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grotesque, or beautiful is to present the object by means of the effect produced on the observer. Irving talks of sober and melancholy days, mournful magnificence, gloomy remains, a picture of glory, amazing height, noiseless reverence, disastrous story, awful harmony, thrilling thunders, solemn concords ; and in so doing speaks in terms of the effect produced.
3. Relation in time is not so prominently used in description as in narration ; yet its use frequently facilitates the presentation of other attributes. Stating the time of the day and of the year at which a landscape is observed is necessary in order to bring the picture briefly and fully before the mind. This relation has great power of suggestiveness. To introduce the description of a shipwreck by, “It was midnight on the waters,” both arouses a vague sense of fear, which the fuller description is to make clear and strong, and fills the imagination at once with a general conception of the whole. To state that a man is old carries with it gray hairs, dim eyes, feeble voice, palsied limbs, and clouded memory. To know that a church has stood for a hundred years implies more than can be told in pages of descriptive detail.
The location of an object in space corresponds to its location in time. A material object cannot be conceived without relation to other objects in space ;
spatial relations to each other. And spiritual objects, such as mental activities and states, are figured under spatial relations. In treating one's moral character his virtues are placed side by side as if they had spatial qualities. Thus space seems to be a universal form which the mind imposes on all objects in order to think them. The mind itself is figured under spatial relations ; as, large and small, high and low, few-sided and many-sided, and the like ; and character is spoken of as straight or crooked, erect or prostrate, etc.
4. The relation of Likeness and Difference gives
parison and Contrast. All objects are known by means of likenesses and differences. An object cannot be grasped as an object were it not both alike and different from other objects. To bring these likenesses and differences into consciousness is one of the most effective means at the composer's command of presenting the elements of an object effectively.
as a means of presenting the one under consideration. It has been seen that the chief weakness of a verbal description is the limitation of language which prevents the writer or speaker from flashing all parts of the object on the mind at once. The more nearly this can be done, the better. Comparison and contrast is a most powerful means to this end. Often a detailed process of thought and a tediousness of expression may be avoided by comparing and contrasting the object under discussion with some well-known object.
This is not merely brevity in language, which comes from substituting a known object for words ; it economizes the thought processes. Without requiring the mind to trace the action of a valve in the heart, attention may be called to the action of a valve in a pump, if the latter be familiar to the audience. A strange fruit may be put before the mind at once, by comparing it to an apple, if it is essentially like an apple ; and thus save weariness of details in both language and thought. To refer a strange animal to its species saves a volume of descriptive detail and a useless repetition of thought processes. This implied comparison presents the essential characteristics of the object ; and if the special marks of the individual are required, a few points of contrast will fill the outline. Of two objects equally well known, comparison and contrast is a strong means of presenting both at the same time. Often a vivid and sufficient description may be made by presenting an object by its extreme opposite.
Whether comparison or contrast shall be the leading method depends on whether likenesses or differences are assumed to be most prominent in the object. If two objects are supposed to be different, then it is most effective to present them in their likenesses ; and if they are assumed to be alike then the presentation of differences will fix best the individuality of each. But usually likenesses and differences should be carried along together. In doing this the two methods should be kept distinct. A point of likeness may be given, and then a corresponding point of difference, thus carrying the likenesses and differences in parallel lines. Or all the likenesses may be given by themselves, and then the differences by themselves. The purpose being to abbreviate thought and language processes, the object chosen with which to compare the theme must (1) be a familiar object, and must (2) have the greatest number of points common to the theme. To select an object less familiar than the theme, or points of comparison that need explanation themselves, is to defeat the purpose of the comparison. In order that the object may have the greatest number of points common to the theme, it must not be chosen from a class more comprehensive than necessary. The comparison of a horse with a reptile would violate this law. Both belong to vertebrates, but it would be better to choose from mammals, as the bat ; better still to choose from quadrupeds, as the lion ; and still better to choose from the ungulata, as the ox.
After presenting an object as a whole by means of its distinct relations to some other object, one other step in attributive description remains; namely, that of presenting the object
By Means of its Properties. — Properties are attributes which inhere in the nature of the object. They determine it from within, while relations determine it from without. Properties are of two kinds, Primary
1. Primary qualities are essential to the existence of the object, and are involved in every conception of it. To think them away is to destroy all thought of the object. They fall into two general classes, Extension and Resistance.
a. Extension, which may be called the mathematical quality, gives rise to the two subordinate attributes of Form and Size ; the first resulting from the kind of extension, the second from the degree of extension. These relations unify the other attributes to the senses, as purpose does to thought. The weight, color, taste, and odor coincide within the same form and limit. These attributes give the empty form of the object, which the other attributes fill out.
Position, form, and size are, after purpose, most commonly used to distinguish objects. They even serve to distinguish spiritual objects in a figurative sense. We speak of a large-minded man; of a man “four square to all the winds that blow”; of a straight man ; of a right and a wrong headed man ; of men superior and inferior ; of high-minded men ; of men above or below a certain plane of conduct, etc.
6. The other class of primary qualities, the different forms of resistance, add to the idea of a mere extended form that of a power which resists, either as an active or passive force. A resisting, as well as an extended, something is essential to our notion of an object, whether it be a conception of a material or a spiritual object.
The general attribute of passive resistance manifests itself in particular objects as hard, soft, firm, Auid, tough, brittle, rigid, flexible, rough, smooth, light, heavy, compressible, incompressible, elastic, non-elastic, etc. — the physical properties of matter, as the others were the mathematical. It is obvious that these attributes are given primarily by the muscular sense, the lowest sense giving the most fundamental quality. This sense, through these primary qualities of resistance, brings us into a knowledge of external existence.