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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/February 1900/President Jordan's Neminism

PRESIDENT JORDAN'S "NEMINISM."
Office of the President, Leland Stanford Junior University,
Palo Alto, Cal.
Post Office, Stanford University.

Dear Dr. Youmans:

The inclosed, from an anonymous but appreciative source, may interest you. It is doubtless true that the philosophy of feminism goes back to India, through Hegel and Plato, but the high priestess does not know this. She made it all out of her own head.

Truly yours,
David S. Jordan.

The University of Mentiphysics,
Lynn, Mass.,
December 6, 1899.

President David Starr Jordan, Leland Stanford University, California.

Sir: I have before me the last issue of one of our two or three great scientific magazines, in which Mr. Giddings lays down the exact method we are to follow in sociology, thereby creating the pleasing impression that hereafter he intends to stick to it himself. But, sir, I wish to say, as a student of "feminism," as you call it, that my emotions were far less agreeable on perusing your brilliant plagiarism, the doctrine of Nihil nemini nocet, an aphorism which apparently you wish to make rival the Cogito ergo sum of the Cartesian philosophy. I will concede to you (I being, as it is perhaps necessary for me to remark, a literary person) the undoubted right all real literary persons have of appropriating everything of a literary nature that they can lay their hands upon; but, while we are in perfect harmony upon this occasion, in regard to that point, I regret to insist that the thing must be done judiciously—that is the art. Any mere plebeian can accumulate facts—that is the raison d'être of the plebeian; his duty is to work—but the real ethereal literary man, such as the monthly magazines nourish, must disdain facts and theories and the truth, and must float in the pure, soft twilight of his own imagination while he writes about people who never existed, in a language which nobody can understand. Yet, sir, in your unblushing appropriation of the late Professor Hegel's dictum of Sein und nicht Sein sind dieselbe (which I presume you, sir, to exculpate yourself, will swear you do not understand), and in your changing that immortal antithesis to your Nihil nemini nocet—in doing all this I declare that you have violated one of the most sacred principles, in fact, the very essence of "Neminism; for to say, as you have said, that nothing hurts nobody, is to say a very dull, prosaic, vulgar fact which any fool can understand; but to say that "to be and not to be are the same" is to say something that is not only very beautiful, but, what is far more to the point, is likewise utterly incomprehensible; yet to do this is the essence of Neminism, as you yourself have shown.

As a confirmed Neminist glorying in his Neminism, as Pascal's Father Joseph, the Jesuit, gloried in "interpretation" of the words "murder" and "charity," I am, sir (and I hope my frequent use of this monosyllable will not annoy you, for the first feminist, Plato, uses Ω Σωκρατες quite as frequently, though his expression requires four times as much wind or space as mine), I say, then, that I am always anxious to be thought well of by people who are on top or are getting there, in order, to use your own undignified and cruel metaphor in the Rev. Mr. Lyman Abbott's journal of news and Christianity, that I may continue "to hold down" my position as the janitor and Professor of Leibnitzian Monadology in the University of Mentiphysics. But there are times, sir, when even a Neminist rises above his interest, and, like Richelieu in the play, exchanges the lion's and the fox's skins. In short, I beg to inform you that I believe that you, seeing the growing attachment of the vulgar mob for the Wissenshaftliche Pädagogie of the Robinson Crusoeans or concentrationists, have had the thought to sap the foundations of their success by vulgarizing our noble monopoly of feministic science, and I should not be at all surprised to see your name, after a little, as the editor of a "Journal of Psycho-Materno-Kinder Apperceptics," or of a strictly American "Great Educator Series," beginning with Pontiac and ending with Jim Fiske.

Or perhaps, sir, you are actuated by deeper motives. Our university has not yet received the complimentary copy of your work on Imperial Democracy, the Government probably holding it back until General Young can catch Mr. Aguinaldo, but I see by the publishers' lists that it is out, Now, it is easy to see that if Imperial Democracy gets within a stone's throw of China it will get into China, and, with your knowledge of Aristotle's Politics and the Highbinders in Chinatown, you can not have failed to have recognized that feminism and Orientalism are very similar. To be or not to be; to be alive or to be dead; to be drunk or to be sober—'tis all the same for the people; 'tis Nirvana. You wish to vulgarize Neminism. What follows your success? Immediately every State will make it an obligatory study in the public schools, and when, in the distant future, we meet the Chinamen face to face, we will be ready to exterminate them or be exterminated by them; for it is an axiom of sociology, which it is to be hoped Mr. Giddings will see the value of and will in the next edition of his Social Euclid make number one, that when two societies completely differing in origin, history, manners, institutions, and laws come together they start in the more quickly to cut each other's throats when they have a common idea in which they can locate a difference, and hence find a logical excuse to begin.

I would have preferred that our president had taken up this unpleasant task of criticising your mischievous efforts to vulgarize our beautiful science, which, like the true religion of the Egyptians, should be retained sub rosa in the temples; but she, as you yourself have said, does not like controversial publicity, and has often remarked that our science is like the mushroom, for, though it is the child of darkness and Byzantian filth, it is eminently adapted to be retained by weak stomachs, while for others it may be nauseating. I am, sir, very respectfully,

Anacharsis Pangloss, M. Plane.

 

Though religiously refraining from introducing my own personality in the foregoing, it being a cardinal point in our science that it is good form to appear modest—videri quam esse, as was said of Cato—I am, nevertheless, obliged to observe that I am not at all in any way related to the Dr. Pangloss, LL. D., A. S. S., mentioned in the play of the Heir at Law, nor yet, though perhaps more spiritually akin, to that other Dr. Pangloss—Dr. Leibnitz Pangloss, the tutor of Candide mentioned by the late Monsieur Voltaire of happy memory. Dr. L. Pangloss, a fine old fellow at bottom, was engaged in showing how, in the best possible words, a cause always precedes its effect; for instance, Monsieur the Baron Thunder den Trockendorf has a nose, argues he—it will carry spectacles, hence the nose was created for spectacles, and spectacles are created. It is plain that Dr. L. Pangloss was a scientist. Now, I am a sociologist, and it is the hope of my life to fill the chair of Monadology in the new American university, where I intend to show that while the rich are becoming richer the poor will become richer than the rich in contemplating how much more satisfaction the rich get out of their riches than they, the poor, get out of their poverty. This, as you will at once recognize, is in the line of what Mr. Lester Ward calls Dynamic Sociology, and, though it is not the acme of the application of dynamics such as that which knocked Hebraism out of Saul of Tarsus, I beg to remind you that, until German science has made further progress in the application of electricity, we lack the means of producing the necessary phenomena by which alone such effects can be secured.A. P.