What Animal Controls Your Spirit? by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: Essay

Of all animals upon earth man came last.

All of earth’s animal creations are bound up in man.

As to the first statement there is no difference of opinion.

The Bible and Darwin agree that man was created last of all the animals.

Very superficial observation will convince you that man contains in his mental make-up all of the “inferior” animals, or at least a great many of them.

You, Mr. Jones, or Smith, who read this are in your single self a sort of synthesis of the entire animal creation.

If you could be divided into your component animal parts there would be a menagerie in your house, and you, Smith or Jones, would be missing. That thing we call a “soul” would be floating around, impalpable, looking for its house to live in. —-

Of course, you can see the animal make-up in your neighbor more readily than in yourself.

How do men describe each other? Do they not speak as follows, and mean exactly what they say

“He is as sly as a fox.”

“He eats like a pig.”

“He has dog-like faithfulness.”

“He is as brave as a lion.”

“He is as treacherous as a snake.”

“He was as hungry as a wolf,” etc. —-

Our good and our bad qualities alike are mapped out in our humble animal relations.

The horse stands for ambition, which strives and suffers in silence. The dog represents friendship, which suffers and sacrifices much, but whines loudly when injured.

We have no doubt that of the twelve passions which enter into Fourier’s complex analysis of man each has its prototype in some one animal. —-

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To rebel at the animal combination which makes up a man would be folly.

The Maker of us all, from ants to anti-imperialists, naturally gathered together the various parts in lower animal form before finishing the work in man.

A harmoniously balanced mixture of all the animals is calculated undoubtedly to produce the perfect man. —-

Therefore, study your animal make-up. Analyze honestly and intelligently the so-called “lower” creatures from whom you derive your mental characteristics. If you have not yet done so, study at once some good work on embryology, and learn with amazement and awe of your marvelous transformations before birth.

Then do your best to control the menagerie that is at work in your mind.

Stultify Mr. Pig, if he is too prominent. Circumvent Mr. Fox, if he tries to rule you and make of you a mere cunning machine. Do not let your Old Dog Tray qualities of friendship lead to your being made a fool.

In short, study carefully the animal qualities that make up your temperament and prove in your own person the falseness of Napoleon’s irritating statement that a man’s temperament can never be changed by himself. —-

It may interest you to note that when man becomes insane, the fact is at once made apparent that his mind, dethroned, had acted as the ruler of a savage menagerie. Many crazy men imagine themselves animals of one sort or another. Nearly all of them display the grossest animal qualities, once their mind is deranged. Women of the greatest refinement sink into dreadful animalism when insane. Heine tells of a constable who, in his boyhood, ruled his native city. One fine day “this constable suddenly went crazy, * * * and thereupon he began to roar like a lion or squall like a cat.”

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Heine remarks with calculated naivete: “We little boys were greatly delighted at the old fellow, and trooped, yelling, after him until he was carried off to a madhouse.”

There is, by the way, much of the natural animal in “little boys.” It takes years to make a fairly reasonable creature of a young human. For that reason many ignorant parents are foolishly distressed at juvenile displays of animalism, which are perfectly natural. —-

The same Heine, whose writings you ought not to neglect, describes beautifully a human menagerie. We’ll quote that, and then let you off for the day. Heine was living in Paris in the forties, and used to visit a curious revolutionary freak named Ludwig Borne. Of this man’s house Heine wrote:

“I found in his salon such a menagerie of people as can hardly be found in the Jardin des Plantes (the Paris zoological garden). In the background several polar bears were crouching, who smoked and hardly ever spoke, except to growl out now and then a real fatherland ‘Donnerwetter’ in a deep bass voice. Near them was squatting a Polish wolf in a red cap, who occasionally yelped out a silly, wild remark in a hoarse tone. There, too, I found a French monkey, one of the most hideous creatures I ever saw; he kept up a series of grimaces, each of which seemed more lovely than the last,” etc.

If Heine’s polar bears, wolf and monkey had studied themselves, as we advise you to study yourself, they might have escaped the sarcasm of the sharpest tongue ever born in or out of Germany.

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