HERMIONE AND HER LITTLE GROUP OF SERIOUS THINKERS
BY DON MARQUIS
PROEM Introducing Some of Hermione's Friends
Sincerity in the Home
Aren't the Russians Wonderful?
How Suffering Purifies One!
Understanding and One's Own Home
Thoughts of Heredity and Things
The Swami Brandranath
Fothergil Finch, the Poet of Revolt
How the Swami Happened to Have Seven Wives
The Romantic Old Days
Hermione's Boswell Explains
Symbols and Dew-Hopping
The Song of the Snore
Ballads of Understanding
Hermione on Fashions and War
Urges and Dogs
Moods and Poppies
Hermione Takes up Literature
The World Is Getting Better
War and Art
A Spiritual Dialogue
Will the Best People Receive the Superman Socially?
The Parasite Woman Must Go!
The House Beautiful
Mamma Is So Mid-Victorian
Voke Easely and His New Art
Hermione on Superficiality
Isis, the Astrologist
The Simple Home Festivals
Citronella and Stegomyia
Hermione's Salon Opens (Verse)
The Perfume Factory
On Being Other-Worldly
Parents, and Their Influence
Fothergil Finch Tell of His Revolt Against Organized Society
The Exotic and the Unemployed
Souls and Toes
Kultur and Things
The Spirit of Christmas
Poor Dear Mamma and Fothergil Finch
Prison Reform and Poise
An Example of Psychic Power
Some Beautiful Thoughts
The Bourgeois Element and Background
Taking Up the Liquor Problem
The Japanese are Wonderful, If You Get What I Mean
She Refuses to Give UP the Cosmos
The Cave Man
The Little Group Gives a Pagan Masque
Blouses, Bulgars, and Buttermilk
Hermione on Psychical Research
Envoy Hermione the Deathless
(Introducing some of Hermione's Friends)
I visited one night, of late, Thoughts Underworld, the Brainstorm Slum, The land of Futile Piffledom; A salon weird where congregate Freak, Nut and Bug and Psychic Bum.
There, there, they sit and cerebrate: The fervid Pote who never potes, Great Artists, Male or She, that Talk But scorn the Pigment and the chalk, And Cubist sculptors wild as Goats, Theosophists and Swamis, too, Musicians mad as Hatters be— (E'en puzzled Hatters, two or three!) Tame anarchists, a dreary crew, Squib Socialists too damp to sosh, Fake Hobohemians steeped in suds, Glib females in Artistic Duds With Captive Husbands cowed and gauche.
I saw some Soul Mates side by side Who said their cute young Souls were pink; I saw a Genius on the Brink (Or so he said) of suicide. I saw a Playwright who had tried But couldn't make the Public think; I saw a novelist who cried, Reading his own Stuff, in his drink; I saw a vapid egg-eyed Gink Who said eight times: "Art is my bride!"
A queen in sandals slammed the Pans And screamed a Chinese chant at us, the while a Hippopotamus Shook tables, book-shelves and divans With vast Terpsichorean fuss . . . Some Oriental kind of muss . . . .
A rat-faced Idiot Boy who slimes White paper o'er with metric crimes— He is a kind of Burbling Blear Who warbles Sex Slush sad to hear And mocks God in his stolen rhymes and wears a ruby in one ear— Murder to me: "My Golden Soul Drinks Song from out a Crystal Bowl. . . . Drinks Love and Song . . . my Golden Soul!" I let him live. There were no bricks.
Or even now that Golden Soul were treading water in the Styx.
A Pallid Skirt — Anemic Wisp, As bloodless as a stick of chalk — Got busy with this line of talk: "The Sinner is Misunderstood! How can the Spirit enter in, Be blended with, the Truly Good Unless through Sympathy with Sin?"
"Phryne," I murmured, sad and low, "I pass the Buck—I do not know!"
Upon a mantel sat a Bust. . . . Some Hindu god, pug-faced and squat; A visage to inspire disgust. . . . Lord Bilk, the Deity of Rot. . . . Nay, surely, 'twas the great god Bunk, For when I wunk at it, it wunk!
I heard . . . I heard it proved that night That Fire is Cold, and Black is White, That Junk is Art, and Art is Junk, That Virtue's wrong, and Vice is right, That Death is Life, and Life is Death, That Breath is Rocks, and Rocks are Breath:—
The Cheap and easy paradox The Food springs, hoping that it shocks. . . .
Brain-sick I stumbled to the street And drooled onto a kindly Cop: "Since moons have feathers on their feet, Why is your headgear perched on top? And if you scorn the Commonplace, Why wear a Nose upon your Face? And since Pythagoras is mute on Sex Hygiene and Cosmic Law, Is your Blonde Beast as Bland a Brute, As Blind a Brute, as Bernard Shaw? No doubt, when drilling through the parks, With Ibsen's Ghost and Old Doc Marx, You've often seen two Golden Souls Drink Suds and Sobs from Crystal Bowls?"
"I ain't," he says, "I ain't, Old Kid, And I would pinch 'em if I did!"
"Thank God," I said, "for this, at least: The world, in spots, is well policed!"
SINCERITY IN THE HOME
SINCERITY should be the keynote of a life, don't you think?
Sincerity — beauty — use — these are my watchwords.
I heard such an interesting talk on sincerity the other evening. I belong to a Little Group of Serious Thinkers who are taking up sincerity in all its phases this week.
We discussed Sincerity in the Home.
So many people's homes, you know, do not represent anything personal.
The SINCERE home should be full of purpose and personality — decorations, rugs, ornaments, hangings and all, you know.
The home shows the soul.
So I'm doing over our house from top to bottom, putting personality into it.
I've a room I call the Ancestor's Room.
You know, when one has ancestors, one's ancestral traditions keep one up to the mark, somehow. You know what I mean — blood will tell, and all that. Ancestors help one to be sincere.
So I've finished my Ancestors' Room with all sorts of things to remind me of the dear dead-and-gone people I get my traditions from.
Heirlooms and portraits and things, you know.
Of course, all our own family heirlooms were destroyed in a fire years ago.
So I had to go to the antique shops for the portraits and furniture and chairs and snuff boxes and swords and fire irons and things.
I bought the loveliest old spinet — truly, a fine!
I can sit down to it and image I am my own grandmother's grandmother, you know.
And it's wonderful to sit among those old heir- looms and feel the sense of my ancestors' personalities throbbing and pulsing all about me!
I feel, when I sit at the spinet, that my personality is truly represented by my surroundings at last.
I feel that I have at last achieved sincerity in the midst of my traditions.
And there's a picture of the loveliest old lady . . . old fashioned costume, you know, and all that . . . and the hair dressed in a very peculiar way. . . .
Mamma says its a MADE-UP picture — not really an antique at all — but I can just feel the personality vibrating from it.
I got it at a bargain, too.
I call her — the picture, you know — after an ancestress of mine who came to this country in the old Colonial days.
With William the Conqueror, you know — or maybe it was William Penn. But it couldn't have been William Penn, could it? For she went to New Jersey — Orange, N.J. Was it William of Orange? More than likely . . .
Anyhow, I call the picture after her — Lady Clarissa, I call it. She married a commoner, as so many of the early settlers of this country did.
When I sit at the spinet and look at Lady Clarissa I often wonder what people do without family traditions.
And its such a comfort to know I'm in a room that really represents my personality.
Have you thought much about Vibrations?
We're taking them up this week — a Little Group of Advanced Thinkers I belong to, you know — and they're wonderfully worth while — WONDERFULLY so!
That's what I always ask myself — is a thing WORTH WHILE? Or isn't it?
Vibrations are the key to everything. Atoms used to be, but Atoms have quite gone out.
The thing that makes the new dances so wonder- fully beneficial, you know, is that they give you Vibrations.
To an untrained mind, of course, Vibrations would be dangerous.
But I always feel that the right sort of mind will get good out of everything, and the wrong sort will get harm.
The most interesting woman talked to us the other night — to our little group, you know — on one- piece bathing suits and the Greek spirit.
Don't you just done on the Greeks?
They have some of the most MODERN ideas — it seems we get a lot of our advanced thought from them, if you get what I mean.
They were so UNRESTRICTED, too. One has only to look at their friezes and vases and things to realize that.
And the one-piece bathing suit, so the woman said, was an unconscious modern effort to get back to the Greek spirit.
She had a husband with her. He does lecture or anything, you know.
But she isn't so very Greek-looking herself, al- though her spirit is so Greek, so she has this Greek- looking husband to wear the sandals and the tunics and the togas and things.
She calls him Achilles.
It's quite proper, you know — Achilles stays be- hind a screen until she wants to illustrate a point, and then he comes out with a lyre or a lute or something, and just stands there and LOOKS Greek. And then he goes back behind the screen and changes into the next garment she needs.
Of course, there are lots of men couldn't stand it as well as Achilles. But when you come to that, there are lots of men who don't look so very well in bathing suits, either.
And, of course, our American men don't have the temperament to carry off a thing like that.
Of course, if we all turned Greek it would be quite a shock at first to see everybody come into a dining-room or a drawing-room looking like Achilles does.
Not that temperament makes so much difference as it did a few years ago, you know — temperament and personality are going out and individuality is coming in.
Have you thought much about automatic writing?
It's being taken up again, you know.
Not the vulgar, old-fashioned kind of spiritualism — that was so ordinary, wasn't it?
The new ghosts are different. More — more — well, more REFINED, somehow, you know. Like the new dances as compared with that horrid turkey trot.
One should always ask one's self: "Does this have a refining influence on me; and through me on the world?"
For, after all, there is a duty one owes to society in general.
Have you seen the new sunshades?
AREN'T THE RUSSIANS WONDERFUL?
Aren't the Russians marvelous people!
We're been taking up Diaghileff in a serious way — our little group, you know — and really, he's wonderful!
Who else but Diaghileff could give those lovely Russians things the proper accent?
And accent — if you know what I mean — accent is everything!
Accent! Accent! What would art be without accent?
Accent is coming in — if you get what I mean — and what they call "punch" is going out. I always thought it was a frightfully vulgar sort of thing, anyhow — punch!
The thing I love about the Russians is their Orientalism.
You know there's an old saying that if you find a Russian you catch a Tartar . . . or something like that.
I'm sure that is wrong. . . . I get so MIXED on quotations. But I always know where I can find them, if you know what I mean.
But the Russian verve isn't Oriental, is it?
Don't you just dote on verve?
That's what makes Bakst so fascinating, don't you think? — his verve
Though they do say that the Russian operas don't analyze as well as the German or Italian ones — if you get what I mean.
Though for that matter, who analyzes them?
One may not know how to analyze an operate, and yet one may know what one likes!
I suppose there will be a frightful lot of imitations of Russian music and ballet now. Don't you just hate imitators?
One finds it everywhere — imitation! It's the sincerest flattery, they say. But that doesn't excuse it, do you think?
There's a girl — one of my friends, she says she is — who is trying to imitate me. My expressions, you know, and the way I walk and talk, and all that sort of thing.
She gets some of my superficial mannerisms . . . but she can't quite do my things as if they were her own, you know . . . there is where the accent comes in again!
HOW SUFFERING PURIFIES ONE!
Oh, to go through fire and come out purified! Suffering is wonderful, isn't it? Simply WONDERFUL!
The loveliest man talked to us the other night — to our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — about social ideals and suffering.
The reason so many attempts to improve things fail, you know, is because the people who try them out haven't suffered personally.
He had the loveliest eyes, this man.
He made me thin. I said to myself, "After all, have I suffered? Have I been purified by fire?"
And I decided that I had — that is spiritually, you know.
The suffering — the spiritual suffering — that I undergo through being misunderstood is something FRIGHTFUL!
Mamma discourages every Cause I take up. So does Papa.
I get no sympathy in my devotion to my ideals. Only opposition!
And from a child I have had such a high-strung, sensitive nervous organization that opposition of any sort has made me ill.
There are some temperaments like that.
Once when I was quite small and Mamma threatened to spank me, I had convulsions.
And nothing but opposition, opposition, opposition now!
Only we advanced thinkers know what it is to suffer! To go through fire for our ideals!
And what is physical suffering by the side of spiritual suffering?
I so often think of that when I am engaged in sociological work. Only the other night — it was raining and chilly, you know — some of us went down in the auto to one of the missions and looked at the sufferers who were being cared for.
And the thought came to me all of a sudden: "Yes, physical suffering may be relieved — but what is there to relieve spiritual suffering like mine?"
Though, of course, it improves one.
I think it is beginning to show in my eyes.
I looked at them for nearly two hours in the mirror last evening, trying to be quite certain.
And, you know, there's a kind of look in them that's never been there until recently. A kind of a — a ——
Well, it's an INTANGIBLE look, if you get what I mean.
Not exactly the HUNGRY look, more of a YEARNING look!
Thank heaven, though, I can control it — one should always be captain of one's soul, shouldn't one?
I hide it at times. Because one must hide one's suffering from the world, mustn't one?
But at other times I let it show.
And, really, with practice, I think I am going to manage it so that I can turn it off and on — if you get what I mean — almost at will.
Because, you know, in certain costumes that look will be QUITE unbecoming.
Quite out of Harmony. And Inner Beauty only comes through Inner Harmony, doesn't it?
Harmony! Harmony! Oh, to be in accord with the Infinite!
Nearly every night before I go to bed I ask myself, "have I vibrated in tune with the Infinite today, or have I failed?"
UNDERSTANDING, AND ONE'S OWN HOME
It's TERRIBLE when one can't get understanding in one's own family!
Papa has very little real sympathy for my advanced ideas. And as for Mamma!
Sometimes I think I shall WRITE!
Express myself, my real Ego, in Song.
Not rhymes, of course. If I worked a year I couldn't make two lines rhyme.
But rhyme is going out, anyhow.
Vers Libre is all the rage now.
We took it up not long ago — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and I feel confident it is My Medium of Expression.
It is so untrammeled, isn't it?
And one should be untrammeled, both in Art and Life, shouldn't one?
Often I ask myself, at the close of day: "Have I been untrammeled today? Or have I FAILED?
If I could put my real Ego — and how wonderful the Ego is, isn't it? — into vers libre, even Papa might understand me.
I have always yearned to be understood!
I have drawn back from matrimony again and again because I thought: "Will he understand me? Will he see my real Ego? Or will he not?"
Only the other evening I was talking to the loveliest man, who has been misunderstood by his wife. It is FRIGHTFUL!
He is a sculptor. A cubist sculptor. But he looks quite respectable — really, some very good people receive him.
And he has the most wonderful eyes — sympathetic, you know, and psychic — but oh! so pure, too!
He dotes on purity. He told me that.
His wife does not understand him. She does not see his real Ego.
He said to me: "I can read you like an open book. You are yearning. You are yearning for real understanding. No one has EVER understood you. Is that not so? Is that not your secret?
Alas! It was. I could not deny it.
I said to him: "But is real understanding EVER attainable?"
He sighed and said: "Alas! The Unattainable!"
I knew why he sighed—there is so much of it — the Unattainable!
"What one attains," I said, "is often so intangible — do you not find it so?"
"Alas!" he said, "the Intangible!"
And I felt, somehow — in a queer psychic way that is elusive, you know — strengthened and sweetened spiritually by our sad little talk.
Our real Egos had been in communion. That's what he said.
He has nine very commonplace children, and his wife is very difficult socially.
She insists on filling some sort of commercial position, although he says her place is in the home.
So they have grown apart. People don't invite her places. Only him.
Oh! to be understood!
THOUGHTS ON HEREDITY AND THINGS
Isn't Heredity wonderful, though!
We've been going into it rather deeply — My little Group of Serious, you know.
And, really, when you get into it, it's quite complicated. All about Homozygotes and Heterozygotes, you know.
The Homozygotes are — well, you might call them the aristocrats, you know; thoroughbreds.
And the Heterozygotes are the hybrids.
Only, of course, they don't need to be goats at all.
Not but what they COULD be goats, you know, just as easily as horses or cows or human beings.
But whether goats or humans, don't you think the great lesson of Heredity is that Blood will Tell?
Really the farther I go into Philosophy and Science and such things the more clearly I see what a fund of truth there is in the old simple proverbs!
People used to find out great truths by Instinct, you know; and now they use Research — vaccinate guinea pigs, you know, and all that sort of thing.
Instinct! Isn't Instinct wonderful!
And Intuition, too!
You know, I have the most remarkable intuition at times! Have I ever told you that I'm fright- fully psychic?
Mr. Finch, the poet — you know Fothergil Finch, don't you? — he writes vers libre and poetry both — Mr. Finch said to me the other evening, "You are EXTREMELY psychic!"
"How did you know it?" I asked him.
"Ah!" he said, "how DOES one know these things?"
And how true that is, when you come to think it over! How DOES one know?
He has the great magnetic eyes! I could feel them drawing my thoughts from me as we talked.
"You have a secret," he said.
"Yes," I said. And to myself I added, "Alas!"
"Your secret is," he said, "that there is a difference between you and the other girls."
It was positively uncanny! I'VE felt that for years! But no one else had ever suspected it before.
"Mr. Finch," I said, "I must have TOLD you that — or else it was just a wild guess. You COULDN'T have gotten it psychically. HOW did you know it?"
"One knows these things," he said — a trifle sadly, I thought. "They come to one — out of the
Silences; one knows not how. It is better not to ask how! It is better not to question! It is better to accept! Do you not feel it so?
Sometimes I think that Fothergil Finch is the only man who has ever understood me.
You see, I am Dual in my personality.
There is the real Ego, and there is the Alter Ego.
And, besides these, I have so many moods which do not come from either one of my Egos! They come from my Subliminal Consciousness!
Isn't the Subliminal Consciousness wonderful; simply WONDERFUL?
We're going to take it up in a serious way some evening next week, and thresh it out thoroughly.
But I must run along. I have an engagement with my dressmaker at two o'clock. You know, I've really found one who can make my gowns interpret my inner spirit.
THE SWAMI BRANDRANATH
I HEARD such a lovely lecture the other night on the Cosmos.
A Little Group of Advanced Women that I belong to are specializing this winter on the Cosmos.
We took it up, you know, because the other topics we were studying included it so frequently. And it's wonderful, really WONDERFUL!
Of course, an untrained mind will grapple with it in vain. One's interest must be serious and sincere. One must devote time to it.,
Otherwise one will get more harm than good out of it, you know.
It's like the Russian dances that way.
They are so primal, those dances! And all those primal things are dangerous, don't you think? Unless one has poise!
It's odd, too, that some of the most primal people have the most poise, isn't it?
The Swami Brandranath was like that. I've told you bout the Swami Brandramath, haven't I?
He wore such lovely robes! You can't buy silk like that in this country.
And he had such a PURE look in this eyes. So many of these magnetic people lack that pure look, you know.
He used to give talks to a Little Group of Serious Thinkers I belong to.
He taught us to go into the Silences — only we never quite learned, for some of the girls would giggle. There are always people like that. The dear Swami! — he was so patient! It was Occidental levity, he said, and we couldn't help it.
That is one of the main differences between the Orient and the Occident, you know.
How wonderful they are, the Orientals. And just think of India, with all its yogis and bazaars and mahatmas and howdahs and rajahs and things!
He was a Brahmin, the Swami was. A Brahmin and a Burman are the same thing, you know.
It's a caste, like belonging to one of our best families.
The Swami explained about the marks of caste, and so forth, to us.
And then one of the girls asked him if he was tattooed!
FOTHERGIL FINCH, THE POET OF REVOLT
Isn't it odd how some of the most radical and advanced and virile of the leaders in the New Art and the New Thought don't look it at all?
There's Fothergil Finch, for instance. Nobody could be more virile than Fothy is in his Soul. Fothy's Inner Ego, if you get what I mean, is a Giant in Revolt all the time.
And yet to look at Fothy you wouldn't think he was a Modern Cave Man. Not that he looks like a weakling, you know. Butwell, if you get what I mean — you'd think Fothy might write about violets instead of thunderbolts.
Dear Papa is ENTIRELY mistaken about him.
Only yesterday dear papa said to me, "Hermione, if you don't keep that damned little vers libre run away from here I'll put him to work, and he'll die of it."
But you couldn't expect Papa to appreciate Fothy. Papa is SO reactionary and conservative.
And Fothy's life is one long, grim, desperate struggle against Conventionality, and Social Injustice, and Smugness, and the Established Order, and Complacence. He is forever being a martyr to the New and True in Art and Life.
Last night he read me his latest poem — one of his greatest, he says — in which he tries to tell just what his Real Self is. It goes:
Look at me! Behold, I am founding a New Movement! Observe me. . . . I am in Revolt! I revolt! Now persecute me, persecute me, damn you, persecute me, curse you, persecute me! Philistine, Bourgeois, Slave, Serf, Capitalist, Respectabilities that you are, Persecute me! Bah! You ask me, do you, what am I in revolt against? Against you, fool, dolt, idiot, against you, against everything! Against Heavy, Hell and punctuation . . . against Life, Death, rhyme and rhythm . . . Persecute me, now, persecute me, curse you, persecute me! Slave that you are . . . what do Marriage, Tooth-brushes, Nail-files, the Decalogue, Handkerchiefs, Newton's Law of Gravity, Capital, Barbers, Property, Publishers, Courts, Rhyming Dictionaries, Clothes, Dollars, mean to Me?
I am a Giant, I am a Titan, I am a Hercules of Liberty, I am Prometheus, I am the Jess Willard of the New Cerebral Pugilism, I am the Mod- ern Cave Man, I am the Comrade of the Cosmic Urge, I have kicked off the Boots of Superstition, and I run wild along the Milky Way without ingrowing toenails, I am I! Curse you, what are You? You are only You! Nothing more! Ha! Bah! . . . persecute me, now persecute me!
Fothy always gets excited and trembles and chokes when he reads his own poetry, and while he was reading it Papa came into the room and disgraced himself by asking if there was any MONEY in that kind of poetry, and Fothy was so agitated that he fairly screamed when he said:
"Money . . . money . . . curse money! Money is one of the things I am in revolt against. . . .
Money is death and damnation to the free spirit!"
Papa said he was sorry to hear that; he said one of his companies needed an ad writer, and he didn't have any objection to hiring a free spirit with a punch, but he couldn't consider getting anyone to write ads that hated money, for there was a salary attached to the job.
And Fothy said: "You are trying to bribe me! Capitalism is casting its net over me! You are trying to make me a serf: trying to silence a Free Voice! But I will resist! I will not be enslaved! I will not write ads. I will not have a job.
And then Papa said he was glad to hear Fothy's sentiments. He had been afraid, he said, that Fothy had matrimonial designs about me. And the man who married HIS daughter would probably have to stand for possessing a good deal of wealth, too, for he had always intended doing something very handsome for his son-in-law. So if Fothy didn't want money, he wouldn't want me, for an enormous amount of it would go to me.
Papa, you know, thinks he can be awfully sarcastic.
So many Earth Persons pride themselves on their sarcasm, don't you think?
And Papa is an Earth Person entirely. I've got his horoscope. He isn't AT ALL spiritual.
But you can image that the whole scene was FRIGHTFULLY embarrassing to me — I will NEVER forgive Papa!
And I haven't made up my mind AT ALL about Fothy. But what I do know is this: once I get my mind made up, I WILL NOT stand for opposition form ANY source.
One must be an Individualist, or perish!
HOW THE SWAMI HAPPENED TO HAVE SEVEN WIVES
Isn't it terrible about that elephant at the Zoo — Oh, you know! — it's like Gunga Din, only, of course, it isn't Gunga Din at all.
Anyhow, he's CHAINED FOR LIFE! I suppose some- one gave him tobacco for a joke and it made him cross. I've heard of those cases, haven't you?
An elephant is such a — such a — well, NOBLE beast, isn't he?
It's transmigration of souls makes them that way, perhaps.
Oh is it a Rajah?
Anyhow, it sits on top of an elephant.
We took up transmigration of souls one time — our little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and it's wonderful; simply WONDERFUL!
That was when the Swami Brandranath used to talk to us. The dear Swami! Such eyes — so pure and yet so magnetic! — I have never seen in a human being.
The eye is the window of the soul, you know.
He's in jail now, the poor, dear Swami. But he wasn't really a bigamist at all. You see, he had seven spiritual planes. All of us do, only most of us don't know it. But he could get from one plane to another quite easily.
Of course, he couldn't remember what he'd done on one plane while he was on the next one above or below it. And that's the way he happened to have seven wives — one for each spiritual plane.
Only the Court took a sordid view of it. It seems there was something about life insurance mixed up with it, too.
The Occidentals are so apt to miss the spiritual sweetness of the Oriental, don't you think?
We are — all but the Leaders of Thought, and a little group, here and there — so commonplace.
Don't you LOATHE the commonplace?
Not loathe, really, of course — because the harmonious mind does not let itself be disturbed.
The harmonious mind realizes that dirt is only useful matter in the wrong place, as Tennyson sings so sweetly somewhere.
Tennyson has quite gone out, of course. He is so — so, well, if you get what I mean — so mid- Victorian, somehow.
It seems he WAS mid-Victorian all the time, but it's only recently that it's been found out on him.
Though I always will think of "come Into the Garden, Maud," as one of the world's sweetest little epics.
I'm very independent that way, in spite of the critics. After all, criticism comes down to a question of individual taste, doesn't it? That is, in the final analysis.
Independence! That is what this age needs. Nearly every night before I got to bed I say to myself: "Have I been independent today? Or have I FAILED?"
I believe in those little spiritual examinations, don't you?
It helps one to keep in tune with the Infinite, you know.
The Infinite! How much it comprises! And how little we really understand it!
We're going to take it up, the Infinite, in a serious way soon — our Little Group of Advanced Thinkers, you know.
THE ROMANTIC OLD DAYS
It must have been terribly difficult getting around in the days before automobiles were invented, or railroads or anything like that.
Though, of course, it was wonderfully romantic, too.
The old coaching days, particularly, when everybody blew on horns as they drove from town to town, and there were highwaymen and cavaliers with swords and all those people, you know, riding by the coaches.
Don't you just DOTE on romance? I do!
But, of course, there's no place for it in our hurried modern life, and I suppose we shouldn't regret it.
But now and then I sigh over it. Like dropping a tear, you know, in a dear old chest perfumed with lavender and old roses.
I always say that one can be advanced and in the van of modern progress, and still drop a tear, you know.
Do you think that all this study of sex hygiene means the death of romance?
It's a serious thought, isn't it?
But what I always say is: "Which of these things will do the most GOOD in the world?"
Especially good to the POOR!
You know how frightfully interested I am in the poor.
I make that my test. I always say to myself: "Which will do the most good to the great masses?"
I take such a serious interest in the MASSES!
We should think twice before we take romance out of their lives and replace it with science of any kind.
For, after all, you know, they represent the Future.
We should all think of the Future.
That's what makes the Feminist Movement such a WONDERFUL thing — it is moving right straight ahead toward the Future!
I'm thinking of being a Suffragist again. I was once, you know, but I resigned.
The sashes and banners are such a frightful shade of yellow, you know. So I quit.
Beauty, after all, is the chief thing. What, after all, do all our reforms come to, if the world is not to be made more beautiful because of them?
And I simply CANNOT wear yellow.
HERMIONE'S BOSWELL EXPLAINS
Believe me, 'tis not with elation I dwell on Hermione's madness; The result of my rapt contemplation Is sadness, a terrible sadness!
I weep when I note how she drivels; I sigh o'er her fake philanthropies; I am pained when I see how she frivols, Like a kitten, with serious topics.
It is grief that her mental condition Inspires, not laughter or scorning; If she has any use, 'til her Mission To stand as a Horrible Warning.
I am moral, essentially moral; I am grave, and hate everything trashy, And that is the reason I quarrel With intellects flighty and flashy.
I yearn for the truth, I am earnest; I yearn to face facts without blinking,
Of all of my years, quite the yearnest Is my yearn to be thorough in thinking.
That's why I'm severe with this darling, Nor pardon nor whitewash nor gloss her, — The linnet — the parrot — the starling! I weep over her and expose her.
SYMBOLS AND DEW-HOPPING
Last week the Loveliest man lectured to us — to our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — on the Ultimate Symbolism. In art and life both, you know.
It was simply wonderful — WONDERFUL!
Art, you know, used to be full of symbolism.
But now, it seems, symbolism has dropped out of Art, and Nature has taken it up.
Odd, isn't it? But really not surprising when you come to think about it.
For, you know, Nature is always trying to keep up with advanced ideas — evolving and evolving toward the Superman.
And the Superwoman, too.
I think it is the duty of us who are advanced thinkers to give Nature a worthy idea to evolve toward, don't you?
To set Nature a mark to come up to, you know.
For what is the use of evolution if it doesn't evolve forward instead of backward?
And the Best People, I think, should feel a sense of social responsibility and give evolution a model.
Each should be a Symbol — that's what I always ask myself each night now: "Have I been a Symbol today? Or have I failed to be a symbol?"
Down at the beach last week I nearly drowned — you don't mean to say you haven't heard of it? It was frightful.
I'd always heard that, when a person sinks, his whole past life passes before him in review.
But it didn't with me. What I said as I went down was: "Have I been a Symbol? Or have I failed?"
And the life guard who got me out — he was simply the most gorgeous man! — burned bronze, you know, and with shoulders like a Greek god! — and with the most wonderful eyes and white teeth — he asked me, the guard did, "What, marm?"
It was fearfully disappointing! Sometimes they are college men, you know, just life-guarding through the summer. But would any college man have said, "What, marm?"
And then he went and saved a blonde creature in the most scandalous bathing suit I ever saw.
He saved one in the most business-like way, too, as if he were a waiter, you know, passing from one table to another.
No wonder the social fabric is crumbling when quite impossible people like life guards permit themselves to become blase' over such matters!
The lower classes are very discouraging anyhow, don't you think? — after all we do for them in the way of philanthropy and sociology and uplifting them generally, you know!
Of course, I haven't lost my interest in sociology — not by any means. I always hold fast the thought that all the world are brothers.
I'm taking up Dew-hopping next week. It's a wonderful new nerve cure. Formerly it was quite the thing to walk barefoot in the dew at dawn.
But at this new place I've discovered they don't merely walk — that's going out, quite. They HOP. Like frogs and toads, you know.
It brings the patients into closer kinship with the electric currents of the earth, hopping does, the doctor says. It's WONDERFUL!
He is the loveliest man — with mystic eyes! — the doctor is.
THE SONG OF THE SNORE
Fothergil Finch, Hermione's friend, the vers libre poet, dodges through life harried and hunted by one pursuing Fear.
"Some day," he said to me —
(It is Hermione's Boswell who is speaking in this sketch, in the first person, and not Hermione, the incomparable.) —
"Some day," Fothergil finch said to me, the other night, in a tone of intense, bitter conviction, "some day It will get me! Some day I will overtake me. The great Beat, Popularity, which pursues me! Some day It will clutch me and tear me and devour my Soul! Some day I will be a Popular Writer!"
It is my own impression that Fothergil's fears are exaggerated; but they are very real to him. He visualizes his own soul as a fugitive climbing higher and higher, running faster and faster, to escape this Beast. Perhaps Fothergil secretly hopes that the speed of his gong will induce combustion, and he will leap from the topmost hills of Art, flaming, directly into the heavens, there to burn and shine immortality, an authentic star. Well, well, we all have our little plane, our little vanities!
"Fothergil," I said, cheerily, "Popularity has not overtaken you yet. Cheer up — perhaps it never will."
We were in Fothergil's studio in Greenwich Village, where I had gone to see how his poem on Moonlight was getting along. He strode to the window. Fothergil is not tall, and he is slightly pigeon-toed — the fleshly toes of Fothergil symbolize the toes of his ever-fleecing soul — but he strides. Female poets undulate. Erotic male poets saunter. Tramp poets lurch and swagger. Fothergil, being a vers libre poet, a Prophet of the Virile, a Little Brother of the Cosmic Urge, is compelled by what his verse is to stride vigorously across rooms as if they were vast desert places, in spite of what his toes are. He strode magnificently, triumphantly, to the window and flung the shade up and looked out at the amorphous mist creeping in across the roofs. The crawling fog must have suggested his great, gray Dread, for presently he turned away with a shudder and sank upon a couch and moaned.
'Ah, Heaven! Popularity! The disgrace of it — the horror of it! Popularity! Ignominy! When it catches me — when it happens ——"
He plucked from his pocket a small phial and held it up toward the light and gazed upon it desperately and raptly.
"I am never without this!" he said. "It is my means of escape. I will not be taken unawares! I carry it always. At night it is beneath my pillow. The day it happens — the moment I feel myself in the grip of Popularity——"
I caught his hand; in his excitement he was raising the poison to his lips.
"What I cannot understand, Fothergil," I said, "is why a Poet of the Virile, a Reincarnation of the Cave Man — excuse me, but that is what you are being this year, is it not ? — should give way to Fear. Is it not more in character to meet this Beast and slay It? Is there not a certain contradiction between your profession and your practice?"
"More than a contradiction," he said eagerly. "It is more than contradictory! It is paradoxical!"
I eliminate much that followed. When Fothergil gets started on the paradox, time passes. He is never really interested in things until he has dis- covered the paradoxical quality in them. Sometimes I think that his enthusiasm over himself is due to the fact that he discovered early in life that he himself was a paradox — and sometimes I think that discovery is the explanation of his enthusiasm for the paradox.
"What," said Fothergil, "is the most paradoxical thing in the world? The Human Snore! It seems Ugly-yet it is Beautiful! It seems a trivial function of the body — and yet it is the Key to the Soul ——"
"The Key to the Soul?"
"Man sleeps," he said, "and his Conscious Mind is in abeyance. But his Subconscious Mind is still awake. It functions. It has its opportunity to utter itself. The Snore is the Voice of the Soul! And not only the Soul of the individual but of the Soul of the race. All the experiences of man, in his ascent from the mire to his present altitude, are retained in the Subconscious Mind-his fights, his struggles, his falls, his recoveries. And his dreams and nightmares are racial memories of these things. Snores are the language in which he expresses them. Interpret the Snore, and you have the psychic history of the ascent of man from Caliban to Shakespeare!
"And I can interpret it! I have listened to a million Snores, and learned the language of the Soul! Night after night, for years, I harked to the Human Snore — in summer, hastening from park bench to beach and back again; in winter, haunting the missions and lodging houses. Ah, Heavens! with what devotion, with what passion of the discoverer, have I not pursued the Human Snore! I have gone miles to listen to some snore that was reported to be peculiar; I have denied my self luxuries, pleasures, and at times even food, in order to hire reluctant persons to Snore for me!
"And I have written the Epic of the Snore in vers libre. You shall hear the prelude!"
And this is Fothergil's prelude:
Snore me a song of the soul, Oh, sleeper, snore! Whistle me, wheeze me, grunkle and grunt, gurgle and snort me a Virile stave! Snore till the Cosmos shakes! On the wings of a snore I fly backward a billion years, and grasp the mastodon and I tear him limb from limb, And with his thigh hone I heat the dinosaur to death, for I am Virile! Snore! Snore! Snore! Snore, O struggling and troubled and squirming and suffering and choking and purple-faced sleeper, snore! Snore me the sound of the brutal struggle when the big bull planets bellowed and fought with one another. in the bloody dawn of time for the love of little yellow-haired moons, Snore! Snore till Chaos raps with his boot on the walls of Cosmos and kicks to the landlord!
Turn, choke, twist and struggle, sleeper, and snore me the song of life in the making, Sneeze me a universe full of star-dust, Snore me back to the days when I was a Cave Man, and with my bare hands slew the walrus, for I am Virile! Snore the death-rattle of the walrus, O struggling sleeper, snore! Snore me ——
But I was compelled to leave. There is a great deal of it, Fothergil says. If you know Fothergil you are aware that when he declaims his Virile verses he becomes excited; he swells physically; sometimes he looks quite five feet tall in his moments of expansion; all this is very bad for him. More than once the declamation of his poem, "Myself and the Cosmic Urge," has sent him shaking to the tea urn.
Before I left I was able to calm him somewhat. But with calm came reflection. And with reflection came his great, gray Dread again.
When I left,. Fothergil was looking out of the window and shuddering, as if the Monster Popularity might be hiding behind the neighboring chimneys. One hand clasped the phial caressingly.
But somehow I doubt that Fothergil will ever be compelled to drink the poison.
BALLADE OF UNDERSTANDING
"Does not the World's stupidity At times make Serious Thinkers fret?" I asked the fair Hermione; "Sometimes," she said, "and yet . . . and yet .
We feel we owe the World a debt!" She waved a slim, bejeweled hand, She brooded on some vague regret. . "I hope," she sighed, "you'll UNDERSTAND!"
"Is not your high Philosophy Too subtle for the Mob to get?" I asked . . . She pondered seriously; "Sometimes," she said, "and yet . . . and yet . . .
She trifled with an amulet Imported from some Orient land. . . . "What fish can burst the Cosmic Net? . . . I HOPE," she sighed, "you'll Understand."
"Art, Science and Psychology, Causes that rise and shine and set,
Do all these never weary thee?" — "Sometimes," she said, "and yet . . . and yet . Would Thought and Life have ever met Unless" . . . She paused. Her lashes fanned Her eyes, with tears of ardor wet. . . . "I hope," she sighed, "YOU'LL Understand!"
"Princess, is Bull the One Best Bet?"- "Sometimes," she said, "and yet . . . and yet She mused, and then; in accents bland, "I hope," she said, "you'll UNDERSTAND!"
HERMIONE ON FASHIONS AND WAR
ISN'T war frightful, though; simply FRIGHTFUL!
What Sherman said it was, you know.
Though they say there's an economic condition back of this war, too.
We took up economics not long ago — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and gave an entire evening to it.
It's wonderful; simply WONDERFUL!
Without economics, you know, there couldn't be any Civilization.
That's a thought that should give one pause, isn't it?
Although, of course, this war may destroy civilization entirely.
If I thought it was likely to do that I would join in the Peace Demonstration at once — or have they had it already ? — the march for peace, you know! Anyhow, no matter what the personal sacrifice might be, I would join in. Not that I care to march in the dust. And black never did become me. But I suppose there will be some autos. And, well — one must sacrifice.
For if Civilization dies out, what will become of us then?
Will we revert to the Primordial?
Will the Cave Man triumph?
The very idea gives me the creeps!
Because, you know, the Cave Man is all right — and the Primitive, and all that — as a protest against Decadence-and in a LITERARY way — but if ALL men were Cave Men!
Well, you know, the thought is frightful; simply frightful!
You can have a feeling for just ONE Cave Man, you know, in the midst of Civilization, when a MILLION Cave Men would ——
But the idea is too terrible for words!
And in this crisis it is Woman who must save the world.
The loveliest woman — she's quite advanced, really, and has the most charming toilettes — told our Little Group of Serious Thinkers the other night that this is the time when Woman must rule the world.
It is the test of the New Woman.
If ANYTHING is saved from the wreck it will be because of Her.
She can write letters to the papers, you know, against war and-and all that sort of thing, you know.
And, of course, if the Germans and Russians and English do all get together and conquer Paris, I suppose they won't kill the modistes and designers.
Civilization, you know, is not so easily killed after all. The Romans were conquered, you know, but all their styles and philosophies and things were taken up by the Medes and Persians who conquered them, and have remained unchanged in those countries ever since.
But in a time like this, it's comforting to have a Cause to cling to.
No matter what happens, the advanced thinkers must cling together and make their Cause count.
And if England should conquer France, and put a king on the throne there again, no doubt there will be a great revival of fashion, as there was in the days of Napoleon I. and the Empress Eugenie.
But if all the advanced thinkers in the world could only get together in one place and THINK Peace and Harmony — sit down in circles, you know, and send Psychic Vibrations across the ocean — who can tell but what the war might not end ?
The triumph of mind over matter, you know.
I'm going to propose the idea to our little group and pass it on to all the other little groups.
I'd be willing to give up an entire evening to it myself.
URGES AND DOGS
We had quite a discussion the other evening — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — as to whether it was Idealism or Materialism that had gotten the Germans into this dreadful war.
Isn't Idealism just simply wonderful!
Fothy Finch said it was neither; he said it was the Racial Urge.
It's like the Cosmic Urge, you know; except it's altogether German, Fothy explained.
Every once in a while you hear of a New Urge. That's one of the things that distinguishes Modern Thought from the old philosophies, don't you think?
Although, of course, the Cosmic Urge isn't what it used to be a year or two ago.
It's become — er — well, VULGARIZED, if you know what I mean. EVERYBODY'S writing and talking about it now, don't you know.
I think, myself, it's going out soon. And a leader — a real pioneer in thought, you know, would scarcely care to talk about it now without a smile.
I've just about dropped it myself. It's the same way with everything exclusive. It soon becomes common.
Really, I hadn't worn my white summer furs three weeks before I saw so many imitations that I just simply HAD to lay them aside.
Don't you think people who take up things like that, after the real leaders have dropped them, are frightfully lacking in SUBTLETY?
Oh, Subtlety! Subtlety! WHAT would modern thought be without Subtlety?
Personally, I just simply HATE the Obvious. It's so — so — well, so easily seen through, if you know what I mean.
Fothy Finch said to me only the other day, "Has it ever occurred to you, Hermione, that you are NOT an Obvious sort of Person?"
It is almost UNCANNY the way Fothergil Finch can read my thoughts sometimes. We are both so very psychic.
Mamma said to me last night, "You are seeing a great deal of Mr. Finch, Hermione. Do you think it is right to encourage him if you don't intend to marry him? What ARE your intentions with regard to Mr. Finch?"
I didn't answer her at all — poor dear Mamma is SO old-fashioned!
But I thought to myself ——
Well, would it be so IMPOSSIBLE?
Of course, marriage is a serious thing. One must look at it from all points of view, if one has a Social Conscience.
He has a LOVELY way with dogs, Fothy has. They trust him instinctively — he is just DEAR with them. I have some beauties now, you know. They are getting so they won't let anyone but Fothy bathe them.
MOODS AND POPPIES
We took up the Bhagavad Gita — our Little Group of Advanced Thinkers, you know — in quite a thorough way the other evening.
Isn't the Bhagavad Gita just simply WONDERFUL!
It has nothing at all to do with Bagdad, you know — though at first glance it seems quite like it might, doesn't it?
Of course, they're both Oriental — aren't you just simply WILD about Oriental things? But really, they're QUITE different.
The Bhagavad Gita, you know, is all about Reincarnation and Karma, and all those lovely old things.
When I start my Salon I'm going to have a Bhagavad Gita Evening — all in costume, you know.
I find that when I dress in harmony with the Idea I RADIATE so much more effectively, if you get what I mean.
Fothergil Finch is the same way.
He writes his best vers libre things in a purple dressing-gown.
There's an amber-colored pane of glass in his studio skylight, and he has to sit and wait and wait and wait until the moonlight falls through that pane onto his paper, and then it only stays long enough so he can write a few lines, and he can't go on with the poem until he comes again.
He brought me one last night — he wrote it to me yes, really! — and he waited and waited for enough moonlight to do it, and caught a terrible cold in his head, poor dear Fothy.
It goes like this:
Poppies, poppies, silver poppies in the moonlight, poppies! Silver poppies, Silver poppies in the moonlight, Youth! Poppies poppies, crimson poppies in the sunset, Love! Poppies, poppies, poppies! Black poppies in the midnight, Death! Three colors of poppies! One color is silver, The second color is crimson, The third color is black, And if there were a fourth color it would be green!
Alas! Why is there never a fourth color?
Poppies, poppies, poppies, but no Green Poppy!
I asked the little crippled girl who sells poppies to Buy bread for the drunken father who beats her,
And she said, "I, too, seek the fourth color!"
I asked the boy who drives the grocer's delivery wagon, the old apple woman without teeth, the morgue keeper, the plumber, the janitor, the red-armed waffle baker in the window of a restaurant full of marble-topped tables and pallid-looking girls, the subway guard and the millionaire,
And they all said, "Poppies, poppies, poppies, We have never known but three colors!" I am a Great Virile Spirit; I, with my Ego, I will give the world its Desire! I, the strong! I, the daring! I will create a Green Poppy!
That about being Virile is just like Fothy! He prides himself on being Virile, you know — Poor dear Fothy!
He said until he saw me he had always been satisfied with silver and red and black poppies, but as soon as he knew me he felt there MUST be a Green Poppy somewhere.
It is likely a mood of my soul, you know — the Green Poppy is!
Isn't it simply wonderful!
Isn't it just simply terrible the way the Balkans are bombarding Venice . . . all those beautiful Doges and things, you know.
I suppose there will be nothing left, just simply nothing, of the city that Byron wrote about in in — what was it? Oh, yes, in "Childe Harold to the Dark Tower Came."
That's one comforting thing to think of if this country ever gets into a war, isn't it? I mean that we haven't any of those lovely old things that can be bombarded, you know.
I suppose if we ever did get into war someone like Edison would invent something quick, you know, and it would be all over in a few hours.
Isn't inventive science wonderful! Just simply wonderful!
It's so — so — well, so DYNAMIC, if you get what I mean. Isn't it?
Don't you just DOTE on dynamic things?
Dynamic personalities, especially.
I've often thought if I had it to do over again I'd go in less for psychics and more for dynamics.
But then there are so many things that a modern thinker must keep up with, aren't there?
And it's easy enough to concentrate one's mind on one or two things, but I often find it terribly difficult to concentrate on ten or twelve different things all at the same time.
And one must if one is to keep up with the very latest in Thought and Life.
Concentration! Concentration! That is the key to it all! Nearly every night when I am alone with my own Ego I go into the Silences for a little period of Spiritual Self-Examination and I always ask myself: "Have I Concentrated today? Really Concentrated? Or have I failed?"
I call these little times my Psychic Inquisitions.
In the hurry of this crowded age one must find time to get along with one's self, must one not? Fothy Finch has written a beautiful thing about the hurry of this crowded age which I wish everyone could hang over his desk.
Well, I must be going on now. I have a committee meeting for this afternoon. I can't for the life of me remember whether it's about suffrage — Oh, yes, I marched! — or about some relief fund.
I'm taking up Bergson this week.
Next week I'm going to take up Etruscan vases and the Montessori system.
Oh, no, I haven't lost my interest in sociology.
Only the other night we went down in the auto and watch the bread line.
Of course, one can take up TOO MANY things.
It's the spirit in which you take up a thing that counts.
Sometimes I think the spirit in which you take a thing up counts more than the thing itself — counts in its effect on you, you know.
Of course, the way to get the real meaning out of any thing is to put yourself in a receptive attitude.
In serious things the attitude counts for everything. One mustn't scoff.
If you look seriously and scientifically you'll' see there's a great deal more than you suspected in all this affinity and soul mate craze, for instance.
Not that I care much for the words "soul mate" and "affinity" particularly; they have been so VULGARIZED, somehow.
The Best People don't use those terms any more.
Psychic harmony is the new term.
The loveliest man explained all about it to us the other day. I belong to a Little Group of Thinkers, who take a serious interest in these things, you know.
We are trying to find out how to make our psychic powers count for the betterment of the world. I am very psychic. Some are now.
This man had the most interesting eyes and the silkiest beard, and he said his aura was pink.
If he should meet a girl, you know, with an aura just the shade of pink that his aura is, why then they would know they were in psychic harmony.
Simple, isn't it? But then all truly great ideas ARE simple, aren't they?
But if his aura was blue, and her aura was yellow, then, of course, they would quarrel. That's what makes so much domestic unhappiness.
But he said something that gave me the most frightfully insecure feeling.
He said the aura CHANGES its color as the soul progresses.
Two people may be in harmony today, and both have pink auras, and in a year hers may be green and his golden.
What desperate chances a woman takes when she marries, doesn't she?
I sometimes think life must have been a much more comfortable thing before the world got to be so terribly advanced.
But, of course, it is our duty to sacrifice personal comfort for the future of the race and the betterment of the world.
As I was looking at the bread line the thought came to me that the chief difference between this advanced age and other ages was in the fact that people today are willing to take a serious interest in such things.
People are willing to sacrifice themselves today, you know.
It is food for optimism, don't you think?
Not that I was really so uncomfortable in the auto, you know. I had on my new mink coat.
HERMIONE TAKES UP LITERATURE
We've been going in for Astrological Research lately — our Little Group of Modern Thinkers, you know — and we've picked our own personal stars.
Only it seems such a shame, doesn't it, that one isn't allowed to CHANGE stars? Keeping the same star all your life is rather monotonous, don't you think?
Though, of course, if one changed and got some- one else's star things might be frightfully complicated, mightn't they?
But it would make a charming little story, wouldn't it, for a girl to change stars, you know, and find that her new star belonged to some quite nice young man, and, of course, after that, their destinies would be one.
I get some of the most ORIGINAL plots for stories!
Fothergil Finch has often said to me that that is one difference between genius and talent. When you have genius, you know, things like that just come to you; but if you only have talent you must work and WORK for them.
"If I only hd your spontaneity, Hermione!" Fothergil often says.
And really, it's never been any trouble for me at all to dash off an idea, though of course they would have to be touched up by the editors a little before they could be printed.
Fothergil said the other night I should try poetry.
"Why, Fothy," I said, "if I lived a hundred years I never could make two lines rhyme with each other!"
But he said Rhyme was out of fashion anyhow, and — would you believe it? — while we were talking I got an idea for a poem and just dashed it off then and there — a vers libre poem you know, and it goes:
What becomes of People when they die? I used to ask when I was a little child, And now even since I am grown up I am not sure that I know!
"Fothy," I said, "It was so easy — that makes me afraid it isn't really good!"
"Ah," he said, "that modesty PROVES you are a genius! Heavens, what would I not give to have you spontaneity, your modesty, your spontaneity —"
But I interrupted him. Another idea had come to me — just like that, and — would you believe it? I dashed off another one, right then and there! It went:
I see the rain fall. It is no effort for the rain to fall. Why is it no effort? Because it falls spontaneously! O Spontaneity! Spontaneity! Rain is genius, Genius is rain! Fall, fall, rain!
Fothy is going to get them printed — he knows a lot of vers libre publishers — if Papa will only put up the money. And one nice thing about poor dear Papa is that he always will put it up.
So that night I wrote twenty or thirty more of them, and they were ALL good — ALL works of genius — they ALL came to me just like the first ones!
The last one came to me just as I was going to bed. I looked out of the window and saw the moon and ran and got a pencil and wrote:
I see the moon out of the window. I wonder what it thinks of me? Wouldn't the moon and I both be surprised If we found that neither of us Though anything at all about the other?
The book's going to be vellum, you know, and that sort of thing. I'm going to have a gown just like the cover and give a fete when it comes out.
The worst thing about being literary, though, is that it makes one feel so RESPONSIBLE for the gift, if you know what I mean, doesn't it?
THE WORLD IS GETTING BETTER
DR. JAGADES CHUNDER BOSE says that plants are almost as sensitive as human beings — they have feelings and susceptibilities, you know, and all that sort of thing.
Isn't it wonderful how the Hindus find these things out?
Soul speaking to soul, I suppose.
But I have scarcely been able to eat comfortably since I read it.
Every time I sit down to a salad it makes me feel quite like a cannibal!
And to think, I was just on the point of becoming a vegetarian, too!
I suppose to be on the safe side one should eat nothing but minerals.
But, of course, advanced thinkers will have to take the matter up seriously and discover a way out — some day we will live on aromas and electricity, no doubt.
Don't you think the world is getting kinder? A hundred years ago, for instance, no one would have cared whether plants suffer pain or not — people wouldn't have given it a second though, you know.
And now, though, they will have to keep on eating them until something else is invented, they will do it with a shudder and won't enjoy them near so much. The world is losing much of its cruelty and thoughtlessness. Upward! Onward! Is the slogan.
Do you like my new coat? Unborn lamb skin, you know. Isn't it lovely?
WAR AND ART
THIS war is going to have a tremendous in- fluence on Art — vitalize it, you know, and make it REAL, and all that sort of thing. In fact, it's doing it already. We took up the war last night — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — in quite a serious way and considered it thoroughly in all its aspects and we decided that it would put more SOUL into Art.
And into life, too, you know.
Already you can see it on every hand how much serious purpose it is putting into lives that were merely trivial before. Even poor, dear Mamma — and really, it would be hard to imagine a more trivial person than Mamma! — is knitting socks.
She is going to send them to the Poles. She wanted to send them to the Belgians.
But I said to her, "Positively, Mamma, you are ALWAYS behind the times. Don't you know the Belgians are going out and the Poles are coming in?"
And, you know, it's been months since really Smart People have knit for the Belgians. The Poles are QUITE the thing now.
It's strange how great movements keep going on and on from mountain peak to mountain peak of usefulness like that, isn't it? — changing their direction now and then as evolution itself does, but always progressing, progressing!
That is one wonderful thing about evolution — it ALWAYS progresses.
When one thinks it over, one grows more and more conscious that the human race owes a great deal to Evolution, doesn't one?
WHAT could we have done without it?
It's as somebody said about something else one time — if we hadn't had it, you know, it would have been necessary to invent it, though for the life of me, I can't remember who it was or what he said about it. Although likely it was Madame de Stael. We took her up once and it developed that she had said a most surprising number of things like that things, you know, that would be quite quotable if you could only remember them.
Isn't memory a wonderful facility, though?
I've always intended to go in for developing mine systematically and scientifically.
But I've never done it because I always forget whether I should order the book-shop people to send home a work on numismatics or a work on mnemonics. One of them is about money, you know, and the other is about memory. And once when I was shopping and thought I had it right it turned out — the book did, when I got it home — to be all about air and things. Pneumatics, you know! Wasn't it perfectly ridiculous?
But, of course, one learns by one's mistakes.
Have you seen dear Nijinsky?
We were discussing him last evening — our little group, you know — and decided that while he has more Personality than Mordkin he has less Temperament, if you get what I mean.
One of the girls said last evening, "Mordkin is more exotic, but Nijinsky is more esoteric."
And another said, "One of them shows intellect obviously mingled with spirit, but the other shows spirit occultly mingled with intellect."
Fothergil Finch said, "They are alike in their differences, but subtly differentiated in their likenesses, n'est-cd pas?"
Fothy has a simply delightful faculty of summing a thing up in a sentence like that, but it makes him very vain if you show you think so; so I put him in his place and closed the discussion with one remark:
"It is all," I said, "it is ALL a question of Interpretation."
And, quite seriously, when you come to think about it, it usually is, isn't it?
A SPIRITUAL DIALOGUE
Last night I met Hermione, And eagerly she said to me: "Thoughts from the ambient everywhere Electrify our worldly air."
"My soul," I said, "grabs off such hints As butter, whether pats or prints, Receives and holds all unaware Small strands of drifting, golden hair. But have YOU thought, O Maiden fair, O, have you thought profoundly of The psychic consciousness in crows? Or why the Malay when in love Wears rubber earrings on his toes?"
The lady shook her lovely head — 'Twas coiffed divinely — and she said: "Have you reflected on the part Primeval instinct plays in Art? It's simply wonderful the way Old things grow new from day to day!"
"That's true," I said, "I often ape The Ape to get my Art in shape — And with the Simian going strong, Behold, another Rennysawng!"
"Perhaps," she said, "across the verge Of darkness, from the Cosmic Urge, The Light is speeding in bright waves, E'en now to show the way to slaves!"
"The thought," I said, "is cheerful — but These Swamis WILL chew betel-nut!"
"Alas!" she said, "alas! too true! But oh! it's wonderful of you To sympathize and understand —" (She gestured with a jeweled hand) — "The joy of being understood!"
"Our talk," I said, "has done me good."
WILL THE BEST PEOPLE RECEIVE THE SUPERMAN SOCIALLY?
WE'VE been taking up Metabolism lately — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and it's wonderful; just simply WONDERFUL!
I really don't know how I got along for so many years without it — it opens up such new vistas, doesn't it?
I can never think in the same way again about even the most trivial things since I have learned all about Protoplasm and — and — well, all these marvelous scientific things, you know.
Isn't Science DELIGHTFUL!
There's the Cosmos, for instance. It had always been there, you know. But nobody knew much about it until Scientists took it up in a serious way.
And now I, for one, feel that I couldn't do without it!
Although, of course, one feels one's responsibilities toward it too, and that is apt to be rather trying at times unless one has a truly earnest nature and is prepared to make sacrifices.
If the Cosmos is to be improved, what is there that can improve it except Evolution?
And unless we who are serious thinkers give Evolution a mark to reach, how can we be sure that Evolution will Evolve in the right direction?
I have worried myself half to death at times over the Superman!
You know I feel personally responsible, to a certain extent, about what he will be like when he gets here. If he isn't what he should be, you know, it will be the fault of those of us who are the leaders in thought today — it will be because we haven't started him right, you know. Mamma — poor dear Mamma is SO unadvanced, you know! — has an idea that when the Superman does get here he won't be at all the sort of person that one would care to receive socially.
"Hermione," she said to me only the other day, "no Superman shall EVER come into MY house!"
She heard some of my friends, you know, talking about the Superman and Eugenics, and she has an idea that he will be horribly improper.
"I consider that the Superman would be a DANGEROUS influence in the life of a young woman," said Mamma.
"Mamma," I told her, you are FRIGHTFULLY behind the times! There isn't a doubt in the world that when the Superman does come he will be taken up by the Best People. Anarchists and Socialists go everywhere now, and dress just like other people, and ;you can hardly tell them, and it will be the same way with the Superman."
What Mamma lacks is contact. Contact with — with — well, she lacks Contact, if you get what I mean.
So many of the elder generation DO lack Contact, don't you think?
Although, of course, it would be very hard to have Contact and Background at the same time.
And if one must choose between Contact and Background, the choice is apt to be puzzling at times.
Although, of course, it is useless to reason too much on things like that. Intuition often succeeds where reason fails, especially if one is at all Psychic.
Well, I must go. I must hurry to my costumer's.
I'm have a special costume made, you know. We've been taking up Spiritualism again — our little group, you know. And I'm going to give a Spirit Fete, and of course it will take a great deal of dressing and arranging and decoration.
Papa says it will be a Ghost Dance, but he is so terribly frivolous and irreverent at times.
Don't you just simply LOATHE frivolity?
THE PARASITE WOMAN MUST GO!
THE Parasite Woman must go!
Our Little Group of Serious Thinkers took up the Parasite Woman last night in quite a thorough way. One of the most interesting women you ever listened to gave us a little talk about the Parasite Woman, you know.
And we decided that the Parasite Woman has NOTHING to Contribute to the Next Generation.
Oh, these Parasite Women! It just simply makes my blood boil to her about them! I don't know when I have been so indignant!
With the world so full of work to be done for the Cause — for ALL the Causes, you know — they just sit around selfishly at home all wrapped up in their own families, or children, if they're married, and do nothing at all for the Evolution of the Ego and the Development of the Race, and the Conscious Guidance of the Next Generation, or anything like that.
Thank goodness I could never be a Parasite Woman!
And, yet, I PITY them, too.
I'm thinking quite seriously of starting a little Mission of my own for the purpose of appealing to and reforming the Parasite Women among my acquaintances.
Of course it will take organization, and that means I will have money to start it and keep it going.
But Papa will give me the money all right. That is one thing about poor, dear Papa — he doesn't understand the new movements at all, but he WILL give me money. And he never asks what I do with it.
Now and then, of course, he scolds me a little — he told me the other day that I cost him nearly as much as a war. But I can always jolly him, you know, when he gets that way. Men are so easily managed and flattered.
I suppose my Mission will take quite a LOT of money, too. But it is my DUTY, and I am willing to make ANY sacrifice — we modern thinkers are used to making sacrifices for our Cause!
And it is worth a lot of sacrifice to make the Parasite Woman over into an Awakened and Enlightened Member of Society, independent of the Man-Made System that has shackled her for so long.
What is nobler than Emancipation?
Of course, I'll have to have a Secretary, And to get one especially training in organizing the Mission will cost quite a bit, probably.
But Papa will never miss it.
And I think I'll have a MAN for a Secretary. One that is quite presentable socially, you know. For the Secretary will have to attend to a lot of the details. I will give some teas and entertainments and things, just to get the Parasite Women I know interested.
And there's nothing like the right sort of a man to get women to cooperate in some Cause that aims for Woman's Liberty.
And I suppose, really, TWO Secretaries would be better. And they will have to be men who can dance the new dances well, too. That counts a lot nowadays in getting girls to come to places.
I feel that I have Found my Work! One's work lies at one's hand, if one could but see it, always. And mine is to Save the Parasite Women I know from Themselves and their Frivolity.
I will coax the first cheque out of Papa this very evening! It may take some management and jollying, but—well, Papa is EASY!
THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
WE'RE taking up the House Beautiful — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — for we've decided that Environment has more effect on personality than Heredity.
Interior decoration is the greatest of the arts — don't you think? — because it furnishes the proper setting for the spirit.
The loveliest woman gave us a talk on interior decoration the other night — she wears these slinky, Greek things, you know, with straw sandals, when the weather permits — and I engaged her to do the house over.
But right away a problem presented itself — whether to have the house done to fit my personality or whether to have the house done to fit the thing I want my personality to evolve into, and trust the environment to help in the evolution.
Modern thought complicates LIFE immensely, doesn't it?
But I always feel that it is my duty to give the best in myself to these problems.
Someone must help Evolution evolve. Someone must be unselfish enough to give the cosmos new marks to come up to.
And who but the serious thinkers are willing to sacrifice themselves?
Well, we finally decided to do every room in the house differently — each one to fit a mood, you know.
There's one room now I call "Aspiration," where I go for my little spiritual examinations.
And the next room beyond that is "Resolve."
And then there's a room I call "Brotherly Love," where I go to think out how to help the masses.
For of course I haven't lost my interest in sociological problems.
In fact I'm having some new dresses made — simple, quiet looking things, you know — for the express purpose of visiting the very poor in and asking them questions about themselves.
Though I must admit that since helping the war sufferers came into fashion friendly visiting has rather gone out.
MAMA IS SO MID-VICTORIAN
WE'VE been taking ;up Hedonism lately — our Little Group of Modern Thinkers, you know — and it's wonderful, just simply WONDERFUL!
Though Mamma — poor dear Mamma is so hopelessly old fashioned; — has entirely the wrong idea about it.
"Hermione," she said to me the other evening, after the little talk, "WHAT did the lecturer call himself?"
"He's a Hedonist," I said.
"Indeed!" she said, "and what sort of modern impropriety is Hedonism? Is it something about Sex, or is it something about Psychics?"
I simply couldn't speak.
I just gave her a look and walked out of the room. It is absolutely useless to attempt to explain anything to Mamma.
She is so Mid-Victorian!
And Mid-Victorianism has quite gone out, you know. Really. The loveliest man gave us a talk on the Mid-Victorian recently, and when he was done there wasn't a one of us that didn't go and hide our Tennysons and Ruskins.
Although I always WILL like "Come into the Garden, Maud."
But he did it with such HUMOR, you know. Isn't a sense of humor a perfectly WONDERFUL thing?
A sense of humor is a sense of proportion, you know — he brought that out so cleverly, the anti-Mid-Victorian man did.
Though so many people who have a sense of humor are so — so, well so QUEER about it, if you get what I mean. That is, if you know they have one, of course you're naturally watching for them to say humorous things; and they're forever saying the sort of things that puzzle you, because you have never heard those things before in just that way, and if you DO laugh they're so apt to act as if you were laughing in the WRONG place!
And one doesn't dare NOT to laugh, does one? It's really quite unfair and unkind sometimes! Don't you think so?
We took up a volume on The Analysis of Humor one winter — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and read it completely through, and before the winter was over it got so there wasn't a one of us that dared NOT to laugh at anything any other one said and — well, it got rather ghastly before spring. Because even if someone wanted to know if a person needed an umbrella someone else would laugh.
Well, I must be going now. I have a committee meeting at three this afternoon. We're going in for this one-day Women's Strike, you know — our little group is.
VOKE EASELEY AND HIS NEW ART
FOR my acquaintance with Voke Easeley — —
(Hermione's reporter, and not Hermione herself, is speaking now.) — —
For my acquaintance with Voke Easeley and his new art, I am indebted to Fothergil Finch.
Fothergil is a kind of genius hound. He scurries sleuthing around the town ever on the scent of something queer and caviar. He is well trained and never kills what he catches himself; he takes it to Hermione; and after Hermione has tired of it I am at liberty to do what I please with it.
The most remarkable thing about Voke Easeley at a casual glance is his Adam's apple. It is not only the largest Adam's apple I have ever seen, and the hardest looking one, and the most active one, but it is also the most intelligent looking one. Voke Easeley's face expresses very little. His eyes are small and full and green. His mouth, while large, misses significance. His nose, indeed, is big; but it is mild; it is a tame nose; one feels no more character in it than in a false nose. His chin and forehead retreat ingloriously from the battle of life.
But all the personality which his eyes should show, all the force which should dwell in his nose, all the temperamental qualities that should reveal themselves in his mouth and chin, all the genius which should illumine his brow — these dwell within his Adam's apple. The man has run entirely to that feature; his moods, his emotions, his thoughts, his passions, his appetites, his beliefs, his doubts, his hopes, his fears, his resolves, his despairs, his defeats, his exaltations — all, all make themselves known subtly in the eccentric motions of that unusual Adam's apple.
When I saw him first in action I did not at once get it. He stood stiffly erect in the center of Hermione's drawing-room, surrounded by the serious thinkers, with his head thrown back and his Adam's apple thrust forward, and gave vent to a series of strange noises. Beside him stood a very slender lady, all dressed in apple green, with a long green wand in her hand, and on the end of the wand was an artificial apple blossom. This she waved jerkily in front of Voke Easeley's eyes, and his Adam's apple moved as the wand moved, and from his mouth came the wild sounds in response to it.
Soon I realized that she was conducting him as if he were an orchestra.
But still I did not get it. For it was not words, it was nothing so articulate as speech, that Voke Easeley uttered. Nor was it, to my ear, song. And yet, as I listened, I began to see that a wild rhythm pervaded the utterance; the Adam;'s apple leapt, danced, swung round, twinkled, bounded, slid and leapt again in time with a certain rough barbaric measure; the sounds themselves were all discords, but discords with a purpose; discords that took each other by the hand and kicked and stamped their brutal way together toward some objective point.
I led Fothergil into a corner.
"What is it?" I whispered. It is always well, at one of Hermione's soul fights, to get your cue before the conversation officially starts. If you don't know what is going to be talked about before the talk starts the chances are that you never will know from the talk itself.
"A New Art!" said Fothergil. And then he led me into the hall and explained.
What Gertrude Stein has done for prose, what the wilder vers libre bards are doing for poetry, what cubists and futurists are doing for painting and sculpture, that Voke Easeley is doing for vocal music.
"He is painting sound portraits with his larynx now," said Fothergil. "And the beautiful part of it is that he is absolutely tone deaf! He doesn't know a thing about music. He tried for years to learn and couldn't. The only way he knows when you strike a chord on the piano is because he doesn't like chords near as well as he does discords. He has gone right back to the dog, the wolf, the cave man, the tiger, the bear, the wind, the rock slide, the thunder and the earthquake for his language. He interprets life in the terms of natural sounds, which are discords nearly always; but he has added brains to them and made them all the moods of the human soul!"
"And the lady in green?"
"That is his wife — he can do nothing without her. There is the most complete psychic accord between them. It is beautiful! Beautiful!"
When we returned the lady in green was announcing:
"The next selection is a Voke Easeley impression of the Soul of Wagner gazing at the sunrise from the peak of the Jungfrau."
The wand waved; the Adam's Apple leapt, and they were off. What followed cannot be indicated typographically. But if a cat were a sawmill, and a dog were a gigantic cart full of tin cans bouncing through a stone-paved street, and that dog and that cat hated each other and were telling each other so, it would sound much like it.
It was well received. Except by Ravenswood Wimble. He always has to have his little critical fling.
"The peak of the Jungfrau!" he grumbled. "Jungfrau indeed! It was Mont Blanc! It was very wonderfully and subtly Mont Blanc! But the Jungfrau — never!"
"Hermione," I said, "what do you think of the New Art?"
"It's wonderful!" she breathed, "just simply wonderful! So esoteric, and yet so simple! But there is one thing I am going to speak to Mrs. Voke Easely about — one improvement I am going to suggest. His ears, you know — don't you think they are too large? Or too red, at least, for their size? They catch the eye too much — they take away from the effect. Before he sings here again I will have Mrs. Easeley bob them off a little."
HERMIONE ON SUPERFICIALITY
AREN'T you just crazy about the Moral Uplift?
It's coming into every department of life now and one just simply HAS to keep up with it in order to talk intelligently these days.
Not that one can talk too freely about it in mixed company, you know.
There are getting to be the awfullest lot of moral subjects that one can't talk about generally, aren't there?
Eugenics and sex hygiene and all these plays and books with a moral purpose, you know.
Of course lots of people DO talk about them generally. I did myself for quite a while. And then another girl and I got some books and studied up what the things we had been talking of really were and it shocked us horribly!
Mamma has been trying to get me to give up the moral uplift entirely, but you've just simply GOT to talk it or be out of date.
Of course the whole thing depends upon whether you are a serious thinker — if you're sincere, REALLY sincere, you can take up anything and get good out of it.
The loveliest man talked to us last night — to our Little Group of Advanced Thinkers, you know.
He said the curse of the age and the country was superficiality. People aren't thorough, you know.
I've noticed that myself and I agree with him. If one is going to take things up and show a serious interest in them one must not limit one's self to a few phases.
One must be broad. One must be thorough. One must cover the whole field of thought.
Our little group this winter has been trying to do that. So far we've take up Bergson, socialism, psychology, Rabindranath Tagore, the meaning of welfare work, culinary science, the new movements in art — and ever so many more things I can't re- member now.
For the rest of Lent we're going to take up the Cosmic Consciousness.
One of the girls thought it would be a nice sort of thing to take up during Lent — a quiet kind of thing, you know; not like feminism or chemistry.
Have you seen any of the new parti-colored boots yet?
Isn't it an absurd idea?
And yet, you know — if it made for Beauty!
That is what one must always say to one's self must one not? I mean: Does it make for Beauty?
That's the reason I left the Suffrage Party, you know. They wanted me to wear one of those hor- rid yellow sashes. And my complexion can't stand yellow. So I quit the Suffrage Party right there.
ISIS, THE ASTROLOGIST
WE'RE taking up astrology quiet seriously — our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know — and we've hired the loveliest lady astrologer to cast our horoscopes and give us a talk and get us started right.
She wrote a letter to me—the most perfectly fascinating letter — and I told her to call, and we looked her over. She wore a beautiful sky-blue gown with gold stars on it — one of those Greek ones, you know, like poor, dear Isadora Duncan wore — and a gold star in the middle of her forehead.
It makes her look like a unicorn, that star," Ravenswood Wimble said. But then nobody ever pleases Ravenswood Wimble completely. He is so — if you get me.
"If a unicorn, then a celestial unicorn," Fothy Finch said. Fothy is too dear for anything; he is always hunting for the good in people, like Apollo, or Euripides — which was it? — when they gave him the basket full of wheat and chaff, and he separated them. Or maybe it was Diogenes.
She has six sisters, and they are all astrologers, and they call them the Pleiades.
Although Voke Easeley, in his horrid slangy way, said: "Pleiades? She's a Bear!"
Don't you just utterly loathe slang?
Bit I was going to tell you about the lovely letter she wrote — that's what attracted me to her at the first.
"Have you never asked yourself," it began "'Why was I born?'"
Fancy knowing that about one! If there is one question I have asked myself thousands and thousands of times it is, "Why was I born?"
And then the letter went on to talk about horoscopes and the Inevitable.
"We may not overcome the inevitable," it said, "but it is ours to see that the Inevitable does not overcome us."
Oh, the Inevitable! The Inevitable!
How often I have thought of the Inevitable with despair!
And it has never occurred to me before that one could take it and use it as one pleased. But it seems one can if one knows about it beforehand. It is like Destiny that way. If one is ignorant of one's Destiny, it comes upon one with a surprise. But if one knows beforehand what one's Destiny is to be, one can make onself the master of it. That is where the horoscope comes in handy, you know.
After dipping into Astrology I will never again be afraid of the Inevitable.
As the Letter says: "Every woman with her horoscope before her, and her Soul back of her, should be able to solve any problem and meet any situation that may occur in her life."
Ravenswood Wimble wanted to know, when he met the lady — did I tell you that her professional name is Isis? — what would happen if her Soul was before her and her horoscope back of her. But Isis just simply froze him with a look.
Don't you think that levity is horrid in the midst of vital affairs like that?
But I suppose every little group has someone in it that thinks he or she has to be quippy and facetious at times.
Not but what I have a sense of humor myself.
I think a sense of humor is the saving grace, if you get what I mean.
But no one should try to use it unless he is perfectly sure that everyone understands he is being humorous.
We are going to take up the sense of humor — our Little Group of Thinkers, you know — in a serious way soon.
But the Swami doesn't like Isis. Poor, dear Swami! She is a charlatan, he says. And she doesn't like him. "My dear," she said to me, "are you SURE he really goes into the Silences? Or does he just PRETEND to?"
Isn't it awful about geniuses that way — how jealous they ARE of each other? Especially psychics! We had two mediums the same evening a year or two ago who actually quarreled over which one of them a certain spirit control belonged to.
THE SIMPLE HOME FESTIVALS
DON'T you just love the simple old festivals, like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas?
That's is one thing that Papa and Mamma and I agree about. And this year we had a very simple sort of Thanksgiving Day.
Of course, it's rather a bore if you have to invite a lot of relations.
But one must always sacrifice something to gain the worth-while things, mustn't one?
And what is more worth while than simplicity?
Simplicity! Simplicity! Isn't it truly WONDERFUL!
Nearly every night before I go to bed I ask myself: "have I been simple and genuine today? Or have I FAILED?