The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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"These are the fruits of the 'fine frenzy' which he ascribes to the poet, a fine frenzy doubtless, but still a frenzy. Truth, indeed, is essential to poetry, but it is the truth of madness. The reasonings are just, but the premises are false. After the first suppositions have been made, everything ought to be consistent; but those first suppositions require a degree of credulity which almost amounts to a partial and temporary derangement of the intellect. Hence, of all people, children are the most imaginative. They abandon themselves without reserve to every illusion. Every image which is strongly presented to their mental eye produces on them the effect of reality. No man, whatever his sensibility may be, is ever affected by Hamlet or Lear as a little girl is affected by the story of poor Red-Riding-Hood. She knows that it is all false, that wolves cannot speak, that there are no wolves in England. Yet in spite of her knowledge she believes; she weeps; she trembles; she dares not go into a dark room, lest she should feel the teeth of the monster at her throat. Such is the despotism of the imagination over uncivilized minds."
In other words, such is the despotism of suggestion over the subjective mind. No truer statement of the methods of subjective mental action could be written. "The reasonings are just, but the premises are false," says Macaulay. True, the deductive reasonings of the subjective mind are always just, logical, syllogistically perfect, and are equally so whether the premises are false or true.
Macaulay's remark concerning children is eminently philosophical and true to nature. Children are almost purely subjective; and no one needs to be told how completely a suggestion, true or false, will take control of their minds. This is seen in perfection when children are playing games in which one of them is supposed to be a wild beast. The others will flee in affected terror from the beast; but the affectation often becomes a real emotion, and tears, and sometimes convulsions, result from their fright.
The remark elsewhere made regarding the eccentricities of genius applies in a marked degree to poets. It is probable that in all the greater poets the subjective mind often predominates. Certainly the subjective element is dominant in their works. The career of Lord Byron is at once