Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/149

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

as the law of mind, in contradistinction to the process or principle according to which evolution in general takes place, and which the author calls the law of Nature; not that telesis is not also a natural law; but it is utterly unlike the other law, came forward at a late stage in the history of cosmic evolution, and seems to have inaugurated a new order of things. In dealing with the animal world the law of Nature is replaced by that of reason in destroying the tendencies of the wild state and substituting complete submission to man's will, or domestication. By a process of artificial selection, which supplants that of natural selection, those qualities which are most useful to man are rendered more and more prominent until most domesticated animals undergo profound physical modifications in the direction of utility. These modifications are not always also in the line of natural evolution, but, so far as the particular qualities selected are concerned, they usually are so, and in many cases careful breeding improves the whole animal, so that man becomes a powerful ally of evolution itself. This is not disproved by the fact that such improved races usually revert more or less to their original condition when human influence is withdrawn; but the fact establishes another law of biology; viz., that natural selection does not secure the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence. It merely fixes the exact position which each species is capable of holding in the general competition. This is far below what it might attain if competition were removed. Exactly what man does is to remove this competition, and the immense progress that every species makes is shown in the improvement of the stock under man's intelligent care. Substantially the same results have attended the operation of the telic power on the vegetable kingdom. The display of individual telesis on inanimate objects and natural forces has been the mainspring of human progress; and the definition of civilization is reached that it is the utilization of the materials and forces of Nature.

 

Decorative Art of the Northwestern Indians.—The decorative art of the Indians of the North Pacific coast—the subjects of which are almost exclusively animals—is characterized by Mr. Franz Boas as differing from other arts in that it is less conventionalized and geometrical, and the parts of the body may still be recognized as such, although liberties have been taken with their size and arrangement. The objects decorated are always of practical use, and the carvings are subordinated to them and limited by their shape. Carving is done mostly in wood, but also in stone and horn, and is usually in the round, in bas-relief, or, although more rarely, in high relief. In consequence of the adaptation of the form to the decorative field, the native artist can not attempt an artistic representation of the object, but is compelled to indicate only its main characteristics. In consequence of the distortion of the animal body due to its adaptation to various surfaces, the animal meant would be hardly recognizable if the artist did not emphasize what he considers its characteristic features, and these in many cases become its symbol. Yet, while the symbolism develops a tendency to suppress parts of the animal, we find in the efforts of the artist to adapt the form of the creature to the decorative field a desire to preserve, as far as is feasible, its whole figure; and with the exception of a few profiles, we do not find a single instance that can be interpreted as an endeavor to give a perspective and therefore realistic view of the animal. The representations are combinations of symbols of the various parts of the body, arranged in such a way that if possible the whole animal is brought into view. A tendency is manifest to exaggerate the symbols at the expense, of other parts of the subject.

 

The Chinese Oil Tree.—We find the following interesting information in the Consular Reports, vol. liv. No. 203: The wood-oil tree (Aleurites cordata) belongs to a family very common in China, known as the Tung. It is mentioned in some of the oldest books of the Chinese, where it is praised for its beautiful flowers and for the peculiar value of its wood in the manufacture of lutes. The leaves, bark, and flowers of certain varieties are used in medicine. The variety from which the oil is obtained is known as the ying tzu tung, so called from the shape of its fruit—ying means a jar. Oil is said to be derived from other varieties, but it is the