Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/115

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ON BRAIN-WORK AND HARD-WORK.

fashioned; so, to avoid grating on the nerves of a monistic world, I will say "of brain or muscle." But can we draw a sharp, well-defined boundary-line between brain-work and muscle-work? Recent investigations into the functions of the brain show that it has the task of directing and co-ordinating muscular effort. The athlete, or say the musical performer, has not merely to strengthen his muscles and acquire flexibility of arm, hand, and finger; his exercises serve at the same time to develop and perfect those regions of the brain by which the muscles in question are actuated and co-ordinated.

Professor Du Bois-Reymond, in his admirable articles on "Exercise" ("Popular Science Monthly" for July and August, 1882), contends that "bodily exercises are not merely muscle-gymnastics, but also nerve-gymnastics," and that practice in the movements of the limbs is "essentially exercise of the central nerve-system." Hence muscle-work which is not at the same time brain-work is a chimera, which has no existence. But it will now be asked, Is there any brain-work without muscle-work? Undoubtedly; we may see phenomena, we may reason upon them, and come to a conclusion concerning their nature without any muscular action at all. But if we even wish to write down our results, or to tell them to a friend, some muscular action, small though it be, is needed. Or we wish to go further: not content with merely observing the phenomena which chance brings before our eyes, we go forth in search of facts. Here muscular-work is blended with brainwork. A step further: We wish to put definite questions to Nature, to perform physical, chemical, or physiological experiments. In all these cases the hand has to be the inseparable companion of the brain. The efficiency of the one will not compensate for inefficiency in the other. Now, the work of the experimentalist rarely requires great strength, but it invariably stands in need of delicacy, nicety of touch and movement, bodily or, if you will, muscular, attributes to be reached only by training.

It is the same in the fine arts. The painter needs not merely an exquisite perception of form and color, an instinctive—as it appears to outsiders—appreciation of their relations and harmonies; unless he possesses in addition to all this the requisite nicety of touch, he must fail to embody in visible form the conceptions present in his brain. Precisely the same is it with the musician. The orator and the actor must also, in addition to their mere mental gifts, have vocal organs thoroughly developed and disciplined. Thus we see that in the highest walks of science and art, brain-work and muscle-work exist, I might say, in a state of interpenetration.

Again, at a work-table in Y—— Street sits a microscopist, carefully studying the peculiarities of a newly detected microbion, or dissecting the larva of the Phylloxera. What is he? Brain-worker, or muscle-worker? You pronounce him a brain-worker; his brain, in your opinion, doing the larger—the essential—part of his task. So be