The orator's abstraction should change the face, but not the gesture. If the double change takes place simultaneously, there will be no unity. The gesture should be retained and the expression of the face changed.
A variety of effects and inflections should be avoided. While the speaker is under the influence of the same sentiment, the same inflection and gesture must be retained, so that there may be unity of style.
Art proposes three things: to move, to interest, to persuade by unity of inflection and gesture. One effect must not destroy another. Divergence confuses the audience, and leaves no time for sentiment.
It is well to remember that the stone becomes hollowed by the incessant fall of the drop of water in the same place.
The Rhythm of Gesture.
Gesture is at the same time melodic, or rather inflective, harmonic and rhythmic. It must embrace the elements of music, since it corresponds to the soul; it is the language of the soul, and the soul necessarily includes the life with its diverse methods of expression, and the mind. Gesture is melodic or inflective through the richness of its forms, harmonic through the multiplicity of parts that unite simultaneously to produce it. Gesture is rhythmic through its movement, more or less slow, or more or less rapid.
Gesture is, then, inevitably synthetic, and consequently harmonic; for harmony is but another name for synthesis.
Each of the inflective, harmonic and rhythmic modes has its peculiar law.
The rhythmic law of gesture is thus formulated:
"The rhythm of gesture is proportional to the mass to be moved."
The more an organ is restrained, the more vehement is its impulse.
This law is based upon the vibration of the pendulum. Great levers have slow movements, small agents more rapid ones. The head moves more rapidly when the torso and the eye have great facility of motion. Thus the titillations of the eye are rapid as lightning.
This titillation always announces an emotion. Surprise is feigned if there is no titillation.
For example, at the unexpected visit of a friend there is a lighting up of the eye. Wherefore? Because the image is active in the imagination. This is an image which passes within ourselves, which lies in inward phenomena.
So in relation to material phenomena: there is a convergence, a direction of the eyes toward the object; if the object changes place, the eyes cannot modify their manner of convergence; they must close to find a new direction, a convergence suited to the distance of the object.
There is never sympathetic vision. The phenomena of the imagination are in the imagination at a fixed distance. When an image changes place in the idea, it produces a titillation equal to that which would be produced in the order of material things. For example, let us quote these lines:
"At last I have him in my power, This fatal foe, this haughty conqueror! Through him my captives leave their slavery."
Here the body must be calm; there is a sort of vehemence in the eyes; it will be less in the head than in the arms. All these movements are made, but the body remains firm. Generally the reverse takes place; the whole body is moved; but this is wrong.
In these words: "Where are they, these wretches?" there must be great violence in the upper part of the body, but the step is very calm.
To affect a violent gait is an awkward habit. A modified slowness in the small agents creates emphasis; if we give them too great facility of movement, the gestures become mean and wretched.
Rhythm is in marvelous accord with nature under the impulse of God.
Importance of the Laws of Gesture.
We never really understand an author's meaning. Every one is free to interpret him according to his individual instinct. But we must know how to justify his interpretation by gesture. Principles must aid us in choosing a point of view in accordance with his individual nature; otherwise incoherence is inevitable. Hence rules are indispensable. But when the law is known, each applies it in accordance with his own idea.
The author himself cannot read without rules, in such a manner as to convey the ideas he intended to express. Only through rules can we become free in our interpretation; we are not free without law, for in this case we are subject to the caprice of some master.
The student of oratory should not be a servile copyist. In the arrangement of his effects, he must copy, imitate and compose. Let him first reproduce a fixed model, the lesson of the master. This is to copy. Let him then reproduce the lesson in the absence of the master. This is to imitate. Finally, let him reproduce a fugitive model. This is to compose.
Thus to reproduce a lesson, to give its analysis and synthesis, is to disjoint, to unite and to reunite; this is the progressive order of work.
The copying and imitative exercises should be followed by compositions, applying the principles already known. The orator may be allowed play for his peculiar genius; he may be sublime even in employing some foolish trick of his art. But whatever he does, he must be guided by fixed rules.
Of Gesture in Particular.
The dynamic apparatus is composed of the head, the torso and the limbs. As in the vocal apparatus, we have the lever, the impelling force, and the fulcrum.
The dynamic apparatus produces gesture, which renders the moral or normal state; as the voice expresses inflection and reveals the sensitive state.
The head must be studied under two relations: as the agent of expression through its movements, and as the centre of attraction; that is, the point of departure or arrival for the different gestures of the arm.
Let us now apply ourselves to the signification of the movements of the head and eyes, the face and lips.
The Movements of the Head.
There are two sorts of movements of the head: movements of attitude and fugitive movements.
Movements of Attitude.—The head has nine primary attitudes, from which many others proceed.
In the normal attitude, the head is neither high nor low.
In the concentric attitude the head is lowered; this is the reflective state.
In the eccentric attitude the head is elevated; this is the vital state.
Soldiers and men of robust physique carry the head high.
Here are three genera, each of which gives three species.
The Normal State.
When the head is erect, it is passive and neutral.
The head inclining laterally toward the interlocutor indicates affection.
If in the inverse direction, opposite the interlocutor, sensualism is indicated. This is in fact retroaction; in the first case we love the soul, in the latter the form.
The Eccentric State.
If the head bends backward it is the passional or vehement state.
The head inclined toward the interlocutor, denotes abandon, confidence.
The head turned away from the interlocutor, denotes pride, noble or base. This is a neutral expression which says something, but not the whole.
The Concentric State.
The head lowered, that is, inclined forward, denotes the reflective state.
If the head inclines toward the interlocutor, it is veneration, an act of faith in the object we love.
If the head inclines away from the interlocutor, it is stratagem or suspicion.
All other attitudes of the head are modifications of these. These nine attitudes characterize states, that is, sentiments, but sentiments which are fugitive. Either of these attitudes may be affected until it becomes habitual. But there are movements which cannot be habitually affected, which can only modify types and attitudes of the inflections of the head. These are fugitive movements.
There are nine inflections or fugitive movements of the head:—
1. If a forward movement, it ends in an upright one, with elevated chin, and indicates interrogation, hope, appellation, desire.
2. The same movement with the chin lowered, indicates doubt, resignation.
3. A nod of the head, a forward movement, means confirmation, yes, or well.
4. If the movement is brusque forward, it is the menace of a resolute man.
5. The head thrown back means exaltation.
6. If the movement is brusque backward, it is the menace of a weak man.
7. There are rotative inflections from one shoulder to the other; this is impatience, regret.
8. The rotary movement of the head alone signifies negation, that is no.
If the movement ends toward the interlocutor, it is simple negation.
If the movement ends opposite to him, it is negation with distrust.
9. The rotative and forward inflection would denote exaltation.
The sense of this response,—"I do not know," when tidings of a friend are asked, may be divined by an inflection of the head.
It is well to note how these movements are transmitted from agent to agent.
All movements which severally affect the head, the hand, the body and the leg, may affect the whole.
Thus the movement of negation is made by the hand. This movement is double. There is negation with direct resolution, and negation with inverse resolution, which is elliptical. The hand recoils as the head recoils, and when the head makes the movement of impatience, the hand rises with the head and says:—"Leave me alone, I do not wish to hear you."
It is curious to see an inflection pass successively from the head to the hand, from the hand to the eye, from the eye to the shoulders, from the shoulders to the arms, from the arms to the legs, from the legs to the feet.
For example: Above we have indicated a double menace made by the head. One might transfer this menace to the hand and say: "You will have a quarrel to settle with me!"
Each agent has its role, and this is why they transmit their movements.
When the head has a serious part to play, it communicates an inflective movement to the hand, which renders it terrible.
A man who menaces with the head is not sure of his aim, but he who menaces with the hand is sure of striking right. In order to do this, the eye must be firmly fixed, as the eye necessarily loses its power and accuracy by a movement of the head.
There is great power in the menace communicated to the hand, a power not found in the other movement. The head-menace is more physical, and the hand-menace more intellectual; in the one the eye says a great deal, while in the other it says nothing.
The orator cannot always make these gestures with facility. The menace may be elliptical. Then it must be made by the head, and expressed through the eyes. This is why the speaker gazes downward as he makes it.
It is the same downward or upward movement which is reproduced when the menace is concentric or elliptical.
The menace may be made in yet another way. The speaker does not wish to express his opinion, and for fear of compromising himself with his eyes, he does not gaze at his interlocutor; he turns aside his glance, and the menace is communicated to the shoulder. This has less strength, because it is rendered by one of the sensitive agents.
The man who threatens with the shoulder is more passionate; but he is not the agent, he is passive.
A simple menace may be made by the knee. The foot is susceptible of great mobility. A slight movement quickly changes its significance; in passing from one agent to another, it is modified by many ellipses.
Criterion of the Head Attitudes.
1 3 2
1-II 3-II 2-II II Ecc. Conc. Norm. Conc. Conc. Conc. Stratagem or Reflection. Veneration. cunning.
1-III 3-III 2-III III Ecc. Norm. Norm. Norm. Conc. Norm. Sensualism. Passive state. Affection.
1-I 3-I 2-I I Ecc. Ecc. Norm. Ecc. Conc. Ecc. Pride. Vehemence. Confidence.
These attitudes, being wholly characteristic, cannot be transmitted. They characterize the special role of the agent set in motion, while inflection is universal.
The head alone expresses trouble, dejection.
Dejection is in the head, as firmness is in the reins and exaltation in the shoulders.
All the movements of the head are communicated to all the active organs. The head is always in opposition to the arms. The head must be turned away from the leg which is advanced.
Men of small brain habitually carry their heads high. The head is lowered in proportion to the quantity of intelligence.
Examine the criterion for the fixed attitudes of the head.
Of the Eyes.
The eye, in common with all the other agents, has nine primary expressions, three genera and nine species.
The eye contains three agents: The optic or visual, the palpebral or pupil, and the eyebrow agent. Each of these has its peculiar sense, and we shall show how they are united.
The optic agent has three direct or convergent glances. The eyes converge toward the object they examine, at such a point that if the object were there they would squint. A skilled observer can determine the distance of the object, upon seeing the two eyes.
There is a revolving or divergent glance. If both eyes project in parallel lines, they see double. A drunken man sees double because the eyes do not converge.
Between these two glances there is the ecstatic or parallel vision; but the object is not so far away that its distance may not be determined. The convergence is not appreciable. This is the dreamy expression. We shall here treat of one only, to which we refer the three others. Let us take the direct glance, passing by the optic agent, since it is direct in all the phenomena we have to consider.
There are three phenomena in the eyebrow: eccentric, concentric and normal. From these we derive nine terms. If the eye is normal, it is a passive expression which determines nothing. If, with the same eye, the eyebrow is eccentric, there is a difference; one part of us tends vehemently toward something, and the other says: "It is not worth the trouble." The sensitive part aspires, while the intellect says, "This amounts to nothing."
The concentric eyebrow indicates a mind disconcerted by fatigue or ennui, a contention of one part of the nature with the other, which resists, and says: "I do not wish to be troubled about this; it wearies me."
The normal brow and the eccentric eye indicate stupor.
Here there is again contrariety. One part of the being ardently aspires toward some object, while the other is powerless to aid it.
The eye is purely an intellectual agent, denoting the various states of the mind.
The eccentric eye and the elevated eyebrow denote vehemence. This is an active state that will become astonishment. Many phenomena will arise and be subordinate to this movement; but it is vehemence par excellence; it is aspiration.
If the brow lowers vehemently with the eyes open, it is not rage, but a state of mind independent of everything the senses or the heart can say.
This is firmness of mind, a state of the will independent of every outside influence. It may be attention, or anger, or many other things.
If the eye is concentric and the eyebrow in the normal state, it is slumber, fatigue.
If the eyebrow is eccentric and the eye concentric, it will represent not indifference only, but scorn, and after saying, "This thing is worthless," will add, "I protest against it, I close my eyes."
If both the eye and eyebrow are concentric, there is contention of mind. This is a mind which seeks but does not possess.
This explanation may be rendered more clear and easier to retain in mind by the following resume:
E Concentric. Contention of mind. Concentric eyebrow Y Normal. Bad humor. E Eccentric. Firmness
E Concentric. Grief. Normal eyebrow. Y Normal. Passiveness. E Eccentric. Stupor.
E Concentric. Scorn. Eccentric eyebrow. Y Normal. Disdain. E Eccentric. Astonishment.
The nine expressions of the eye correspond to each of the nine movements of the head. Thus the eye may give nine types of affection, nine of pride, nine of sensualism, etc. This gives eighty-one expressions of the eye. Hence, knowing eighteen elements, we inevitably possess eighty-one.
The nine expressions of the eye may be verified by the criterion.
As a model, we give the nine expressions of the eye in the subjoined chart.
1 3 2 Eye eccentric. Eye normal. Eye concentric.
Eyebrow Firmness. Bad humor. Contention of conc. mind. II
Eyebrow Stupor. Passive state. Grief. III
Eyebrow Inspiration. Disdain. Scorn. I
For ordinary purposes it is sufficient to understand the nine primary expressions. There are many others which we merely indicate. In sleep there may be an inclination either way. The top of the eyebrow may be lifted.
Thus in the concentric state, three types may be noted, and these go to make twenty-seven primary movements. The lower eyelid may be contracted; the twenty-seven first movements may be examined with this, which makes 2x27.
A movement of the cheek may contract the eye in an opposite direction, and this contraction may be total, which makes eighty-one expressions belonging to the normal glance alone.
This direct glance may also be direct on the inferior plane, which makes 2x81; for these are distinct expressions which cannot be confounded.
This movement could again be an upward one, which would make 3x81.
The movement may be outward and superior, or it may be simply outward; it may also be outward and inferior. A special sense is attached to each of these movements,—a sense which cannot be confounded with any of the preceding movements.
By making the same computation for the three glances above noted, we shall have from eight to nine hundred movements.
All this may appear complicated, but with the key of the primary movements, nothing can be more simple than this deduction.
The above chart with its exposition of the phases of the eye explains everything. A small eye is a sign of strength; a large eye is a sign of languor. A small oblique eye (the Chinese eye), when associated with lateral development of the cranium, and ears drawn back, indicates a predisposition to murder.
The eye opens only in the first emotion; then it becomes calm, closing gradually; an eye wide open in emotion, denotes stupidity.
Of the Eyebrows.
There are three thermometers: the eyebrow is the thermometer of the mind; the shoulder is the thermometer of the life; the thumb is the thermometer of the will.
There is parallelism between the eye and the voice. The voice lowered and the brow lifted, indicate a desire to create surprise, and a lack of mental depth.
It is very important to establish this parallelism between the movements of the brow and voice.
The lowered brow signifies retention, repulsion: It is the signification of a closed door. The elevated brow means the open door. The mind opens to let in the light or to allow it to escape. The eyebrow is nothing less than the door of intelligence. In falling, the voice repels. The efforts in repulsion and retention are equal.
The inflections are in accord with the eyebrows. When the brows are raised, the voice is raised. This is the normal movement of the voice in relation to the eyebrow.
Sometimes the eyebrow is in contradiction to the movement of the voice. Then there is always ellipse; it is a thought unexpressed. The contradiction between these two agents always proves that we must seek in the words which these phenomena modify, something other than they seem to say. For instance, when we reply to a story just told us, with this exclamation: "Indeed!"
If the brow and voice are lowered, the case is grave and demands much consideration.
If brow and voice are elevated, the expression is usually mild, amiable and affectionate.
If the voice is raised and the brow lowered, the form is doubtful and suspicious. With the brow concentric, the hand is repellent.
Both brow and hand concentric denote repulsion or retention; this is always the case with a door.
Both brow and hand eccentric mean inspiration, or allowing departure without concern.
There is homogeneity between the face, the eyebrow and the hand.
The degree and nature of the emotion must be shown in the face, otherwise there will be only grimace.
The hand is simply another expression of the face. The face gives the hand its significance. Hand movements without facial expression would be purely automatic. The face has the first word, the hand completes the sense. There are eighty-one movements of the hand impossible to the face; hence, without the hand, the face cannot express everything. The hand is the detailed explanation of what the face has sought to say.
There are expressions of the hand consonant with the facial traits, and others dissonant: this is the beautiful.
The weak hand and the strong face are the sign of impotence.
The weak hand and the strong face are the sign of perfidy.
The tones of the voice vary according to the expression of the face. The face must speak, it must have charm.
In laughing, the face is eccentric; a sombre face is concentric.
The face is the mirror of the soul because it is the most impressionable agent, and consequently the most faithful in rendering the impressions of the soul.
Not only may momentary emotions be read in the expression of the features, but by an inspection of the conformation of the face, the aptitude, thoughts, character and individual temperament may be determined.
The difference in faces comes from difference in the configuration of profiles.
There are three primitive and characteristic profiles, of which all others are only derivations or shades. There is the upright, the concave and the convex profile. Each of these genera must produce three species, and this gives again the accord of nine.
These different species arise from the direction of the angles, as also from the position of the lips and nose.
Uprightness responds to the perpendicular profile; chastity, to the concave; sensualism, to the convex.
Let it be understood that we derogate in no way from the liberty of the man who remains always master of his will, his emotions and his inclinations.
A criterion of the face is indispensable to the intelligent physiognomist, and as the lips and nose have much to do with the expression of the face, we offer an unerring diagnosis in the three following charts:
Criterion of the Profile of the Lips.
SPECIES. 1 3 2
II 1-II 3-II 2-II Ecc.-conc. Norm.-conc. Conc.-conc.
III 1-III 3-III 2-III Ecc.-norm. Norm.-norm. Conc.-norm.
I 1-I 3-I 2-I Ecc.-ecc. Norm.-ecc. Conc.-ecc.
Here the profile of the lower lip indicates the genus, and the profile of the upper lip belongs to the species.
Criterion of the Profile of the Nose.
SPECIES. 1 3 2
II 1-II 3-II 2-II Ecc.-conc. Norm.-conc. Conc.-conc.
III 1-III. 3-III. 2-III. Ecc.-norm. Norm.-norm. Conc.-norm.
I 1-I. 3-I. 2-I. Ecc.-ecc. Norm.-ecc. Conc.-ecc.
For surety of diagnosis the lips must be taken in unison with the nose and forehead, as may be seen in the following chart.
Of the Torso.
The torso includes the chest, and shares the shoulder movements with the arms.
The Chest.—There are three chest attitudes, eccentric, concentric and normal.
1. If the chest is greatly dilated, this is the eccentric state—the military attitude, the sign of energy.
2. The normal, when the chest is in a state more homogeneous, less contentious, more sympathetic, as in the statue of Antinous.
3. The concentric, when the chest is hollow, with the shoulders elevated and inclining forward.
The convex eccentric chest is the sign of the agent, or of him who gives.
The convex concentric chest or the pathetic, is the sign of the sufferer, or of him who receives.
The chest drawn in with the shoulders elevated, is the expression of the sublime.
From these three positions, the eccentric, the concentric and the normal, are derived nine degrees or species. Thus in each of these genera, the torso is inclined toward the speaker, or away from him, hence we have three times three, or nine, or the triple accord.
The chest need not be lowered; it is here that all the energy concentrates.
The Shoulders.—Every sensitive, agreeable or painful form is expressed by an elevation of the shoulders. The shoulders are the thermometer of the sensitive and passional life. If a man's shoulders are raised very decidedly, we may know that he is decidedly impressed.
The head tells us whether this impression is joyous or sorrowful. Then the species belongs to the head, and the genus to the shoulder.
If the shoulder indicates thirty degrees, the head must say whether it is warmth or coldness. The face will specify the nature of the sorrow or joy whose value the shoulders have determined.
The shoulder is one of the great powers of the orator.
By a simple movement of the shoulder, he can make infinitely more impression than with all the outward gestures which are almost always theatrical, and not of a convincing sort.
The shoulder, we have said, is the thermometer of emotion and of love. The movement is neutral and suited to joy as well as to sorrow; the eyes and mouth are present to specify it.
The shoulder, like all the agents, has three and hence nine distinct phases.
The torso is divided into three parts: the thoracic, the epigastric and abdominal.
We shall state farther on, the role of these three important centres.
Liars do not elevate their shoulders to the required degree, hence the truth or falsity of a sentiment may be known.
Raphael has forgotten this principle in his "Moses Smiting the Rock." None of his figures, although joyous, elevate the shoulder.
Of The Limbs.
The limbs hold an important place in oratorical action.
The study of the role of the arms and limbs therefore deserves serious attention.
In the arms we distinguish the deltoid or shoulder movement, the inflection of the fore-arm, the elbow, the wrist, the hand and the fingers.
Inflections of the Fore-Arm.
We have treated of what concerns the shoulder in the chapter upon the torso.
The arm has three movements: an upward and downward vertical movement, and a horizontal one.
These movements derive their significance from the different angles formed by the fore-arm in relation to the arm. Let us first represent these different angles, and then we will explain the chart.
All these different angles have their meaning, their absolute significance in affirmation.
The movement at the right angle signifies: To be.
Lower still: I doubt if it is so.
Lower: It is improbable.
Lower: It is not.
Lower: It is not possible.
Ascending: This is proven, I have the proof in my hand.
Higher: This is superlatively beautiful.
Higher: It is enchantingly beautiful.
The degree of certainty in the affirmation varies with, the angle which the fore-arm forms with the arm.
All these modes of affirmation may be applied to negation. For example:
"It is impossible that this should not be. This cannot be."
Thus all states of being, all forms of affirmation, belong to the acuteness or opening of an angle.
The hanging arm signifies depression. The two arms should never extend the same way. If they follow each other, one should be more advanced than the other. Never allow parallelism. The elementary gestures of the arms are represented in the foregoing chart.
Of the Elbow.
The elbow has nine movements, three primitive, as genera, and nine derivative, as species. There are the forward and backward movements of the normal state. There are three degrees of height, and finally the forward and backward movements of extension.
The elbow movements are relational. The epicondyle is called the eye of the arm.
Man slightly moves the torso, then the shoulder, and finally the elbow.
Among persons who would fain crush others, there is an elbow movement which seems to say, "I annihilate thee, I am above thee."
The elbow turned outward signifies strength, power, audacity, domination, arrogance, abruptness, activity, abundance. The elbow drawn inward, signifies impotence, fear, subordination, humility, passiveness, poverty of spirit.
Modest people have a slight outward movement of the elbow. The humble make an inward movement. The elbow thrust forward or backward, indicates a yielding character.
These movements should not be taken alone; they must be verified by the torso and the head. The shoulder characterizes the expression of the elbow movements, just as the elbow verifies marked exaltation, by the elevation of the shoulder.
It is by these little things that we determine millions of movements and their meaning. We finally determine and class precisely five million movements of the different agents of the arm. This would seem enormous; but it is nothing at all; it is childlike simplicity. The elements being known, the process is always the same. Hence the advantage of possessing a criterion. With this criterion, we have everything. If we possess nine, we possess twenty millions, which are no more than nine.
Of the Wrist.
The wrist is a directing instrument for the forearm and the hand.
The wrist has its three movements.
It is eccentric when the extensor muscles are in motion.
It is normal in the horizontal position.
It is concentric when the flexor muscles are in action.
In the concentric position the wrist is in pronation, for the thumb is turned downward; this is the sign of a powerful will, because the pronator muscles have more power than the flexors.
In the eccentric position the wrist is in supination; that is, the back of the hand is downward; this is the sign of impotence.
The wrist has also forward and backward movements, either in pronation, in supination, or the normal state. Thus there are nine phases for the wrist.
It is through the aid of the wrist that the aspects of the hand, placed upon the cube, receive, as we shall see, their precise signification.
The orator needs great suppleness in wrist movements to give grace to the phases of the hand.
Of the Hand.
Man is perforce painter, poet, inspired dreamer or mystic, and scientist.
He is a painter, to reveal the phenomena of the sensitive life; a poet, to admire the mysteries of grace; a scientist, to make known the conceptions of the mind. Thus the hand has three presentations, neither more nor less, to render that which passes in man in the sensitive, moral or intellectual state.
Let us now examine the three presentations of an open hand: its palmar, dorsal and digital aspect.
The same thing may be expressed by these three presentations, but with shades of difference in the meaning.
If we say that a thing is admirable, with the palms upward, it is to describe it perfectly. This is the demonstrative aspect.
If we say the same thing, displaying the back of the hand, it is with the sentiment of impotence. We have an idea of the thing, but it is so beautiful we cannot express it. This is the mystic aspect.
If we present the digital extremity, it is as if we said: "I have seen, I have weighed, I have numbered the thing, I understand it from certain knowledge; it is admirable, and I declare it so." These are the three aspects: the palmar, dorsal and digital.
Each of these attitudes of the hand may be presented under three forms: the eccentric, normal and concentric.
Each of these forms as genera, produces three species; this gives the hand nine intrinsic attitudes, whose neutral signification will be specified and determined by the presentation of the hand upon the cube.
Let us first take the normal state as genus, and we shall have the normal hand as species in the normal genus. This will then be the normo-normal attitude.
By presenting the hand in pronation or supination horizontally, without spreading or folding the fingers, we shall have that attitude which signifies abandon.
Let us now take the eccentric species, still in the normal genus.
Raise the hand somewhat with a slight parting of the fingers, and we have the eccentro-normal hand, which signifies expansion.
Finally, let us consider the concentric species, still in the normal state.
Present the hand lifeless and you have the concentro-normal attitude, which signifies prostration.
Let us pass on to the concentric genus.
By closing the fingers with the thumb inward upon the middle one, we shall have the normo-concentric hand, which signifies the tonic or power.
To close the hand and place the thumb outside upon the index finger, signifies conflict. This is the concentro-concentric hand.
To bend the first joint with the fingers somewhat apart, indicates the eccentro-concentric hand. This is the convulsive state.
Let us pass on to the eccentric genus.
The fingers somewhat spread, denote the normo-eccentric hand. This is exaltation.
To spread the fingers and fold them to the second joint, indicates the concentro-concentric hand. This is retraction.
To spread the fingers as much as possible, gives the eccentro-eccentric hand. This is exasperation.
In the subjoined charts we can see an illustration of the different attitudes of the hand.
II + 2 + Concentro-concentric. Conflict. 3 + Normo-concentric. Tonic or power. 1 + Eccentro-concentric. Convulsive. 2 Concentro-normal. Prostration. III 3 + Normo-normal. Abandon. 1 + Eccentro-normal. Expansion. 2 Concentro-eccentric. Retraction. 3 Normo-eccentric. Exaltation. I + 1 + Eccentro-eccentric. Exasperation.
The nine primitive forms of the hand are, as is seen, undetermined.
+ -+ / / / / / / / / / UPPER SURFACE. / / / / To hold. / / / + -+ O I U N T W W A A R FRONT SURFACE. R D T D o To retain. T L L o A w Limit. A T i T b E t Obtain. E e R h R l A d BACK SURFACE. A o L r L n a To maintain. g S w S . U . Contain. U R R F F A A C C E E . . + + + / / / LOWER SURFACE. / / / / To sustain. / / / / / / / / / + -+
The hand is raised. Why? For what purpose? The presentation of the hand upon the surfaces of the cube will decide and specify.
By this presentation the nine movements of the hand correspond with the expressive movements of the arm.
Take any cube whatever,—a book, a snuff-box, or rather cast your eyes upon the foregoing chart, and examine it carefully.
There are three directions in the cube: horizontal, vertical and transverse. Hence there are six faces, anterior, superior, inferior, interno-lateral and externo-lateral.
Of what use are angles and faces? All this is necessary for those who would know the reason of the sentiments expressed by the hand. There are twenty-seven sorts of affirmation. We give nine of them with the six faces of the cube.
The Digital Face.
To place the hand, whether eccentric, concentric or normal, upon the upper face of the cube, is to hold, to protect, to control; it is to say: "I hold this under my protection."
To place the hand upon the external side-face of the cube, signifies to belong; it says: "All this belongs to me." It is the affirmation of the man who knows, who has had the thing in dispute under his own eyes, who has measured it, examined it in all its aspects. It is the affirmation of the connoisseur.
To apply the hand to the inner side of the face is to let go. Here is the sense of this affirmation: "You may say whatever you will, but I affirm in spite of every observation, in spite of all objection; I affirm whether or no."
The Back Face.
There are three ways of touching the front face of the cube with the hand.
A.—To touch it with the end of the fingers upward and the thumb inward, is to obtain: "I have obtained great benefits, I do not know how to express my gratitude." Or rather: "I keep the object for myself; I do not care to let it be seen." This is the mystic face. Or yet again: "I contemplate."
B.—To place the hand horizontally on the same face of the cube, is to restrain, or bound. "Go no farther, if you please; all this belongs to me."
C.—To place the hand upon the same anterior face of the cube, but with the extremities of the fingers vertically downward, means to retain. It says: "I reserve this for myself." Here, then, are three aspects for the anterior face of the cube.
The Palmar Face.
A.—To place the lower face of the cube in the hand, is to sustain. It is to say: "I will sustain you in misfortune."
B.—To apply as much as possible the palm upon the same posterior face of the cube, with the fingers downward, is to maintain: "I maintain what I have said."
C.—To apply the hand upon the same face with the extremities of the fingers upward, is to contain, is to show the object—it is to disclose: "I affirm; you cannot doubt me; I open my heart; behold me!"
There are, then, nine affirmations, which are explained by a mere view of the cube and its faces.
The twelve edges of the cube give a double affirmation; the angles, a triple affirmation. Example for the edges: To place the hand on the back edge, means: "I protect and I demonstrate."
There are three movements or inflections of the hand which must be pointed out: to hover, to insinuate, to envelop.
The three rhythmic actions of the hand must not be passed over in silence: to incline, to fall, to be precipitated.
The aspects of the hands would be simply telegraphic movements, were it not for the inflections of the voice, and, above all, the expression of the eyes. The expressions of the hand correspond to the voice. The hands are the last thing demanded in a gesture; but they must not remain motionless, as (if they were stiff, for instance) they might say more than was necessary.
The hands are clasped in adoration, for it seems as if we held the thing we love, that we desire.
The rubbing of the hands denotes joy, or an eager thirst for action; in the absence of anything else to caress, we take the hand, we communicate our joy to it.
There is a difference between the caress and the rubbing of the hands.
In the caress, the hand extends eagerly, and passes lightly, undulatingly, for fear of harming. There is an elevation of the shoulders.
The hand is an additional expression of the face. The movement must begin with the face, the hand only completes and interprets the facial expression. The head and hand cannot act simultaneously to express the same sentiment. One could not say no with head and hands at the same time. The head commands and precedes the movement of the hand.
The eyes, and not the head, may be parallel with the hand and the other agents.
The hand with its palm upward may be caressing, if there is an elevation of the eyebrow; repellent with the eyebrow concentric.
The waving hand may have much sense, according to the expression of the face.
The eye is the essential agent, the hand is only the reverberatory agent; hence it must show less energy than the eye.
Of the Fingers.
Each finger has its separate function, but it is exclusive of the great expressions which constitute the accords of nine. These are interesting facts, but they do not spring naturally from the fountain of gesture. They are more intellectual than moral.
In a synthetic action all the fingers converge. A very energetic will is expressed by the clenched fist.
In dealing with a fact in detail, as we say: "Remark this well," all the fingers open to bid us concern ourselves only with the part in dispute. This is analysis; it is not moral, it is intellectual.
If we speak of condensation we close the hand. If we have to do with a granulated object, we test it with the thumb and index finger.
If it is carneous, we touch it with the thumb and middle finger.
If the object is fluid, delicate, impressionable, we express it by the third finger.
If it is pulverized, we touch it with the little finger.
We change the finger as the body is solid, humid, delicate, or powdery.
The orator who uses the fingers in gesticulation, gives proof of great delicacy of mind.
Of the Legs.
The legs have nine positions which we call base attitudes.
We shall give a detailed description, summing up in a chart of the criterion of the legs at the end of this section.
First Attitude.—This consists in the equal balance of the body upon its two legs. It is that of a child posed upon its feet, neither of which extends farther than the other. This attitude is normal, and is the sign of weakness, of respect; for respect is a sort of weakness for the person we address. It also characterizes infancy, decay.
Second Attitude.—In this attitude the strong leg is backward, the free one forward. This is the attitude of reflection, of concentration, of the strong man. It indicates the absence of passions, or of concentred passions. It has something of intelligence;
it is neither the position of the child nor of the uncultured man. It indicates calmness, strength, independence, which are signs of intelligence. It is the concentric state.
Third Attitude.—Here the strong leg is forward, the free leg backward. This is the type of vehemence. It is the eccentric attitude.
The orator who would appear passive, that is, as experiencing some emotion, or submitting to some action, must have a backward pose as in figure 2.
If, on the contrary, he would communicate to his audience the expression of his will or of his own thought, he must have a forward poise as in figure 3.
Fourth Attitude.—Here the strong leg is behind, as in the second attitude, but far more apart from the other and more inflected.
This is very nearly the attitude of the fencing master, except the position of the foot, which is straight instead of being turned outward.
This is a sign of the weakness which follows vehemence.
Natural weakness is portrayed in figure 1; sudden weakness in figure 4.
Fifth Attitude.—This is necessitated by the inclination of the torso to one side or the other. It is
a third to one side. It is a passive attitude, preparatory to all oblique steps. It is passing or transitive, and ends all the angles formed by walking. It is in frequent use combined with the second.
Sixth Attitude.—This is one-third crossed. It is an attitude of great respect and ceremony, and is effective only in the presence of princes.
Seventh Attitude.—This is the first position, but the legs are farther apart. The free limb is turned
to one side; both limbs are strong. This denotes intoxication, the man overwhelmed with astonishment, familiarity, repose. It is a double fifth.
Eighth Attitude.—This is the second, with limbs farther apart. It is the alternative attitude. The body faces one of the two legs. It is alternative from the fact that it ends in the expression of two extreme and opposite sentiments; that is, in the third or the fourth. It serves for eccentricity with reticence, for menace and jealousy. It is the type of hesitation. It is a parade attitude. At the same time offensive and defensive, its aspect easily impresses and leaves the auditor in doubt. What is going to happen? What sentiment is going to arise from this attitude which must have its solution either in the third or fourth?
Ninth Attitude,—This is a stiff second attitude, in which the strong leg and also the free one are equally rigid. The body in this attitude bends backward; it is the sign of distrust and scorn.
The legs have one aspect. If, in the second, the strong leg advances slowly to find the other, it is the tiger about to leap upon his prey; if, on the contrary, the free leg advances softly, the vengeance is retarded.
The menace made in figure 3, with inclination of the head and agitation of the index finger, is that of a valet who wishes to play some ill turn upon his master; for with the body bent and the arm advanced, there is no intelligence. But it is ill-suited to vengeance, because that attitude should be strong and solid, with the eye making the indication better than the finger.
Of the Semeiotic, or the Reason of Gesture.
The Types which Characterize Gesture.
The semeiotic is the science of signs, and hence the science of the form of gesture. Its object is to give the reason for the forms of gesture according to the types that characterize it, the apparatus that modifies it, and the figures that represent it.
There are three sorts of types in man: constitutional or formal, fugitive or passional, and habitual.
The constitutional type is that which we have at birth.
The passional type is that which is reproduced under the sway of passion.
The habitual types are those which, frequently reproduced, come to modify even the bones of the man, and give him a particular constitution.
Habit is a second nature, in fact, a habitual movement fashions the material and physical being in such a manner as to create a type not inborn, and which is named habitual.
To recognize constitutional types, we study the movements of the body, and the profound action which the habit of these movements exercises upon the body; and, as the type produced by these movements is in perfect analogy with the formal, constitutional types, we come through this analogy to infer constant phenomena from the passional form. Thus all the formal types are brought back to the passional types.
Passional types explain habitual types, and these last explain constitutional types. Thus, when we know the sum of movements possible to an organ, when we know the sense of it, we arrive at that semeiotic through which the reason of a form is perfectly given.
Of Gesture Relative to its Modifying Apparatus.
Every gesture places itself in relation with the subject and the object.
It is rare that a movement tending toward an object does not touch the double form. Thus, in saying that a thing is admirable, we start from a multitude of physical centres whose sense we are to determine. When this sense is known, understanding the point of departure, we understand still better that of arrival.
This division, which is not made at random, is reproduced in the subjoined diagram.
1 represents the vital expression; 2, the intellectual; 3, the moral. We divide the face into three zones: the genal, buccal, and frontal.
The expression is physical, moral and intellectual.
In the posterior section of the head we have the occipital, parietal and temporal zones. The life is in the occiput, the soul in the parietal zone, and the mind holds the temporal region near the forehead as its inalienable domicile.
The chest is divided into the thoracic centre for the mind, into the epigastric for the soul, and into the abdominal for the life.
The arm is divided into three sections: the deltoid, brachial and carpal.
This division is a rational one. Let us suppose this exclamation: "It is admirable!" Some say it starting from the shoulder, others from the chest, others from the abdominal focus. These are three very distinct modes. There is more intelligence when the movement is from the thoracic centre. This concerns the honor, the dignity.
When the movement is from the epigastrium, it is moral in a high degree. For example: "This is beautiful! It is admirable! I know not why, but this gives me pleasure!"
The movement from the abdomen indicates sensuality, good nature, and stupidity.
The movement is the same with the head. In emotion it proceeds from the chin; it is the life movement, it is instinct. That from the cheeks, indicates sentiments, the most noble affections.
Carrying the hand to the forehead indicates intelligence. Here we seek relief from embarrassment, in the other head movements we do not seek it. The one is a mental, the others are purely physical efforts. In the latter case one becomes violent and would fain give blows with his fist.
An infinite number of movements proceed from these various seats.
We have now reached the semeiotic standpoint, that of these very clear plans, the very starting point of gesture.
The articular centres of the arms are called thermometers: the wrist, that of the organic physical life; the shoulder, that of the sensitive life; and the elbow, that of the relative life.
The thumb has much expression; drawn backward it is a symbol of death, drawn forward it is the sign of life. Where there is abundance of life, the thumb stands out from the hand. If a friend promises me a service with the thumb drawn inward, he deceives. If with the thumb in the normal state, he is a submissive but not a devoted friend. He cannot be very much counted upon. If the thumb stands outward, we may rely upon his promise.
We still find life, soul and mind in each division of the body.
There are also a buccal, an occipital and an abdominal life.
The body of man, with all its active and attractive foci, with all its manifestations, may be considered an ellipse.
These well-indicated divisions may be stated in an analytic formula:
LIFE: Occipital. - MIND: Temporal. - SOUL: Parietal. -+ MIND: Frontal. -+ + SOUL: Buccal. - LIFE: Genal. -+ / MIND: Thoracic. -+ Attractive centres.- SOUL: Epigastric. - LIFE: Abdominal. -+ LIFE: Shoulders. -+ - Expressive centres. SOUL: Elbows. - / MIND: Wrists. -+ LIFE: Thigh. -+ SOUL: Knee. - + MIND: Foot. -+ +
This is the proper place to fix the definition of each division by some familiar illustration.
Let us take an individual in a somewhat embarrassed situation. He is a gentleman who has been overcome by wine. We see him touching the temporal bone, or the ear, as if to seek some expedient: the strategic mind is there.
Let us begin with the descending gamut, and let the hand pass over all the divisions of the attractive centres.
At the occiput: Here is an adventure! I have really had too strong a dose of them!
At the parietal bone: What a shame!
At the temporal bone: What will the people say of me?
At the forehead: Reason however tells me to pause.
At the buccal zone: How shall I dare reappear before those who have seen me in this state!
At the genal zone: But they did serve such good wine!
At the breast: Reason long ago advised temperance to me.
At the epigastrium: I have so many regrets every time I transgress!
At the abdomen: The devil! Gourmandism! I am a wretched creature!
The same illustrations may be reproduced in the rising scale.
When the parietals are touched, the idea and the sentiment are very elevated. As the foci rise, they become more exalted.
Let this be considered from another point of view. We shall reproduce gratitude by touching all the centres.
They have been centres of attraction, we shall render them points of departure.
"I thank you!" The more elevated the movements, the more nobility there is in the expression of the sentiment. The exaltation is proportional to the section indicated.
The posterior region is very interesting. There are three sorts of vertebrae: cervical, dorsal and lumbar.
This apparatus may first be considered as a lever. But taking the vertical column alone, we shall have twenty-four special and distinct keys whose action and tonality will be entirely specific. From these twenty-four vertebrae proceed the nervous plexi, all aiding a particular expression; so that the vertebral column forms the keys of the sympathetic human instrument.
If the finger is cut, there is a special emotion in one place of the vertebral column.
If the finger is crushed by the blow of a hammer, the emotion will affect a special vertebra.
The nose is one of the most complex and important agents.
There are here nine divisions to be studied. (See page 82.)
Of Gesture in Relation to the Figures which Represent It.
Gesture through its inflections may reproduce all the figures of geometry. We shall confine ourselves to a description of the primary and most usual imitative inflections.
These inflections comprise three sorts of movements affected by each gesture, which usually unite and constitute a synthetic form. These three movements agree with the three primary actions which characterize the manifestations of the soul, the mind and the life. These are direct, circular and oblique inflections.
The flexor movements are direct, the rotary movements circular, the abductory movements oblique. The sum of these movements constitutes nine co-essential terms, whose union forms the accord of nine.
There are rising, falling and medium inflections.
Gesture does everything that the voice does in rising. Hence there is great affinity between the voice and the arms. Vocal inflection is like the gestures of the blind; in fact, with acquaintance, one may know the nature of the gesture from the sound of the voice.
We exalt people by a circle. We say that a thing is beautiful, noble, grand—making circles which grew higher and broader as the object is more elevated.
We choose the circle for exalting and caressing, because the circle is the most agreeable form to touch and to caress. For example, an ivory ball.
This form applies to all that is great.
For God there is no circle, there can be none. But we outline a portion of an immense circle, of which we can touch but one point. We indicate only the inner periphery of a circle it is impossible to finish, and then retrace our steps.
When the circle is made small, we make it with one, two, three or four fingers, with the hand, with the arm. If the circle is vast as can be made with the arms, it is homogeneous.
But a small circle made with the arm will express stupidity. Thus we say of a witty man: "This is a witty man," employing the fingers.
Stupidity wishing to simulate this, would make a broad movement.
Let us take the fable of Captain Renard as an example of this view of the circle.
I depict the cunning nature of this captain with my fingers. Without this he would not be a captain; but at most a corporal.
—"He went in company With his friend He-Goat of the branching horns. The one could see no farther than his nose; The other was past master in deceit."
As they go along, the fox relates all his exploits to the goat, and the goat surprised, and wishing an end of the recital, sees fit to make a gesture, as he says:
"I admire people full of sense like you."
In making the small circle, he employs not only the fingers, but the arm, the shoulder, the whole body. He is an imbecile. He wastes too much effort in making a small circle.
Let us take a situation from an opera. When Robert enters and sees Isabella, he says of her:
"This peaceful sleep, this lull of every sense, Lends a yet sweeter charm to this young face."
The gesture is in the form of a geometrical figure.
In another place, Robert says:
"Thy voice, proud beauty, few can understand."
Here a spheroidal and then a rectangular movement must be made. We close the door. "Her voice will be understood by me, alone." He might say: "Thy voice, proud beauty, will not be understood. It will be elevated for me, and not for others."
Every sentiment has its form, its plastic expression, and as its form is more or less elaborated, we may judge of the elevation of the speaker's thought. If we could stereotype gesture, we might say: "This one has the more elevated heart, that one the least elevated; this one in the matter, that one in the spirit of his discourse."
All gestures may be very well delineated. An orator gesticulating before the public, resembles a painter who pencils outlines and designs upon a wall.
This reproduction of the figures of gesture is called Chorography. We give in the subjoined chart some types of gesture. These are a few flowers culled from a rich garden.
To express sensual grace the gesture takes the downward spheroidal form. The virtuous form would be upward.
If we wish to express many attractive things, we make many spheroidal gestures.
What is called the culminating point of the gesture, must not be forgotten. This is a ring in the form of the last stroke of the German letter D, which is made by a quick, electric movement of the wrist.
We refer the student to the close of the volume, for a model of exercises comprising a series of gestures which express the most eloquent sentiments of the human heart.
This exercise in gesture has two advantages: it presents all the interest of the most fascinating drama, and is the best means of gaining suppleness by accustoming ourselves to the laws of gesture.
The vertical line 1 expresses affirmation. The horizontal line 2 expresses negation. The oblique line 3 rejects despicable things. The oblique line 4 rejects things which oppress us, of which we would be freed.
5. The quarter-circle, whose form recalls that of the hammock, expresses well-being, happiness, confidence.
6. The curvilinear eccentric quarter-circle expresses secrecy, silence, possession, domination, stability, imposition, inclusion.
7. The curvilinear outside quarter-circle expresses things slender, delicate (in two ways); the downward movement expresses moral and intellectual delicacy.
8. The outside quarter-circle expresses exuberance, plenitude, amplitude, generosity.
9. The circle which surrounds and embraces, characterizes glorification and exaltation.
Origin and Organic Apparatus of Language.
Man reveals his life through more than four millions of inflections ere he can speak or gesticulate. When he begins to reason, to make abstractions, the vocal apparatus and gesture are insufficient; he must speak, he must give his thought an outside form so that it may be appreciated and transmitted through the senses. There are things which can be expressed neither by sound nor gesture. For instance, how shall we say at the same time of a plant: "It is beautiful, but it has no smell." Thought must then be revealed by conventional signs, which are articulation. Therefore, God has endowed man with the rich gift of speech.
Speech is the sense of the intelligence; sound the sense of the life, and gesture that of the heart.
Soul communicates with soul only through the senses. The senses are the condition of man as a pilgrim on this earth. Man is obliged to materialize all: the sensations through the voice, the sentiments through gesture, the ideas through speech. The means of transmission are always material. This is why the church has sacraments, an exterior worship, chants, ceremonies. All its institutions arise from a principle eminently philosophical.
Speech is formed by three agents: the lips, the tongue and the soft-palate.
It is delightful to study the special role of these agents, the reason of their movements.
They have a series of gestures that may be perfectly understood. Thus language resembles the hand, having also its gesture.
Elements of Articulate Language.
Every language is composed of consonants and vowels. These consonants and vowels are gestures. The value of the consonant is the gesture of the thing expressed. But as gesture is always the expression of a moral fact, each consonant has the intrinsic character of a movement of the heart. It is easy to prove that the consonant is a gesture. For example, in articulating it, the tongue rises to the palate and makes the same movement as the arm when it would repel something.
The elements of all languages have the same meaning. The vowels correspond directly to the moral state.
There is diversity of language because the things we wish to express vary from difference in usage and difference of manner and climate. What we call a shoe, bears among northern people a name indicating that it protects the feet from the cold; among southern people it protects the feet from the heat. Elsewhere the shoe protects the feet against the roughness of the soil; and in yet other places, it exists only as a defensive object—a weapon.
These diverse interpretations require diverse signs. This does not prove the diversity of language, but the diversity of the senses affected by the same object.
Things are perceived only after the fashion of the perceiver, and this is why the syllables vary among different peoples.
Nevertheless, there is but one language. We find everywhere these words: I an active personality, me a passive personality, and mine an awarding personality. In every language we find the subject, the verb and the adjective.
Every articulate language is composed of substantive, adjective and copulative ideas.
All arts are found in articulation. Sound is the articulation of the vocal apparatus; gesture the articulation of the dynamic apparatus; language the articulation of the buccal apparatus. Therefore, music, the plastic arts and speech have their origin and their perfection in articulation.
It is, then, of the utmost importance to understand thoroughly the elements of speech, which is at the same time a vocalization and a dynamic. Without this knowledge no oratorical art is possible.
Let us now hasten to take possession of the riches of speech.
The Oratorical Value of Speech.
The privilege of speech may be considered under a double aspect, in itself and in its relations to the art of oratory.
1. In Itself.—Speech is the most wonderful gift of the Creator. Through speech man occupies the first rank in the scale of being. It is the language of the reason, and reason lifts man above every creature. Man through speech incarnates his mind to unite himself with his fellow-men, as the Son of God was incarnated to unite with human nature; like the Son of God who nourishes humanity with his body in the eucharist, so man makes his speech understood by multitudes who receive it entire, without division or diminution.
Eternal thanks to God for this ineffable gift, so great in itself, of such value in the art of oratory!
2. What is the oratorical value of speech? In oratorical art, speech plays a subordinate but indispensable role.
Let us examine separately the two members of this proposition.
A.—In the hierarchy of oratorical powers, speech comes only in the third order. In fact, the child begins to utter cries and to gesticulate before he speaks.
The text is only a label. The sense lies not in speech, but in inflection and gesture. Nature institutes a movement, speech names the movement. Writing is a dead letter.
Speech is only the title of that which gesture has announced; speech comes only to confirm what is already understood by the auditors.
We are moved in reading, not so much by what is said, as by the manner of reading. It is not what we hear that affects us, but that which we ourselves imagine.
An author cannot fully express his ideas in writing; hence the interpretation of the hearer is often false, because he does not know the writer.
It is remarkable, the way in which we refer everything to ourselves. We must needs create a semblance of it. We are affected by a discourse because we place the personage in a situation our fancy has created. Hence it happens that we may be wrong in our interpretation, and that the author might say: "This is not my meaning."
In hearing a symphony we at once imagine a scene, we give it an aspect; this is why it affects us.
A written discourse requires many illustrative epithets; in a spoken discourse, the adjectives may be replaced by gesture and inflection.
Imitation is the melody of the eye, inflection is the melody of the ear. All that strikes the eye has a sound; this is why the sight of the stars produces an enchanting melody in our souls.
Hence in a discourse, speech is the letter, and it is inflection and gesture which give it life. Nevertheless:—
B.—The role of speech, although subordinate, is not only important, but necessary. In fact, human language, as we have said, is composed of inflection, gesture and speech.
Language would not be complete without speech. Speech has nothing to do with sentiment, it is true, but a discourse is not all sentiment; there is a place for reason, for demonstration, and upon this ground gesture has nothing to do; the entire work here falls back upon speech.
Speech is the crown of oratorical action; it is this which gives the final elucidation, which justifies gesture. Gesture has depicted the object, the Being, and speech responds: God.
The Value of Words in Phrases.
Expression is very difficult. One may possess great knowledge and lack power to express it. Eloquence does not always accompany intellect. As a rule, poets do not know how to read what they have written. Hence we may estimate the importance of understanding the value of the different portions of a discourse. Let us now examine intellectual language in relation to intensity of ideas.
There are nine species of words, or nine species of ideas. The article need not be counted, since it is lacking in several languages. It is the accord of nine which composes the language, and which corresponds to the numbers. Every word has a determinate, mathematical value.
As many unities must be reckoned on the initial consonant as there are values in the word.
Thus the subject has less value than the attribute.
The attribute has a value of six degrees and represents six times the intensity of the subject. Why? Because God has willed that we should formulate our idea with mathematical intensities.
The value rests only upon the initial consonant of the word. Words have only one expressive portion, that is, the initial consonant. It receives the whole value, and is the invariable part of the word. It is the root. Words are transformed in passing from language to language, and nevertheless retain their radical.
How shall we say that a flower is charming?
Do not demand of intensity of sound a value it does not possess. It suffices to await the articulation of the consonant.
The most normal phenomena remain true to mechanical laws. The mere articulation of the word expresses more than all the vocal and imitative effects that can be introduced.
Most speakers dwell upon the final word; this habit is absolutely opposed to the nature of heart movements. This school habit is hard to correct, and if Rachel became a great artiste, it was because she did not have this precedent.
The subject represents one degree; it is the weakest expression.
The verb represents two degrees; the attribute six. Let us illustrate the manner of passing from one to six as follows:
A rustic comes to visit you upon some sort of business. This man has a purpose. As you are a musician he is surprised by his first sight of a piano. He says to himself: "What is this? It is a singular object."
It is neither a table nor a cupboard. He now perceives the ivory keys and other keys of ebony. What can this mean? He stands confounded before an instrument entirely new to him. If it were given to him, he would not know what to do with it; he might burn it. The piano interests him so much that he forgets the object of his visit.
He sees you arrive. You occupy for him the place of the verb in relation to the object which interests him. He passes from this object to you. Although you are not the object which engrosses him, there is a progression in the interest, because he knows that through you he will learn what this piece of furniture is. "Tell me what this is!" he cries.
You strike the piano; it gives forth an accord. O heavens, how beautiful! He is greatly moved, he utters many expressions of delight, and now he would not burn the instrument.
Here is a progression. At first the piece of furniture interests him; then its owner still more; at last the attributes of the piano give it its entire value.
But why six degrees upon the last term? The value of a fact comes from its limitation; the knowledge of an idea also proceeds from its limitation. A fact in its general and vague expression, awakens but little interest. But as it descends from the genus to the species, from the species to the individual, it grows more interesting. It comes more within our capacity. We do not embrace the vast circle of a generic fact.
Let us take another proposition: "A flower is pleasing."
1 2 3456 - Flower is pleasing 3 7 + of the forest very -+ 4 + - this + + 5 8 -+ + - little + but + + 1 2 6 9 it-+ is faded Oh!
The word flower alone says nothing to the imagination. Is it a rose or a lily of the valley? The expression is too vague. When the idea of genus is modified by that of species, we are better satisfied.
Let us say: "The flower of the forest." This word forest conveys an idea to the mind. We can make our bouquet. We think of the lily of the valley, of the violet, the anemone, the periwinkle. This restriction gives value to the subject. Forest is more important than the verb which does not complete the idea, and less important than pleasing. Therefore we place 3 upon forest, and shall rank pleasing from 3 to 4, since it closes the assertion.
If we individualize by the word this, we augment the value by giving actuality to the word flower. This has more value than the forest, because it designates the subject. Hence this has four degrees.
As pleasing forms the very essence of our proposition, we are obliged to give it five degrees.
The idea is still somewhat vague. If I specify it still further by saying this little flower, little has a higher value than all the other words.
What value shall we give this adjective? We have reached five, but have not yet fully expressed the idea which impresses us. Little must therefore have six degrees.
This is the sole law for all the languages of the world. There are no two ways of articulating the words of a discourse. When we learn a discourse by heart in order to deliver it, and take no account of the value of the terms, the divine law is reversed.
Now, if we could introduce an expression here, which would at once enhance the value of the word pleasing, it would evidently be stronger than all the others. In fact, if the way in which a thing is pleasing can be expressed, it is evident that this manner of being pleasing will rise above the word itself.
We do not know the proportion in which the flower is pleasing. We will say that it is very pleasing. This adverb gives the word pleasing a new value. It is in turn modified. If we should say immensely, or use any other adverb of quantity, the value would remain the same. It would still be a modification. Thus, when we say of God that he is good, immense, infinite, there is always a limitation attached to the idea of God,—a limitation necessary to our nature. For God is not good in the way we understand goodness or greatness; but our finite minds need some expression for our idea.
We see the word pleasing modified in turn, and the term which modifies it, is higher than itself. Very pleasing,—what value shall we give it? We can give it no more than seven here.
A single word may obliterate the effect produced by all these expressions. A simple conjunction may be introduced which will entirely modify all we have taken pains to say. It is a but. But is an entire discourse. We no longer believe what has been said hitherto, but what follows this word. This conjunction has a value of eight degrees, a value possible to all conjunctions without exception. It sums up the changes indicated by subsequent expressions, and embraces them synthetically. It has, then, a very great oratorical value.
1. We refer here only to conjunctions in the elliptical sense. The conjunction is an ellipse, because it is the middle term between two members of the sentence which are the extremes; it recalls what has just been said, and indicates what is to come. Considered in itself, the word and, when elliptical, embraces what has just been said, and what is about to be said. All this is founded upon the principle that the means are equal to the extremes.
2. The copulative or enumerative conjunctions, have only two degrees. We see that a conjunction is not elliptical when, instead of uniting propositions, it unites only ideas of the same character.
3. Determinative conjunctions have only three degrees. For example: "It is necessary that I should work." That has only three degrees.
4. The values indicated can be changed only by additional values justified by gesture. Thus in the phrase: "This medley of glory and honor,"—the value of the word medley can and must be changed; but a gesture is necessary, for speech is only a feeble echo of gesture. Only gesture can justify a value other than that indicated in this demonstration. This value is purely grammatical, but the gesture may give it a superlative idea, which we call additional value. The value of consonants may vary in the pronunciation according to their valuation by the speakers.
More or less value is given to the degrees noted and to be noted, as there is more or less emotion in the speaker. This explains why a gesture, which expresses an emotion of the soul, justifies changing the grammatical value in the pronunciation of consonants.
5. Even aside from additional values, the gesture must always precede the articulation of the initial consonant. Otherwise to observe the degree would be supremely ridiculous. The speaker would resemble a skeleton, a statue. The law of values becomes vital only through gesture and inflection. Stripped of the poetry of gesture and inflection, the application of the law is monstrous.
To place six degrees upon pleasing without gesture, is abominable.
We now understand the spirit of gesture, which is given to man to justify values. It is for him to decide whether the proposition is true or not. If we deprive our discourse of gestures, no way is left to prove the truth of values. Thus gesture is prescribed by certain figures, and we shall now see from a proposition, how many gestures are needed, and to what word the gesture should be given.
The Conjunction Continued—Various Examples.
The degree of value given to the conjunction, may be represented by the figure 8.
Let us justify this valuation by citing these two lines of Racine:
"The wave comes on, it breaks, and vomits 'neath our eyes, Amid the floods of foam, a monster grim and dire."
The ordinary reader would allow the conjunction and to pass unperceived, because the word is not sonorous, and we accord oratorical effects only to sonorous words. But the man who sees the meaning fully, and who adds and, has said the whole. The other words are important, but everything is implied in this conjunction.
Racine has not placed and here to disjoin, but to unite.
We give another example of the conjunction:
Augustus says to Cinna:
"Take a chair Cinna, and in all things heed Strictly the law that I lay down for thee."
Let us suppress the isolation and silence of the conjunction, and there is no more color.
"Hold thy tongue captive, and if silence deep To thy emotion do some violence"—
Suppress the silence and isolation of the conjunction and, and how poor is the expression!
In the fable of "The Wolf and the Dog:"
"Sire wolf would gladly have attacked and slain him, but it would have been necessary to give battle, and it was now almost morning."
The entire significance lies in the silence which follows the conjunctions.
We speak of a sympathetic conjunction, and also of one denoting surprise or admiration; but this conjunction differs from the interjection, only in this respect: it rests upon the propositions and unites its terms. Like the interjection, it is of a synthetic and elliptic nature; it groups all the expressions it unites as interjectives. It is, then, from this point of view, exclamative.
In the fable of "The Wolf and the Lamb," the wolf says:
"This must be some one of your own race, for you would not think of sparing me, you shepherds and you dogs."
Here is an interjective conjunction. Suppress the complaint after for, and there is no more effect. The conjunction is the soul of the discourse.
In the exclamation in "Joseph Sold by his Brethren," we again find an interjective conjunction.
"Alas.......... and The ingrates who would sell me!"
Here the conjunction and yields little to the interjection alas. It has fully as much value.
The Interjection in Relation to its Degree of Value.
The interjection has 9 degrees; this is admirably suited to the interjection, an elliptical term which comprises the three terms of a proposition. In summing up the value of a simple proposition, we have (a noteworthy thing) the figure 9. This gives the accord of 9. The subject 1, the verb 2, and 6 upon the attribute, equal 9. Thus the equation is perfect.
Gesture is the rendering of the ellipse. Gesture is the elliptical language given to man to express what speech is powerless to say.
We have spoken of additional figures. Each of these figures supposes a gesture. There is a gesture, an imitative expression wherever there is an additional figure. An ellipse in a word, such as is met with in the conjunction and the interjection, demands a gesture.
9 is a neutral term which must be sustained by gesture and inflection. Gesture would be the inflection of the deaf, inflection the gesture of the blind. The orator should, in fact, address himself to the deaf as well as to the blind. Gesture and inflection should supplement physical and mental infirmities, and God in truth has given man this double means of expression. There is also a triple expression, which is double in view of this same modification of speech. Let us suppose this proposition:
"How much pain I suffer in hearing!"
According to the rules laid down, we have 3 upon pain, 6 upon suffer, and 6 again upon hearing.
It is said that Talma brought out the intensity of his suffering by resting on the word pain. This was wrong. We should always seek the expression equivalent to that employed, to attain a certain value.
If, instead of the determinate conjunction that, we should have how much (combien), this would evidently be the important word. This word has an elliptical form. It evidently belongs to a preceding proposition. It means: "I could not express all that I suffer." Then 6 must be placed upon how much and not upon pain.
But the figure 6 here is a thermometer which indicates a degree of vitality; it does not express the degree of vitality; that is reserved for gesture. We need not ask what degree this can give; its office is to express—and this is a good deal—a value mechanical and material, but very significant. A reversion of values may constitute a falsehood. Stage actors are sometimes indefinably comic in this way.
A Resume of the Degrees of Value.
To crown this unprecedented study upon language, we give in a table, a resume of the different degrees of value in the various parts of a discourse, relative to the initial consonant.
The object of the preposition 1
The verb to be and the prepositions 2
The direct or indirect regimen 3
The limiting (possessive and demonstrative) adjectives 4
The qualifying adjectives 5
The participles or substantives taken adjectively or attributively; that is to say, every word coming immediately after the verb, in fine, the attribute 6
The adverbs 7
Conjunctions, superlative ideas or additional figures 8
The interjection 9
The pronoun is either subject or complement, and therefore included in the rest. As for the article, it is not essential to a language; there is no article in Latin.
Thus the value of our ideas is expressed by figures. We have only to reckon on our fingers. We might beat time for the pronunciation of the consonants as for the notes of music. Let the pupil exercise his fingers, and attain that skill which allows the articulation of a radical consonant only after he has marked with his finger the time corresponding to its figure. If difficulties present themselves at first, so much the better; he will only the more accurately distinguish the value of the words.
French and Latin Prosody.
Prosody is the rhythmic pronunciation of syllables according to accent, respiration, and, above all, quantity.
In the Italian there are no two equal sounds; the quantity is never uniform. Italian is, therefore, the most musical of languages. Where we place one accent upon a vowel, the Italians place ten.
There is a euphonic law for every language; all idioms must have an accent. In every language there are intense sounds and subdued sounds; the Italians hold to this variety of alternate short and long sounds. Continuous beauty should be avoided. A beautiful tone must be introduced to relieve the others. Monotony in sounds as well as in pronunciation, must be guarded against. Harmony lies in opposition.
There is but one rule of quantity in French pronunciation. Here is the text of this law:
There are and can be only long initial or final vowels—whence we conclude:
1. Every final is long and every penultimate is final, since e mute is not pronounced.
2. The length of initial vowels depends upon the value of the initial consonants which they precede.
A word cannot contain two long vowels unless it begins with a vowel. In this case, the vowel of the preceding word is long, and prepares for the enunciation of the consonant according to its degree.
Every first consonant in a word is strong, as it constitutes the radical or invariable part of the word.
The force of this consonant is subordinate to the ruling degree of the idea it is called to decide. But every vowel which precedes this first consonant is long, since it serves as a preparation for it. But to what degree of length may this initial vowel be carried? The representative figure of the consonant will indicate it.
Usually, the first consonant of every word is radical. Still there might be other radical consonants in the same word. But the first would rise above the others.
The radical designates the substance of being, and the last consonant the manner.
The whole secret of expression lies in the time we delay the articulation of the initial consonant. This space arrests the attention and prevents our catching the sound at a disadvantage.
1. The final of a word of several syllables is usually short.
2. In words of two syllables, the first is long. In Latin words of two syllables, the first almost always contains the radical.
3. In words of three and more syllables, there is one long syllable: sometimes the first, sometimes another. We rest only upon this, all the others being counted more or less short.
In compound words no account need be made of prefixes; There are many compound words; and, consequently, it is often the last or next to the last consonant which is the radical.
The last consonant represents always, in variable words, quality, person, mode or time. The radical, on the contrary, represents the sum and substance.
4. Monosyllables are long, but they have, especially when they follow each other, particular rules, which result from the sense of the phrases, and from the mutual dependence of words.
A subject and text being given, notes may be written under the nine following heads:
1. Oratorical value of ideas.
2. The ellipse.
3. Vocal inflections.
4. Inflective affinities, or relation to the preceding inflections.
6. Imitative affinities.
7. The special rule for each gesture.
8. The law whence this rule proceeds.
9. Reflections upon the portrayal of personal character.
A Series of Gestures for Exercises.
We know the words of Garrick:
"I do not confide in myself, not I, in that inspiration for which idle mediocrity waits."
Art, then, presents a solid basis to the artist, upon which he can rest and reproduce at will the history of the human heart as revealed by gesture.
This is true, and it is as an application of this truth that we are about to consider the series, which is an exposition of the passions that agitate man, an initiation into imitative language. It is a poem, and at the same time it lays down rules through whose aid the self-possessed artist can regain the gesture which arises from sudden perturbation of the heart. It is a grammar which must be studied incessantly, in order to understand the origin and value of imitative expressions.
The development of the series is based upon the static, the semeiotic and the dynamic.
The static is the life of gesture; it is the science of the equipoise of levers, it teaches the weight of the limbs and the extent of their development, in order to maintain the equilibrium of the body. Its criterion should be a sort of balance.
The semeiotic is the spirit and rationale of gesture. It is the science of signs.
The dynamic is the action of equiponderant forces through the static; it regulates the proportion of movements the soul would impress upon the body. The foundation and criterion of the dynamic, is the law of the pendulum.
The series proceeds, resting upon these three powers. The semeiotic has given the signs, it becomes aesthetic in applying them. The semeiotic says: "Such a gesture reveals such a passion;" and gesture replies: "To such a passion I will apply such a sign." And without awaiting the aid of an inspiration often hazardous, deceitful and uncertain, it moulds the body to its will, and forces it to reproduce the passion the soul has conceived. The semeiotic is a science, the aesthetic an act of genius.
The series divides its movements into periods of time, in accordance with the principle that the more time a movement has, the more its vitality and power; and so every articulation becomes the object of a time.
The articulations unfold successively and harmoniously. Every articulation which has no action, must remain absolutely pendent, or become stiff. Grace is closely united to gesture; the manifold play of the articulations which constitutes strength, also constitutes grace. Grace subdues only because sustained by strength, and because strength naturally subdues. Grace without strength is affectation.
Every vehement movement must affect the vertical position, because obliquity deprives the movement of force, by taking from it the possibility of showing the play of the articulations.
The demonstration of movement is in the head. The head is the primary agent of movement; the body is the medium agent, the arm the final agent.
Three agents in gesture are especially affected in characterizing the life, mind and soul. The thumb is the index-sign of life; the shoulder is the sign of passion and sentiment; the elbow is the sign of humility, pride, power, intelligence and sacrifice.
The first gesture of the series is the interpellation, the entrance upon the scene. The soul is scarce moved as yet, and still this is the most difficult of gestures, because the most complex. It must indicate the nature of the interpellation, its degree and the situation of the giver and receiver of the summons in regard to each other.