceived clearly and which, until now, I
had confined to such narrow limits? But if the elevation of the shoulder
is not the criterion of love, if, on the contrary, that movement is met
with again just as correctly associated with the most contradictory
impressions, what can it mean?
Here I was, once again, thrown far back from the discovery that I was so
sure I possessed.
It is very fortunate that I have been neither an author nor a
journalist, and I bless to-day that distrust of self which has saved me
from the mania of writing. I highly congratulate myself on the spirit of
prudence that has invariably made me reply to whoever pressed me to
publish: "When I am old."
Age has come, and it has found me even less disposed to publicity than
ever. This work owes its existence solely to the earnest and continual
solicitations, the sometimes severe demands of deep friendship and
devotion, which it was impossible for me to refuse. This book is not,
then, a spontaneous enterprise on my part; it is the work of friendship.
And if this book has any measure of success, if it accomplishes any
good, it may be traced back to and acknowledged as rising from the
never-failing encouragement of my old friend Brucker.
Let us return, now, to where I was in my researches.
It remains, then, for me to specify the true meaning of the shoulders in
the expression of the passions. Their intervention in all forms of
emotion being proven to me, it would seem that the very frequency of
that intervention should exclude the possibility of assigning any
particular role to this agent.
Fancy my perplexity, placed face to face with an organ infinitely
expressive, but whose physiognomy is mingled promiscuously with every
sentiment and every passion!
How, then, are we to characterize the shoulder? What name shall we give
to its dominant rôle? How specify that supreme power outside of which
all expression ceases to exist? Is it allowable for me to call it
_neutral?_ And if the universal application of that agent apparently
authorizes that appellation up to a certain point, whence comes its
importance? Whence the empire that it exerts over the aspect of its
congeners? Is it admissible for a neutral agent to exert so much action
upon the totality of the forces to which it is allied?
Assuredly not! The word _neutral_, moreover, excludes the idea of
action, and even more strongly that of predominant action which belongs
surpassingly to the shoulder. Truly, here was a treasure-house for me.
It was, as they say, "to give speech to the dogs."
This new difficulty only increased the determination with which I had
pursued my researches; and with the confidence arising from the fact
that no obstacle had yet conquered me, I said to myself that the
solution of this problem would be due to my perseverance. I could not,
in view of the importance of its expression, consider the shoulder as a
neutral agent. After spending a long time in vain study, I was on the
point of giving up as insoluble the problem that I had set myself. Let
us see by what simple means I obtained the solution. How much trouble
and pains one will sometimes give himself in looking for spectacles that
are on his nose!
The shoulder, in every man who is moved or agitated, rises sensibly, his
will playing no part in the ascension; the successive developments of
this involuntary act are in absolute proportion to the passional
intensity whose numeric measure they form; the shoulder may, therefore,
be fitly called _the thermometer of the sensibility_.
"Thermometer," I cried, "there is an excellent word, strikingly correct.
But have I not, in pronouncing it, simply and naturally characterized
the rôle that I am striving to define?
"Thermometer of the sensibility! Is not that the solution of the
enigma? Thermometer; yes, that is it! That is the very expression to
give to my researches, an expression without which nothing could be
explained. That, indeed, answers to everything, and makes the
difficulties against which my reason struggled disappear."
The shoulder is, in fact, precisely the thermometer of passion as well
as of sensibility; it is the measure of their vehemence; it determines
their degree of heat and intensity. However, it does not specify their
nature, and it is certainly in an analogous sense that the instrument
known by the name of thermometer marks the degrees of heat and cold
without specifying the nature of the weather--a specification belonging
to another instrument, the complement of the thermometer--the barometer.
The parallel is absolute, perfect.
Let us examine this point:
The shoulder, in rising, is not called upon to teach us whether the
source of the heat or vehemence which mark it, arise from love or hate.
This specification does not lie within its province; it belongs entirely
to the face, which is to the shoulder what the barometer is to the
thermometer. And it is thus that the shoulder and the face enter into
harmonious relations to complete the passional sense which they have to
determine mutually and by distinct paths.
Now, the shoulder is limited, in its proper domain, to proving, first,
that the emotion expressed by the face _is_ or _is not_ true. Then,
afterward, to marking, with mathematical rigor, the degree of intensity
to which that emotion rises.
After having finished the formulation of this principle I exultingly
"God be praised! I now possess the semeiotics of the shoulder, and
thereby I hold the criterion of the passional or sensitive powers--a
criterion outside of which no truth can be demonstrated in the sphere of
sentiment or feeling."
Thus, a word suggested by chance became my Archimedean lever. The word,
like a flash of light, flooded my mind with radiance which suddenly
revealed to me the numerous and fertile applications of a principle
hitherto unknown. Yes, I henceforth possessed an æsthetic principle of
the utmost value, the consequences of which, I could readily see, were
as novel as they were profound.
First Objection to the Thermometric System of the Shoulder.
The innate æsthetic principle of the semeiotics of the shoulder was at
last clearly demonstrated to me, and no more doubt or uncertainty upon
that point seemed to me possible. I might safely formulate the following
When a man says to you in interjective form: "I love, I suffer, I am
delighted," etc., do not believe him if his shoulder remains in a normal
attitude. Do not believe him, no matter what expression his face may
assume. Do not believe him--he lies; his shoulder denies his words. That
negative form betrays his thoughts; and, if he expresses ardent passion,
you have merely to consult the thermometer which, all unwittingly, he
himself offers to your inspection. See, it marks zero! therefore he
lies; doubt it not, he lies! but his shoulder does not lie. He amiably
puts it at your disposal--read, read at your ease; it bears inscribed in
living letters his deceit and craft. It can never cheat you, and when
the gentleman accosts you with such words as: "Dear friend! how charmed
I am to see you!" say to yourself as you look at his thermometer:
"Traitor, your delight as well as your friendship is below zero! You try
to deceive me, but in vain; henceforth you have no secrets from me,
clumsy forger! You do not see, as with one hand you proffer the false
jewel which you would sell me, that the other at the same instant gives
me the touch-stone which reveals your tricks; your right hand thus
incessantly exposing to me the secrets of your left hand!"
What an admirable thing is this mechanism of the body working in the
service of the soul! With what precision it reveals the least movements
of its master! What magnificent things it lays bare! Voluntarily or
involuntarily, everything leads to truth under the action of the
translucid light which breaks forth in the working of each of our
And yet, well founded as the preceding theory may be, solid as are the
bases upon which it rests, is it free from any and all objection? May
not some oppose to it, for instance, the impassibility of men and women
of the world, among whom it would be difficult to find the movements of
the shoulder, which such people deem so ungraceful in others as to
deprive them of all desire to imitate them? Now what conclusions are we
to draw from the absence of this movement in those who are known as
aristocrats? Must we tax them all indiscriminately with falsehood?
Here I might, and without hesitation, answer by the affirmation, Yes,
all aristocrats lie! The medium which they constitute and which is
called _the world_ is nothing but a perpetual lie. Civility itself
rests upon a lie. Nay, more, it insists upon deceit as a duty. Heavens,
what would become of the world if truth were a necessity! Quarter of an
hour of sincerity would be intolerable; ... the inhabitants would slay
In the world people display their feelings, even the most avowable, with
great reserve; this prudence, which paralyzes the very springs of
sensitive life, seems as if it needs must neutralize the role which I
attribute to the shoulder; and yet, in spite of contrary appearances, I
deny that the thermometric action of the shoulder undergoes the least
alteration in the aristocratic world; I deny explicitly that this agent
proves less expressive and, above all, less truthful there than in the
street; and that for the following reasons:
In the first place, we cannot reasonably suppose very ardent passions in
men who are enervated by the perpetual influence of an artificial
society. Now, here the stationary condition of the thermometer is
explained: it proves absolutely nothing against the truth of the
reports; it remains at zero to mark a colorless medium totally destitute
of vitality. The shoulder would violate its law if it were to rise under
such circumstances. It is, therefore, perfectly in character here; it
should be, _a priori_, impassive in a negative society.
But is the shoulder really impassive in that medium which we call
_Yes_, in the eyes of people who are not of it, and who, from that very
fact, cannot understand the value of certain expressions which are
almost imperceptible; _no_, to those who constitute that special world
of relations called superior.
How many things, in fact, the shoulder reveals by those slight changes
unseen by ignorant persons, and expressing particularly the delicate and
exquisite charm of spiritual relations! It is the law of infinitesimal
quantities, of those scarcely perceptible movements or sensations that
characterize the finer relations of people of culture, of eloquence, of
grace, and of refined tastes.
It should be borne in mind, as I have already shown, that the
manifestations of the shoulder in the street by no means accord with
those of people ruled by the fashions of society. There is very little
harmony or relation between the exquisite joints of a refined nature,
the swift and flexible movements of an elegant organism, and the
evolutions clumsily executed by torpid limbs, ankylosed, as it were, by
labor at once hard and constant
This observation logically led me to an important conclusion, namely,
that the value or importance of a standard is deduced expressly from the
nature of the being, or the object to which it is applied. Of what
value, for instance, could a millimeter be when added to the stature of
a man? That same millimeter, however, would acquire a colossal value
when added to the proportions of a flea. It would form a striking
An imperceptible fraction may, in certain cases, constitute an
enormity. Again, the value of a standard, not the specific or numerical
value which is an invariable basis, but the relative or moral value,
must be deduced from the importance of the medium to which it applies.
For instance: Five hundred men constitute a very good army in the midst
of a peaceful population; and this handful of soldiers exerts, indeed,
more moral power than the multitudes restrained under their government.
A smile coming from the lips of a sovereign leaves in the soul that it
penetrates a far deeper trace than all the demonstrations of a common or
vulgar crowd. The traveler, detained by the winter in the polar regions,
finds that he is warm and takes pleasure in the discovery, though at the
time the thermometer marks 10 degrees below zero.
The atmosphere of a cave that we find warm in winter seems to us,
without being modified in the least, of an icy coldness in summer.
The large quantity of alcohol that laboring people consume would ruin
the health of less strongly constituted persons.
To conclude, then, these examples prove beyond dispute that one can only
appreciate the importance of an act when he takes into account the
nature of its agents, and that without these considerations he will be
obliged to give up immediately all serious estimation of these
Here I touch, it seems to me, a law of harmony, a curious law that I
wish to examine incidentally. I shall, then, occupy myself with the
objections that may, perhaps, be opposed even yet to the thermometric
system of the shoulder
The foregoing study has, as it seems, established an important fact,
namely, that among the various classes of men which make up society
there is no common standard of measure. It, therefore, appears
impossible, at first sight, to establish a harmonious scale of relations
between so many various circles.
However, if these circles, whatever their differences may be, were
specified and sufficiently known; if I could, for example, judge _a
priori_ of the style and mode of activity adapted to each class of
society; in a word, if it were possible for me to characterize each of
its classes dynamically, should I not succeed in ascertaining a
proportionate gamut or scale among them, and thereby should I not be
enabled securely to apply the principles established above?
Let us say, to begin with, that if each social sphere affects a
determinate character in the intensity of its passional evolutions, it
has, in consequence, its special gamut; then, as many spheres as there
are, so many gamuts must there be. Now, all these gamuts taken together
must form a scale of proportion in virtue of which they may be
characterized. That is obvious. But the difficulty is to prove the mode
or first tonality of these gamuts. How are we to set to work?
I cut short, for the clearness of my demonstrations, the recital of the
events through which I have been obliged to pass before realizing even
my earliest observations. I shall set forth, plainly and simply, the
final result of my studies; and it will be seen, in spite of the many
difficulties that may arise, with what absolute certainty the principles
I have established can be applied.
What I Propose.
I propose a great, a worthy subject for your study. At those oratorical
sessions which are rapidly increasing under the name of conferences,
sessions at which so many distinguished men take the floor, you have
been told in elegant terms, often in eloquent terms, of the sciences, of
their application and of their progress. You have listened to discourses
upon art, its primitive purity, its supposed principles, its decadence,
its renaissance, its multifarious changes; its masterpieces have been
pointed out to you; they have been described to you; you have, in some
degree, been made familiar with their origin. You have heard the story
of the lives of the great artists. They have been shown to you in their
weakness and in their strength. The times and manners amid which they
lived have been painted for you in more or less imaginary colors. I
propose something better than all this.
I offer you a work superior even to those sciences which have been
described to you; superior to all which the genius of a Michael Angelo
or a Raphael could conceive; a work in comparison with which all the
magnificences of science and of art must pale. I propose that you should
Nothing is so unfamiliar to man as himself. I will, therefore, as I have
promised, show you the marvels which God himself has placed within you,
in the transluminous obscurities of your being.
Now, if there be more science, more genius in the production of a violet
or a worm than is revealed by all the combined powers of science and of
art, how much admiration should we not feel at the sight of all the
splendors which God has spread broadcast in the privileged work wherein
He was pleased to reveal his own image! But a light inaccessible to the
vain demonstrations of your sciences constantly removes this mysterious
image from your gaze. As light eludes the eye which it illumines, if we
would seize and contemplate it, we must have two things: we must have a
special and a supernatural object. There must be light within you, and
it must pierce the depths wherein that image dwells.
Here there is no question of the light which shines to show us the
things of the natural world by which we are surrounded. Nor is it a
question of the intellectual light sometimes visible to scholars. I
speak of that light which is hidden from those very scholars because
their eyes could not bear its lustre, a transluminous light which fills
the soul with beatific visions, and of which it is said that God wraps
it about Him as a mantle.
Now, three worlds, of the nature of which man partakes, are offered for
our contemplation. These three worlds are: The _natural_, the
_intellectual_, and the _supernatural_.
Three sorts of vision have been given man to initiate him into these
three worlds. These different forms of vision are: _Direct, inward_ and
By means of direct vision man is made acquainted with the world of
nature; by inward vision he is shown the world of science; and, lastly,
by higher vision he sees the world of grace. But as there can be no
vision where no light penetrates, it follows that between the three
kinds of vision described and the corresponding worlds there must
intervene three sorts of light, in order to produce the triple vision
necessary for the knowledge of man:
Direct vision--sidereal light--natural world.
Inward vision--the light of tradition--the world of science.
Higher vision--revealed light--supernatural world.
Such are the conditions necessary for the understanding of my
Having prepared your eye for the vision of these three worlds which
serve as the bases of art, I shall, then, reveal to you their splendors;
happy if, thus, I can help to make you bless the author of so many
marvels, and communicate to you those keen joys which perpetuate in the
soul a fountain of youth which can never be quenched by the infirmities
of the body.
Beauty is that reason itself which presides at the creation of things.
It is the invincible power which attracts and subjugates us in it. The
Beautiful admits of three characters, which we distinguish under the
titles of _ideal_ beauty, _moral_ beauty, _plastic_ beauty.
Plato defined ideal beauty when he said: "Beauty is the splendor of
truth." St. Augustine said of moral beauty that it is the splendor of
goodness. I define plastic beauty as the plastic manifestation of truth
In so far as it responds to the particular type in accordance with which
it is formed, every creature bears the crown of beauty; because in its
correspondence with its type it manifests, according to its capacity,
the Divine Being who created it.
The Beautiful is an absolute principle; it is the essence of beings, the
life of their functions. Beauty is a consequence, an effect, a form of
the Beautiful. It results from the attractions of the form. The
attraction of the form comes from the nobility of the function. This is
why all functions not being equally noble, all do not admit of beauty.
The characteristic of beauty is to be amiable; consequently a thing is
ugly only in view of the amiable things which we seek in beauty.
Beauty is to the Beautiful what the individual reason is to the Divine
reason of things. Human reason is but one ray of a vast orb called the
reason of things,--Divine reason. Let us say of beauty what we have said
of the individual reason, and we shall understand how the Beautiful is
to be distintinguished from it. Beauty is one ray of the Beautiful.
Beauty is the expression of the object for which the thing is.
It is the stamp of its functions. It is the transparency of the
aptitudes of the agent and the radiance of the faculties which it
governs. It is the order which results from the dynamic disposition of
forms operated in view of the function.
Beauty is based on three conditions: Clearness, integrity and due
Beauty exists in the practical knowledge of the tendencies affected by
the form in view of the object for which it is; in view, above all, of
the action which it exerts upon the beings with whom it is in relation.
Thus a thing is not only beautiful from the transparency of its
aptitudes, it is especially so from the beauty of the acts which its use
determines abroad. This is the reason why beauty is to all creatures an
object of appetency, of desire and of love.
There is a mystery full of deep instruction, a mystery whose divine
obscurities surpass all the light whose splendors dazzle us by their
supernatural clarity, and which, as a great saint once said, radiates
splendid beams and floods with the glory of its fires those spirits who
are blind with the blindness of holiness. This mystery, outside of which
all is to man dark and incomprehensible, illuminates everything and
explains it in the sense that it is the cause, the principle and the end
of all things.
This dazzling mystery is the universal criterion of all truth; it is the
science of sciences, which is self-defining and whose name is Trinity.
Here we foresee an objection to which we must first reply. Some will be
surprised that a system declared to be infallible should rest upon a
mystery; they will ask what a mystery can have to do with a purely
didactic question. Patience! You shall see that it cannot be otherwise.
Nothing is more evident than light, yet light is a mystery, the most
obscure of all mysteries. Thus light escapes the eye and it does not see
that by means of which it sees. Now, if light is a mystery, why should
not mystery be a light? Let us see first what the church teaches us in
regard to this mystery.
God is a word which serves as a pretext for every Utopia, for every
illusion and for every human folly. The Trinity is the express
refutation of all these stupidities; it is their remedy, corrective and
preservative. Deprive me of the Trinity and I can no longer understand
aught of God. All becomes dark and obscure to me, and I have no longer a
rational motive for hope.
The Trinity, the hypostatical basis of beings and things, is the
reflection of the Divine Majesty in its work. It is, as it were, a
reflection upon us of its own light. The Trinity is our guide in the
applied sciences of which it is at once the solution and the enigma.
The Trinity is manifest in the smallest divisions of the Divine work,
and is to be regarded as the most fertile means of scientific
investigation; for if it is at once the cause, the principle and the end
of all science, it is its infallible criterion and we must start from it
as an immovable axiom.
Every truth is triangular, and no demonstration responds to its object
save in virtue of a triply triple formula.
_Theory of Processional Relations; or of the Connection between
Principiants and Principiates._
Each term in the Trinity is characterized processionally by the
arrangement of the relations which unite it to its congeners. We will
represent the nature of these relations by an arrow, the head of which
starts from the principiant, touching with its point the principiate.
Principiant terms ---------------> Principiate terms
This established, let us see by what sort of relations we are to
distinguish the persons in the Trinity represented by 1, 2 and 3.
1. The Father--a term exclusively principiant, giving the mission and
not receiving it.
2. The Son--a term both principiant and principiate, receiving and
giving the mission.
3. The Holy Ghost--a term exclusively principiate, receiving the mission
and not giving it.
BASED ON THE KNOWLEDGE
OF THE PROCESSIONAL
THE PERSONS IN THE TRINITY.
/ TRINITY \
_A._ Relation of generation starting from the generator, ending at the
engendered (2), expressing by its horizontality the co-equality of the
principiant with the principiate.
_B._ Relation of spiration starting from the spirator or first
principiant 1, ending at the principiate 3.
_C._ Relation of spiration starting from the spirator or second
principiant 2, ending at the principiate 3, emanated by way of the
common spiration of its double principle 1 and 2.
Reversal of the Processional Relations and Confusion Which Leads to
These first three examples sin from lack of a necessary relationship, in
default of which the extreme terms cannot be designated. Here,
therefore, the intermediate term alone can be estimated.
1 >--------> 2 <--------< 3
Here the Son offers the relational characteristics of the Holy Ghost.
1 <--------< 2 >--------> 3
Here He plays the part of the Father by the arrangement of His
1 >--------> 3 >--------> 2
Here the Holy Ghost is evidently out of place, for He indicates
relations which belong only to the Word.
(1.) According to these relations, the Holy Ghost plays the part of the
Son, and the Son that of the Holy Ghost.
/ 1 \
(2.) Here all the relations are reversed so that the Father plays the
part of the Son; the Holy Ghost plays the part of the Father; and,
finally, the Son that of the Holy Ghost.
/ 2 \
(3.) This curious example represents by the identical arrangement of
the terms that it brings together, three Sons; that is to say, the
person of the Son three times over.
/ 3 \
(4.) Another reversal of the relations, which derives the Holy Ghost
from the Father, the Father from the Son, and the Son from the Holy
/ 4 \
Passion Of Signs. Signs of Passion.
These two terms at first sight seem very similar. It is not so. They
express two wholly distinct things. Therefore to know the meaning of
words by no means proves one capable of finding words and fitting them
to the meaning.
It is clearly easier to translate a language than to write it, and just
as we must learn to translate before we can compose, so we must become
thoroughly familiar with semeiotics before trying to work at æsthetics;
and, as the science of semeiotics is still wholly incomplete, it is,
therefore, absolutely impossible that that which is called æsthetics
should in the least resemble the science which I have just defined.
I have shown you æsthetics as a science. I have given you its
definition. I have fixed its special part in the sum total of knowledge
which goes to make up art; moreover, I have pointed out what this
science is intended to teach you. I have, by so doing, assumed serious
obligations toward you. I must needs produce under this title something
more than mere fantastic reflections upon works of art, or more or less
attractive stories about their authors and the circumstances in which
they lived. It will not be so amusing, but assuredly it will be more
profitable, and that is all for which I aspire.
Art, then, is an act whose semeiotics characterizes the forms produced
by the action of powers, which action is determined by æsthetics, and
the causes of which are sought out by ontology.
/ Ontology examines the constituent virtues of the being.
Art. < Æsthetics examines its powers.
\ Semeiotics characterizes its forces.
/ Inherent form of sentiments . . . . . . Æsthetics.
Art. < Metaphysical form of the principles . . Ontology.
\ Organic form of signs . . . . . . . . . Semeiotics.
The object of art, therefore, is to reproduce, by the action of a
superior principle (ontology), the organic signs explained by
semeiotics, and whose fitness is estimated by æsthetics.
Semeiotics is the science of the organic signs by which æsthetics must
study inherent fitness.
Æsthetics is the science of the sensitive and passional manifestations
which are the object of art, and whose psychic form it constitutes.
If semeiotics does not tell us the passion which the sign reveals, how
can æsthetics indicate to us the sign which it should apply to the
passion that it studies? In a word, how shall the artist translate the
passion which he is called upon to express?
Æsthetics determines the inherent forms of sentiment in view of the
effects whose truth of relation it estimates.
Semeiotics studies organic forms in view of the sentiment which produces
It is thus that _wisdom_ and _reason_ proceed in inverse sense from the
principle to the knowledge which is the object of both. Wisdom, in fact,
studies the principle in its consequences, while reason studies the
consequences in the principle, hence it comes that wisdom and reason are
often at war with each other; hence also the obscurity which generally
prevails as to the distinction between them. Let us say that _wisdom_
and _reason_ are to intelligence what æsthetics and semeiotics are to
art. Let us add to this parallel that _wisdom_ and _reason_ are to
intelligence what æsthetics and semeiotics are to ontology; that is:--
1. If, from a certain organic form, I infer a certain sentiment, that is
2. If, from a certain sentiment, I deduce a certain organic form, that
3. If, after studying the arrangement of an organic form whose inherent
fitness I am supposed to know, I take possession of that arrangement
under the title of methods, invariably to reproduce that form by
substituting my individual will for its inherent cause, that is _Art_.
4. If I determine the initial phenomena under the impulsion of which the
inherent powers act upon the organism, that is _Ontology_.
5. If I tell how that organism behaves under the inherent action, that
6. If I examine, one by one, the agents of that organism, it is
7. If, amid these different studies, I seek by means of analogy and
generalization for light to guide my steps toward my advantage, that is
8. If I make that light profitable to my material and spiritual
interests, that is _Reason_.
9. If I add to all this the loving contemplation of the Supreme Author
in His work, that is _Wisdom_.
Let us now leave the abstractions to which you have kindly lent your
attention. I cannot here avoid casting a rapid glance at those sources
of science and art, the sources whence I desire to draw applications
which I am assured will interest you as they interest me. May they
afford you the same delight!
By listening to me thus far you have passed through the proofs requisite
for your initiation into science as well as art; into science, whose
very definition is unknown to the learned bodies, since they have never
studied aught of it but its specialties; into art, whose very
fundamental basis is unsuspected by the School of Fine Arts, as I have
elsewhere demonstrated. Therefore, I now desire in the course of these
lectures to set aside the terms of a technology which I could not avoid
at the outset, and by the recital of my labors and my researches, my
disappointments and my discoveries, to show you the painful birth of a
science, whose possession entitles me to the honor of addressing you
Definition of Form.
Form is the garb of substance. It is the expressive symbol of a
mysterious truth. It is the trademark of a hidden virtue. It is the
actuality of the being. In a word, form is the plastic art of the Ideal.
We have to consider three sorts of form: The form assumed by the being
at birth and which we will call _constitutional_ form. Under the sway of
custom forms undergo modifications: We will call these forms _habitual_
forms. Then there are the _fugitive_ forms, modifications of the
constitutional form, which are produced under the sway of passion. These
forms, which we will call _accidental, passional_ or _transitory_, are
fugitive as the things which give them birth.
On Distinction and Vulgarity of Motion.
Motion generally has its reäction; a projected body rebounds and it is
this rebound which we call the reäction of the motion.
Rebounding bodies are agreeable to the eye. Lack of elasticity in a body
is disagreeable from the fact that lacking suppleness, it seems as if it
must, in falling, be broken, flattened or injured; in a word, must lose
something of the integrality of its form. It is, therefore, the reäction
of a body which proves its elasticity, and which, by this very quality,
gives us a sort of pleasure in witnessing a fall, which apart from this
reäction could not be other than disagreeable. Therefore, elasticity of
dynamic motions is a prime necessity from the point of view of charm.
In the vulgar man there is no reäction. In the man of distinction, on
the contrary, motion is of slight extent and reäction is enormous.
Reäction is both slow and rapid.
The artist should have three objects: To _move_, to _interest_, to
_persuade_. He interests by _language_; he moves by _thought_; he moves,
interests and persuades by _gesture_.
Language is the weakest of the three agents. In a matter of the feelings
language proves nothing. It has no real value, save that which is given
to it by the preparation of gesture.
Gesture corresponds to the soul, to the heart; language to the life, to
the thought, to the mind. The life and the mind being subordinate to the
heart, to the soul, gesture is the chief organic agent. So it has its
appropriate character which is persuasion, and it borrows from the other
two agents interest and emotion. It prepares the way, in fact, for
language and thought; it goes before them and foretells their coming; it
By its silent eloquence it predisposes, it guides the listener. It makes
him a witness to the secret labor performed by the immanences which are
about to burst forth. It flatters him by leading him to feel that he
partakes in this preparation by the initiation to which it admits him.
It condenses into a single word the powers of the three agents. It
represents virtue effective and operative. It assimilates the
auxiliaries which surround it, and reflects the immanence proper to its
nature, the contemplation of its subject deeply seen, deeply felt. It
possesses them synthetically, fully, absolutely.
Artistic gesture is the expression of the physiognomy; it is
transluminous action; it is the mirror of lasting things.
Lacordaire, that spoiled child of the intellect, spoke magnificently. He
interested, he aroused admiration, but he did not persuade. His organism
was rebellious to gesture. He was the artist of language. Ravignan,
inferior intellectually, prepared his audience by his attitude, touched
them by the general expression of his face, fascinated them by his gaze.
He was the artist of gesture.
Thus, if we sing, let us not forget that the prelude, the refrain, is
the spiritual expression of the song; that we must take advantage of
this exordium to guide ourselves, to predispose our hearers in our
favor; that we must point out to them, must make them foresee by the
expression of our face the thought and the words which are to follow;
that, in fact, the ravished spectator may be dazzled by a song which he
has not yet heard, but which he divines or thinks that he divines.
_Definition of Gesture._ (Compare Delaumosne, page 43.)
Gesture is the direct agent of the heart. It is the fit manifestation of
feeling. It is the revealer of thought and the commentator upon speech.
It is the elliptical expression of language; it is the justification of
the additional meanings of speech. In a word, it is the spirit of which
speech is merely the letter. Gesture is parallel to the impression
received; it is, therefore, always anterior to speech, which is but a
reflected and subordinate expression.
Gesture is founded on three bases which give rise to three orders of
studies; that is, to three sciences, namely: The _static_, the _dynamic_
and the _semeiotic_.
What are these three sciences, and, first of all, what are they in
relation to gesture? The semeiotic is its mind; the dynamic is its soul;
the static is founded on the mutual equilibrium or equipoise of the
The dynamic presents the multiple action of three agents; that is to
say, of the constituent forces of the soul.
The semeiotic presents to our scrutiny a triple object for study. It
sets forth the cause of the acts produced by the dynamic and the static
harmonies. Moreover, it reveals the meaning of the types which form the
object of the system. It offers us a knowledge of the formal or
constitutional types, of the fugitive or accidental types, and, finally,
of the habitual types.
The triple object of the dynamic are the _rhythmic, inflective_ and
_harmonic_ forms. Dynamic rhythm is founded upon the important law of
mobility, inversely proportionate to the masses moved. Dynamic
inflections are produced by three movements: Direct movements, rotary
movements and movements of flexion in the arc of a circle.
Dynamic harmony is founded on the concomitance of the relations existing
between all the agents of gesture. This harmony is regulated by three
states, namely: The tonic or eccentric state, the atonic or concentric
state, and the normal state. It, therefore, remains for us to fix the
three vital conditions of the static part of gesture. The vital
condition of the static is based upon the knowledge of the nine
stations. The spirit of the static entails the study of scenic planes
which embrace three conditions: The condition of the personage in
relation to the scenic centre or to the interlocutor whom he addresses;
in the second place, his situation; and, finally, the direction assumed
by his body in regard to the conditions already indicated.
The soul of the static is in the harmonic opposition of the surfaces
The most powerful of all gestures is that which affects the spectator
without his knowing it.
From this statement may be deduced the principle that: Outward gesture,
being only the echo of the inward gesture which gave birth to it and
rules it, should be inferior to it in development and should be in some
Attitudes of the Head.
The head, considered in its three direct poses, presents three
conditions or states. When facing the object contemplated, it presents
the normal state; bent forward and in the direction of the object, it
presents the concentric state; raised and considering the object from
above, it presents the eccentric state. [Compare Delaumosne, page 65.]
If, now, we consider each of its attitudes in connection with a double
lateral inclination of which they are capable, we have the following
1. The first is normal. The head is neither high nor low, the glance
2. The second is characteristic of tenderness. This attitude consists in
bending the head obliquely toward the interlocutor. The body, in this
attitude, should not face the object; thus the head, in bending toward
it, bends sidewise in relation to the body.
3. The third attitude is characteristic of sensuality. This attitude is
marked by an inclination quite the reverse of the second; that is to
say, away from the interlocutor. Naturally, in this attitude, as in the
preceding one, the glance is oblique; the head being bent forward and
backward, is here placed obliquely.
4. The fourth is characteristic of scrutiny, reflection. The head in
this attitude is bent forward as we said in concentration, and the eye,
from the effort to lower the head, is thrown up to inspect the object.
5. The fifth is characteristic of veneration. This attitude offers the
same inclination as the second; but here, as the head must be lowered,
the eye is directed both obliquely and upward.
6. The sixth is characteristic of suspicion. This attitude offers the
same inclination as the third, with the concentric modifications
indicated for the preceding one.
7. The seventh is characteristic of exaltation, passion. This attitude
is eccentric and direct, as we have already said.
8. The eighth attitude is characteristic of abandonment, extreme
confidence. This attitude presents the inclination of the second and the
fifth, with this difference, that here the head is thrown back and the
eye, instead of being bent directly upon the object as in the second and
upward as in the fifth, here gazes downward.
9. The ninth attitude is characteristic of pride. This last attitude
takes the inclination of the sixth and eighth attitudes, with the
differences in gaze indicated in the foregoing.
Thus, to sum up what we have already said, we see that the first, fourth
and seventh attitudes are directly toward the object; that the second,
fifth and eighth bend obliquely toward the object; and, finally, that
the third, sixth and ninth are the result of an oblique inclination away
from the object.
NOTE.--It is to be understood that the various attitudes of the head are
asserted only in regard to the direction taken by the eye. Thus it is
not absolutely true to say that the head is in the eccentric state
because it is raised; for it may be that, raised as it is, the direction
of the eye may be even higher than it, and, in that case, the head
might, although raised, present the aspect of the concentric state. Then
it would be true to say that the head presents the concentric state in a
Attitudes of the Hands.
The hands, like the legs, have three kinds of attitudes. They open
without effort and present the normal state; they close and present the
concentric state; then they open forcibly and present the eccentric
state. These three kinds of attitudes produce nine forms.
1. The first is characteristic of acceptance. In this the hand is
presented open without effort, the fingers close together and the palm
2. The second is characteristic of caressing. In this attitude the palm
of the hand faces the object considered and gently follows its forms.
3. The third is characteristic of negation. This attitude is executed in
the following fashion: The arm and hand are placed as in caressing; but,
instead of following the form of the object, the hand rids itself of it
by a rotary movement, thus placing the palm in a lateral direction.
4. This attitude is executed with the closed fist, the arm hanging
naturally, that is, without any action determined by the will.
5. The fifth is characteristic of will. This attitude consists in
carrying the fist forward, the back up.
6. The sixth attitude is characteristic of menace. This attitude is
effected by an outward rotary movement compressed in the fist, so that,
contrary to the will, the back of the hand is down.
7. The seventh is characteristic of desire. The hand, in this attitude,
moves forward as in the first, but with the difference that here the
fingers are spread apart, this spreading signifying "I do not possess,"
expresses desire. There is, by the fact of the advance of the hand,
aspiration and not possession.
8. The eighth is characteristic of imprecation. It consists in
stretching the palm of the hand toward the object as in a caress, but
with this difference, that the fingers are spread apart, thus offering a
9. The ninth is characteristic of refusal, repulsion. It consists in
carrying the hand obliquely as in negation, observing the spreading of
the fingers which characterizes this species.
To make the demonstration of the different affirmations of the hand more
clear, we employ the cube which, as is well known, has six faces, eight
angles, and twelve edges.
When the hand is placed upon a flat surface the affirmation is simple;
when the hand is placed upon an angle the affirmation is triple or
common to three faces or surfaces. There are three directions in the
cube: Horizontal, vertical and transverse. So, too, there are three
directions possible for the hand in relation to the body:
1. Abduction--which removes,
2. Adduction--which brings close, and
3. The normal direction.
There are three sorts of adduction, three sorts of abduction, and three
sorts of normal direction.
There are three horizontal, three vertical and three transverse
directions; hence nine terms applicable to the nine modes of presenting
the hand in connection with the cube, which are:
/ | / |
/ | / |
/ | / |
/ | UPPER SURFACE. / |
/ | / |
/ | To hold. / |
/ | / |
| | | O |
| I | | U |
| N | | T |
| W | | W |
| A | | A |
| R | FRONT SURFACE. | R |
| D T | | | D |
| o | To retain. | | T |
| L | | L o |
| A w | Limit. -- | A |
| T i | | T b |
| E t | Obtain. | | E e |
| R h | | | R l |
| A d | BACK SURFACE. | A o |
| L r | | | L n |
| a | | To maintain. | g |
| S w | | | | S . |
| U . | Contain. | | U |
| R | | | R |
| F | | F |
| A | | A |
| C | | C |
| E | | E |
| . | | . |
| / | /
| / LOWER SURFACE. | /
| / | /
| / To sustain. | /
| / | /
| / | /
| / | /
Table of the Normal Character of These Nine Attitudes.
/ 2. Concentric . . Conflict.
2. Concentro.< 3. Normal . . . . Power.
\ 1. Eccentric . . Convulsion.
/ 2. Concentric . . Prostration.
3. Normo. < 3. Normal . . . . Abandon.
\ 1. Eccentric . . Expansion.
/ 2. Concentric . . Execration.
1. Eccentro. < 3. Normal . . . . Exaltation.
\ 1. Eccentric . . Exasperation.
These nine physiognomies of the hand modify those of the face, often
supply their place and sometimes even contradict them. When they are
appropriate to the hand and face alike, there is homogeneity. The
expression of the hands results from the coöperation of three orders of
phenomena. The first order comprises the intrinsic physiognomies assumed
by the hand under the influence of the passions. The second order
comprises the attitudes assumed by the hand toward the object of the
passion. The third order comprises the evolutions impressed upon the
hand by the body, fore-arm and shoulder. These evolutions are so many
We know the nine attitudes appropriate to the hand, and the nine
attitudes designated by the nine modes of presentation of the hand in
regard to the cubic surfaces. We must examine the nine inflections which
arise in the first instance from the three directions, antero-posterior,
vertical and transverse.
These inflections again include three movements of three kinds: Direct
movements, circular movements and oblique movements. These movements
are produced by three sorts of action: Sectional action, rotary action
and translative action.
To recapitulate: These physiognomies, attitudes and inflections form by
their combination the multifarious expressions of which the hand is
capable, as are all parts of the body.
Having spoken of the affirmations of the hand, we must speak of its
degree of certainty of which the arm is the thermometer. This
affirmation varies with the angle formed by the fore-arm with the arm.
All these modes of affirmation may be applied to negation.
Attitudes of the Legs.
1. The first attitude is normal; it consists of an equal balance of the
weight of the body on the two legs. This attitude is that of the soldier
carrying arms, without the stiffness assumed by the wilful regularity of
rigid discipline. It is also that attitude taken by a man in the act of
salutation; it is also characteristic of the weakness of a child or of
old age; it is the sign of respect. [Compare Delaumosne, p. 100.]
2. The second attitude is characteristic of repose in strength. The
weight of the body is thrown upon one hip, the free leg being carried
forward. This change should be effected without tension or stiffness.
This attitude is also characteristic of certain concentric passions
hidden under seeming calm.
3. This attitude is characteristic of vehemence, of which it is the
type. It is preëminently the eccentric attitude. It consists in carrying
the whole weight of the body forward, the backward leg extended in equal
proportion to the forward poise of the torso.
4. This attitude is characteristic of the weakness which follows
vehemence. It is the type of concentration; it is also in character as
in species the antipodes of the third attitude, since it is its resolute
expression. This attitude consists in throwing the whole weight of the
body backward, contrary to the preceding attitude where the body was
brought forward, and in bending the leg which bears the weight of the
body, which is also the reverse of the preceding attitude, where the leg
is extended. This attitude is nearly that of the fencing-master; it
differs, however, in the position of the backward foot, which, in
fencing, is turned outward. The regularity of this attitude may be
verified by kneeling, which is its paroxysm. If the attitude is well
done it leads to it naturally.
5. The fifth attitude serves as a preparation for oblique steps; it is
also colorless, transitive, suspensive. It ends all the angles formed by
walking. We may define this attitude as a third transversal; that is to
say, the free leg, instead of being behind as in the third, is
impassive, so that the body, instead of being advanced, should be
slightly inclined to one side.
6. The sixth attitude is an attitude of pomp and ceremony. It is only
assumed in the presence of kings, princes, or persons for whom we have
great respect. We will define this attitude as a third crossed
proceeding from the fifth; that is to say, the free leg of the fifth
becomes the strong leg moving sidewise and slightly forward, thus
crossing the back leg.
7. The seventh attitude is an attitude characteristic of absolute
repose. It is the strongest attitude, and, consequently, that assumed by
intoxication to resist a lack of equilibrium. It is the attitude of
vertigo, or of extreme trust.
Do not be surprised by the bringing together of these very different and
opposite terms in one and the same attitude. It is a sufficient
explanation to say that the strong attitude is sought out by weakness as
a weak attitude is sought by strength. This attitude consists in the
division of the weight of the body between both legs, which are spread
wide apart in parallel directions. This attitude would be improper in a
8. The eighth attitude is an attitude characteristic of the alternation
between the offender and defender. It is the exact medium between the
third and fourth; it, therefore, expresses moral as well as physical
alternation. A man placed between the offensive and the defensive always
assumes this attitude as if to sound the resources of his courage in
face of an enemy stronger than himself; in this attitude he may advance
or recede. This attitude is a seventh, whose direction, instead of being
lateral, is parallel to the body and antero-posterior. In this position
the body faces the forward leg, both legs being spread wide apart, as in
the seventh, both receive an equal portion of the weight of the body.
9. The ninth attitude is characteristic of defiance. This attitude is a
stiff second. It differs only in that the free leg is rigid instead of
being bent as in the second. To execute this attitude thoroughly well
the free leg must be stretched to the very utmost, without allowing the
strong leg to bend as in the fourth, which is the only attitude where
the strong leg should be bent. To prevent this flexion, the body must be
carried well over on the hip of the strong leg, so that the side of the
free leg may be elongated.
_Chart Considered from the Organic Point of View._
2. The Son,
3. The Holy Ghost,
1. The Father.
Having examined the table organically, we will study it essentially.
What we have called eccentric, concentric and normal, we will call
vitality, intellectuality and spirituality; lastly, having established
this table from the organic and the essential point of view, it remains
for us to examine it æsthetically and from a practical point of view.
Let us first examine a few gestures, for instance:
_Of the Hand._
3 colorless state abandonment
/ 3 \
expansion 1 /________\ 2 prostration
3 exaltation 3 power
/ \ / \
/ \ / \
/ 1 \ / 2 \
1 /________\ 2 1 /________\ 2
exasperation execration convulsive state struggle
_Of the Eye._
/ 3 \
indifference /________\ moroseness
stupor depression or somnolence
/ \ / \
/ \ / \
/ 1 \ / 2 \
1 /________\ 2 1 /________\ 2
surprise firmness contempt contention of mind
_Of the Torso._
/ 3 \
limbs /________\ head
larynx veil of the palate
/ \ / \
/ \ / \
/ 1 \ / 2 \
1 /________\ 2 1 /________\ 2
lungs mouth lips tongue
3 pure spirituality
/ 3 \
vital soul 1 /________\ 2 intellectual soul
3 spiritual life 3 spiritual intellect
/ \ / \
/ \ / \
/ 1 \ / 2 \
1 /________\ 2 1 /________\ 2
animal life intellectual life animal intellect mental intellece
/ Mind / Science
Human Hypostases < Soul Worlds < Grace
\ Life \ Nature
/ Light / The mind / distinguishes
Divine Attributes < Love Functions < The soul < reunites
\ Power \ The life \ asserts
/ Understanding / Speculative
Faculties < Will Reasons < Final
\ Memory \ Seminal
/ Trial generates faith
Theological Virtues< Tribulation generates experience
\ Fulfilment generates charity
The Holy Trinity Recovered in Sound.
Sound is the reflection of the Divine image. In sound there are three
reflex images: The reflex of life; of the intellect; and of love. They
result from the parallel and simultaneous action of three agents: The
projective (life), reflective (intellect), and vibrative (love).
Sound contains three sounds: That of the _tonic_, the _dominant_, and
the _mediant_. The tonic (Father) necessarily generates the dominant
(Son), and the mediant (Holy Ghost) proceeds necessarily from the first
Pythagoras discovered this law. Passing before a blacksmith's shop, he
heard the sound of heavy hammer strokes upon a forge. He recognized
perfectly that each blow gave out beside the principal tone (tonic) two
other tones, which corresponded to the twelfth and seventeenth of the
tonic. Now, the twelfth reversed is nothing but the fifth or dominant,
and the seventeenth becomes, by a double reversion, the third or mediant
of the tonic.
Let us say, then, that every tone necessarily contains the tonic its
generator, the dominant its engendered, and the mediant which proceeds
from the other two. The reünion of these three tones which makes them
into one, forms the perfect chord. Full and absolute consonance is the
expression of union, of love, of order, of harmony, of peace; it is the
return to the source of goodness, to God.
If a fourth form should be added to the perfect chord, to consonance,
there would necessarily be a dissonance. This fourth can only enter by
an effort, almost by violence. It is outside of plenitude, of the calm
established by the Divine law; it produces a painful sensation, a
dissonance. As soon as there is a discord, a dissonance, the animal
cries out, the dog howls, inert bodies suffer and vibrate; but all is
order and calm again when consonance returns.
Speech is an act posterior to will, itself posterior to love; this again
posterior to judgment, posterior in its turn to memory, which, finally,
is posterior to the impression.
Every impression, to become a sensation, must first be perceived by the
intelligence, and thus we may say of the sensation that it is a definite
impression. But, to be definite, it must pass into the domain of memory
and there solicit the reappearance of its congeners with which it may
identify itself. It is in this apparatus and surrounded by this throng
of homogeneous impressions which gather round it, as if by magic, or
rather which it draws about it as the magnet draws the iron, it is, I
say, in this complex state that it appears before the intelligence to
receive from the latter a fitting name. For the intelligence could not
give it a name if the homogeneous impressions in which it has, so to
speak, arrayed itself, did not serve to point it out.
Now, by this distinction, established by the double operation of the
memory and the intelligence, a movement takes place in the soul, of
attraction, if the intelligence approve; or of repulsion, if it
disapprove. This movement is called the will. The will, therefore,
becomes the active principle in virtue of which speech is expressed;
thus speech is the express agent of the will. It is speech, in fact,
which, under the incubation of this mysterious power, rules, groups and
moves bodies with the aid of memory.
Inflection is the life of speech; the mind lies in the articulative
values, in the distribution of these articulations and their
progressions. The soul of speech is in gesture.
Breathing, according to its form of production, is: (1) Costal or
combined; (2) diaphragmatic; (3) costo-diaphragmatic.
Breathing is a triple act based upon three phenomena: Inspiration,
suspension, expiration. From the successive predominance of each of
these three phenomena, or from their equal balance, result eighty-one
respiratory acts, which may be reduced to three terms: The breathing is
_normal, spasmodic_, or _sibilant_.
There are three questions to be considered in regard to breathing:
1. How should it, the breath, be produced to gain the greatest
development for the voice?
2. What place should it occupy in speech?
3. What aspect does it assume under the influence of the passions?
In other words, three characters may be attributed to respiration:
Vocal, logical, pathetic or passional.
The lungs constantly contain a quantity of air, which is the source of
life and with which we cannot dispense without inconvenience to health
and to the voice. The quantity of air requisite for the renewing of the
blood, and which is called the breath of life, amounts to a third of
what the lungs are capable of receiving. In order to sing, therefore,
it must be increased by two-thirds, and it is this borrowed breath only
which should be given out in singing. When the lungs are thus filled
with air, the sound is produced by escapement. From this it receives
greater force, and its production, far from being a fatigue, becomes a
Inspiration should always be followed by a suspensive silence; otherwise
the lungs, agitated by the act of inspiration, perform the expiration
Logical respiration constitutes the respiration itself. Suspension
expresses reticence, disquietude. Inspiration is an element of
dissimulation, concentration, pain. Hence, we have normal, oppressive,
spasmodic, superior, sibilant, rattling, intermittent, crackling, and
Expiration is an element of trust, expansion, confidence and tenderness.
If the expression contains both pain and love, the inspiration and
expiration will both be noisy; but the one or the other will predominate
according as pain predominates over love, or _vice versa._
The source of passional respiration lies in the agitation of the heart.
The effect of respiration is most powerful, for the slighter and more
imperceptible the phenomena are, the more effect they have upon the
The organ assumes at birth a form; this form is called the timbre or
tone, This tone corresponds to the constitutional form. Under the sway
of habit, the form assumes an acquired tone which is called emission.
The emissive form corresponds to the habitual tone. Under the sway of
emotion the voice is modulated and assumes forms which we will call
passional or transitory.
The mouth is normal, concentric and eccentric. [See chart in Delaumosne,
From these three types we have succeeded in fixing and classifying
forty-eight million phenomena.
Definition of the Voice.
The voice is the essential element in singing. It is based upon sound.
This is based upon three agents:
The _projective_ agent, or the _lungs_.
The _vibrative_ agent, or the _larnyx_.
The _reverberative_ agent, or the _mouth_.
Each of these agents acts in different ways, nine acts resulting
therefrom, which we will call products of phonetic acts.
The projective agent in its special activities engenders
The vibrative agent in its special activities engenders
The reverberative agent in its special activities engenders
To recapitulate, the phonetic agents give us nine products; but, when
studied from the vocal point of view, these products become as many
elements and must be examined from the triple point of view of
preparatory, practical and transcendant studies. We must, therefore,
know first the general definition of these elements, their cause and
their theoretical history, which constitutes phonology or the
preparatory study of the voice.
Secondly, we must know the physical order in virtue of which these
phenomena may be acquired or developed. The various special exercises
and the vices to be avoided constitute phonation or the practical study
of the voice.
Thirdly, we must know and appreciate the physiological, intellectual and
moral meaning of these elements, the different relations of resemblance,
of opposition and of identity which exist between these different
The modes of application or principles of style form the transcendent
study or æsthesiophony, that is, the voice applied to feeling, etc.
_What the Register is._
The register is an intrinsic modification of the sound; a modification
which is produced in the larynx itself and which does not belong to the
mouth. Now, we may say of registers that they are to the larnyx what
emissions are to the mouth. Thus registers form a physiognomy which the
sound assumes in the larynx, and emissions form the physiognomy which
that same sound takes on in the mouth.
Light and shade are not, as has been asserted, subject to the
arbitration or inspiration of the moment. They are ruled by laws; for in
art there is not a single phenomenon which is not subject to absolute
mathematical laws. A knowledge of these laws is important, the art of
shading forming the basis of style.
The opinion which makes the ascending phrase progressive is false six
times out of seven. It is only correct in the following cases:
1. If an ascending phrase encounters no repeated and no dissonant note
it is progressive, and the culminating note is the most intense. It has
one degree of intensity.
2. If we find a note repeated in the ascending phrase, that note, even
if it be the lowest of all, must be made more important than the highest
note and will have two degrees of intensity. In this case, the higher
the voice rises the softer it must become; for there cannot be more than
one culminating point in a musical phrase any more than in a logical or
mimetic phrase. All sounds must, therefore, diminish in proportion to
their distance from this centre of expression, from this repeated note.
The reason of the intensity of a repeated note lies in the fact that we
repeat only that thing which we desire, and this intensity gives it a
3. If the repeated note be at the same time the culminating note, it
will require a new degree of intensity. It will have three degrees of
4. We may possibly find a dissonant note in the ascending phrase, with a
repeated culminating note. (This note would, then, be more than an
indication; it would receive an adjective form from the accident,
assuming in the musical phrase the value that an adjective would have in
a logical phrase.) Its intensity, therefore, would be greater than that
of the highest repeated note, and it would have four degrees of
5. If the dissonant note is also the highest note, it acquires from that
position a fifth degree of intensity.
6. It may happen that the dissonant note appearing in a rising phrase is
repeated; by reason of this repetition it would receive a sixth degree
7. Finally, if the dissonant note is at the same time culminating and
repeated, it has seven degrees of intensity.
Pathetic effects are nine in number, the principal of which are as
follows: The veiled tone; the flat or compressed tone; the smothered
tone; the ragged tone; the vibrant tone. The last is the most powerful.
Vibration or tremolo, bad when produced involuntarily by the singer,
becomes a brilliant quality when it is voluntary and used at an
opportune time. Every break must be preceded by a vibration, which
prepares the way for it.
Prolations are laryngeal articulations. Great care must be taken not to
substitute pectoral articulations for them.
The chest is a passive agent; it should furnish nothing but the breath.
The mouth and the larynx alone are entitled to act.
_On the Tearing of the Voice._
Exuberance of the contained brings on destruction of that which contains
it. Tearing of the voice, therefore, should only be associated with an
excessive extension of the sound whose intensity, as we have
demonstrated, is in inverse ratio to the dramatic proportion.
The figure 1 is characteristic of unity and measure. The figure 2, which
is the measure in the 1, should become subordinate in its greatness and
be equal with it. It is another one which gives birth to the idea of
The idea of number can only arise from the presence of terms of the same
nature. Thus the idea of number cannot arise from the presence of a cart
and a toad. We shall thus have two very distinct unities, having no kind
of relation to each other. There must, therefore, be equality before
there can be number. This is so true that we cannot say of a man and a
child that they are two men or two children, because the one is not
equal to the other. It is, therefore, from the point of an attributive
equality that we are enabled to say: They are two. But we can say: There
are two beings, because in regard to being they are equal one to the
other. We now understand how two equals one, that the two figures have
an equal importance, and that the figure 1 contains exclusively the idea
of measure; the figure 2 contains the idea of number, which is not in
the 1, this being the characteristic feature by which the two terms
Now, how are we to form a perfect unity between these two equal but
A single operation will suffice to give us the idea we wish, and this
operation is revealed to us entire in the word _weight_. In fact, the
two terms can only be united by this word. We feel that 1 and 2 give us
a common weight, the sum of which is represented by the figure 3. The
figure 3 is, therefore, equal in importance to 1 and to 2; it maintains
equality in the terms of which it is the representative, and its
characteristic feature is equally important with those already
Thus to the figure 1 belongs the idea of _measure_; to the figure 2
belongs the idea of _number_; to the figure 3 belongs exclusively the
idea of reünion, of community, of unity in fine, which no other figure
can reveal to us. We may say: 1 and 1 are equal among themselves, in the
unity of the figure 3; or, in other words: Measure and number find their
unity in weight.
Medallion of Inflection (Compare Delaumosne, page 119.)
Explanation.--The vertical line 1 (from top to bottom) expresses
affirmation, confirmation; 2, the horizontal line, expresses negation.
The oblique lines, 3 and 4, from within outward and from without inward,
express rejection. 4, an oblique line from within outward rejects things
which we despise. 3, a line from within outward, rejects things which
oppress us and of which we wish to get rid. 5, the quadrant of a circle,
whose form recalls that of a hammock, expresses well-being, contentment,
confidence and happiness. 6, a similar quadrant of a circle, an
eccentric curvilinear, expresses secrecy, silence, domination,
persuasion, stability, imposition, inclosure. The reëntering external
curvilinear quadrant of a circle, 7, expresses graceful, delicate
things. Produced in two ways, from above downward, it expresses physical
delicacy; from below upward, moral and intellectual delicacy. The
external quadrant of a circle, 8, expresses exuberance and plenitude,
amplitude and generosity. The circular line surrounding and embracing is
characteristic of glorification and exaltation.
1. You may believe
2. That none, oh Lord
3. Had such glory
4. Or such happiness.
Thy voice, brother,
cannot be heard.
After such a marvel
one might believe a thousand
without raising his eyebrows.
[Illustration] The other was a perfect
master of the art of cheating.
Remark.--These inflections being produced, it is essential to know the
centre from which they emanate. The amplitude of the circle described
must be in harmony with the object in question. Thus a circle may be
produced with the entire arm, and glorification is the thing in
[Illustration] grace, elegance
[Illustration] charm, elevation
[Illustration] Light and amiable.
[Illustration] Light and spiritual.
The half quarter of a circle characteristic of exuberance combined with
the half quarter circle characteristic of delicacy, expreses grace. It
is delicacy mixed with abundance; tenuity supported by generosity.
[Illustration] The rejection of a
contemptible thing (4)
concluded by happiness,
well-being (5) signifies
that repose will not be purchased
at the cost of a contemptible
[Illustration] The possession of
[Illustration] The 3 combined
with the 5 rejection
of an illusory happiness.
Note.--The figures 3, 4, 5, 6, refer to the corresponding figures in the
Medallion of Inflection.
The hand placed horizontally, the back uppermost pirouetting on the
wrist alternately in pronation and supination, thus passing from force
to feebleness and from feebleness to force, characterizes irritability.
[Compare Delaumosne, pages 114-118.]
[Illustration: Chart of Man. Human Nature.]
[Illustration: Chart of the Angels. Angelic Nature.]
The Nature of the Colors of Each Circle in the Color Charts.
_Red, Blue and Yellow._
Red is the color of life. Indeed, this is asserted by fire, by the heat
of the blood.
Blue is the color of the mind. Is not blue the color of the sky, the
home of pure intellects, set free from the body, who see and know all
things? To them everything is in the light.
Yellow is the color of the soul. Yellow is the color of flame.
Flame contains the warmth of life and the light of the mind. As the soul
contains and unites the life and the mind, so the flame warms and
shines. [Compare Delaumosne, page 157.]
The Attributes of Reason.
The human reason, that haughty faculty, deified in our age by a myriad
of perverse and commonplace minds known under the derisive and doubly
vain title of freethinkers, is but blind, despite its high opinion of
its own insight. Yes, and we affirm by certain intuition that man's
reason is not and cannot be otherwise than blind, aside from the
revealing principle which only enlightens it in proportion to its
subordination; for, abandoned to itself, reason can only err and must
fatally fall into an abyss of illusions.
The melancholy age in which we live but too often offers us an example
of the lamentable mistakes into which we are hurried by misguided
reason, which, yielding to a criminal presumption, deserts without
remorse the principle super-abounding in _life, light_ and _glory_.
To understand such an anomaly, to explain how reason, which constitutes
one of the highest attributes of man, is so far subject to error, it is
essential to have a thorough apprehension of the complexity of its
nature. What, then, is the real nature of the reason so little studied
and so illy known by those very men who raise altars in its honor? Let
us try to produce a clear demonstration. And let us first say that
reason does not constitute a primary principle in man; for a primary
_principle_ could never mistake its object. Neither is it a primary
_faculty_; it is only the form or the manner of being of such a faculty,
and thus cannot be a light in itself. The rays by which it shines are
external to it in the sense that it receives them from the principle
which governs and fertilizes it. Still, let us say that, although
neither a principle nor a faculty, reason is none the less, with
conscience, of which it forms the base, the noblest power of man; for
this power God created free; free from subjection to the principle that
enlightens it; free, too, to escape from it. Yet every power necessarily
recognizes a guiding principle to whose service it needs must bow; but
to reason alone it is granted to avoid the law which imperiously rules
the relations of the harmonious subordination of principiant faculties
to their principles. Hence the error or possible blindness of reason;
hence also its incomparable grandeur, which lies solely in its free and
spontaneous subordination. These principles established, let us go still
farther, and penetrate deeper into the mysterious genius of reason.
authorized to define reason. He did it in terms at once so simple, so
precise, and of such exquisite clarity, that we may venture to think
that reason itself could not have better rendered the terms of its own
This definition, let no one fail to see, contains in its extreme brevity
more substance than would fill a voluminous treatise. This, then, is his
_Reason is the discursive form of the intellect._
Now by this St. Thomas plainly establishes that reason, distinct from
the intellect, with which we must beware of confounding it, proceeds
from it as effect proceeds from cause. Therefore, intellect surpasses
reason as its principiant and guiding faculty; and reason only figures
in the intelligential sphere, despite the important part it plays in
virtue of its adjunctive or supplementing power.
But what is the purpose of this adjunction? Here, in reply to this grave
and important question, let us refer to what the same scholar says
elsewhere. "Reason arises," he says, "from the failure of intellect."
Certainly this is a luminous, and doubtless a very unexpected
proposition. From it we learn, on the one hand, that the intellect is
liable to defects and consequently to weaknesses; on the other hand, it
seems established that the adjunctive power comes to aid the faculty
which governs it, since here the subjected is born of the failure of
Let us explain this fresh anomaly. We have in the first place declared
the preceding proposition luminous in spite of the obscurity into which
we are plunged by the consequences which we have derived from it; but,
patience! We are already aware that it is from the very obscurity of
things that the brightest light sometimes bursts upon contemplative
eyes; and since faith is the next principle to knowledge, let us have
faith at least in the trustworthiness of him who addresses us,
especially as he has given us repeated, unequivocal tokens of sound and
upright reason. Let us, then, have no doubt that the preceding
proposition contains a precious precept; and very certainly light will
soon dawn on our mind.
This settled, and for the better understanding of the meaning attached
to this proposition, let us call to our aid the powers of analogy.
If reason arises from the failure of intellect it is doubtless to
rectify the valuations of the ego. Now the _compass_, which is in itself
very inferior to the hand which fashions it and appropriates it to its
own use, nevertheless implies a defect in that hand which directs it. So
there is between the eye and the telescope, which comes to its aid, all
the distance that divides the faculty from the instrument which it
governs. Still the telescope joined to the eye communicates to it a
great power of vision; but the instrument arises from the failure of
the eye, which is nevertheless infinitely superior to it; for it is the
eye which sees, and not the telescope.
It is thus that we must understand the relations of reason and
intellect. Let us say, then, that the reason is to the intellect exactly
what the telescope is to the eye. This established, we can formulate the
following definition as well founded.
The intellect is the spiritual eye whose mysterious telescope reason
forms, or: reason is a necessary appendage of mental optics, or again:
reason is the glass used by the eye of a defective intellect.
But this is not all. St. Thomas provides us still elsewhere with the
means of making our analogy more striking. He says, indeed: reason is
given us to make clear that which is not evident. Is not this, as it
were, the seal of truth applied to our demonstration? Thus the eye uses
the telescope absolutely as the intellect employs the reason, to make