Friday, 20 April 2018

Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke

You know the way it is. There’s a book in the barrow going cheap that is often mentioned. And having taken it home to a good home it somehow burrows its way into the obscurer areas of the stack of ‘fully intended to read that but I can’t find it any more’. Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Vital, absolutely, must read that. Verdict: bring on my black hanky - park it with Julian Jaynes and Von Daniken.
It’s not an absolute waste of time as it demonstrates how a basically decent person can be infected by bad progressive ideas which were the common currency of the intelligentsia of their day. There I go again at the Overton defenestration wondering whether a mild birching might not stimulate the circulation of those bad ideas. Although the magic casement of race theory as theory has definitively shut amongst the learned, its practice is thriving.

Here’s Bucke on devolution:

As in the evolution of an individual tree some branches flourish while others fail; as in a forest some trees grow tall and stretch out wide branches while others are stunted and die out; as in the onward and upward progress of any species some individuals are in advance of the main body while others lag behind; so in the forward march of the collective human mind across the centuries some individual minds are in the van of the great army, while in the rear of the column stagger and fall vast numbers of defective specimens.
In any race the stability of any faculty is in proportion to the age of the faculty in the race. That is, a comparatively new faculty is more subject to lapse, absence, aberration, to what is called disease,and is more liable to be lost, than an older faculty. To many this proposition will seem a truism. 

Those with the longer established higher mental faculties pay the price:

Taking now these general rules home to ourselves—to the human race—we find them to mean that those organs and functions which have been the latest acquired will be most often defective, absent,abnormal, diseased. But it is notorious that in civilized man, especially in the Aryan race, the functions which have undergone most change in the last few thousand years are those called mental—that great group of functions (sensuous, intellectual, moral) which depend upon, spring from, the two great nervous systems—the cerebro-spinal and the great sympathetic. This great group of functions has grown, expanded, put forth new shoots and twigs, and is still in the act of producing new faculties, at a rate immeasurably greater than any other part of the human organism.If this is so then within this great congeries of faculties it is inevitable that we should meet with constant lapses, omissions, defects, breakdowns.
Clinical observation teaches day by day that the above reasoning is solidly grounded....

It has been said that the large percentage of insanity in America and Europe depends directly upon the rapid evolution in late millenniums of the mind of the Aryan people. Very few would claim that the negro mind is advancing at anything like the same rate. As a consequence of these different rates of progression we have in the Aryan people of America a much higher percentage of insanity than is found in the negro race.
When the United States census of 1880 was taken it was found that among forty-three millions of white people there were eighty-six thousand insane—exactly one in five hundred—while among six and three-quarter million negroes only a little more than six thousand were insane, which is a proportion of only about one to eleven hundred. Doubtless if we had statistics of other backward and stationary peoples a similar state of matters would be found—all such facts as we have leading to the conclusion that among savages and semi-savages there exists comparatively little insanity.

This is from a famous alienist who practised surgery to alleviate. From a blog on the London Ontario Asylum where he was superintendent

Unfortunately, the mental health care of the time also included some horrifying practices. During his time as superintendent (1877-1902), Dr. Bucke believed that insanity related to the ills of the body. For some women, he believed that problems with their reproductive organs caused ‘hysteria.’ Therefore, he performed regular hysterectomies on female patients until his death in 1902. Dr. Bucke also believed that insanity was related to masturbation. Males patients would be subjected to physical discipline and mechanical restraints to control their masturbating tendencies. If this failed, Dr. Bucke would surgically place a wire ring into the foreskin of a male patient’s penis. This ensured pain or injury during masturbation. If the patient stopped masturbating, the ring would be removed.

Is this where the vulgar expression ‘pulling your wire’ comes from?

Naturally the higher races will predominate in the ascent to cosmic consciousness. In his attempt to delineate his daft thesis he produces tables of all sorts. “ But it was the very best butter”. Applied topically it relieves the naturalizing itch.

No comments: