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Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

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The craftsman
Vol. VII, No. 5 (February 1905)

Book reviews,   pp. 613-621 PDF (2.8 MB)


Page 619


BOOK REVIEWS
on the wheels of progress," forgetting that
the Patagonian, almost annihilating his
past, has long been among the lowest type
of men. Every blossom must have a root,
its past. We are all dependent on our
past. Mrs. Gilman, in her infatuation
with the future, forgets that all evolution
looks backward quite as much as forward.
She tells us that our ideas of God are too
dependent on the past. How could they
depend   on  anything  else?  All man-
created gods have been absurdities.
   Man is the only living being who can
create his own food supply or cloths him-
self. "He makes that which makes him."
All other creatures are at the mercy of na-
ture. Man masters nature. This is an
immense step in progress. From this re-
sults the social instinct and all organisms.
The farm with its thinner society, the
great cities, social ganglia, are results of
this. The social instinct is low in tribal
races and self is supreme.   Christ an-
nounced the social law at its highest,
taught and lived the theory of mutual love
at its best.
  In all the lower animals the tool is at-
tached to the creature. This causes his
peculiar formation, and makes his soul re-
semble his body. The mole must dig for
its living, hence paw, arm, shoulder, fur,
eyes, the entire body is a digger, his spirit
also. Spade and pick do not grow on the
man, he is fitted for a multitude of tools,
but if he uses one all his life, he becomes
"the man with a hoe."
  Work is normal when man loves his
task; abnormal, suicidal, when he hates
it. "A man may learn to walk on his
hands and feed himself with his toes; but
he will not enjoy it much." This figure
is scarcely applicable to the case. Man is
fitted for all kinds of work, and this meth-
od of locomotion and feeding is contrary
to nature. Then cultivated tastes are
often our strongest appetites.
   The chapter on "skilled and unskilled
labor" is interesting. The savage was a
skilled laborer to a degree. He made his
canoe, the whole of it. With machinery,
some parts of the work could be done by
a dolt, so we keep him forever doing it and
make him a bigger dolt. Mrs. Gilman
would give such work to the skilled laborer
as a rest from a task that demands thought,
since such demand no thought.     What
will she do with the poor stupid man who
can never become skilled?     There are
such in this world.
  Of specialized work the poet and the
artist are the highest examples. The poet
expresses in himself the nobler wants of
the world, writes, not his own songs, but
the "songs of the people."
  The artist paints what the world loves
to look on. In the greatest pictures are
expressed the aspirations of the whole
world. Art is, therefore, the highest of
the social functions.
  There are chapters on Distribution and
Consumption in which new ideas are pre-
sented. In "Our position to-day," she
says, "the working class is the world," and
quite proves her case. The leisure class is
a mischievous by-product. Like the crim-
inal and the pauper, it is a result of im-
perfect organization. "Sin is ours; not
mine and thine."
  The book is teeming with suggestions
and unique ideas.   One may not agree
with it in all things, but it is intensely in-
teresting and makes one think for himself.
                                     619


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