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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/677

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657
THE ANTECHAMBER OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

behind the center small patches of blue sky appear. Farther from the center we find showers or cold squalls; beyond them, hard detached cumulus or strato-cumulus; still farther the sky is blue again. In the south of the cyclone, near the outskirts, the long, wispy clouds known as windy cirrus and "mares' tails" are observed. These indicate wind rather than rain, as they are outside of the rainy portion of the cyclone.

 

THE ANTECHAMBER OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
By FRANCIS SPEIR, Jr.
I.

THACKERAY, in that delightful "Roundabout Paper," "De Finibus," confidentially discusses with the reader the genesis of his literary creations. In introducing the subject of this article I shall quote this passage as presenting a pleasing exposition of a certain phase of literary work that is accomplished apparently without any action of the will to account for the result: "I have been surprised at the observations made by some of my characters. It seems as if an occult power was moving the pen. The personage does or says something, and I ask, 'How the dickens did he come to think of that?' Every man has observed in dreams the vast dramatic power that is evinced—I won't say the surprising power, for nothing does surprise you in dreams—but those strange characters you meet make instant observations, of which you never can have thought previously. In like manner the imagination foretells things; we spake anon of the afflated style, when a writer is like a pythoness on her oracle tripod, and mighty words—words which he can not help—come blowing, and whistling, and moaning through the speaking-tubes of his bodily organ." Our literature is full of suggestions such as this, pointing to an intellectual workhouse where all is unknown, but from which comes forth polished, finished work, done how or where we know not.

My attention for some years has been directed to the subject of unconscious cerebration, as it is called, and to the literature of the subject, from the suggestion of its existence by Leibnitz, to its present exposition by Carpenter, Holmes, and Miss Cobbe. It was with a desire to throw the light of further-collected facts upon the relation of a conscious activity to a possible unconscious cerebral activity that I undertook the task of collecting the necessary data. The method employed in collecting these data was the well-known one of the distribution of printed questions to be answered from personal experience. While much of the ground has been gone over before, the questions at issue have been tested largely upon hearsay evidence—tales that somebody has told of somebody else; hence, with our human infirmities, the generalization founded on such facts can fairly be questioned.